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Semi First and First Six

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
folding
Semi Ace | Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Semi Ako | Ami | Bakyna | Semi Chrome | Semi Clover | Collex | Semi Condor | Semi Dymos | Semi Elega | Semi First | Auto Semi First | Baby Semi First | Gaica | Semi Gelto | Semi Germa | Hansa Semi Rollette | Heil | Hokoku | Hope | Kadera | Kankyu | Kelly | Kiko Semi | Semi Kinka | Semi Konter | Semi Kreis | Semi Kulax | Semi Lead | Semi Leotax | Semi Lester | Loyal | Semi Lucky | Semi Lyra | Semi Makinet | Semi Metax | Semi Minolta (I) and II | Auto Semi Minolta | Semi Miss | Mizuho | Semi Mulber | Semi National | New Gold | Okaco | Oko Semi | Semi Olympus | Semi Olympus II | Semi Osamo | Semi Pearl | Primo | Semi Prince | Semi Proud | Semi Prux | Roavic | Semi Rody | Rondex | Semi Rosen | Semi Rotte | Seica | Seves | Semi Shiks | Sintax | Semi Sixteenth | Semi Solon | Semi Sport | Star Semi | Semi-Tex | Tsubasa Kiko Three | Tsubasa Nettar | Tsubasa Super Semi | Ugein | Vester-Lette | Victor | Waltax | Wester | Zeitax
collapsible
Semi Kinsi | Lord | Lyrax | Nippon | New Olympic | Semi Olympic | Semi Renky | Auto Victor | Well Super
stereo
Sun Stereo
unknown
Semi Elka | Semi Keef | Napoleon
Postwar models (edit)
folding
Apollo | Semi Blond | Semi Crystar | Daido Semi | Doris | Semi Frank | Semi Gelto | Semi Golder | Karoron | Karoron RF | Kely | Kiko Semi | Korin | Kuri | BB Kuri | Lark | Semi Leotax | Semi Leotax DL / R | Lo Ruby | Semi Lord | Luck | Semi Lyra | Semi Masmy | Middl 120 | Semi Mihama | Mikado | Million Proud | Semi Minolta III | Semi Minolta P | Semi Oscon | Semi Pearl | Pearl I–III | Pearl IV | Petri | Petri RF | Petri Super | Pioneer | Semi Proud | Semi Rocket | Rocky Semi | Rosen | Ruby | Shinkoh Rabbit | Semi Sport | Tsubasa Semi | Union Semi | Union Model U | Walcon Semi | Waltax | Semi Wester | Zenobia
rigid or collapsible
Semi Dak | Semi Hobix | Super Semi Plum | Rocket Camera | Tomy
Japanese Six (6×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
folding
Adler Six | Bonny Six | Clover-Six | Condor Six | First Six | Gelto Six | Gotex | Green | Lyra Six | Super Makinet Six | Mamiya Six | Miyako Six | Mulber Six | Mulix | National Six | Neure Six | Oko Six | Olympus Six | Pilot Six | Romax | Ugein | Vester-Six | Victor Six | Weha Six
collapsible
Ehira Chrome Six | Minolta Six | Shinko Super | Weha Chrome Six
unknown
Freude Six | Heart Camera | Konter Six | Tsubasa Six
Postwar models ->

The Semi First and First Six is a series of Japanese folding cameras in 4.5×6 or 6×6 format, made by Kuribayashi[1] from 1935 and distributed by Minagawa Shōten. There are two generations: the first models with round body ends were succeeded in 1939 by the U models with angled body ends. Later cameras have a rigid finder, with an additional extinction meter or brilliant finder on the BB Semi First. The production of the camera was continued after World War II as the Kuri, and the same body formed the basis of the original Petri (today called "Petri Semi" and treated in a separate page).

Other Kuribayashi cameras with a similar name are dealt with in separate pages: the Auto Semi First is a coupled-rangefinder model and the Baby Semi First is a compact 4.5×6 folder of different construction. See also the postwar First Six made by Tokiwa Seiki.

First generation: rounded body Edit

The original Semi First Edit

The original Semi First[2] (セミファースト) was released in mid-1935.[3] It is a vertical folder, close copy of the 1932 Perle by Welta, notably for the folding struts. It has rounded body ends and a folding optical finder. The advance knob and folding bed release are both placed at the bottom right, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally. The back is hinged to the left and the back latch is covered by a leather handle. The name Semi First is embossed in the front leather in a cursive style.[4]

In advertisements dated June and July and December 1935, it was offered in two versions:[5]

The Magna shutter gives T, B, 25–100 speeds set by a small wheel at the top. It was made by Seikōsha. The Toko lenses have three elements and were made by Tōkyō Kōgaku.[7]

A later advertisement added the following two lens and shutter combinations:[8]

  • Radionar f/4.5 lens, Rulex B shutter (¥60);
  • Toko f/4.5 lens, Seikosha shutter (¥85).[9]

The Rulex B gives T, B, 5–150 or T, B, 5–200 speeds and the Seikosha gives T, B, 1–250 and has a self-timer.[10]

Another advertisement dated July 1936[11] mentions a patented film advance (パテント巻取), perhaps an early occurrence of the exposure counter of the Semi First A (see below).

It is also said that a brilliant finder was available on special order.[12]

The original First Six and the Semi First A and B Edit

The original First Six (ファーストシックス) was announced in late 1936.[13] The First Six has an index above the advance knob, serving as a manual exposure counter and advance indicator. This device was needed because the paperback of 120 film was not yet marked for 6×6cm format when the camera was released.

The index consists of a small plate hinged to the body, which can be moved out of the way to lift the advance knob for film loading. This plate has two holes, corresponding to concentric scales engraved on a rotating disc placed in the advance knob. The outer scale is graduated from 1 to 8 and the inner scale is graduated from 9 to 12. The graduations are not evenly spaced, to compensate the variation of the spool diameter when the film is wound. More than one turn is needed to advance one frame for the eight first pictures, then exactly one turn to go to the ninth exposure, and less than one turn for the remaining pictures, hence the two scales. The single red window at the top left of the back, protected by a horizontally sliding cover, is used to set the position of the first exposure. Once the number 1 of the film paper backing appears in this window, the user needs to turn the disc until the number 1 appears inside the index hole.

The folding bed release is now on the other side of the body, to the right of the viewfinder, to leave space to the exposure counter index. The finder is adapted for the 6×6 picture size, with a thinner front frame. The name First Six is embossed in the front leather in a cursive style.[4] The Adler VI sold from 1938 by Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō might be a rebadged version of the original First Six.

The Semi First was simultaneously replaced by the Semi First A and B.[14] The Semi First A (セミファーストA型) has a manual advance indicator and exposure counter device, like the First Six but adapted for sixteen 4.5×6 exposures, with three concentric scales. The hinged index plate is apparently replaced by a simple dot on the body. Less than one turn is needed for each frame, down to a quarter of a turn for the last pictures. In addition to the exposure counter device, the camera also has two red windows near the top of the back, protected by covers retracted by a common lever. The Semi First B (セミファーストB型) is a cheaper version without the exposure counter. It is said to differ also by the red windows and by the body covering.[15] The differences between the original Semi First and the Semi First B are unknown.

The folding bed release was switched at some time from its initial position next to the advance knob to the other side of the body, on the right of the viewfinder. However this change occurred after the introduction of the models A and B, and actual examples of the Semi First A have been observed with the button on either side.[16] The change was perhaps the result of a standardization of the parts with the First Six.

In an advertisement dated December 1936,[17] the First Six was announced only and the Semi First was offered in the following versions:

The advertising pictures show a Semi First A with f/3.5 lens and Seikosha shutter. One of these pictures is retouched with a FIRST SIX inscription on the camera's front leather, pretending that it is a First Six: this can be told by the shape of the finder and of the exposure counter.

In an advertisement dated April 1937,[22] the Semi First A with Magna shutter were no longer offered and the following Semi First versions were added to the ones listed above:

  • Semi First B, First f/4.5 lens, Rulex D shutter (¥45);
  • Semi First B, First f/4.5 lens, Rulex B shutter (¥50);
  • Semi First B, First f/4.5 lens, Rulex A shutter (¥55);
  • Semi First A, First f/3.5 lens, Rulex B shutter (¥60).

The First f/4.5 and f/3.5 lenses have three elements and they were certainly supplied by Tokiwa Kōgaku.[23]

The First Six were also listed, and this time the picture truly depicts one of these:

The Semi First A and First Six were later released with a First f/2.9 lens and a Rulex A shutter (T, B, 1–200) (see below). The First Six has also been observed with a Radionar f/4.5 lens and a Rulex B shutter (5–200, T, B), both made by Neumann & Heilemann,[27] and with a First f/3.5 lens in a Wester I shutter (1–200, B, T).[28]

Another example of the Semi First is pictured in Sugiyama with a First shutter giving T, B, 5–200 speeds and a First Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens.[29] The shutter plate is inscribed First at the top, FIRST WORKS at the bottom and has an F inside a circle on the right. This shutter certainly corresponds to the "First Type B" mentioned by Baird.[30] The camera has the folding bed release on the finder side, and the shape of the advance knob probably indicates that the camera is a Semi First B.

