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Snappy

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Japanese subminiature
on paper-backed roll film and round film (edit)
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20mm film Guzzi | Mycroflex | Top
round film Evarax | Petal | Sakura Petal | Star
unknown Hallow | Lyravit | Tsubasa
cine film see Japanese cine film subminiature
110 film see Japanese 110 film

The Snappy is a subminiature camera made from 1949 by Konishiroku (predecessor of Konica).

The same name was re-used by Canon in the 1980s for point-and-shoot cameras, and earlier by Sears for a box camera.

Description Edit

The Snappy takes ten 14×14mm exposures on 17.5mm paper backed rollfilm.[1] From a distance, it looks quite similar to the Hit-type cameras, but it was made by a reputable company and it has a much better finish and better features.

The body has a trapezoidal shape, as viewed from above, quite similar to that of the Exakta. The film is advanced by a knob on the left, as seen by the photographer. The back door is hinged to the right, and is opened by raising the advance knob. The spool holders are attached to its inner face, and it also contains an uncovered red window in a diamond-shaped frame.

The horizontally running[2] guillotine[3] shutter is placed inside the body, behind the lens. (It has been described as a focal-plane shutter, but this is inaccurate.)[4] It is cocked by a sliding lever at the rear, on the right of the finder eyepiece, and it is tripped by a body release on the top cover. The speeds (B, 25, 50, 100) are selected by turning a ring at the base of the lens barrel.

The lens is interchangeable via a screw mount. The standard lens is a three-element Optor 25mm f/3.5.[5] Its aperture is adjustable from 3.5 to 16, by turning the front bezel. It has a fixed focus, set around 3m.[6]

The camera is identified by the name Snappy engraved above the viewfinder. The engraving is either slanted or parallel to the body edge — in the latter case, the word PATENTS is added below, in small characters. Some cameras have MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN engraved on the bottom plate, and others have the same mention embossed in the back leatherette.

Commercial life Edit

The Snappy was developed in Spring 1949, and an original blueprint dated March 17, 1949 is reproduced in an issue of Kurashikku Kamera Senka.[7] Some sources say that it was released in August 1949.[8] It was first announced in Japan in the September 1949 issue of Kohga Gekkan.[9] It is said that it was first sold for export, and was distributed on the Japanese market only later.[10] It was advertised in Japanese magazines from April 1950 to March 1951, and was episodically mentioned until July 1952.[11]

Columns from Photo Art are reproduced above. The price is given as "less than ¥2,500" in December 1949, as ¥1,780 in May 1950, and as ¥1,558 in December 1951. The latter column mentions the tele lens as an "Optor" 40/5.6, perhaps by mistake. It does not mention its price, but recent sources say ¥980.[12]

The Snappy sold fairly well, and it is said that about 40,000 units were produced.[13] In Japanese department stores, it was sold at the real camera counter, not at the toy counter as most other Hit-type cameras.[14] One source says that it was also used by the police, but this is unconfirmed.[15]

Accessories Edit

Telephoto lens Edit

Other than the standard Optor 25mm f/3.5, the only interchangeable lens made for the Snappy is the Cherry Tele 40mm f/5.6. It focuses down to 3.5ft, and its aperture is adjustable from 5.6 to 16. The barrel is all chrome and the bezel is black. It comes in an auxiliary frame, which snaps in front of the finder window. The lens and finder frame both fit in a cylindrical carrying case.

Close-up lens Edit

It is said that a close-up lens was available for the standard Optor 25mm f/3.5, allowing to take pictures at 1m.[16]

Hoods and filters Edit

A small hood with UV filter and a large hood with a set of colour filters are pictured here and here at Submin.com. Both have a metal finish and a round shape. The smaller hood and the filter set are contained in small leather cases. The smaller hood is also found in the Snappy Camera Set (see below) and is certainly specific to the camera. It is not known for sure if the larger hood is original too.

Tripod adapter Edit

A tripod adapter was made for the Snappy, and was included in the Snappy Camera Set (see below). That pictured in this page at Submin.com is said to be a modification of a Mycro tripod adapter, and it is not clear if it is original to the Snappy.

Case and box Edit

The ever-ready case is brown coloured, with the name Snappy embossed at the front. For the US market, the original box has a pentagonal shape, following the body's outline, and has white, black and red colours.

Snappy Camera Set Edit

Some examples of the Snappy were sold as a set in a red and black cardboard presentation box including the camera with case, the telephoto lens with case, the small hood, the close-up lens, the yellow filter, the tripod adapter and two packs of six film rolls.[17]

Notes Edit

  1. Some sources wrongly mention 16mm film with paper backing: Miyazaki, p.155, Hishida, p.74 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  2. Shima, p.153 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35.
  3. McKeown, p.545, Shima, p.153 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35, Mizukawa, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53.
  4. The description as a focal-plane shutter was also used in contemporary reports, for example in Photo Art May 1950, p.47.
  5. Three elements: Shima, p.153 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35, Mizukawa, pp.36–7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53.
  6. Around 3m: Mizukawa, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53.
  7. Hishida, p.75 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  8. Miyazaki, pp.156 and 183, and Hishida, p.79 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  9. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.353.
  10. Kamera no ayumi, p.259.
  11. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.353.
  12. Miyazaki, p.156, Hishida, p.79 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  13. 40,000 units: Miyazaki, p.156.
  14. Shima, p.153 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35.
  15. Sakai, p.12 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10: 初心者ばかりでなく警察用としても使用されていた.
  16. Mizukawa, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53.
  17. McKeown, p.545.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • Photo Art December 1949. "Ōru kokusan kamera" (オール国産カメラ, All of Japanese cameras). Pp.34–41.
  • Photo Art May 1950. "Kokusan kamera" (国産カメラ, Japanese cameras). Pp.42–7.
  • Photo Art 12-gatsu-gō furoku Saishin Kokusan Shashinki Sō-katarogu (フォトアート12月號附録最新国産写真機総カタログ, General catalogue of the latest Japanese cameras, supplement to the December issue). December 1951. P.37.

Recent sources Edit

Links Edit

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In German:

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