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Semi Rody

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
folding
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The Semi Rody (セミ・ロディ) are Japanese 4.5×6 folders, made by Shibayama Seisakusho in 1941 and 1942 and distributed by Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten. There are two very different models, the first being a Baldax copy and the second being a horizontal folder inspired by the Duo Six-20. There were a few rebadged versions of the first model, such as the Adler C sold by Riken, and the Kelly attributed to Miyoshi.

The Baldax copy Edit

Description Edit

The original Semi Rody is a vertical folder, copy of the Baldax. The name SEMI-RODY is embossed in the leather covering at the front.

There is a folding optical finder, placed to the right as seen by a photographer holding the camera vertically, the reverse of the usual configuration. If the same photographer is now holding the camera horizontally, the body release is placed to the right of the viewfinder and is pressed by the right hand, and the advance knob is on the left end of the top plate. The body release is quite high, and its shape might suggest that it retracts when the front door is closed. (This feature was reported on the Adler C, which is certainly a rebadged variant.) The release of the folding bed is on the bottom plate, together with a tripod thread.

The back is hinged to the right and the film advance is controlled by two red windows, near the bottom, protected by vertically sliding individual covers. The back latch has a sliding button and a rivet at both ends; it is exactly the same as on late examples of the Semi Proud.

Evolution Edit

The Semi Rody is mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941.[1] A number of versions are listed, called A (¥62), AII (¥85), I (¥62), IA (¥74), IB (¥88), II (both ¥74 and ¥121) and IIA (¥121), with no further detail. In a similar price list dated November 1941, the versions are the A, AII, IA, IB, IC, II, IIB and III, all of them attributed to Shibayama Seisakusho.[2] Some of these versions correspond to the advertisements described below.

The earliest advertisement is in the February 1941 issue of Asahi Camera.[3] The Semi Rody I (セミ・ロディⅠ型) is presented in three versions, all having a U.L.L. Anastigmat lens made by Miyoshi:

  • Semi Rody IA (ⅠA型): f/4.5 lens, T, B, 5–200 speeds (¥74);
  • Semi Rody IB (ⅠB型): f/4.5 lens, T, B, 1–300 speeds (¥88);
  • Semi Rody IC (ⅠC型): f/3.5 lens, T, B, 1–300 speeds (¥98).

The shutter name is not mentioned, but the pictured camera seems to have a Rulex shutter by Neumann & Heilemann.

The July 1941 advertisement in Shashin Bunka shows the same picture.[4] The lenses are now called Rody Anastigmat, and the following version is added:

  • Semi Rody III (Ⅲ型): f/3.5 lens, Koho shutter with self-timer (¥120).

In later advertisements dated October 1941 and January 1942,[5] the picture is again the same (with the Rulex), but the shutter is described as a Sport, giving T, B, 1–300 speeds. (The Sport shutter was made by Fujimoto.)[6] The lens name is U.L.L. again, and only two versions are listed:

All the above advertisements were placed by the distributor Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten. Another advertisement dated January 1942 was directly placed by the maker Shibayama Seisakusho (柴山製作所).[7] It shows the vertical model, called Semi Rody I (Ⅰ型), along with the newer horizontal Semi Rody II (see below). The lens name is Rody Anastigmat, the shutter speeds are T, B, 1–300 and the following versions are listed:

The picture shows a camera with the Sport shutter and the lens engraving RODY Anastigmat. At least one surviving example is known with the Rody Anastigmat f/4.5 lens and the Sport shutter.[8] The shutter plate is inscribed SPORT at the bottom and has the FT logo of Fujimoto on the right.

The Semi Rody II Edit

Description Edit

The Semi Rody II (セミ・ロディⅡ型) is a very different camera, made in 1941 and 1942.[9] It is a horizontal folder, with a body somewhat inspired from the Duo Six-20 and not unlike the Semi Prux made by Proud and Miyoshi. The top housing has a peculiar shape made of multiple facets and contains the optical finder in the middle. The advance knob is on the left, and there is a body release on the right. The back is hinged to the right and contains two red windows at the bottom, protected by a single horizontally sliding cover. The back latch is the same as on the previous Baldax copy. The name SEMI-RODY is embossed in the front leather.

Evolution Edit

It is not known if the Semi Rody II and IIA mentioned in the official price lists cited above correspond to the horizontal model or not.

The Semi Rody II was offered in the January 1942 advertisement by Shibayama mentioned above.[10] The lens name is Rody Anastigmat and two shutter types are mentioned, giving T, B, 5–200 or T, B, 1–200 speeds. Three versions are listed:

  • f/4.5 lens (¥87);
  • f/3.5 lens (¥100);
  • f/4.5 lens, self-timer (¥128).

The advertising picture shows an example with a 75mm f/4.5 lens engraved RODY Anastigmat, T, B, 5–200 speed settings and no self-timer. The shutter plate is marked AMI TOKYO at the top and something else at the bottom, and the aperture is set by an index above the shutter housing.

Two surviving examples are known, both pictured in this page. One has nickel-plated metal parts, a U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5 lens and a Selon shutter (T, B, 1–300), marked SELON at the top. The other has chrome-plated metal parts, a Rody Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens and a Pisco shutter (250–1, B, T), marked PISCO at the bottom.

Notes Edit

  1. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A and 6B.
  2. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 6B, 7A, 7B.
  3. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.106. It is the earliest advertisement mentioned by the same source, p.344.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.106.
  5. Advertisement in Shashin Bunka October 1941 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.106; advertisement in Hōdō Shashin January 1942, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.89.
  6. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 24-Q-2.
  7. Advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.107.
  8. Example observed in an online auction.
  9. Dates: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.344.
  10. Advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.107.

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 341–2. (See also the advertisement for item 220.)
  • "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 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 6B, 7A, 7B.
  • "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 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 6B.

This camera is not listed in Sugiyama.

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