This page is about the Tomy 4.5×6 camera. It seems that some digital cameras also wear the name "Tomy".
The Tomy is a Japanese 4.5×6 camera with an unusual design. It has a folded light path, the rays emerging from the lens being reflected by two mirrors before hitting the film. The purpose is to make a compact yet rigid camera with a standard 75mm lens. The same design is also used in another contemporary Japanese camera, the Rich-Ray-6. In this page by Nekosan (archived), the two cameras are presented side by side, showing the design similarity and revealing that they share the same patent number.
Another camera, the Cyclope, also used two mirrors to fold the light path between the lens and the film. This French camera was announced in 1950, two years before the Tomy; even if the design differs, it is possible that the inventor of the Tomy was inspired by the Cyclope.
The Tomy was presented in 1952 in Japanese photography magazines. The designer of the camera was Sakurai Minoru (桜井実), and the maker was first announced to be Ars Seiki Kōgyō. The original variant announced by Ars Seiki is said to have a Paragon 75/3.5 lens and a synchronized shutter giving B, 5–200 speeds. No picture of this variant has yet been observed.
The production of the Tomy was later taken over by the company Zuihō Kōgaku Seiki, the same which made the Honor S1 and Honor SL in the late 1950s. It is said that the new version, with Zuiho 75/3.5 lens and B, 10–200 speeds, was first described in the July 1952 issue of Shashin Salon. The camera was advertised for two months in mid-1953; the June advertisement lists the camera for ¥9,700. It is said that the other differences with the previously announced model are the addition of a depth-of-field scale and the change of the shutter winding command from a knob to a lever.
The Tomy has a rigid construction, with a diecast body and the back hinged to the left. There is a red window at the bottom left of the back, to control film advance. The front of the body is covered by a metal square casing, engraved TOMY at the bottom. This casing contains the two mirrors. It supports the lens, off-centered to the left (when held by the photographer) and surrounded by a large leather-covered aperture ring, with the aperture numbers engraved on the casing itself. There is a lens cap engraved Tomy. The front casing also supports the shutter speed knob, styled and positioned like the slow speed knob of the Leica screw models. Near the bottom there is a lever that looks as if it is for a self-timer but is certainly the shutter winding lever.
On the top plate, we find from left to right the advance knob, the tubular finder situated above the lens, the accessory shoe with an ASA bayonet synch connector just in front, the shutter release and a fake knob holding the film spool. The top plate is engraved PAT.A N° 16929 (the same number as that engraved on the Rich-Ray-6) in the empty space behind the shutter release.
Minor variations can be observed between the examples observed The most visible differences concern the following points:
- shutter winding lever: some have a small hole and an engraved arrow, and sometimes a longer lever;
- direction of the aperture scale: 22 to 3.5 or 3.5 to 22;
- shutter release cup: low or high;
- shutter speed index: straight line or arrow;
- advance knob: large or small leather patch.
- Family name first.
- Name of the designer and company: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.356.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.356.
- Advertisement in Photo Art, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.151.
- Example pictured in the June 1953 advertisement, example presented by Nekosan in this page (archived), example presented by the JCII collection in this page, example pictured by Lewis, p.80, and example sold in an online auction. The latter has an ordinary leaf shutter replacing the original shutter, with a speed ring concentric to the lens. This is certainly not original and the camera still has the speed selecting knob.
- 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 623–4.
- 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.80–1.
- "'Tomy' / jabara wo tsukawanai Z-kōjiku semi-han kamera" (「トミー（TOMY ）」／蛇腹を使わないZ光軸セミ判カメラ, 'Tomy' / 4.5×6 camera with Z-shaped light axis and no bellows). In Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.72. (Not seen; the title is given by this page of the Asahi Sonorama website.)
In both English and Japanese: