Romax plate folder
The Romax is a Japanese 6.5×9cm plate folder, about which little is known, and whose mere existence is dubious. The company Misuzu Shōkai is known to have distributed a Lomax, name variant of the Sirius by Molta. "Lomax" and "Romax" are alternate spellings of the same Japanese name ロマックス (Romakkusu), and all the mentions of a "Romax" might originate in a confusion with this "Lomax" camera. The name "Romax" was used in the early 1940s for an unrelated 6×6 folder too, see Romax (6×6).
Romax reported in Baird and McKeown
The most detailed source on the "Romax" is Baird's book on Kuribayashi cameras, where the camera is attributed to that company for an unknown reason. Baird reports that the camera was offered in 1934 with Radionar or Trinar lenses in f/6.3 or f/4.5 aperture.
This source shows one picture of a surviving camera, but the camera name is not visible. The pictured camera has a die-cast metal body, double extension bellows driven by a small wheel on the photographer's right, a distance scale on the left and vertical and horizontal movement ability. There are traces of a missing brilliant finder and wireframe finder.
The lens is a Radionar f/4.5 and the shutter is a dial-set Vario (25, 50, 100, B, T). The lens has a rotating front cell and a distance scale engraved on the rim; front-cell focusing lenses are normally not mounted on a plate folder, which has its own focusing device, and the lens and shutter unit is certainly not original.
The picture does not fit the text well: the camera is described as a "basic, inexpensive model" in the text, whereas the pictured camera has expensive features such as double extension bellows and rise and cross movements.
The exact same picture is reproduced in McKeown. The lens and shutter combination is not mentioned in the text, perhaps because of doubts on its authenticity, and the following combinations are reported instead:
- Trinar f/6.3 (by Rodenstock), Vario;
- Radionar f/4.5 (by Schneider), Compur;
- State Anastigmat f/4.5 (by Tōkyō Kōgaku), Magna.
Other available sources
A "Romax" camera appears in Lewis in a list of Japanese plate cameras released in 1933 and 1934. This source is not the most reliable for Roman spellings, and this camera might correspond to the Lomax instead.
Finally, a "Romax" or "Lomax" (ロマックス) was recently listed in the official chronology of Misuzu Shōkai as released in 1938. The date was certainly a mistake, and the name itself was given in katakana script only.
Other camera maybe corresponding to a Romax
One 6.5×9cm plate folder is presented as a Mikuni in this page at Handmade and Classic Camera. It has an Amigo-Anastigmat 10.5cm f/4.5 and a rim-set Compur shutter. It is not known if the identification as a Mikuni is confirmed by a marking on the camera itself or if this is a mere guess. The body significantly differs from the illustrations of a Mikuni found in original advertisements (see the corresponding page), and it is very similar to the camera pictured in Baird and McKeown as a "Romax": it has the same folding struts and focusing rails, and the front standard has strong similarities.
- Baird, John R. Collectors guide to Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. Grantsburg, WI (USA): Centennial Photo Service, 1991. ISBN 0-931838-16-9. Pp.15 and 59.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.48 (brief mention only).
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P.576.
The Romax is not listed in Sugiyama.
- Mikuni or Romax camera with Amigo lens and Compur shutter, at Handmade and Classic Camera
- A web archive version (Sep 24, 2004) of the chronology of the Misuzu Shōkai corporate site, which is now dead. (If the text is garbled rather than Japanese, switch the encoding to Shift-JIS.)
|Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras ( )|
|Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho|
|Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa||Molby||Speed Reflex||First Reflex||Baby First|