Tanaka Optical Company, Ltd. – the 1950s

The Tanaka Optical Co., Ltd. was a camera and lens manufacturer with a factory in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan during the 1950s. Not many would have seen their cameras (35mm Leica type rangefinders) and fewer still their lenses for L39 Leica screw mount cameras. Their first camera was the Tanack 35 which was developed in 1952 and released in 1953. The company was gone by 1959.

There’s conflicting information on the web about whether Tanaka made just a few cameras and no lenses. This I believe is definitive proof that they did make cameras and lenses.

tanaka box with detail

Complete lens box from about 1955.

Tanar Lens Box

The side panel says it all – “Manufactured in Kawasaki Japan by Tanaka Optical Co., Ltd. Manufacturers of Tanack Cameras, Tanar Lenses & Accessories”.

There’s still a lot to learn about the early years of this small camera manufacturer. At this time, I haven’t been able to find evidence that they made lenses for other camera makers. My guess is that they did but no proof yet.

Do you have more information about Tanaka, Tanar lenses and Tanack cameras? Please feel free to share what you know with me and I’ll gladly share that with my readers.

Thanks – Chris

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