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Tsubasa Chrome

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The Tsubasa Chrome is a Japanese camera taking 4×6.5cm and 3×4cm exposures on 127 film. It was sold by the Japanese company Optochrom from 1937, and was certainly made by Kigawa.

General description Edit

All the models have a telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly. They have a tubular optical finder in the middle of the top plate, with two bars indicating the field of view for 3×4 format. The advance knob is at the left end and the release lever is on the shutter housing itself. The back is hinged to the right and film advance is controlled by red window. The front leather is embossed TSUBASA.

Original model Edit

Description Edit

The original Tsubasa Chrome (ツバサ・クローム) has T, B, 25, 50, 100 speeds. The advance knob has a cylindrical shape and there is a smaller cylindrical knob at the opposite end of the top plate. There is a button on the right of the top plate; it looks like a body release but it is actually the release of the spring loaded telescopic tube. The back contains two uncovered red windows.

The shutter plate is marked TSUBASA SHUTTER at the top, with an NE logo between both words, and NEW GOLD at the bottom. The speeds are selected by turning the shutter rim, which is very thin. The speed scale is inscribed at the top of the shutter plate, and the aperture scale is at the bottom.

Original documents Edit

The camera is featured in the new products column of the August 1937 issue of Asahi Camera.[1] The same issue also contains an advertisement listing the model with a Lucomar f/6.3 lens at ¥19.50 or a Lucomar f/4.5 lens at ¥28.50 — ¥4 extra for the case.[2] In an advertisement dated June 1938, the prices are respectively ¥23 and ¥34 (case for ¥4.50).[3]

Actual examples Edit

A few examples have been observed.[4] Their advance knob is smaller and higher than on the advertising pictures and it has three rows of knurls.

Most have a Lucomar Anastigmat f/6.3 fixed-focus lens and speeds marked T, B, 25, 50, 100 in that order. The aperture scale has 6.3, 8, 11, 16, 22 settings. The shutter plate has a single metal strip on each side of the lens and the NEW GOLD name is written in rounded letters, the same as in the advertising pictures.

At least one has a Lucomar Anastigmat f/4.5 front-cell focusing lens and speeds marked T, B, 100, 50, 25. The aperture scale has 4.5, 6.3, 9, 12.5, 18, 25 settings. The shutter plate has three metal strips on each side of the lens and the NEW GOLD name is written in square letters.

Tsubasa Chrome New Edit

Description Edit

The Tsubasa Chrome New (ツバサ・クローム・新型) adds 1/150 top speed. The advance knob has a more rounded shape and a hollow top, and the film flange at the right end of the top plate has a conical shape.

The shutter plate is marked WING ANCHOR at the top, MADE IN JAPAN at the bottom, and the NE logo is on the right. There is a thread for a cable release added next to the release lever. The speeds are engraved T, B, 150, 100, 50, 25 in that order on the shutter rim. The aperture scale goes to f/32.

Original documents Edit

The advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1938 lists the camera with the Lucomar f/6.3 lens (¥25) or the Lucomar f/4.5 lens (¥34, case ¥5 extra).[5] In the picture, the shutter plate is of the new type and there is still a button on the right of the top plate.

This button is no more visible in the picture of the February 1939 advertisement in the same magazine, where the camera is offered at unchanged prices.[6] This probably means that the telescopic tube was no longer spring-loaded.

The camera is simply called Tsubasa Chrome again in advertisements dated April and December 1939, which give the higher price of ¥28 for the f/6.3 version.[7]

The Tsubasa Chrome is mentioned in the list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, under the names "Tsubasa Chrome" (¥28), "Tsubasa Chrome II" (¥33) and "Tsubasa Chrome IIA" (¥42), with no further detail.[8] A catalogue reportedly dated 1942 lists the Tsubasa Chrome with Lucomar f/6.3 only, for ¥40 — case ¥6.70 extra.[9]

Actual examples Edit

Actual examples of the Tsubasa Chrome New have been observed on various occasions, with or without the telescopic tube release.[10] There are minor variations in the shape of the film flange at the top right. All the examples observed so far have a fixed-focus f/6.3 lens.

Later version Edit

Various examples of a later version have been observed.[11] There is a large key in place of the advance knob, and an accessory shoe to the right of the viewfinder, in place of the telescopic tube release of the early version. The back latch is modified and consists of a long sliding bar. The back has a round metal plate in the middle and a single red window on the right. The viewfinder still has the two bars for 3×4cm pictures, and the camera retains the dual-format ability. (It seems that the 127 film rolls sold in Japan at the time had indications for half-frame pictures on the paper backing.) One of the cameras has a Lucomar Anastigmat f/6.3 fixed-focus lens, and the other has a Lucomar Anastigmat f/4.5 lens, presumably focusing by turning the front ring.

Notes Edit

  1. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.337.
  2. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78.
  3. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78. Eight authorized dealers are mentioned: Asanuma Shōkai, Hagi Kōgyō Bōeki, Misuzu Shōkai, Mizuno Shashinki-ten, Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten, Eikōdō, Matsuzaki Shashinki-ten and Ueda Shashinki-ten.
  4. Examples observed in online auctions.
  5. Advertisement for the Tsubasa range reproduced in the Gochamaze website.
  6. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78. It is looking the same as the September 1938 advertisement cited above, but there are detail differences.
  7. Advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1939 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79, and advertisement on p.18 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, December 15, 1939, reproduced on p.52 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku. (The last advertisement listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.337, is dated June 1939.)
  8. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, section 3 and type 2, sections 3 and 5A.
  9. Catalogue by Gold Camera Kōgyōsho observed in an online auction.
  10. Compare e.g. the examples pictured in Sugiyama: item 4102 with the tube release and item 4099 without. Item 4102 has a folding frame finder which does not look original, and it is mistakenly called "Tsubasa" by mistake.
  11. Examples observed in online auctions.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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