Semi Leotax DL and R
Tubular finder model
Description and early mentions
|Semi Leotax New or DL, S. Reginon 7.5cm f/3.5 lens no.1801, N.K.K. Wester shutter (B, 1–200), synch pin at the bottom.|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer Costellochris. (Image rights)
A New Semi Leotax was announced in the December 1950 advertisement cited above, with an uncoupled rangefinder that would only appear 18 months later on the DL II. The description mentions three-element folding struts (like the Ikonta), a chrome finish top plate and a chrome frame around the folding bed. The shutter is announced as a Copal giving B, 1–200 speeds and the lens as a Yōkō (ヨーコー) 75/3.5 made by Olympus. This is likely to be a typo either for the Olympus-made Zuiko (ズイコー) lens or for the Toko (トーコー) lens that was not made by Olympus but by Tōkyō Kōgaku.
The actual Semi Leotax New (セミ・レオタックス新型) has all these features but for the rangefinder and the lens and shutter equipment. There is a rectangular metal plate supporting the accessory shoe and the tubular finder mounted on a parallax correction device, manually actuated by a small sliding button. This button is moved between the infinity position and the close distance position marked 4 or sometimes 3.5. The release button is heavier than that of the previous model and has a screw-thread to attach a distant-release connector.
The advance key has a more squarish shape than before and the folding bed release has moved to the bottom plate. The back has a single red window at the bottom, protected by a vertically sliding cover.
The front leather is embossed SEMI LEOTAX. The back leather is embossed SOW for Showa Optical Works and the same logo is engraved in the folding struts. Some cases are embossed Semi Leotax and some SOW.
Renamed Semi Leotax DL
|Semi Leotax DL, Toko 7.5cm f/3.5 lens no.110xxx, Copal shutter (B, 1–200), ASA synch post.|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer Jsahm. (Image rights)
- Toko 7.5cm f/3.5 lens by Tōkyō Kōgaku, Copal B, 1–200 shutter (¥14,500);
- Kominar 7.5cm f/3.5 lens by Nittō Kōgaku, Copal B, 1–200 shutter (¥13,500);
- Reginon 7.5cm f/3.5 lens, Wester B, 1–200 shutter by Nishida (¥12,500).
A flash unit called Leotax High-Power Flash BCB (レオタックス強力発光機BCB型) was offered together for ¥2,500. It is not known if it is related with the contemporary Nikon BCB flash unit.
All three lens and shutter combinations have been observed on actual examples. The Reginon lens is engraved S-REGINON and is said to have three elements. The Wester shutter is engraved N.K.K. in the speed rim and exists in three versions. The older one is marked WESTER at the top of the shutter plate and has a single pin synch post at the bottom right. The next one is marked WESTER at the bottom and has an ASA synch post at the top right, and the last one has a PC synch post at the same place. All the Copal shutters have an ASA synch post at the top right.
|Semi Leotax New or DL, S. Reginon 7.5cm f/3.5 lens no.4804, N.K.K. Wester shutter (B, 1–200), ASA synch post.|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer Dugwerks. (Image rights)
A further lens and shutter combination has been observed, consisting of a Kominar 7.5cm f/3.5 lens and a B, 1–200 shutter with self-timer and a PC synch post at the bottom right, marked NEW TRIO at the bottom and with a three-letter acronym ending in "K" on the speed rim.
The rangefinder model was announced in May 1952 as the Semi Leotax DL II, with Copal shutter and Toko 75/3.5 lens. It was soon renamed Semi Leotax R and was sold under that name from 1952 to early 1955.
The camera has a top housing containing the viewfinder in the middle, surrounded by the uncoupled rangefinder's windows. The rangefinder eyepiece is on the left of the finder and the distance setting knob falls under the right thumb. The distance is read in a small window in the top housing, to the right of the accessory shoe. The top plate is engraved SEMI LEOTAX and Showa Optical Works, Ltd. The serial number is engraved in front of the shoe. The rest of the body is similar to the Semi Leotax DL.
At the beginning, the lens and shutter equipment was a Toko 7.5cm f/3.5 by Tōkyō Kōgaku and a Copal shutter giving B, 1–200 speeds and synchronized via an ASA bayonet post. An advertisement dated January 1953 offered this version for ¥18,500, and at least one surviving example is known.
A later advertisement, dated September 1954, offered the following combinations:
- Toko 7.5cm f/3.5 lens by Tōkyō Kōgaku, Copal B, 1–300 shutter, self-timer, PC synch post (¥17,200);
- Kominar 7.5cm f/3.5 lens by Nittō Kōgaku, Copal B, 1–300 shutter, self-timer, PC synch post (¥16,100);
- Reginon 75/3.5 lens, Wester B, 1–200 shutter by Nishida, self-timer, ASA synch post (¥15,000).
All three variants have been observed and are confirmed to exist.
- Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.211.
- Date: advertisements mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374.
- Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.212.
- According to this page at Orio's Modern Classic Cameras, by someone who disassembled the S-Reginon lens of a Semi Leotax R.
- The version with PC synch post is pictured in this page of the AJCC.
- Date: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374. The advertisement published in Asahi Camera is reproduced on p.212.
- Dates: advertisements mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374.
- Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.212.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.212.
- This is the variant pictured in this page at Orio's Modern Classic Cameras.
- Examples observed in various online auctions.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, sections 6B and 7B.
- Kankyū Hyakkaten. Leaflet for the New Midget II, Romax, Semi Leotax and Well Standard. Date not indicated, perhaps c.1941. Document reproduced in this Flickr album by Rebollo_fr.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Items 35–6.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in 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. Pp.108—9. Type 3, sections 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B and 7B.
- Photo Art December 1949. "Ōru kokusan kamera" (オール国産カメラ, All of Japanese cameras). P.37.
- 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. Items 316–7 and 1036–40.
- Kawamata Masataku (川又正卓). Semi Leotax. In Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: The use of and actual examples from 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp. 92–3.
- 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). Pp.56, 73, 75 (brief mentions 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). Pp.892–3.
- 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. Items 1159 and 1318–21.
- Semi Leotax (postwar) with Copal shutter in a post at photo.net
- Semi Leotax DL at medfmt
- Semi Leotax R at Cosmonet's Classic Camera site
- Semi Leotax (auto-stop) in a page of wanted cameras at je2luz
- Semi Leotax (postwar), an article at Wakamiya's site
- Semi Leotax DL in various posts  at the Junk Binbō blog
- Semi Leotax DL with S-Reginon and Kominar lenses at the AJCC website, the caption mistakenly tells that the DL has auto-stop advance
- Semi Leotax DL at Minor House camera collection
- Semi Leotax DL at kosaka's site
- Semi Leotax R at Orio's Modern Classic Cameras
- Semi Leotax R (Copal, Toko) and more pictures at Hayata Camera Laboratory