Yet another example, probably a Semi First A, is pictured in Baird with a First Anastigmat f/2.9 lens and an unnamed shutter having a PL logo on the right of the shutter plate, and inscribed Patents–pending at the top.[31]

Introduction of the First Six S Edit

The First Six S (ファーストシックスS型) was released in mid-1937.[32] It is similar to the First Six with an automatic stop advance device. The advance knob is surrounded by a frame counter ring. After the introduction of the First Six S, the original model was sometimes called First Six Junior (ファーストシックスヂュニアー). No surviving example of the First Six S has been observed so far.

In an advertisement dated August 1937,[33] the following versions of the First Six S were listed:

The First f/2.9 lens has four elements and was certainly supplied by Tokiwa Kōgaku.[34]

In the same advertisement, the Semi First B with Rulex D and the Semi First A with Radionar lens were no longer offered, the other prices were unchanged and two new versions were added with f/2.9 lens and T, B, 1–200 speeds:

  • Semi First A, First f/2.9 lens, Rulex A shutter (¥85);
  • First Six, First f/2.9 lens, Rulex A shutter (¥85).

An advertisement dated September 1937 emphasized prominent features of the First folders:[35]

  • Tōkyō Kōgaku lenses;
  • Seikōsha shutters;
  • automatic stop film advance for the First Six S;
  • patented 6×6 advance system for the First Six Junior;
  • patented 4.5×6 advance system for the Semi First A;
  • patented brilliant finder for the Baby Semi First II;
  • patented red window covers for all the models.

Body release: the Semi First III and First Six III Edit

In early 1938, a body release was added to the Semi First and First Six, on the left of the viewfinder.[36] The First Six S became the First Six S III (ファーストシックスSⅢ型) and the First Six Junior became the First Six Junior III (ファーストシックスヂュニアーⅢ型). It is not known if the Semi First III (セミファーストⅢ型) retained the manual exposure counter of the Semi First A or not.

In an advertisement dated April 1938,[37] the First Six S III and First Six Junior III were priced between ¥65 and ¥119 and the Semi First III was offered with three lens choices: f/4.5 (¥65), f/3.5 (¥119) and f/2.9 (¥103). The f/2.9 lens option was less expensive than the f/3.5 certainly because it was matched with a cheaper shutter.

One example of the First Six III is pictured in Sugiyama with Toko f/3.5 lens and Seikosha shutter.[38]

In an advertisement for the First Six dated July 1938,[39] the Wester shutter, made by Nishida, was offered as a new option. It is said that the Wester I and Wester II shutters were offered with the First lens in f/4.5, f/3.5 and f/2.9 maximal aperture.[40] Both shutters give 1–200, B, T speeds, and the Wester II is distinguished by the addition of a self-timer. The shutter plate is accordingly inscribed WESTER–MODEL–I or WESTER–MODEL–II at the top.

An example of the Semi First is pictured in McKeown with the Wester Model-I, a First Anastigmat f/4.5 lens and no body release.[41]

In an advertisement dated January 1939,[42] the Semi First and First Six were still offered without body release and called "ordinary models" (普通型), from ¥46 to ¥119. The newer models were simply called "body release type" (ボディレリーズ式), not "model III", and cost ¥75 to ¥125. The First Six S was apparently sold with body release only, from ¥85 to ¥131. The Wester shutter is prominently displayed in the middle of the advertisement. In the advertising pictures of the Semi First and First Six, the cameras have the advance knob and back latch of the later U Semi First or U First Six, but they still have rounded body ends. The Semi First also has the newer Semi First embossing in block letters. No surviving example of this transitional variant has yet been observed, and the pictured cameras are perhaps isolated prototypes.

Second generation: angled body Edit

The U Semi First and U First Six Edit

The U Semi First (U型セミファースト) and U First Six (U型ファーストシックス) were released in early 1939.[43] They have a new body shape with angled ends and a new type of back latch, consisting of a long sliding bar with no handle. There is a body release, a new type of advance knob of smaller diameter and the release of the folding finder is larger. The U First Six has a single red window in the middle of the back, protected by a horizontally sliding cover. The U Semi First has a single red window at the bottom of the back.[44] On the 4.5×6 model, the name Semi First is embossed in the front leather in lowercase block letters, whereas the name First Six is embossed in the older cursive script on the 6×6 model.[45]

In advertisements dated March, June and July 1939, the two models were offered at the same price, in the following versions (the prices are those given in June and July):[46]

Examples of the U Semi First have been observed with a First I shutter (T, B, 150–5), inscribed FIRST~MODEL-I at the top of the shutter plate, and a Kokka Anastigmat f/4.5 or f/3.5 lens.[52] The origin of the Kokka lens is unknown.

