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Union Semi

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
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Prewar and wartime models ->
Japanese SLR, TLR, pseudo TLR and stereo models ->
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The Union Semi (ユニオン・セミ) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folder. It is also called Union C-II by many sources[1], because of the engraving on the top housing. It was made in 1953–4 by a company called Union Kōgaku, a microscope maker.[2]

Description of the body Edit

The Union C-II is certainly based on the contemporary Zenobia C. The advance knob is different and has a smooth top with a black arrow engraved. There is a depth-of-field scale on the shutter plate. On the right of the top housing, in place of the rotating depth-of-field indicator of the Zenobia C, there is a film reminder, similarly made to look like a knob, and rotating to display the film type (for example COLOR) under a crescent-shaped window situated on top.

The front leather is embossed Union and the back leather has no marking and is cut differently from that on the Zenobia, with more black trim at the top and bottom. The top housing is engraved Union and C-II, with the serial number engraved on its back. Examples of serial numbers include 53885[3] and 531845[4]: "53" probably refers to the year of production.

Lens and shutter equipment Edit

The camera is advertised in May 1953[5] under the name "Union Semi", for ¥13,000, with a Conoor Anastigmat 7.5cm f:3.5 four-element coated lens and a Copal shutter giving B, 1–200 speeds, synchronized and having a self-timer. The distributor was Murakami Shashin-yōhin.

At some point, the shutter was changed from a synchronized Copal with B, 1–200 speeds and ASA bayonet connector[6] to a later Copal variant with B, 1–300 speeds and PC socket[7].

The lens is engraved H.C. Conoor Anastigmat 1:3.5 F=7.5cm No,xxxxxx, where "H.C." probably stands for "Hard Coated". Examples of lens serial numbers go from four digits to six digits: maybe 2878[8], 28993[9], 281381[10], 282058[11]. The common prefix "28" certainly corresponds to Shōwa year 28, corresponding to 1953 in the Japanese calendar.

Notes Edit

  1. Including McKeown, p. 935, this page of the AJCC website and this page at According to Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p. 371, it is also the name given in the Kamera Zukan book by Sugiyama and Naoi.
  2. Dates: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p. 371. Microscope maker: advertisement published in the May 1953 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p. 202.
  3. Example observed in an online auction.
  4. Example pictured in this page at
  5. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p. 202.
  6. It equips the camera pictured in the May 1953 advertisement cited above and the one pictured in this page of the AJCC website.
  7. It equips the camera pictured in McKeown, the one pictured in this page at Japan Family Camera and the one pictured in this page at
  8. Example pictured in this page of the AJCC website.
  9. Example observed in an online auction.
  10. Example pictured in this page at Japan Family Camera.
  11. Example pictured in this page at, lens number 282058.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:

<-Okada Daiichi and Zenobia timeline (edit)
Type 1950s
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
4.5×6 folder viewfinder Zenobia P Zenobia M
Zenobia C
rebadged versions: Union Semi Walcon Semi
Zenobia H
uncoupled rangefinder Zenobia R
coupled rangefinder Super Zenobia SR-I Super Zenobia SR
6×6 TLR knob advance Zenobiaflex Zenobiaflex II Zenobiaflex F-II
crank advance Zenobiaflex
35mm rangefinder f/2.8 Zenobia 35 Zenobia 35
f/2 Zenobia 35 F2
Leica copy Ichicon-35
Company: Daiichi Kōgaku ... Zenobia Kōgaku
Cameras whose actual existence is dubious are in a lighter shade.
Cameras in yellow are variants sold and maybe assembled by other companies.

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