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Topcon 35

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The Topcon 35A and Topcon 35B are 35mm cameras with an interchangeable lens, made between 1953 and 1956 by Tōkyō Kōgaku and successors of the Minion 35 series.[1] They were to have the name "Topcon" and it is also said that they were the first Japanese cameras with a leaf shutter and interchangeable lenses.[2] They were replaced by the Topcon 35-S.

The Topcon 35A Edit

Description Edit

The Topcon 35 or Topcon 35A is a viewfinder-only model. It has a rounded body, shaped like the Minion 35 but higher. The back is removable together with the bottom plate for film loading. It is locked in place by two keys under the camera. The top plate supports the tubular viewfinder in the middle, the advance knob and exposure counter at the right end and the rewind knob at the left end. Next to the advance knob are the body release and the rewind unlock lever with A and R settings. There is also an accessory shoe to the left of the viewfinder. The name Topcon and the serial number are engraved in front of the accessory shoe.

A rectangular metal plate is screwed to the front of the body and surrounds the lens and shutter assembly. The shutter is a Copal giving B, 1–300 speeds. It has a self-timer and it is synchronized for flash, via a connector situated at the bottom of the rectangular front plate. The connection between the advance knob and the cocking lever is externally visible above the shutter housing. The standard lens has f/3.5 maximal aperture. It is screwed to the front of the shutter and it is interchangeable.[3] The original lens cap is in bright metal and is engraved TOPCON.

Variations Edit

The only major change that occurred during the production of the Topcon 35A was the switch from the Toko 4cm f/3.5 standard lens, presumably having three elements, to the Topcor 4.2cm f/3.5 with four elements. In addition to this, minor variations have been observed.

The presumably early examples have a thin accessory shoe made of folded sheet metal, whereas the regular cameras have a heavy diecast accessory shoe.[4] (Only the diecast shoe is pictured in the advertisements observed so far.)

Most cameras have a cup screwed around the release button, and this part is itself known in two slightly different shapes.[5] At least one example is known with a small milled ring instead.[6] On other examples, the part is altogether missing, directly showing the screw thread around the release button.

All the examples observed so far are engraved COPAL at the bottom of the speed rim, but it is said that late examples have TOPCO instead.[7]

Advertising Edit

The camera was released in autumn 1953.[8] It probably corresponds to the Minion 35E which was announced in early 1953 but never sold, and whose description is similar except for the top speed. The camera was simply called "Topcon 35" (トプコン35) in an advertisement dated December 1953.[9] The lens was the Toko 4cm f/3.5 and the price was not given. The distributor was Ōsawa Shōkai. One year later, in November 1954[10], the price of the camera was ¥16,500.

In January 1955,[11] the standard lens was the Topcor 4.2cm f/3.5, described as having four elements. The rest of the features and the prices were unchanged. The camera was now directly advertised by Tōkyō Kōgaku Kikai. In August of the same year,[12] the Topcon 35B was already listed but the camera was still called "Topcon 35". The price was ¥14,000. In November,[13] the viewfinder model was called Topcon 35A (トプコン35A) and the price was unchanged. The 35A was still featured in a catalogue also showing the Topcon 35-S, certainly dated 1956, where the shutter is given as "Copal, Topco".[14]

The Topcon 35B Edit

Description Edit

The Topcon 35B is a coupled-rangefinder model. It shares the same body as the Topcon 35 but has a higher top housing, containing the combined range- and viewfinder. The metal front plate is also shaped differently, with incurved sides. This plate supports a focusing helical with a focusing tab. There are strap lugs at both ends.

The advance knob with the exposure counter is at the right end of the top plate and it is larger than the knob of the 35A. It seems to contain a film reminder. The release button has slight variations, like on the 35A, and the rewind selector is placed behind. There is a high step on the left of the release button, to leave room to the range- and viewfinder. The viewfinder has bright frames for both 4.2cm and 8cm lenses. It is slightly offset to the right. The rangefinder window is on the left. The name Topcon and the serial number are engraved above, and there is also an accessory shoe. The rewind knob is at the left end. It is surrounded by a concentric black wheel, used to set the distance when taking pictures with the 8cm lens.

The shutter is a Seikosha-Rapid giving B, 1–500 speeds and synchronized via a PC connector. It is mounted on the focusing helical, and the cam coupling the advance knob to the cocking lever is externally visible in a cut-off at the top. The lens is a Topcor 4.2cm f/3.5. Optically it is surely the same as the lens of the 35A. However it lacks a focusing scale. It is thus unusable on a Topcon 35A.

Advertising Edit

The Topcon 35B was released in mid-1955.[15] The advertisement dated August 1955 cited above[16] gives no price and the one dated November 1955[17] lists the camera for ¥18,000. The Topcon 35B was still offered in August 1956[18] for the same price.

In the 1956 catalogue mentioning the Topcon 35A and 35B, the Topcor 4.2cm f/3.5 lens is listed as available alone for ¥6,500.[19] The purpose of selling the standard lens alone is unclear, and it is not mentioned if this was the version with the focusing scale or without.

Topcor 8cm f/5.6 tele lens Edit

The only non-standard lens made for the Topcon 35A and 35B is the Topcor 8cm f/5.6 medium tele. The advertisements say that it has five elements. It is used together with an external viewfinder on the Topcon 35A, but this is not necessary on the 35B because of the built-in bright frame.[20] This lens is not coupled to the rangefinder of the Topcon 35B. When used on this camera, the rangefinder is controlled by the black wheel surrounding the rewind knob, and the distance setting must be manually transfered to the lens.

The 8cm f/5.6 lens was originally sold together with the external viewfinder, before the release of the 35B. It was not yet offered for sale in December 1953, and its price together with the viewfinder was ¥13,000 in November 1954 and January 1955 and ¥9,000 in August and November 1955. Some months after the release of the 35B, it was also offered alone, costing ¥8,000 in November 1955 and August 1956.

The lens was sold with a black cylindrical case, marked TOPCON Topcor 1:5.6 f=8cm at the top, and with a black lens cap written TOPCON.

Notes Edit

  1. Dates: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.355.
  2. First Japanese camera with leaf shutter and interchangeable lenses: Lewis, p.83.
  3. McKeown, p.925, says that the lens is fixed on the first version with Toko 4cm f/3.5, but this is a mistake. See this page at Nekosan's website for pictures of the Toko 4cm f/3.5 unscrewed.
  4. Thin accessory shoe: see the example pictured here at Sky Kogaku. The diecast shoe is much more common.
  5. Compare the cameras pictured here by Nekosan.
  6. Example pictured here at the Topcon Club.
  7. TOPCO engraving: see this page of the Topcon Club website.
  8. The earliest occurrence listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.355, is in the new products column of Asahi Camera September 1953.
  9. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.151 and 175. A very similar advertisement is reproduced in this page of the Shashin-Bako website.
  10. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151. No company name is visible.
  11. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151.
  12. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151.
  13. Advertisement published in Shashin Salon, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151.
  14. Tōkyō Kōgaku catalogue certainly dated 1956, reproduced in this page of the Topcon Club website.
  15. The earliest occurrence listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.355, is in the news column of Sankei Camera July 1955.
  16. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151.
  17. Advertisement published in Shashin Salon, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151.
  18. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.256.
  19. Tōkyō Kōgaku catalogue certainly dating 1956, reproduced in this page of the Topcon Club website.
  20. The picture in Sugiyama, item 3796, of the Topcon 35B with the 8cm lens and external viewfinder attached does not show a normal configuration.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

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In Japanese:

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