Semi Dymos

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
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The Semi Dymos (セミダイモス) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folder, sold by Seibidō[1] between 1935 and 1937. The manufacturer is not known for sure, though at least one recent source says that the camera was made by Mori.[2] (The latter company was perhaps also involved in the production of the Light shutter sometimes mounted on the camera.)

The Hansa Semi Rollette and the original Semi Rosen are certainly name variants of the Semi Dymos (see the discussion in the corresponding pages).

General description

The Semi Dymos is an Ikonta copy, with the typical Ikonta struts. There is a folding optical finder in the middle of the top plate. Its front part folds above the back one and it is perhaps of the Newton type. The folding bed release is on the right of the viewfinder and the film advance key is at the bottom right — as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally. The back is hinged to the left and the back latch is covered by a leather handle. The brand name Dymos is embossed in the front leather in cursive style: the "D" is very large and contains the rest of the letters.

The Semi Dymos A to F

The original Semi Dymos, released in 1935, has no body release and has two red windows in the back, protected by a cover that is retracted by turning a thumbwheel. The word PAT is sometimes engraved on the metal casing surrounding the red windows,[3] certainly indicating that the mechanism was patented. The exact same mechanism is found on the Reex, which was perhaps related. Only one surviving example of the original Semi Dymos has been observed so far.[4]

The camera appears as a new model in an advertisement in Asahi Camera June 1935.[5] The following versions are listed in a January 1936 advertisement:[6]

  • Model A (A號): Radionar f/6.3 lens, Rulex shutter (¥49);
  • Model B (B號): Radionar f/4.5 lens, Light shutter (¥55);
  • Model C (C號): Lausar f/4.5 lens, Light shutter (¥59).

Some advertisements may have shown the following range instead:[5]

  • Model A: Radionar f/6.3, Rulex;
  • Model B: Dymos f/4.5, Light;
  • Model C: Radionar f/4.5, Light;
  • Model D: Lausar f/4.5, Light.

In mid-1936, the A, B, C, D models were replaced by the models E and F. In advertisements dated May and December 1936, they are described as follows:[7]

  • Model E (E號): Radionar f/4.5 lens, 5–250 speeds (¥60 — case ¥5 extra);
  • Model F (F號): Lausar f/4.5 lens, 5–250 speeds (¥63).

The shutter name is not given, but it is probably the Light B mentioned in a later document (see below).

The Semi Dymos II

The Semi Dymos II appeared at the beginning of 1937. It has a special device for advance control, called "talkie numbers" (トーキーナンバー) in the advertisements, which emphasize its convenience to take pictures in a dark place. The device is exactly the same as on the original Semi Rosen sold by Ōsawa Shōkai at the same time, which was certainly a name variant (see the picture in the page on the Semi Rosen). It consists of a manual exposure counter contained under a square casing at the bottom left of the back. The frame number is displayed in a small round window, and the device makes a sound each time the next exposure is attained. There is a small lever next to the round window, perhaps used to reset the counter, and a triangular logo on the leather covering. There is still a red window at the extreme left of the back, protected by a vertically sliding cover, used to set the position of the first exposure.

The Semi Dymos II first appeared in advertisements dated March 1937.[5] The May 1937 advertisement in Asahi Camera says that the model 1 (1號型) was still available, and lists the following two versions of the Semi Dymos II:[8]

  • Model EII (EⅡ號型): Radionar f/4.5 lens, 5–250 speeds (¥62 — case ¥4.50 extra);
  • Model FII (FⅡ號型): Lausar f/4.5 lens, 5–250 speeds (¥65).

No surviving example has been observed so far.

The Semi Dymos FV

The Semi Dymos FV, released at the end of 1937, is similar to the FII with a body release added to the left of the viewfinder.

The camera appears in an advertisement in Asahi Camera October 1937, where it is offered for ¥70 (case ¥5 extra).[9] The document mentions the "talkie numbers", and lists the camera with a Lausar f/4.5 lens and 5–250 speeds. The shutter is certainly the same that was used on the models E and F, and was not originally designed for a body release. In the picture, it is rotated to the left by more than 90 degrees, in order to connect the release lever with the body release linkage. As a consequence, the aperture scale and Light marking appear to the right, whereas they were at the bottom on previous models.

The Semi Dymos FV is also featured in the new products column of the November 1937 issue of Asahi Camera, and the last advertisement reported so far is dated January 1938.[10]

The undated leaflet reproduced in this page shows a model simply called "Semi Dymos".[11] It looks exactly like the FV but the document does not mention the talkie numbers. The lens is described as a Rosen (ローゼン) Anastigmat 75mm f/4.5 and the shutter as a Light B (T, B, 5–250). The shutter looks the same as on the FV.


  1. Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78.
  2. Tanaka, p.132 of Nigan-refu no hanashi (zenpen).
  3. Example observed in an online auction.
  4. Example observed in an online auction.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.337.
  6. Advertisement in Ars Camera January 1936, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78.
  7. Advertisement in Camera Art May 1936, reproduced in Nostalgic Camera by Toshio Inamura; advertisement in Asahi Camera December 1936, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78.
  8. Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78.
  9. Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.78.
  10. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.337.
  11. Undated leaflet for the Victory, Semi Dymos, Reex, Baby Ref, Union Ref and Baby Chrome, published by an unknown company.


The Semi Dymos is not listed in Sugiyama.


In Japanese: