Septon Pen

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The Septon Pen is a Japanese subminiature camera combined with a sharp pencil, sold in the 1950s.


The device has the shape of an oversized pen. The tip contains a functional propelling pencil. The other end contains an eye-level viewfinder, and has a pen clip on one side, engraved SEPTON.

The camera part is in the middle of the device. The exposure size is 14×14mm, and the film is sometimes described as paper-backed 16mm film, perhaps because it was advertised or announced as such.[1] It seems that it is actually the same as the 17.5mm film used in Hit-type cameras.[2]

The back door is removable, contains a window to control the position of the film, and is inscribed PEN CAMERA and perhaps MADE IN JAPAN below. The advance knob itself is placed opposite the pen clip.

The front part of the camera is metal finished, with a fixed-focus lens in the middle. The exact details depend on the camera version.

The dimensions are 141×35×38mm, and the weight is 120g.[3]


One example is pictured in Sugiyama as a prototype.[4] The lens has no name, a fixed aperture and an all black rim. There is no speed setting, and a simple release lever on the side. The front face is inscribed PENCAMERA above and Septon below the lens.

The regular model has a Septon 20mm f/2.8 lens.[5] The aperture is adjustable from 2.8 to 11, via a small knob placed above the lens. The lens rim is chrome finished, and has a serial number (observed in the 13xxx and 14xxx range). The shutter is of the guillotine type,[6] and has Bulb and Instant settings, selected by a small knob at the bottom right (as seen from the front). It is cocked by a sliding lever on the side, and tripped by a button placed opposite the speed knob.[7] The name SEPTON is engraved on the front face, below the lens. The back is locked by a sliding latch.[8]

The simple model has intermediate features, half way between the prototype and the regular model.[9] The lens has no-name, a fixed aperture and an all black rim, different from that of the prototype. The shutter is of the sector type, tripped by a small button on the side.[10] The B and I settings are selected by a small knob at the bottom left, and there is a small lever at the bottom right, perhaps used to cock the shutter. It is said that the back is locked by two thumb-screws.[11] This simple model has no marking and has a round part above the lens.

The Septon Penletto is almost identical to the simple model, but for the name SEPTON PENLETTO inscribed in a round logo above the lens.[12] It sometimes has a different lens rim with a conical shape.[13]

Origin and date

Some sources say that the Septon Pen was manufactured by Okamoto Kōki and released in 1959.[14] Most other recent sources mention the distributor Harukawa Shōji or "Harukawa Trading Co.",[15] and specify the release date as 1953.[16]

The only original document seen so far is an advertisement in Sankei Camera August 1959, placed by Hideyoshi Sangyō, mentioned as the "main distributor" (総発売元).[17] It shows a picture of a regular Septon Pen, and gives the price of ¥2,950. It does not give any technical specification. Given the camera's scarcity, it is unlikely that it was sold for a long period, and the 1959 release year seems more probable.


  1. Exposure size: Sugiyama, items 5134–5, Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.389. Paper-backed 16mm film: Pritchard, p.151, Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.389, and this page by Masaharu Saito. This page at says that this appears on the original instruction manual.
  2. Sugiyama, items 5134–5, Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.18, this page at, and this page at
  3. This page by Masaharu Saito.
  4. Sugiyama, item 5134.
  5. This model is sometimes called "deluxe model", and is the most common. Examples are pictured in Pritchard, p.150, in McKeown, p.379, in Sugiyama, item 5135, in Lewis, p.103, in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.18 and 437, in this page at, in this page (archived) by Chuck Rubin and in this page by Masaharu Saito.
  6. McKeown, p.379.
  7. This page at says that the shutter is tripped by a lever, but this is probably a mistake.
  8. McKeown, p.379, says that the sliding latch is specific to this model.
  9. Example pictured in McKeown, p.379.
  10. McKeown, p.379.
  11. McKeown, p.379.
  12. Examples are pictured in Pritchard, p.151, in McKeown, p.379, in this page and this page by Christies, and in this page at
  13. Example pictured in McKeown, p.379.
  14. Lewis, p.103, and this page by Masaharu Saito.
  15. "Harukawa Shōji": Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.18, and this page by Masaharu Saito. "Harukawa Trading Co.": Pritchard, p.150; Sugiyama, items 5134–5. McKeown, p.379, simply has "Harukawa".
  16. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.18; Pritchard, p.151; Sugiyama, items 5134–5; McKeown, p.379.
  17. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.253.


  • 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 1331 (see also the pictures on pp.18 and 437).
  • 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.103.
  • 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.379.
  • Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. Pp.150–1.
  • 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 5134–5.


In English:

In Japanese:

Japanese subminiature
on paper-backed roll film and round film (edit)
17.5mm film Arrow | Baby Flex | Baby-Max | Barlux | Beauty 14 | Bell 14 | Blondy | Baby Colon | Comex | Corona | Croma Color 16 | Epochs | Fuji Kozet | Gamma | Gem 16 | Gemflex | Glico Lighter | Halmat | Hit | Hit-II | Hit-type | Hobby 16 | Homer No.1 | Homer 16 | Honey | Hope | Jenic | Kiku 16 | Kent | Kolt | Kute | Lovely | Mascot | Meteor | Micky | Midget | Mighty | Mini | Moment | Mycro | Myracle | Nikkobaby | Peace | Peace Baby Flex | Peace Small Lef | Pet | Petit | Petty | Prince 16-A | Prince Ruby | Robin | New Rocket | Rubina | Rubix | Saga 16 | Saica | Septon Pen | Sholy-Flex | Snappy | Spy-14 | Sun | Sun B | Sun 16 | Sweet 16 | Tacker | Takka | Tone | Top Camera | Toyoca 16 | Toyoca Ace | Tsubame | Vesta | Vista | Vestkam
20mm film Guzzi | Mycroflex | Top
round film Evarax | Petal | Sakura Petal | Star
unknown Hallow | Lyravit | Tsubasa
cine film see Japanese cine film subminiature
110 film see Japanese 110 film