Tougodo box-shaped cameras
The Tougo cameras (トウゴーカメラ or トーゴーカメラ) using the no-need-darkroom process were introduced by Tougodo in 1930. Among the early models, many were box cameras. This page also covers the box-shaped TLR and SLR models.
- 1 Chronological evolution and original sources
- 2 Description of the models and actual examples
- 3 Notes
- 4 Bibliography
- 5 Links
Chronological evolution and original sources
No original document dated 1930 has been found so far. The original range is therefore unclear, but it seems that the company started by selling a single model for ¥1, in a set including film, paper and chemicals. A historical account of the company published in 1955, based on the interviews of the three founders, says that the first model was the "Mikasa-Go", sold for ¥1. It actually seems that such individual model names only appeared at a later time, perhaps around 1934; it is nonetheless probable that the original model was essentially the same as the later Mikasa-Go.
A, B, C
The earliest known occurrence of the Tougo cameras in printed sources is in Asahi Camera February 1931. This magazine contains a full-page advertisement for the Tougo, as well as an article on Tougo cameras. The advertisement mentions three models, called A (¥1), B (¥2) and C (¥3), with no further details. (These model names have nothing to do with film sizes A, B and C which would appear for Tougodo cameras from 1937.) The article mainly speaks of the one-yen model, mentions the two-yen model in passing and says that the three-yen model is a reflex camera. It also implies that other no-need-darkroom cameras are sold by different companies, without naming them explicitly. The picture of the advertisement shows someone holding a Tougo box camera; this camera has a single brilliant finder and a release control on the photographer's right, and has some illegible trademark written at the bottom right of the lens (as seen from the front). It seems likely that the camera pictured in the advertisement is the model A, which would later become the Mikasa-Go.
An exposure table for the Tougo A is also reproduced in the third part of Awano's article. Exposure times are mentioned from 1/10s to 7s, and advice is given on how to obtain short exposures by hand: for example 1/5s should be obtained by "pressing and immediately releasing" the shutter button (押えてすぐはなす).
No.1, No.2, No.3
The Tougo cameras were advertised in the Japan Photographic Society Annual (日本写真会年鑑, Nihon Shashinkai Nenkan) published in February 1932. The advertisement shows four models: the No.1 (一号) and No.2 (二号) are box cameras sold as a set for respectively ¥1 and ¥2, No.3 (三号) is a reflex camera sold for ¥3, and the Tougorette No.4 (トーゴーレット四号), at ¥5, is a folding camera. It seems pretty clear that the No.1, No.2 and No.3 are evolutions of the A, B and C offered in 1931. The pictures show that No.1 is close to the later Mikasa-Go, No.2 is close to the later Speed-Go or Hit-Go and No.3 is a reflex model, corresponding to the later Light-Go.
These early documents do not mention film size. Awano says that two types of film were sold for these early Tougo box cameras, called "Vest-size" (ベスト判, 3.5×5.5cm) and "small Vest-size" (小ベスト判, 3.3×4.8cm) until 1934; each camera model could use both film types. He also mentions a "special Zero-size" (特製零判, 2.8×4cm) as available before 1934 for the Toku-Go (トク号), a model which is otherwise unknown. According to the same source, the Vest-size and small Vest-size film were respectively renamed no.3 (3号) and no.4 (4号) in 1934. (These film sizes have nothing to see with the model names No.3 and No.4 used in 1932.)
Other original documents showing Tougo box cameras are reproduced in Awano's articles, but none of them has a date. Two catalogue extracts show the Mikasa-Go (ミカサ号) for ¥1, continuation of the Tougo No.1, and the Hit-Go (ヒット号) for ¥2, continuation of the Tougo No.2. (The Mikasa-Go was certainly named after the battleship Mikasa, flagship of Admiral Tōgō during the Battle of Tsushima.) Both models are mentioned as taking no.3 or no.4 film; the use of numbers for film size indicates that the two documents were published between 1934 and 1937.
One of the two catalogue extracts cited above also shows a smaller third model called the Pocket-Go (ポケット号), available for ¥0.50 and taking no.1 (1号) film. Awano says that no.1 film is 2.4×3.8cm size, and that it was obtained from cutting 35mm film.
Other catalogue extracts show two TLR models: the Light-Go (ライト号) for ¥3.50, and the B Light-Go (ビーライト号) for ¥7. These models are described below; they mainly differ by the front panel, lens aperture and shutter control. Both take no.3 and no.4 film, the same as the Mikasa-Go or Hit-Go box cameras.
No original document has been observed so far on the Speed-Go box camera, closely related to the Hit-Go, or on the Speed-Go Reflex SLR camera, which were surely made around 1933–5 (see below).
