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Wester (wartime 4.5×6)

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
folding
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See also the postwar Semi Wester, a very different 4.5×6cm camera made by the same manufacturer in the early 1950s, and its successors the Wester 6×6 folders.

The Wester (ウエスター) or Semi Wester (セミウエスター) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera made in the first half of the 1940s by Nishida.

Description Edit

The wartime Wester is a vertical folder, copy of the Nettar with straight diagonal struts. There is a folding optical finder. The folding bed release is on the right and the body release on the left, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally. The back is hinged to the left and the film advance is certainly at the bottom right.

Documents Edit

The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 has four versions of the Wester, called "Wester I" (¥121), "Wester II" (¥160), "Wester B" (¥121) and "Wester BII" (¥160), with no further detail.[1] A similar price list dated November 1941 mentions three versions called "Wester", "Wester I" and "Wester II", and attributes the camera to Nishida Kōgaku.[2]

The Wester was advertised from 1941 to 1943.[3] It was distributed by Kikōdō in Tokyo and by Yamamoto Shashinki-ten in Osaka. In an advertisement dated March 1943,[4] the camera was offered with a Wester lens and a Northter shutter giving T, B, 1–200 speeds, in three versions:

  • f/4.5 lens, no self-timer (¥103);
  • f/4.5 lens, self-timer (¥135);
  • f/3.5 lens, self-timer (¥159).

In the picture, the front part of the viewfinder folds over the rear one.

The camera is also mentioned in the government inquiry of April 1943, with a Wester f/3.5 lens and a Northter II shutter (T, B, 1–200, self-timer).[5]

Actual example Edit

The only surviving example observed so far is pictured in Sugiyama.[6] The rear part of the finder folds above the front one, the reverse of the advertising picture. The front leather has some inscription, probably reading Wester. The lens is a Wester Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 and the shutter is a Northter II.

Notes Edit

  1. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 6B and 7B.
  2. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 6A, 6B and 7B.
  3. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.334.
  4. Advertisement published in Hōdō Shashin, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.59.
  5. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 58, lens item Lb19, shutter item 18-P-25.
  6. Sugiyama, item 1438. The camera is wrongly reported as a postwar model.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • "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 6A, 6B and 7B.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Item 58.
  • "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 6B and 7B.

Recent sources Edit

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