The list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, listed the U Semi First in five versions: "U Semi First I" (¥74), "U Semi First II" (¥85), "U Semi First III" (¥121), "U Semi First IV" (¥98), "U Semi First V" (¥160), and the U First Six in five versions too: "U First Six I" (¥156), "U First Six II" (¥79), "U First Six III" (¥94), "U First Six IV" (¥128), "U First Six V" (¥160), with no further detail.[53]

The older models were perhaps sold for some time after the introduction of the U Semi First and U First Six. The same price list also mentioned an A Semi First (A型セミファースト) in seven versions: "A Semi First I" (¥53), "A Semi First II" (¥62), "A Semi First III" (¥74), "A Semi First IV" (¥85), "A Semi First V" (¥121), "A Semi First VI" (¥160), "A Semi First VII" (¥120), and a First Six in four versions: "First Six I" (¥60), "First Six II" (¥79), "First Six IIA" (¥110), "First Six III" (¥89).[54]

A similar price list dated November 1941 does not have the A Semi First III and IV but adds a plain "U Semi First".[55]

Tubular finder models Edit

The folding viewfinder of the previous models was replaced by a tubular finder at some point. The new models were perhaps called "Semi First V" and "First Six V" but no original document has yet been found to confirm this.[56] The finder unit is again copied from a Welta design: it is similar to the finder of the Perle, Weltax and Garant models released around 1938. On the 6×6 model, the First Six embossing was changed to lowercase block letters, around the same time.[57]

The body edges and viewfinder assembly exist either in chrome finish or in black paint finish. The chrome finders have parallax compensation, controlled by a small sliding button on the right of the finder's base and similar to the Welta units. The black finders have no such device and certainly correspond to cheaper models; some are even lacking the body release. It is sometimes said that the black finish was adopted because of a shortage of materials,[58] but the chrome finish was probably offered as a more expensive alternative until the end.[59]

The April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production mentions various Semi First and First Six models. Their naming is unclear, but the mention of black fittings tends to indicate that they correspond to the models with tubular finder:[60]

  • "Semi First", Toko f/4.5 lens, Seikosha shutter;
  • "Semi First", Toko f/3.5 lens, Seikosha shutter;
  • "Semi First IIA", Toko f/4.5 lens, Magna shutter, black fittings;
  • "Semi First IIIA", First f/3.5 lens, Wester II shutter;
  • "Semi First IIIU", Wester f/3.5 lens, Wester I shutter;
  • "First Six I", First f/2.9 lens, Wester II shutter;
  • "First Six V", Wester f/3.5 lens, Wester II shutter.

The Wester f/3.5 lens has three elements and was made by Nishida.[61]

The following versions have been observed with a tubular finder:

  • Semi First, chrome trim, Toko f/3.5 lens, Seikosha shutter (T, B, 1–250, self-timer);[62]
  • Semi First, chrome trim, Rotte f/3.5 lens, Wester II shutter (1–200, B, T, self-timer);[63]
  • Semi First, chrome trim, Wester f/3.5 lens, First I shutter (T, B, 150–5);[64]
  • Semi First, black trim, Kokka f/4.5 lens, First I shutter (T, B, 150–5);[65]
  • Semi First, black trim, Kokka f/3.5 lens, First I shutter (T, B, 150–5);[66]
  • Semi First, black trim, Kokka f/4.5 lens, Wester I shutter (1–200, B, T);[67]
  • Semi First, black trim, First f/3.5 lens, Koho shutter (1–150, B, T, self-timer), no body release;[68]
  • Semi First, black trim, First f/2.9 lens, Koho shutter (1–150, B, T, self-timer), no body release;[69]
  • First Six, chrome trim, Wester f/4.5 lens, Wester II shutter (1–200, B, T, self-timer);[70]
  • First Six, chrome trim, First f/3.5 lens, Wester II shutter (1–200, B, T, self-timer);[71]
  • First Six, black trim, First f/3.5 lens, Wester I shutter (1–200, B, T).[72]

The Rotte f/3.5 lens has three elements and was made by Tokiwa Kōgaku.[73]

