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.

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Complete lens box from about 1955.

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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

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

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Nicca Bits

I love finding “new” bits of vintage photo gear especially when you’ve been hunting for them for years.

These bits may seem like no big deal but if you collect hard to find items in their original boxes and cases it’s rewarding when it all comes together.

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Nicca-Hinomaruya Y2 filter and lens hood. Both are from at least 1955 but likely earlier.

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Hinomaruya was the exclusive distributor of Nicca cameras and accessories.

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Using a Y2 yellow filter is a must when shooting with black and white film. It will generally darken a blue sky and provide more contrast between the sky and clouds. It can also help add better definition when shooting landscapes where haze and light atmospheric fog is present. When using a Y2 filter on a camera such as this one you must compensate by a factor of two when taking your meter readings. If you’re using an SLR with TTL metering then the camera’s built-in meter will compensate for you.

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Nicca Type 33 sales brochure showing a slightly different box for the hood and for a color filter along with the older style filter box. The Type 33 was one of the last Nicca cameras produced by the company and was released in 1958 so this would represent the last style of filter and hood boxes. As with everything else, these items were distributed by Hinomaruya.

Studio Camera: Fujifilm X-A10

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

 

Hinomaruya ひのまるや and Nicca Camera

Nicca camera made one of the better 35 mm rangefinder cameras in the 1950s. The style of camera is typically referred to as a Leica copy or Leica clone which is an unfair label to attach to the cameras of this design. One could argue that all cameras are copies of some previous camera – someone had to be first.

Here’s one of my favorite cameras in my collection – the Nicca 3-S rangefinder from about 1955.

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Seldom seen outside of Japan, here’s a nice lens hood with Nicca branding. It was distributed by Hinomaruya Co., Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan. The hood (or lens shade) was designed to be used with the Nikkor 50 mm f/2 lens and had a mount size of 40.5 mm.

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The attention to even the smallest details is what makes collecting these vintage bits of photo gear interesting and fun. The Yashica branded lens shades from this period look exactly the same so I will assume that the same manufacturer made them all. Could it have been Hinomaruya? No proof that they actually “made” things.

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The back of the leather case carries the Hinomaruya (in Japanese it’s ひのまるや) logo in a similar font as the Nicca logo (or at least close to it).

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Side view of the box – the translation is “Nicca Lens Hood”.

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There’s very little about the company Hinomaruya available on the web. It’s last known address was Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 4-3 (which was just around the corner from Yashica). The company was the exclusive distributor of Nicca up until 1958 when Yashica acquired Nicca. They also distributed the rather cool Melcon 35 mm rangefinder camera and the Nikkor lenses used on both the Melcon and Nicca.

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Here’s a bag that has Nicca and Hinomaruya on it. Another direct link between the two of them.

I’m not sure if they made this slide projector or if they distributed it but this item is from about 1959 – interesting because it’s a year after the Yashica acquisition of Nicca.

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There are a few (very few) advertisements floating around on the web from Hinomaruya and I haven’t seen that name anywhere on paperwork from Nicca associated with the camera. It’s unknown if they handled warranty registrations and related paperwork for Nicca or Nikkor.

Thanks for stopping by and BTW, if you have additional information about Hinomaruya or Nicca please feel free to share it with me! Thanks – Chris

Studio Camera: Fujifilm X-A10

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Graflex Graphic 35 – The other camera made in Rochester

Call it space age or mid-century if you wish, the Graphic 35 is a love it or hate it design that was the style of the 1950s. The Graphic 35 featured push-button focusing – how modern was that!?

We think it’s a good looking camera given the era that it was designed in and compared to other cameras from the fifties, it’s rather slick.

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The two push-button focusing buttons are visible just above the lens on either side.

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It’s a coupled rangefinder – a separate viewfinder from the rangefinder.

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The camera was assembled in Rochester, New York with some components (lens and shutter) from West Germany – the 50mm lens is a three element design made by Rodenstock with the Graflar name and has a maximum aperture of f/3.5. The shutter is a Prontor-SVS model with a top speed of 1/300. Although I haven’t used this camera (yet) I’ve read that the lens is very capable in the f/8 and f/11 range but it wasn’t touted as a fast lens for low light or fast action photography. There was also an f/2.8 model.

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It looks like an interesting camera to use and from what I can gather with a fine grain film like Neopan 100 and bright sunlight it should produce some fine images.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit our camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com as we are running our big 15% off everything sale! ^.^

Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Nicca 3-S vs. Nicca 3-F

Another look at these two classic cameras from Nicca.

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

We’ve always assumed that the Nicca cameras were pretty much the same size from one model to another. The early 1950s models look for the most part, the same as the 1958 models. Now that we have two Niccas in our collection it’s time to do some comparisons.

Nicca 3-F on the left and the Nicca 3-S on the right.

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First off, without the lenses attached, there is a slight difference in weight between the two with the 3-F weighing in at 445 grams and the 3-S weighing 432 grams.

There is however a difference in size which surprised us. The later model 3-F (left) is taller than the 3-S (right) by about 4mm.

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The 3-F is also longer than the 3-S by about 7mm.

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The 3-F is about 7mm longer and 1mm wider than the 3-S.

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The 3-F is the top body with the 3-S on the bottom.

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Since…

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Ricoh Five One Nine – 1958

The Ricoh 519 is a 35mm rangefinder camera made by Riken Optical Industries, Ltd. of Tokyo in 1958. The 35mm rangefinder field was extremely crowded in 1958 with Yashica entering the market with its first rangefinder at about the same time. Almost every major and relatively unknown Japanese camera maker had at least an entry in the marketplace. In general, the designs of cameras during this period could range from downright ugly to beautiful – I would place this Ricoh in the beautiful category. I love its lines and thoughtful engineering details. The build quality is exceptional – everything fits nicely and the finishes are extraordinary. Who wouldn’t love the extra attention to detail with the “519” written out in a script?

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Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Happy SUNday! Collecting

Part of the fun of collecting older film cameras is all of the neat “bits” that often come from finding the actual camera. There’s boxes, cases, instruction booklets, caps, auxiliary lenses, silica packs, brochures, ads and dozens of other silly stuff that adds depth to the find. I enjoy restoring and preserving the original boxes that the camera was sold with – often these items were simply tossed away after the camera was put into use. Boxes are actually harder to find and collect than the camera in many cases.

Here’s an example of a recent find – a nice Yashica 35 YL rangefinder set that I purchased from England.

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The image on the left is from the seller’s listing. The box has some obvious damage and serious staining but was overall still very solid. This camera set was made in November 1959 so it’s seen its share of shelf time and it shows. On the right is my first run in the process of restoring (preserving) the box. I gave it a good cleaning – yes, cleaning a paperboard box. I use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and gently scrub away nearly 60 years worth of soot, dirt and DNA from the surfaces of the paper. I can’t stress enough how careful you need to be with the eraser. Just a little bit of moisture and the right amount of pressure will do the trick. Let the paper tell you when you’re about to go “too far”. Let the box dry (it’s not really wet) before moving on to the next steps.

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The next steps in the process of restoring a box are to carefully glue down any loose bits of the paper covering to prevent further damage and loss of details. In the image above, the box has been cleaned, loose paper secured and the bare edges where given a color coat with an alcohol marker in colors close to the original box colors. It’s a process of layering the color coats and blending them to achieve the desired results. I use these types of markers because of the wide variety of colors that are available and the fact that they apply a super thin layer of color without hiding details.

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The box is much brighter and in my opinion, appealing. There’s still some additional coloring to be done but I’m happy with the results. The deep gouge shown in the upper left picture will be filled in with a mixture of colored paper and glue. It’s a bit of work but enjoyable.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Fungus Among Us – “Is that a snow globe in your lens”?

A nice Nikkor lens from around 1951. When a lens is stored improperly you get a snow globe.

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I’m calling it fungus but I don’t see the typical filaments associated with fungus. Mold tends to be spotty. Haze is, well hazy. This whiteout is on the surface of the last internal lens element and is not reachable without a teardown of the lens. I’m sending this one off to a professional camera and lens repair service shortly. No promises made but for $90 its worth a try. The lens is in nearly mint condition otherwise.

The seller did offer a refund of $40 on my purchase to help with the repair costs which was appreciated. A lot of problems could be averted by simply shining a bright LED light through a lens before listing it. But this lens is on a rangefinder camera so simply looking through the range/viewfinder wouldn’t have spotted these issues.

Below is a scan of a page from the Sears Camera Catalog from Fall 1952. It goes into an extensive background of the Nikkor lenses that were available for the Tower 35 – aka Nicca Type-3.

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I’ll let you know how it looks when it’s back from service. Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Sears Camera Catalog – 1952

Cute cover image for the Sears, Roebuck and Company Camera Catalog of 1952. The cover features the Nicca made Tower branded Type-3 (Type III) 35mm rangefinder camera of the early 1950s.

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A scan of the original cover of the catalog.

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From the Tower Type-3 instruction booklet – 1951

More “goodies” to follow from this exceptional camera set we recently acquired. – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.