The Maruso Camera are Japanese cameras using the no-need-darkroom process, advertised in the late 1940s by Marusō Kōgaku and Ugajin Denki Kōgaku, and about which little is known. It seems that various models exist, including simple box-shaped cameras, folding cameras, and (pseudo) TLR cameras.
History and documents
Two advertisements for a Maruso Camera appear in the April 20, 1948 issue of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin. The first one was placed by the company Marusō Kōgaku. It mentions a "Maruso patented twin-lens reflex" (マルソー特許二眼レフ), equipped with an "automatic one-second device" — presumably a self-timer — and offered for ¥280, and specifies that the camera was "even sold abroad".
The other advertisement was placed by Ugajin Denki Kōgaku. It mentions a "Maruso Camera" or "Maruso patented homemade reflex" (マルソー特許国産レフ), presumably the same camera. It mentions the "automatic one-second device" too, and says that the camera takes Leica-size single exposures. The advertisement says nothing of the actual film stock used, but it can be presumed that the camera takes daylight loading no-need-darkroom film sheets, measuring about 2.5×4cm. Various prices are given: ¥150, ¥280, ¥380 and ¥850. These certainly correspond to different versions of the camera, but no further explanation is provided.
One example of a Maruso Camera is pictured in Sugiyama. It is a simple box camera with no viewfinder, reportedly taking 2.5×4cm no-need-darkroom film stock. The shutter plate is inscribed MARUSO CAMERA at the bottom, and MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN above the lens. The shutter has B and 1/25 settings, and is tripped by a lever on the right of the lens. This model is certainly one of the cheaper versions advertised in 1948, along with the pseudo TLR models.
A folding Maruso Camera has also been observed. Its construction is similar to other no-need-darkroom folding cameras made in Japan. Its shutter plate is inscribed MARUSO CAMERA and PAT. 359573 at the bottom, and MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN at the top. It has an MS logo, which looks like the MTS logo used by Molta (predecessor of Minolta) in the 1930s. (The same logo appears on the Maruso 35 camera taking Bolta film.)
- Advertisement on p.4 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin April 20, 1948, reproduced on p.82 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- "Equipped with an automatic one-second device": 自動一秒付.
- Advertisement on p.6 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin April 20, 1948, reproduced on p.84 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- Sugiyama, item 4154. The camera is attributed to "Maruso Trading Co.", but this is certainly a confusion.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisements on pp.82 and 84, corresponding to pp.4 and 6 of the April 20, 1948 issue.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Item 4154.