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Semi Proud

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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For the postwar Semi Proud horizontal folder made by Sumida, see Proud postwar folders.

The Semi Proud (セミ・プラウド, semi puraudo) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera made by Proud-sha. It first appeared as a Baldax copy, and the Semi Proud II and III are variations. The Super Semi Proud is a rangefinder version, inspired by the Plaubel Roll-Op II. The name Semi Proud II was used again for a short-lived Ikonta copy, and different post-war cameras were called Semi Proud too (see Proud postwar folders).

All the prewar and wartime models were distributed by Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten.

The viewfinder-only Baldax copy Edit

General description Edit

The first Semi Proud cameras are copies of the large Baldax model for #0 size shutters. There is a folding optical finder in the middle of the top plate and an advance knob at the bottom right, as seen by a 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 to control the film advance, protected on some cameras by individual pivoting covers and on others by a common sliding cover (see below). The front leather is embossed SEMI-PROUD.

This body was sold to Takachiho (the predecessor of Olympus) for its first camera, the Semi Olympus.[1] Other cameras based on the same body are the Loyal and Kelly.

The original model Edit

Documents Edit

The original model, with no body release, was launched in late 1934 or early 1935. The camera is mentioned in the January 1935 issue of Asahi Camera, at the end of an article about the Semi Prince,[2] and the earliest advertisement are dated June 1935.[3] The Semi Proud is thus the first Japanese copy of the Baldax.

The original Semi Proud exists with a number of lens and shutter combinations. The evolution, as seen through original advertisements, is as follows:

advertisement Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, June 1935[4] Asahi Camera, July 1935[5] Asahi Camera, March 1936[6] Ars Camera, September 1936[7] Asahi Camera, April 1937[8]
lens and shutter
Corygon f/2.9,
Compur-Rapid
(maybe T, B, 1–400)[9]
_ _ _ ¥135 ¥135
Corygon f/2.9,[10]
Auto Compur
(T, B, 1–250)[11]
¥120 ¥120 ¥120 ¥120 ¥120
Corygon f/3.5,
Auto Compur
(T, B, 1–250)[11]
¥105 ¥105 ¥105 ¥105 ¥105
Corygon f/4.5,
Auto Compur
(T, B, 1–250)[11]
¥89 ¥89 ¥89 ¥89 ¥89
Corygon f/3.5,
Prontor II
(T, B, 1–150)
_ _ _ _ ¥85
Corygon f/4.5,
Prontor II
(T, B, 1–150)
_ _ _ _ ¥70
Corygon f/4.5,
Auto Pronto
(T, B, 25–100)
¥65 ¥63 ¥63 ¥63 ¥63
Corygon f/4.5,
New Vario[12]
¥54 ¥54 ¥54 ¥54 ¥54
Lausar f/4.5,
Rulex B[13]
¥62 _ _ _ _
Popular edition,
Proud f/3.5,
Rulex B
(5–150, B, T or 5–200, B, T)[14]
_ _ _ ¥58[15] ¥58
Popular edition,
Proud f/4.5,
Rulex B
(5–150, B, T or 5–150, B, T)
_ _ _ _ ¥50
Popular edition,
Proud f/4.5,
Rulex D
(25–150, B, T)
_ _ ¥45 ¥45 ¥45
Popular edition,
Proud f/6.3,
Rulex D
(25–150, B, T)
_ _ ¥40 ¥40 ¥40

Lens and shutter features Edit

The Lausar and Rulex combination mentioned in the June 1935 advertisement is all-Japanese, with a lens by Tomioka and a shutter by Neumann & Heilemann. It is not sure if it was actually sold.

The Corygon lenses were made by the German company Friedrich and are engraved C. Friedrich. München. Corygon–Anastigmat. Some of the Compur shutters have a release arm mounted on the front plate and connected with the shutter's own release lever. The release lever of the Compur, designed to be used with a body release linkage, is placed at the bottom and is impractical to operate. The purpose of the release arm is probably to overcome this problem. The exact same device is found on some examples of the Semi Olympus.

