Idea B and Idea Snap

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The Pocket Idea B (ポケットアイデアB号), Idea B (アイデアB号) and Idea Snap (アイデアスナップ) are Japanese plate folders made by Rokuoh-sha, the manufacturing branch of Konishi or Konishiroku (predecessors of Konica). The Pocket Idea B was first released in tefuda size (8×10.5cm), and later evolved as the Idea B. A smaller Idea B model was also released in meishi size (5.5×8cm), along with the cheaper Idea Snap.[1] All these cameras were cheaper alternatives to the Idea A series, and both lines were replaced in 1923 by the Idea No.1.

See also the other Idea models.

The tefuda models


The tefuda models have an all-wooden vertically folding body, with a handle at the top. The bellows have single extension, and the camera is focused by hand with the help of a distance scale. Variations are known in the shape of the folding struts, of which at least three types exist — straight, thin and large. The front standard has two masts supporting the lensboard, and allows vertical movements only. There is a brilliant finder attached to the folding bed, to the photographer's left, with a retracting hood. The Pocket Idea B has a small POCKET IDEA nameplate attached to the base of the lens standard.

Pocket Idea B

It is said that the Pocket Idea B was introduced in August 1909, together with the Pocket Idea A1.[2]

In the December 1911 catalogue by Konishi Honten, the camera is called "Idea Pocket Hand Camera" in English and "Pocket Idea Camera B Hand Camera" (ポケット、アイデヤ、カメラB號手提暗箱) in Japanese script.[3] It is offered for ¥15 with a rapid meniscus lens (迅速単玉), a simple Time and Instant shutter, and three double-sided plate holders. In the illustration, the camera has straight folding struts with an apparent spring, and has a square lensboard.

It is said that the camera was modified in March 1916 with a shutter made by the company itself; at least one original illustration also suggests that the folding struts were modified with a thinner shape.[4] Surviving examples are known with the words MANUFACTURED BY ROKUOH-SHA TOKYO inscribed on the shutter plate, around the lens. They have the thin folding struts, and the distance scale is to the photographer's right. They sometimes have the RK logo of Rokuoh-sha on the T, B, I speed dial.[5] The aperture scale is graduated in the Uniform Scale, from US 4 to US 64 (i.e. f/8 to f/32).[6]

Idea B

It is said that the camera became the Idea B (アイデアB号) in July 1920, with a revised rounded lensboard.[7] An advertisement dated 1922 for the "Idea B" mentions the ability to take film plates or a film pack, and offers two versions:[8]

  • meniscus (単玉) lens, Ultex shutter, ¥28;
  • RR lens, Ultex shutter, ¥32.

The camera comes with three double-sided plate holders and a case, and the film pack holder is offered as an accessory for ¥6.50.

Surviving examples are known with the newer lensboard, larger folding struts, a round The Idea nameplate on the left, and the distance scale moved to the left. They have the following lens and shutter combinations:

  • unknown lens, Ultex shutter (T, B, 100, 50, 25);[9]
  • Wollensak Rapid Rectilinear lens, Deltax shutter (T, B, 100, 50, 25).[10]

These cameras do retain the POCKET IDEA nameplate; the name change perhaps applied to the catalogues and advertisements only, and was perhaps not followed by a change in the camera markings.

The meishi models


The meishi models have the same general body shape, and always the larger folding struts. The front standard is very different from that of the tefuda models. It consists of a stamped metal part, with two handles at the bottom, and has no movement ability and no nameplate. The brilliant finder is moved to the top of the front standard, on the photographer's left.

Idea B and Idea Snap

It is said that the meishi-size Idea B (アイデアB号) and Idea Snap (アイデアスナップ) appeared together in August 1915.[11] They mainly differ by the lens and shutter unit.

The Idea B is known with a Ultex shutter (T, B, 100, 50, 25), and has no name marking on the shutter face.[12]

The Idea Snap has a simple shutter with O, I, B settings, and has an indent in the front standard for the release lever. The shutter plate has the name IDEA at the top and SNAP CAMERA at the bottom.

In a March 1916 catalogue by Konishiroku, the camera is called "Idea Snap" (アイデアスナップ) and is offered for ¥6 with three single-sided plate holders and a cloth wallet.[13] The format is mentioned as meishi (名刺) size, given in older units as 1 sunbu (一寸八分) width and 2 sunbu (二寸七分) height; this translates as 5.5×8.2cm, commonly rounded to 5.5×8cm. The dimensions of the camera are given as 10.6×7.9×3.6cm, and its weight as 281g.[14]

Another advertisement dated 1920 lists the camera as the meishi-size "Snap Camera" (スナップカメラ), available for ¥10.50.[15]


  1. The small Idea B and Idea Snap are mentioned as daimeishi size (6.5×9cm) by mistake in the chronology of the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and this is repeated in Lewis, p.23.
  2. Chronology of the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and Kikuoka, p.28 of the same magazine.
  3. December 1911 catalogue of Konishi Honten, p.8. A similar document is reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha, towards the bottom.
  4. Folding struts: compare the two first illustrations in the section about the Pocket Idea B and Idea B in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha, towards the middle of the page.
  5. Examples pictured in Kikuoka, p.29 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1083, wrongly identified as a Pocket Idea A1.
  6. Sugiyama, item 1083, reports the lens as a Bausch & Lomb RR 12.7cm, but this is unconfirmed.
  7. Kikuoka, p.29 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. The camera presented as a tefuda-size Idea B in the latter is certainly a meishi model instead.
  8. Advertisement reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. The date is reported as 1922 in this other page.
  9. The same example is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1084 (wrongly identified as a "Pocket Idea A-1"), and in Kikuoka, p.28 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10 (identified as a 1909 "Pocket Idea B").
  10. Example pictured in this page of Neco's camera collection.
  11. Chronology of the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and Kikuoka, pp.28–9 and 31 of the same magazine.
  12. Example pictured in Kikuoka, p.29 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  13. Catalogue by Konishi Honten dated 15 March 1916, reproduced in Tanaka, p.92 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  14. This is given in old units: 3 sunbu length, 2 sunbu width, 1 sunbu depth, 75 monme weight.
  15. Advertisement dated 1920 in Shashin Geppō, reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha.



In Japanese:

Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite) Sakura-flex