Description of the models and actual examples
Tougo A, Tougo No.1 and Mikasa-Go
The Tougo A, Tougo No.1 and Mikasa-Go are evolutions of the same design. They are wooden box-shaped cameras, with a single brilliant finder at the top, on the photographer's right. They have no diaphragm and Bulb exposure only, and the release lever is contained inside a depression on the right-hand side. There is a handle at the top, embossed TOUGO CAMERA.
On at least some of the earliest examples, the lens is surrounded by a simple concave part with no inscription, and the Tougodo trademark and logo are stamped on the paper covering at the bottom right, as seen from the front. These were certainly made at the time of the Tougo A, around 1931.
The February 1932 advertisement cited above for the Tougo No.1 shows a more elaborate lens surrounding, inscribed TRADE MARK at the top with Tougodo's logo. The inscription at the bottom can be deciphered as TŌGŌ VICI CAMERA; the meaning of this "VICI" marking is currently unknown.
The Mikasa-Go have the same lens surrounding with different markings: TOUGŌ CAMERA at the top and MIKASA-GO at the bottom. At least some have the same semi-circular depression on the side for the release lever as on the previous versions. The illustration found in the two catalogue extracts cited above show a larger depression, extending as high as the brilliant finder window. No example of this late Mikasa-Go has been observed yet.
Tougo B, Tougo No.2, Speed-Go and Hit-Go
The Tougo B, Tougo No.2, Speed-Go and Hit-Go correspond to a more expensive model, mainly differing by the shutter allowing Bulb or Instant exposures, and by the addition of a second brilliant finder for horizontal pictures. The vertical finder is now on the photographer's left, and the horizontal finder is on the other side, replacing the single finder of the simpler model. The shutter controls are on the right-hand side, and consist of a release lever and a B and I switch, of which at least two variations are known.
This Tougo model is only known with markings around the lens. A less elaborate lens surrounding might have existed at the time of the Tougo B, but this is hypothetical only.
The Tougo No.2 is illustrated in the February 1932 advertisement cited above. The lens surrounding is similar to that of the Tougo No.1, with the same inscriptions: TRADE MARK and the Tougodo logo at the top, TŌGŌ VICI CAMERA at the bottom. The right-hand side has a square metal plate for the shutter controls, with a lever switching from Bulb to Instant exposures. The viewfinder windows are not aligned at the same height, and the eyepieces are surrounded by a rectangular frame with half-moons at both ends. The handle at the top is diagonally oriented, and its direction is the reverse of that of the cheaper model.
The Speed-Go exactly corresponds to this description, except for the markings around the lens, reading TOUGŌ CAMERA with the [[Tougodo]) logo at the top, and SPEED&nsbp;GO at the bottom. (Around the same time, Tougodo was also making a Speed-Go Reflex SLR camera, see below.)
The early Hit-Go have a similar configuration and are distinguished by the addition of a variable aperture, selected by an index under the lens with a choice of three positions (1, 2, 3). The lens surrounding is inscribed TOUGŌ and HITGO at the top, and has a further circular extension upwards, containing the Tougodo logo.
The illustration of the Hit-Go contained in the two catalogue extracts cited above shows a number of differences. This newer model has a knob on the side to switch from Bulb to Instant exposure, instead of a lever, and the metal plate covering the shutter mechanism extends further to the rear. The two viewfinder windows are now aligned, and the eyepieces have plain rectangular contours. The handle is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the camera, instead of diagonal. The lens surrounding is inscribed TOUGO HIT–GO at the bottom, and perhaps TRADE MARK at the top. No aperture control is visible.
The Pocket-Go is only known from the illustration in the catalogue extract cited above. It looks like a smaller version of the late Mikasa-Go. It has a single brilliant finder at the top, on the photographer's left, a handle oriented diagonally, a large depression on the right side around the release lever, and a simple lens rim with no marking.
Tougo C, Tougo No.3 and Light-Go
The Tougo C, Tougo No.3 and Light-Go are box-shaped pseudo TLR cameras. The February 1932 advertisement cited above has an illustration of the Tougo No.3. It has a viewing hood above, hinged to the front. The viewing and taking lenses are covered by a flap. The taking lens is surrounded by a part similar to that of the Tougo No.1 and No.2; the viewing lens is barely visible above. The shutter controls on the photographer's right are identical to those of the Tougo No.2, and no aperture control is visible.
The catalogue extract cited above has an illustration of the Light-Go. It is similar to the Tougo No.3 but has a metal part screwed to the front plate, in front of the shutter controls, and has a cable release attached to the main release lever. The text says that the shutter is a Tougō (トウゴー). The lens surrounding is inscribed TOUGO CAMERA at the top with Tougodo's logo, and LIGHT-GO at the bottom.