The popular edition (大衆版), introduced in late 1935,[16] corresponds to the Japanese-made Proud Anastigmat lens, combined with a Japanese Rulex shutter. The actual lens marking evolved: the earliest lenses have PROUD Anastigmat, soon replaced by Proud Anastigmat.[17] This was gradually replaced by U.L.L. Proud Anastigmat or U.L.L. Anastigmat at a later period.[18] This lens was certainly made by Miyoshi Kōgaku. On most examples of the popular edition, the Rulex shutter has the older type of front plate, but some late ones with U.L.L. Proud Anastigmat or U.L.L. Anastigmat lens have the newer type (see Rulex).

Actual examples Edit

Minor changes occurred during the production run. Early cameras have a striated pattern on the leather covering, and have individual red window covers. Transitional examples have the same striated pattern on the leather covering, and have a common sliding cover for the red windows, whereas late examples have a smoother leather covering.

The following combinations have been observed:

  • Corygon-Anastigmat 7.5cm f/2.9, Compur (T, B, 1–250, self-timer)[19]
  • Corygon-Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, Compur (T, B, 1–250, self-timer)[20]
  • Corygon-Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Compur (T, B, 1–250, self-timer)[21]
  • Corygon-Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Prontor II (T, B, 150–1, self-timer)[22]
  • Proud Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, Rulex B (5–150, B, T)[23]
  • Proud Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Compur (T, B, 1–250, self-timer)[24]
  • Proud Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Rulex B (5–200, B, T)[25]
  • U.L.L. Proud Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Rulex B (5–200, B, T)[26]
  • Proud Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Rulex D (25–150, B, T)[27]
  • U.L.L. Triple Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Rulex D (25–150, B, T)[28]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Rulex D (25–150, B, T)[29]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Neuheil (5–150, B, T), shutter maybe not original[30]

The Semi Proud II and III Edit

The Semi Proud II and Semi Proud III appeared in 1938. They introduced two innovations: a body release and an automatic stop advance device with an exposure counter. The latter seems inspired by the Plaubel device mounted on the Roll-Op II folder and on roll-film backs for the Makina, but it is not a straightforward copy.

Documents Edit

There is some confusion in the original documents on the features of the II and III. It seems that the name "Semi Proud II" originally applied to the model with auto-stop advance only, whereas the name "Semi Proud III" provided both auto-stop advance and a body release. These is the description given in the February 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera.[31] The document shows a picture of a camera with auto-stop advance and a Compur shutter with a release arm at the front.

The body release was certainly soon adopted as standard on all the cameras. As a consequence, the name "Semi Proud II" was applied to the version with body release and no auto-stop advance, whereas the "Semi Proud III" remained unchanged, as appears in the September 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera.[32] The document mentions the price range of ¥63 to ¥125 for the Semi Proud II and ¥68 to ¥130 for the Semi Proud III.

The model name "Semi Proud III" was later abandoned. In the November 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera, the camera with body release is called Semi Proud II, and the auto-stop device is mentioned as an option with no particular model name, costing ¥4.50 with extra ¥0.50 for fitting.[33] The following combinations are listed for the camera, all with a U.L.L. lens by Miyoshi Kōgaku:

shutter Rulex B Rulex A Parkur Compur
lens
f/4.5 ¥63 ¥68[34] ¥89 ¥100
f/3.5 ¥72 ¥77 ¥98 ¥110
f/2.9 _ _ ¥115 ¥125

Other documents reportedly list a Prontor II shutter option with the f/4.5 and f/3.5 lenses.[35]

After some time, the mention of model II was abandoned and the camera with body release was simply called "Semi Proud". In advertisements dated May and June 1939 and February 1940,[36] this model is offered along with the Semi Prux. Only the four versions with U.L.L. lens and Rulex shutter are listed, respectively priced at ¥70, ¥75, ¥80 and ¥85.[37] The June 1939 and February 1940 advertisements show two company names: Proud-sha and Miyoshi Kōgaku. It seems that these two companies merged after some time.

