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Japanese subminiature
on paper-backed roll film and round film (edit)
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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

The Tsubame is a Japanese subminiature camera made in the late 1940s or early 1950s by an unknown company, and only known from an entry in Sugiyama.[1]


The Tsubame takes 14×14mm pictures on 17.5mm paper backed rollfilm. It is slightly better than the average Hit-type camera, and has some strange features. It has a waist-level finder only, contained in the middle of the top housing, and no direct vision finder. There is a body release on the right of the viewfinder (as seen by the photographer), an unusual feature on Hit-type models.

The film is advanced by a knob on the left, with numbers engraved at the top, certainly a crude form of exposure counter. It is not known if there is a red window on the back or if the frame spacing relies on these numbers only. The back is probably hinged to the left, and there is a spring-loaded latch on the right. The leatherette covering is clear-coloured and has a decorative pattern.

The lens is a fixed-focus Tsubame Anastigmat 20mm f/4.5, and the aperture is reportedly adjustable from 4.5 to 9. The shutter has B, 100, 50, 25 speeds selected by turning the rim.


No document mentioning the Tsubame has been found, and the only example known so far is pictured in Sugiyama.[2] This book gives the name "Tsubame" (meaning "swallow" in Japanese) but it is unconfirmed: in the picture, no marking is visible except for the lens name.

Various sources describe a "Swallow" subminiature with a waist-level finder only, whose features exactly correspond to the Tsubame.[3] None provides a picture, and they might make a confusion with the English translation provided in Sugiyama for "Tsubame".



  • 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. Item 5154.

The Tsubame is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.


In English:

  • Swallow among 17.5mm cameras at Subclub.org, mentioning a version with a waist-level finder only, perhaps corresponding to the Tsubame
  • Swallow at Submin.com, mentioning a version with a waist-level finder only, perhaps corresponding to the Tsubame