The BB Semi First Edit

Metered BB Semi First Edit

The BB Semi First (BBセミファースト) is a more expensive model, first introduced in early 1940 with an exposure meter, of the extinction type.[74] This was the first Japanese camera to have a built-in exposure meter. The tubular finder and extinction meter are grouped in a small housing in the middle of the top plate. The finder is offset to the right and is parallax corrected. There are two buttons above, the finder is certainly set to the closest distance by pushing the larger one. The smaller button slides to the left, certainly to reset the finder to infinity. The extinction meter is offset to the left and has the numbers 1 to 8 visible in a long horizontal window.[75] There is a table above, giving a correspondence between the numbers and the speed and aperture values. The name B.B. SEMI FIRST is engraved above the viewfinder. The front leather is embossed Semi First in lowercase block letters, as on the standard model. The body edges are in chrome finish, and there is a single red window at the bottom of the back, protected by a horizontally sliding cover.

Advertisements dated March and June 1940[76] pictured the camera with a Toko f/3.5 lens and a Seikosha shutter, and mentioned the following features:

  • exposure meter;
  • parallax compensation device;
  • retractible body release, coming in position when the folding bed is extended;
  • f/3.5 lens: despite the picture with a Toko, the lens was announced as a Rotte Anastigmat in the March advertisement and no detail was given in June;
  • deeper folding bed, allowing the camera to be closed with a filter mounted;
  • chrome fittings.

From the pictures observed so far, it is not clear if the retractible body release and deeper folding bed were introduced together with the U Semi First or if they are specific features of the BB Semi First.

Some examples of the metered BB Semi First have no parallax correction device and have black body edges (instead of chrome). These examples have no marking above the viewfinder.

The metered BB Semi First has been observed in the following versions:

  • parallax correction, Toko f/3.5 lens, Seikosha shutter;[77]
  • parallax correction, Rotte f/3.5 lens, Wester I shutter;[78]
  • parallax correction, Rotte f/4.5 lens, Wester I shutter;[79]
  • no parallax correction, Rotte f/3.5 lens, Wester I shutter.[80]
Z99 Semi First b.B. differences Fronts 2

Late Semi First B.B. Model differences

Late BB Semi First Edit

The late BB Semi First lacks the extinction meter, which was replaced by a brilliant finder.[81] The two finders are grouped in a small L-shaped housing, with the eye-level finder to the left and the waist-level finder to the right. The name B.B. Semi First is engraved above the eye-level finder. The front leather is still embossed Semi First. All the examples observed have chrome body edges.

The late 1940 price list cited above mentioned the BB Semi First in five versions: "BB Semi First" (¥121), "BB Semi First II" (¥100), "BB Semi First III" (¥120), "BB Semi First IV" (¥121), "BB Semi First V" (¥160).[82] The November 1941 price list does not have the plain "BB Semi First".[83]



An advertisement dated November 1941 by Doi Shōten offered the following versions:[84]

  • BB Semi First I: f/4.5 lens, 1/5 low speed (¥90);
  • BB Semi First III: f/3.5 lens, 1/5 low speed (¥110);
  • BB Semi First IIII: f/4.5 lens, 1s low speed (¥115);
  • BB Semi First V: f/3.5 lens, 1s low speed (¥135).

The 1943 inquiry cited above also listed the BB Semi First in two versions:[85]

  • "BB Semi First II", First f/4.5 lens, First I[86] shutter (5–150, T, B);
  • "BB Semi First V", Rotte f/3.5 lens, Wester I shutter (1–200, T, B).

The late BB Semi First has been observed with the following lens and shutter combinations:

  • Kokka f/4.5 lens, First I shutter (T, B, 150–5);[87]
  • Kokka f/3.5 lens, First I shutter (T, B, 150–5);[88]
  • Adler f/3.5 lens, First I shutter (T, B, 150–5);[89]
  • First f/4.5 lens, Wester I shutter (1–200, B, T);[90]
  • First f/3.5 lens, Wester I shutter (1–200, B, T);[91]
  • Rotte f/4.5 lens, Wester I shutter (1–200, B, T).