The B Light-Go TLR is only known from the catalogue extract cited above. It is based on the Light-Go but has no flap at the front, and has larger viewing and taking lenses. The text of the catalogue says that the lens has three elements made of flint and crown glass; it is not specified whether this concerns both lenses or only the taking lens. A marking is visible around the viewing lens, reading TOUGODO CAMERA at the top and TOKYO at the bottom. The model name seems to be inscribed below the taking lens; it is hardly legible as B LIGHT-GO but this is unsure.
The shutter controls on the photographer's right differ from those of the Light-Go, and are shaped the same as those of the late Hit-Go, with a knob to select the speed setting. The text says that the shutter is a Tougō Meirō (トウゴーメイロー). A cable release is attached to the main release lever, the same as on the Light-Go.
The Speed-Go Reflex is known from a surviving example shown in Sugiyama. It is said to take 28×40mm no-need-darkroom film sheets. (This was sold from 1934 to 1937 as no.2 (2号) film, and after 1937 as C-size (C判) film.)
The main body is shaped as a box and has a viewing hood above, hinged to the front. The lens is fixed-focus, has no diaphragm and is covered by a flap. The name SPEED.GO is inscribed under the lens, and there is another marking above the lens beginning with TOU, certainly "TOUGO", "TOUGŌ" or "TOUGODO". The words TOUGO CAMERA are also visible above the hinge of the cover flap.
The mirror acts as a shutter, and the mechanism is certainly contained in the protrusion visible on the photographer's right, with the word REFLEX embossed on it. The camera is said to have Bulb and Instant settings, and a revolving back. Sugiyama also mentions a quick-return mirror, and says that the Speed-Go Reflex was the first Japanese camera to have such a feature. It is quite obvious that the mirror comes back by gravity, a mechanism which is much less complex than the true instant-return mirrors introduced on SLR cameras in the 1950s.
- In the original documents observed so far, the name "Tougo camera" is written in katakana script: either トウゴーカメラ (Tougō kamera) or トーゴーカメラ (Tōgō kamera), whereas the company name is written 東郷堂 in kanji script. For an example of an advertisement showing both katakana writings, see in Awano, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.317.
- Date: Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955, also in Lewis, p.43, Sugiyama, p.63, McKeown, p.931.
- Awano, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.314.
- Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955.
- Earliest occurrence: Awano, p.7 of Camera Collectors' News no.317, quoting the book Nihon Shashinshi Nenpyō (日本写真史年表).
- Advertisement and article reproduced in Awano, pp.6–7 of Camera Collectors' News no.315.
- Film sizes A, B, C appearing in 1937: Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.315.
- Exposure table reproduced in Awano, p.11 of Camera Collectors' News no.316.
- Advertisement reproduced in Awano, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.317.
- This is also stated by Awano on p.7 of Camera Collectors' News no.317.
- Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.315.
- Catalogue extracts reproduced in Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.314 and p.11 of Camera Collectors' News no.315.
- About the battleship, see this English Wikipedia page.
- Catalogue extract reproduced in Awano, p.11 of Camera Collectors' News no.315. Sugiyama, item 4075, says that the one-yen Mikasa-Go was the cheapest of all the Tougodo cameras, but this is a mistake.
- The Roman name "B Light-Go" is conjectural only: the name appears in katakana script only, and the actual marking on the camera is illegible.
- Catalogue extracts reproduced in Awano, pp.18–9 of Camera Collectors' News no.316.
- Awano, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.315.
- Wooden: McKeown, p.931.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4074.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4075.
- Examples pictured in Lewis, p.43, in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology, and in this page at Infocam (where it is described as a Hit-Go).
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4076.
- Catalogue extract reproduced in Awano, p.18 of Camera Collectors' News no.316.
- Catalogue extract reproduced in Awano, p.19 of Camera Collectors' News no.316.
- Sugiyama, item 4091.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Tōgō kamera (1)" (トーゴーカメラ, Tougo cameras ). In Camera Collectors' News no.314 (August 2003). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.1–11.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Tougō kamera (2)" (トウゴーカメラ, Tougo cameras ). In Camera Collectors' News no.315 (Septober 2003). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.1–11.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Tougō kamera (3)" (トウゴーカメラ, Tougo cameras ). In Camera Collectors' News no.316 (October 2003). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.9–21.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Tougō kamera (4)" (トウゴーカメラ, Tougo cameras ). In Camera Collectors' News no.317 (November 2003). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.7–12.
- 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.43.
- 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.931.
- Shirai. "Tōgō kamera: 'En-kame' yume miru san-kyōdai" (東郷カメラ・"円カメ"夢みる三兄弟, Tougo cameras: three brothers who dreamed of "yen-cameras"). In Asahi Camera June 1955. Pp.144–5. (Contains interviews of Nagatsuka Masanori, Tanaka Kōichi and Toyota Yoshio, founders of the Tougodo company.)
- 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 4074–6 and 4091.