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Semi Lucky

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
folding
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collapsible
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unknown
Semi Elka | Semi Keef | Napoleon
Postwar models ->
Japanese SLR, TLR, pseudo TLR and stereo ->
Japanese 3×4, 4×4, 4×5, 4×6.5, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Semi Lucky (セミラッキー) is a series of Japanese 4.5×6 folders, made by Fujimoto from 1937.[1] It is said that they were produced in the Mukogawa plant, taken over from Neumann & Heilemann.[2]

Semi Lucky and Semi Lucky II Edit

Description Edit

The first models of the Semi Lucky are copies of the Nettar, with straight diagonal struts. They have a folding optical finder, whose opening is coupled to the folding bed release. The advance key protrudes 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. There are two red windows, protected by a vertically sliding common cover. The name SEMI LUCKY is embossed in the front leather, and a SEMI LUCKY logo is embossed in the back leather and engraved on the folding struts. The name Lucky is also engraved in small characters on the standing leg.[3]

Original documents Edit

The original model has no body release. It was advertised in Japanese magazines dated July and August 1937.[4] The August advertisement in Asahi Camera offers the camera with a front-cell focusing Radionar f/4.5 lens and a Perfect shutter by Neumann & Heilemann, giving 5–250, B, T speeds, for ¥48 — case ¥3 extra.[5] These advertisements are earlier than the takeover of Neumann & Heilemann by the Fujimoto company, which took place in September, and this model was perhaps made in Fujimoto's original Nakahoribashi plant.

The original model was soon replaced by the Semi Lucky II, a similar camera with an added body release, advertised from September 1937 to May 1938.[6] In the October 1937 advertisement,[7] it was offered for ¥65 with the same Radionar f/4.5 lens and Perfect shutter.

Actual examples Edit

The regular surviving examples of the original Semi Lucky known so far have a Perfekt shutter with the early type of shutter plate (see Perfekt) and a Radionar f/4.5 lens engraved N.&H. Radionar with a serial number.[8] These lenses were certainly assembled by Neumann & Heilemann, perhaps from Schneider optical elements.[9]

One isolated example of the original Semi Lucky is pictured in McKeown with a Presto shutter, reportedly giving T, B, 1–500 speeds, and a lens reported as a Hildar Anastigmat 75/4.5.[10] This equipment is probably not original and probably comes from a Semi Rosen U.

One isolated example of the Semi Lucky II is pictured in Tanimura with an early Perfect shutter and a numbered Radionar f/4.5 lens engraved N.&H. Radionar.[11]

The other Semi Lucky II observed so far have a Perfekt shutter with the intermediate or late shutter plate design (see Perfekt, and have a different lens marking: Neumann & Heilemann Radionar 4.5 7.5cm with no lens number.[12]

Semi Lucky III Edit

The Semi Lucky III, released in mid-1938,[13] has a newer body with different folding struts, copied from the Ikonta, and a new type of back latch, consisting of a long sliding bar with no handle. The body now looks very similar to that of the Semi Prince III or Semi Sport, from which it is mainly distinguished by its smaller size, its external finder opening linkage and its protruding advance key.

In a February 1939 advertisement,[14] the Semi Lucky III was offered for ¥70, with the same Radionar f/4.5 lens and Perfekt shutter as the earlier models.

The examples of the Semi Lucky III observed so far have a Neumann & Heilemann Radionar 7.5cm f/4.5 lens with no serial number, and a Perfekt shutter with the late type of shutter plate (see Perfekt).[15]

Later documents Edit

The Semi Lucky does not appear in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941.[16] This would indicate that its production was stopped. However a "Semi Lucky I" and "Semi Lucky II" are mentioned in the official price list dated November 1941, where they are attributed to Fujimoto.[17] These Semi Lucky I and II also appear in the April 1943 government inquiry.[18] This document says that they were made by Fujimoto and distributed by Taihō (大宝), a company which is otherwise unknown. They are registered as made of light alloy, probably indicating a die-cast construction. Both are said to have a Rapidex shutter (1–300, T, B, self-timer), oddly attributed to Chiyoda (the predecessor of Minolta).[19] The two models differ by the lens aperture, the Semi Lucky I having a Lucky 75/4.5 and the Semi Lucky II having a Lucky 75/3.5.[20] The manufacturer of the Lucky lenses is not mentioned in this document, but it is said to be Nishida Kōgaku.[21]

It is not known if the Semi Lucky I and II mentioned in these late documents have the same body as the Semi Lucky III described above.

Notes Edit

  1. McKeown, p.572, attributes the Semi Lucky to "K.S. Fabrik" by mistake, because of a confusion with the company Kinshō, maker of the Rapid-Presto shutter.
  2. Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
  3. This is notably visible on the picture in this page of Itō Sadanobu's camera collection, and on the advertising picture reproduced in Tanaka, p.77 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
  4. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102.
  6. Advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
  7. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102.
  8. Example pictured in Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, and example observed in an online auction.
  9. Tanimura, p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, says that Schneider lenses were imported as separate elements and were assembled in Japan.
  10. Example pictured in McKeown, p.572.
  11. Example pictured in Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
  12. Examples observed in online auctions.
  13. Date: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
  14. Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102.
  15. Examples observed in online auctions. The picture of a Semi Lucky III in Tanaka, p.77 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, is a reproduction of an original advertisement (the camera is misidentified as a Semi Lucky II).
  16. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku".
  17. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 6B and 7B.
  18. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 21–2.
  19. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-P-27.
  20. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens items Lb23 and Lc3.
  21. Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, based on an interview of Takahashi Kenzō.

Bibliography Edit

The Semi Lucky is not listed in Sugiyama.

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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