Rotte 75mm F:4.5 Wester 1 shutter (1~200,B,T) marked in Feet, not Meters


  • Eastwestphoto Notes on B.B. Semi First Late variations----
  •                        The metals used in build are very different in the same model. Since there is no body serial #'s and the lens Shutter combinations were many options, I cannot date the age of the model by serial #'s of lenses. The dual finders are identical on all variations. The vertical doors are identical and painted black under the leather, which is nice as the leather is mostly gone these days. Both same model variations have chromed trim, But NOT of the same high Quality. The Door locks differ; one is chromed Brass, One chromed Cooper alloy. I switched lenses from my two bodies as the Rotte had a Feet scale on it and now I wonder, was that correct? There is Not enough know in the world about these early Japanese folding cameras, and written  history  is not always accurate in knowledge. Those who work on lenses, Note: The Rotte 75mm F:4.5 Uses a  deep pitch helicoil thread and the First Anastigmat 7.5cm F:4.5  uses a very fine pitch helicoil focus. It is my belief the polished steel body is older and nicer. As WW2 raged and good metal materials became scarce, a switch happened to cheaper Alloys. The Biggest difference is the back door is Greyish ulgy metal and very different from the Chromed steel variation in beauty. Now why would you use polished steel and then cover it with cheap Leather? The chromed steel metal body also seems to have a quality browish leather and the Cheaper greyish metal has a cheaper Black bellows & cheap leather throughout. Actually I like both bodies, without leather on them. Regards, Don

.[92] The Adler lens was probably supplied by Riken.

Postwar continuation: the Kuri Edit

The production of the Semi First with tubular finder was resumed shortly after the war. The camera was renamed Kuri and was no longer distributed by Minagawa. It was certainly made out of spare parts stocked during the war. The word "Kuri" is the first part of "Kuribayashi" (栗林) and means "chestnut". It is embossed in capital letters (KURI) in the front leather. The back leather has a KURIBAYASHI logo in the middle and Made in Japan on the right. The advance knob is covered by a round piece of leather, unlike the previous models.

All the Kuri cameras observed so far have a First Model-I shutter.[93] It gives T, B, 150–5 speeds on the early examples and T, B, 200–5 on later ones. This change perhaps indicates that the shutter production was resumed.

The lens is a Kuri Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5. Its name certainly indicates that it was produced by Kuribayashi itself. It was certainly one of the first camera lenses made by the company, and its production perhaps began during the war. (An example of the Auto Semi First is known with an S. Kuri Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, perhaps differing in design and probably made during the war.)

Most lens numbers observed have four digits, ranging from 1032 to 3873. The early lenses are engraved Kurī Anastigmat in lowercase with a macron.[94] Intermediate lenses are engraved Kuri Anastigmat with no macron; they are mounted on shutters giving either 1/150 or 1/200 top speed.[95] One presumably late lens is known with KURI ANASTIGMAT in uppercase letters and five-digit number 46818, where the first two digits perhaps indicate the year of production.

Three variations are known in the finder units. The earliest example observed of the Kuri has an all-black viewfinder with no parallax correction.[96] Intermediate examples have a mixed assembly with a silver tubular part and a black base, again with no parallax correction.[97] Later examples have an all chrome unit with parallax compensation, as the one mounted on the wartime Semi First. The parallax correction device is driven by a small sliding button with I–N markings, surely for Infinity and Near.[98]

The Lo Ruby is mentioned by Baird and McKeown as a renamed version of the Kuri.[99] No picture, no original document and no other mention of this camera has been observed so far.