The camera reportedly appears in the new products column of the April 1940 issue of Asahi Camera, with a Koho shutter by Takachiho (the later Olympus).[38]

The Semi Proud is finally mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, in three versions called "Semi Proud I" (¥74), "Semi Proud II" (¥85) and "Semi Proud III" (¥121), with no further detail.[39] It is not known for sure if these models correspond to the Baldax copy or to the Ikonta copy described below.

Actual examples Edit

The Semi Proud II with body release has been observed with the following combinations:

  • Corygon-Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, Compur (T, B, 1–250, self-timer)[40]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Compur (T, B, 1–250, self-timer)[41]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, Rulex A (1–250, B, T)[42]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, Rulex B (5–200, B, T)[43]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5, shutter by Mars Tokyo (T, B, 5–200), perhaps a Lex[44]
  • U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, Koho (1–150, B, T)[45]

The Rulex shutters are modified for the body release, and have a setting lever at the top. All have the newer type of front plate (see Rulex). The Koho shutter is the early version to 1/150; a linkage is provided behind the shutter casing to connect the release lever placed at the top to the body release mechanism.

The camera pictured above is a presumably late example. Its back latch is not the same as on earlier cameras, and has no leather handle. The exact same part appears on the Semi Rody, another Baldax copy made by Shibayama.

No actual example of the Semi Proud with auto-stop advance has yet been observed, though the device is known on at least one Super Semi Proud (see below).

The Super Semi Proud rangefinder model Edit

The Super Semi Proud (スーパー・セミ・プラウド) is a model with coupled rangefinder. The whole lens and shutter assembly is mounted on a focusing helix, controlled by a lever. The leather covering at the front is still embossed SEMI-PROUD only, but the leather case is embossed Super Semi Proud.

First model Edit

The overall aspect of the first model is similar to the Roll Op II by Plaubel (itself derived from the Baldax). The rangefinder housing covers about two thirds of the top plate, on the left side as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally. The name SUPER SEMI–PROUD is engraved at the front, between the main rectangular window and the round second-image window. There is a separate tubular viewfinder at the right end of the top plate, and a long rod between the viewfinder and the rangefinder, to release the folding bed. The main release is placed at the base of the folding bed, near the hinge, and is tripped by the left hand.

The earliest known advertisement, in Asahi Camera May 1937, shows a pre-production version, described as "available soon".[46] No viewfinder is visible and the rangefinder housing extends to the left end of the top plate, with a rounded shape; either the camera has a combined range- and view-finder that was not put into production, or it is an incomplete prototype. The folding bed release is a simple button instead of a rod, because of the absence of a tubular viewfinder. The camera is pictured with a Compur shutter. The release button and linkage are not visible either, and the shutter is perhaps tripped directly by a lever on the side of the lens.

The regular production version was advertised in the June 1938 issue of Asahi Camera with the following options:[47]

shutter Rulex B Rulex A Compur
lens
Proud f/3.5 ¥120 ¥130 ¥155
Corygon f/4.5 _ _ ¥155
Corygon f/3.5 _ _ ¥167[48]
Corygon f/2.9 _ _ ¥190[49]

In the advertisement, an auto-stop advance device is mentioned for the Semi Proud, but it is not clear if it applies to the rangefinder model as well, though at least one example of the Super Semi Proud is known with Corygon f/3.5 lens, Compur shutter and auto-stop advance.[50] The camera pictured above has the most expensive lens and shutter combination, together with manual film advance.

