Maruso Refe

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Japanese pseudo TLR (edit)
Prewar and wartime models
4.5×6 Hansa Rollette Ref | Roll Light Ref | Union Ref
4×4 Pilot Ref (4×4)
3×4 Alma Baby Ref | Baby Ref | Baby Roll Ref | Chukon Ref | Clover Baby Ref | Mario Ref | Pilot Ref | Prince Baby Ref | Truth
Postwar models
6×6 Cometflex | Dox New Six | Elliotte | Flex-O-Cord | Honestflex | Koniken | Mikono Flex C | Oplen Junior | Palma Brilliant | Rionflex | Rosko Brilliant | Topflex | Vesterflex
4.5×6 Binox | Maruso Refe
4×4 Herlight
Japanese true TLR ->
Japanese 6×6, 4.5×6, 3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5 ->

The Maruso Refe is a Japanese box camera taking 4.5×6cm exposures on 120 film, made around 1950 by Marusō Kōgaku.[1]


The Maruso Refe is a box shaped camera, and can be described as a box or a pseudo TLR. The body is made of sheet tin.[2] The advance knob is on the photographer's right hand. The release lever is to the right of the lens and there is a B and I (Bulb and Instant) selector on the left. There is a large brilliant finder at the top, and strap attachments on both sides of the body.

The lens is a fixed-focus meniscus, allowing pictures from 2m to infinity.[3] A close-up attachment was available for pictures at 60cm distance.[3] The lens plate is written Maruso Refe at the top and MADE IN JAPAN at the bottom.

History and documents

The camera was featured as a new product in the October 1950 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced below.[3] In this document, the camera is called "Semi Ref" (セミーレフ) and attributed to Marusō Kōgaku. The price was set as ¥850, with extra ¥100 for the close-up attachment. The camera was supplied to inns selected by the Japan Travel Bureau, where it was rented to the clients for ¥200 a day.[3][4][5]


  1. Attribution to Marusō Kōgaku: column in Asahi Camera October 1950, p.120. The attribution to "Maruso Trading Co." in Sugiyama, item 4155, is certainly a confusion.
  2. Sheet metal: column in Asahi Camera October 1950, p.120. Tin: Sugiyama, item 4155.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Column in Asahi Camera October 1950, p.120.
  4. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.354.
  5. Sugiyama, item 4155.


Original documents

  • Asahi Camera October 1950. "Shinseihin memo" (新製品, New products memo). P.120.

Recent sources

  • Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. 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. Item 578. (Unlike most other cameras covered in this book, no advertisement is reproduced.)
  • 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 4155.