Notes Edit

  1. The attribution to Kuribayashi is confirmed by the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 1–7 and 80–1.
  2. This model is called "Semi First A" in Baird, p.69 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and McKeown, p.576, but this is a confusion.
  3. The earliest advertisement mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is dated June 1935.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Many surviving examples do not have their original covering.
  5. June 1935: advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Baird, p.70 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. July and December 1935: advertisements published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85.
  6. The examples pictured in Sugiyama, item 1048, and Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.20, either correspond to this version or to the equivalent version of the Semi First B.
  7. Confirmed in the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Lb20 and Lc1.
  8. Undated advertisement, reproduced in Baird, p.71 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  9. The example pictured in Tanaka, p.78 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, with an additional brilliant finder, probably coresponds to this version, but it might also be a Semi First A.
  10. These combinations are confirmed by Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, for the original Semi First.
  11. Advertisement published in Ars Camera, reproduced in Furukawa, p.22 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  12. Tanaka, p.78 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
  13. The earliest advertisement mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is dated December 1936.
  14. Baird, pp.69–73 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and McKeown, p.576, are mistaken about the Semi First A and B.
  15. The advertisement dated December 1936 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.86, says that the Semi First B differs by the film winding, red windows and body covering. The advertisement dated September 1937 reproduced on the same page says that the Semi First A alone has the exposure counter.
  16. Examples observed in online auctions.
  17. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.86.
  18. The examples pictured in Sugiyama, item 1048, and Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.20, either correspond to this version or to the equivalent version of the original Semi First.
  19. This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1049, with the folding bed release on the finder side.
  20. This version is pictured in this page by Ranzōsha with the folding bed release on the advance side, and has been observed in an online auction with the folding bed release on the finder side. See also the example pictured in Tanaka, p.78 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, with the folding bed release on the advance side and an additional brilliant finder, probably an original Semi First.
  21. This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1057 (folding bed release on the advance side), where it is misidentified as a "First Semi Model-U". It has also been observed in an online auction, with the folding bed release on the advance side and the front finder frame in silver instead of black finish.
  22. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.86. The prices are barely legible.
  23. Confirmed for year 1943 by the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Lb18 and Lc2. Baird, p.25 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, says that the First Anastigmat lenses were assembled by Kuribayashi from elements supplied by Miyoshi, but this is apparently a mistake.
  24. This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1050, misidentified as a "Semi First II". The shape of the finder and of the exposure counter index shows that it is a First Six.
  25. This version is pictured in Baird, p.89 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.576.
  26. This version is pictured in Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.20, and in this page at Sakura-blend's blog.
  27. Example pictured in this page at Ranzōsha's website, and example observed in an online auction.
  28. Example observed in an online auction.
  29. Sugiyama, item 1051.
  30. Baird, pp.20 and 22 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  31. Example pictured in Baird, p.72 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  32. The earliest advertisement mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is dated July 1937.
  33. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.87.
  34. Confirmed for year 1943 in the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item La2.
  35. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.86. See also the undated advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.68 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, which gives a similar list.
  36. Date: the earliest article mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is dated March 1938 and the earliest advertisement is dated April 1938.
  37. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.87.
  38. Sugiyama, item 1053.
  39. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Furukawa, p.22 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  40. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339.
  41. Example pictured in McKeown, p.576, with the folding bed release on the finder side. The advance knob certainly corresponds to a Semi First B.
  42. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.88. The same advertisement is reproduced in Furukawa, p.22 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  43. The earliest advertisement mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is dated March 1939.
  44. See for example the pictures of this page at Japan Family Camera.
  45. Cursive style: example pictured in Baird, pp.90–3 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.576.
  46. March and June 1939: advertisements published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.87 (the prices are illegible in the March advertisement). July 1939: advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Furukawa, p.23 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  47. This version of the U Semi First has been observed for sale by a Chinese dealer and in online auctions.
  48. This version of the U Semi First is pictured in this page by Ranzōsha.
  49. This version of the U Semi First is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1059, in Baird, p.76 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in Tanaka, p.78 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8. This version of the U First Six is pictured in McKeown, p.576, and in Baird, pp.90–3 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  50. This version of the U Semi First is pictured in Lewis, p.53.
  51. This version of the U Semi First is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1058, and in this page at Japan Family Camera (where it is misidentified as a Semi First A).
  52. Examples with f/4.5 and f/3.5 lens observed in online auctions.
  53. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 4A, 5A, 6B, 7A, 7B, 8B; type 4, sections 3, 4, 5B, 6B.
  54. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8A; type 4, sections 2, 3, 5A, 6A.
  55. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 6B, 7A, 7B, 8A, 8B; type 4, sections 2 and 3.
  56. The two models are called "Semi First V" and "First Six V" in Baird, pp.74–6 and 93 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. The 4.5×6 model is called "First Semi Model-V" in Sugiyama, item 1060, and "Semi First V" in McKeown, p.576.
  57. Block letters: examples pictured in McKeown, pp.576–7.
  58. Baird, p.75 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  59. See the specific mention of "black finish" for one of the versions listed in the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") of early 1943, and the presence of black, chrome or mixed finder units on the Kuri cameras assembled after the war.
  60. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 1–5 and 80–1.
  61. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens items Lb19.
  62. Example pictured in Fujishima, p.22 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, and example pictured in this page.
  63. Example observed in an online auction.
  64. Example pictured in this page.
  65. Example pictured in Baird, p.74 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  66. Example pictured in this page at medfmt, and example observed in an online auction.
  67. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1060.
  68. Example pictured in Baird, p.75 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and observed in an online auction (this was certainly the same camera).
  69. Example pictured in this article.
  70. Example pictured in McKeown, p.577.
  71. Example pictured in this page and example observed in an online auction.
  72. Example pictured in McKeown, p.576.
  73. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Lb21.
  74. The model with extinction meter is called "BB Semi First (Deluxe)" in Baird, pp.77–80 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.577, but this designation was not used at the time.
  75. Numbers 1 to 8: Baird, p.80 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  76. March 1940: advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.88. June 1940: advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Furukawa, p.23 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  77. Example pictured in Baird, pp.77 and 79 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras and p.73 of The Japanese Camera (lens no.36787), example pictured in McKeown, p.577 and example pictured in this page of the AJCC.
  78. Example observed in online auctions (lens no.2387).
  79. Example pictured in this page by Ranzōsha (lens no.4282).
  80. Example pictured in Baird, p.78 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.577 (lens no.2235), example pictured in Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.20, in Tanaka, p.78 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 and in Shunkan wo toraetsuzukeru shattā-ten, p.20 (lens no.1120) and example observed in an online auction (lens no.1587).
  81. The model with brilliant finder is called "BB Semi First (Standard)" in Baird, pp.77–80 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and McKeown, p.577, but this designation was not used at the time.
  82. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B.
  83. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B.
  84. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.88 and in Furukawa, p.23 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  85. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 6–7.
  86. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 24-P-2. The document says that the FIrst I shutter mounted on the BB Semi First II is a name variant of the Mizuho shutter mounted on the Mizuho folder.
  87. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1066.
  88. Examples observed in online auctions, one of which is pictured in this page.
  89. Example pictured in McKeown, p.577, example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1065 and examples observed in online auctions.
  90. Example pictured in this page of Minosan's blog, and example observed in an online auction.
  91. Example pictured in Baird, p.81 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1064.
  92. Examples observed in online auctions, one of which is pictured in this page.
  93. Example pictured in Baird, p.113 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.578, example pictured in this page and examples observed in online auctions.
  94. Lens numbers ranging from 1032 to 3002.
  95. Example pictured on this page and examples observed in online auctions, lens no.3536, 3787 and 3873. Lens no.3787 is mounted on a 1/150 shutter, the other two on 1/200 shutters.
  96. Example observed in an online auction, lens no.1032.
  97. Examples observed in online auctions, lens no.1407 and 3002.
  98. Example pictured in this page and examples observed in online auctions, lens no.3335, 3536, 3787, 3873 and 46818.
  99. Baird, p.115 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, McKeown, p.578.

