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Semi Renky

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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The Semi Renky and New Semi Renky are Japanese 4.5×6 cameras made by Rengō Kōki and distributed by Fuku Bōeki from 1939 to about 1943.

The Semi Renky Edit

Description Edit

The Semi Renky (セミレンキー) is a blatant copy of the Semi Olympic. The body is made of some sort of plastic, called mikaton (ミカトン).[1] There is a metal telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly. The base of the tube is surrounded by a massive ring engraved RengoKoki at the top and Tokyo at the bottom. On the body's front left, there is a metal plate marked SEMI RENKY in capital letters (looking the same as the plate marked The Olympic Camera Works on the Olympic cameras).

A tubular optical finder is mounted in the middle of the top plate, with an accessory shoe on the right and an advance knob on the left — as seen by the photographers. There are two uncovered red windows at the bottom of the back to control the film advance. The back opens to the right, together with the back halves of the top and bottom plates. It is retained by a sliding bar on the right, with an arrow pointing towards the top.

The shutter is everset and has T, B, 150, 100, 50, 25 speeds. The lens is a 75mm f/4.5 and the aperture scale is at the bottom of the shutter plate.

Advertisements and other documents Edit

The Semi Renky was advertised in the November 1939 issue of Asahi Camera,[2] costing ¥45 with a Renko 75/4.5 lens. Another advertisement dated December 1939 shows the same features and a similar picture.[3] The list of set prices compiled in late 1940 and published in January 1941 mentions the Semi Renky for ¥43.[4]

The Semi Renky was advertised together with the New Semi Renky in the March 1941 issue of Shashin Bunka,[5] at the lower price of ¥43. The advertisement still gives Renko as the lens name and it says that the shutter was made by RKS (maybe for Rengō Kōki Seisakusho). The Semi Renky was still in the official price list dated November 1941.[6]

Variations Edit

The surviving examples have variations in the shutter plate markings and in the lens name. These are summarized in the following table:

The New Semi Renky Edit

Description Edit

The New Semi Renky (ニューセミレンキー) has a new metal body,[10] very similar in shape to the previous model. The top and bottom plates are chrome plated and the rest is leather covered. The top plate has the same features as the previous model; the name New Semi Renky is engraved behind the accessory shoe and a RENGO KOKI logo is inscribed at the left of the viewfinder together with the serial number. A red arrow is engraved near the advance knob to indicate the film advance direction.

The back is removed together with the bottom plate for film loading, and there is a tripod screw surrounded by a locking key in the middle of the bottom. There are two red windows near the bottom of the back, protected by an internal common cover actuated by a vertically sliding lever.

The lens name is surely Tenobder Anastigmat on all the models. The Tenobder 75/4.5 lens has three elements and was made by Suzuki; it was certainly also the case of the f/3.5 lens.[11] (They were probably identical to the Well lenses mounted on the Well Standard and Well Super.)

Advertisements Edit

The late 1940 official price list cited above mentions the "New Semi Renky I" (¥62), "New Semi Renky II" (¥74), "New Semi Renky III" (¥85) and "New Semi Renky U" (¥98), with no further detail.[12] In the March 1941 advertisement mentioned above for the Semi Renky,[13] the New Semi Renky was offered in the same four versions:

  • New Semi Renky I: f/4.5 lens, T, B, 25–150 speeds (¥58);
  • New Semi Renky II: f/4.5 lens, T, B, 5–200 speeds (¥68);
  • New Semi Renky III: f/3.5 lens, T, B, 5–200 speeds (¥85);
  • New Semi Renky U: f/3.5 lens, T, B, 1–200 speeds (¥95).

The 25–150 shutter is certainly the same as mounted on the Semi Renky. The 5–200 shutter (shown in the advertising picture) seems to be everset, the 1–200 is surely not.

In an advertisement published in the August 1941 issue of Gakusei no Kagaku,[14] the first version was offered alone for the same price, with no mention of a model number, and the lens name was given as Tenobder Anastigmat.

Versions called New Semi Renky UI and UII were mentioned in the official price list dated November 1941.[15] The New Semi Renky was still listed in the government inquiry compiled in April 1943. Two versions are mentioned by the document, both with a Tenobder 75/4.5 lens. One has a "Semi Renky" shutter (25–150, T, B) and the other has a YSK shutter (5–200, T, B) made by Rengō. They correspond to the New Semi Renky I and II.

Variations Edit

Different marking styles have been observed on the base of the telescopic tube and on the shutter plate. No two identical examples have been observed so far. These variations are summarized in the following table:

Notes Edit

  1. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343, item 321.
  2. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  3. Advertisement on p.18 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, December 15, 1939, reproduced on p.52 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  4. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, section 1.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  6. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 1.
  7. Example pictured in this page at Japan Family Camera, and examples observed in online auctions.
  8. Example pictured in this page, example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4064, and examples pictured in the advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  9. Example observed in an online auction.
  10. The "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") says that the camera has a bakelite body but the pictures observed show a metal body.
  11. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Lc18.
  12. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, section 3A, 4A, 5A, 7A.
  13. Advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  14. Advertisement reproduced at Gochamaze.
  15. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 4B and 7B.
  16. Example pictured in McKeown, p.819.
  17. Advertisement published in Gakusei no Kagaku, reproduced at Gochamaze.
  18. Example pictured in a post of a Chinese forum.
  19. Example pictured in this page.
  20. Advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  21. Example observed in an online auction.

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 321–2.
  • "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 1, 4A, 7B.
  • "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 73–4.
  • "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 1, 3A, 4A, 5A, 7A.
  • 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). P.819.
  • Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisement on p.52, corresponding to p.18 of the December 15, 1939 issue.
  • 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. Item 4064.

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