Later the same year, in November 1938,[51] the Super Semi Proud was advertised together with the Semi Proud II. The auto-stop device is available as an option, costing ¥4.50 and ¥0.50 for fitting, probably concerning the rangefinder model as well as the viewfinder-only Semi Proud. The camera was offered with a U.L.L. lens by Miyoshi Kōgaku (engraved U.L.L. Proud Anastigmat), in the following combinations:

shutter Parkur
(T, B, 1–250, self-timer)
Compur
(T, B, 1–250, self-timer)
lens
f/4.5 ¥135 ¥145[52]
f/3.5 ¥145 ¥155
f/2.9 ¥165 ¥175

Second model Edit

The second model[53], released at the end of 1938,[54] has a restyled top housing, reminiscent of the Super Sport Dolly by Certo, integrating both the viewfinder on the right and the rangefinder on the left. There are two identical rectangular windows at one end and a round second-image window at the other. The folding bed release button protrudes slightly from this top housing, on the right of the viewfinder. The top housing is all chrome and the name SUPER SEMI–PROUD is engraved between the two rangefinder windows. It seems that the body release is placed the same as on the first model, on the folding bed near the hinge.

In an advertisement in Asahi Camera February 1939, the list of available variants was as follows:[55]

shutter Parkur S
(T, B, 1–250, self-timer)
Compur
(T, B, 1–250, self-timer)
lens
U.L.L. Proud f/4.5 ¥135 ¥145
U.L.L. Proud f/3.5 ¥145[56] ¥155[57]
U.L.L. Proud f/2.9 ¥165 ¥175
Corygon f/4.5 _ ¥155
Corygon f/3.5 _ ¥167
Corygon f/2.9 _ ¥190

The U.L.L. Proud lens is engraved U.L.L. Proud Anastigmat 1:xxx f=7.5cm N°xxxx, and the shutter plate of the Parkur is inscribed PARKUR–TOKIO at the top.

The Super Semi Proud is mentioned in the official price list published in January 1941 (cited above), with the name "Super Semi Proud F" and a price of ¥248.[58] It appears again with the same name in a similar price list dated November 1941, where it is attributed to Miyoshi Kōgaku.[59]

The Ikonta copy Edit

The Semi Proud was replaced by a new model, copy of the Ikonta, advertised as Semi Proud II (セミ・プラウドⅡ型) in 1941–2.[60] It is probable that the previous Semi Proud II was being called simply "Semi Proud" for a couple of years, and the model II designation was thus reused.

The new model is a typical Ikonta copy with a folding optical finder. The body release is on the left of the viewfinder and the folding bed release is on the right (as seen by the photographer). The back is hinged to the left.

The Semi Proud II is mentioned in the official price list dated November 1941, where it is attributed to Miyoshi Kōgaku.[61] In advertisements dated October 1941 and January 1942,[62] the following versions are listed:

  • U.L.L. f/4.5 lens, Shinko shutter, T, B, 5–200 (¥74 in 1941, ¥87 in 1942);
  • U.L.L. f/3.5 lens, Selon shutter, T, B, 5–300 (¥83 in 1941, ¥96 in 1942).

The Shinko shutter was certainly made by Shinkō Seiki, the same as on the Shinko Baby. The Selon shutter was made by Miyoshi. The advertisements were placed by the distributor Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten, which also distributed the Shinko cameras, and there is no mention of Miyoshi Kōgaku or Proud-sha.

Rangefinder conversions were offered in 1943 by Hakkōdō for the Semi Proud II and various other copies of the Ikonta or Nettar (see this page).