Bibliography Edit

  • Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Items 197–202, 206 and 210–3. (See also the advertisements for items 164 and 214.)
  • Baird, John R. Collectors guide to Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. Grantsburg, WI (USA): Centennial Photo Service, 1991. ISBN 0-931838-16-9. Pp.18–9, 28–9, 66–81, 89–93, 109 and 112–5.
  • Baird, John R. The Japanese Camera. Yakima, WA: Historical Camera Publications, 1990. ISBN 1-879561-02-6. P.73.
  • Camera Club. Saishin shashinki zenshū (最新写真機全集, Compendium of the latest cameras.) Supplement to the October 1936 issue. Advertisement on the second cover.
  • Fujishima Kōichi (藤島広一). "Shattā ni yoru nendai shibetsu" (シャッターによる年代識別, Dating a camera from its shutter). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.8, September 1986. No ISBN number. Supuringu kamera (スプリングカメラ, special issue on spring cameras). Pp.21–4.
  • Furukawa Haruo (古川保男). "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, this is a Semi camera called Baby). In Camera Collectors' News no.277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.19–27.
  • Furukawa Haruo (古川保男). "First Six 'Yottsu-boshi no kono hin ga misutā Fāsuto?'" (First Six"四つ星のこの品がミスターファースト?", First Six, four-star product, a mystery First?). In Camera Collectors' News no.269 (November 1999). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.21–3.
  • "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B, 6A, 6B, 7A, 7B, 8A, 8B; type 4, sections 2 and 3.
  • Kamera no mekanizumu sono I: "Hai! Chīzu" Shunkan o torae-tsuzukeru shattā-ten (カメラのメカニズム・そのⅠ・「ハイ!チーズ」瞬間をとらえ続けるシャッター展, Camera mechanism, part 1 "Cheese!" Exhibition of instant taking shutters). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 2002. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number)
  • "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Items 1–7 and 80–1.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in Shōwa 10—40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10〜40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935—1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Pp.108—9. Type 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B, 6B, 7A, 7B, 8A, 8B; type 4, sections 2, 3, 4, 5A, 5B, 6A and 6B.
  • Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). Pp.53 (brief mentions only).
  • McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). Pp.576–8.
  • Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten (思い出のスプリングカメラ展, Exhibition of beloved self-erecting cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.20.
  • Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 1048–51, 1053, 1057–60 and 1064–6.
  • Tanaka Masao (田中政雄). "Sonota no nihon no supuringu-kamera" (その他の日本のスプリングカメラ, "Other Japanese folding cameras"). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.8, September 1986. No ISBN number. Supuringu kamera (スプリングカメラ, special issue on spring cameras). Pp.76–80.

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:


Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First

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