Notes Edit

  1. Sakurai Eiichi, p.64 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.20.
  2. Tanimura, pp.1–2 of Camera Collectors' News no.116.
  3. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340, mentions an advertisement in Asahi Camera June 1935. See also the advertisement on p.4 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin June 1st, 1935, reproduced on p.22 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  4. Advertisement on p.4 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin June 1st, 1935, reproduced on p.22 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.88.
  6. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.71.
  7. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  8. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.
  9. 1/400 top speed was standard at the time for Compur-Rapid shutters in #0 size. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340, says T, B, 1–500 but this is surely a mistake.
  10. The advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, June 1st, 1935, reads "F3.9", certainly by mistake.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Speeds: all the Semi Proud with Compur shutter known so far have T, B, 1–250 speeds. This was standard at the time for Compur shutters in #0 size. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340, says T, B, 1–300 by mistake.
  12. The advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, June 1st, 1935, reads ユーバーリ (yūbāri), certainly a misprint for ニユーバーリオ (nyū bārio, New Vario).
  13. The range of speeds for this version is unconfirmed, probably 5–150, B, T.
  14. The range of speeds indicated in the advertisement in Ars Camera September 1936 is 5–150, B, T.
  15. Mentioned as "newly available" (愈々発売).
  16. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340, mentions an advertisement for the popular edition in Asahi Camera October 1935.
  17. PROUD Anastigmat: example observed in an online auction, lens number certainly in the 1xxx range. Proud Anastigmat: example pictured in this article, lens no.2877.
  18. U.L.L. Proud Anastigmat: example pictured in Inoue, p.131 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14. U.L.L. Anastigmat: examples observed in online auctions.
  19. Example pictured in Tanaka, p.77 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, and example observed in an online auction.
  20. Example pictured in this article, and example observed in an online auction.
  21. Examples observed in online auctions.
  22. Example observed in a website which is now dead.
  23. Example observed in an online auction.
  24. Example pictured in Hibi, p.62 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
  25. Example observed in an online auction.
  26. Example observed in Inoue, p.131 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14.
  27. Example pictured in this article, example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1234, example pictured in this page at Japan Family Camera (with non original accessory shoe, mistakenly called "Semi Proud II"), examples observed in online auctions.
  28. Example pictured in this page by Ranzōsha.
  29. Example observed in an online auction.
  30. Example observed in an online auction.
  31. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.
  32. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.
  33. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.
  34. The prices of the Rulex A, f/4.5 and Rulex B, f/4.5 versions are swapped in the advertisement, obviously by mistake.
  35. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340.
  36. May and June 1939: advertisements published in Ars Camera, reproduced in Fujishima, p.24 of Camera Collectors' News no.42. February 1940: advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.90.
  37. Six options are listed in the advertisements, but the "Rulex B" and the "Rulex shutter (5–200)" (priced the same) are probable duplicates.
  38. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340.
  39. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 4A, 5A and 6B.
  40. Example observed in an online auction.
  41. Example observed in an online auction.
  42. Examples observed in online auctions.
  43. Example observed in an online auction.
  44. Example observed in an online auction.
  45. Example pictured in this article.
  46. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.90. It is the earliest advertisement mentioned on p.340 of the same source.
  47. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.90.
  48. An example of this version is pictured in Tanaka, p.77 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8. The picture is probably taken from an advertisement.
  49. One example of this version is pictured in this page.
  50. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1236.
  51. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.
  52. An example of this version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1235, in Lewis, p.55 and in this page of the JCII collection.
  53. It is called "Super Semi Proud II" in Sugiyama, item 1237, and in McKeown, p.804, but it seems that it was simply called "Super Semi Proud", like the previous version.
  54. The earliest advertisement reported in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340, is dated December 1938.
  55. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.90.
  56. An example of this version (lens no.8616) is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1237.
  57. An example of this version (lens no.10147) has been observed in a Chinese forum.
  58. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, section 9.
  59. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 9.
  60. Dates of the two advertisements mentioned by Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340.
  61. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 5A.
  62. October 1941: advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.106. January 1942: advertisement published in Hōdō Shashin, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • Camera Club. Saishin shashinki zenshū (最新写真機全集, All on the latest cameras). Supplement to the October 1936 issue. Advertisement on p.30.
  • "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 5A and 9.
  • "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 4A, 5A, 6B and 9.

Recent sources Edit

Links Edit

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