Ōfuna

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Ōfuna cameras (edit)
Herlight | Ofunaflex | Ofuna Six

Ōfuna Kōgaku-Kikai Seisakusho (大船光学機械製作所) was a Japanese camera maker, which also used the English name Ofuna Optical Instrument Manufacturing Co., Ltd.[1] It marketed a total of four cameras after the second world war.

Contents

History

The company originated during the war, when it started as a factory of Tomioka in Kamakura (the historic city, now effectively a distant southern suburb of Tokyo).[2] The factory was precisely located in the town of Dai, immediately to the north of the main city, in a zone which is commonly known as Ōfuna, hence the name of the company.[3] The factory produced binoculars and other military optics.[4] Tomioka's main factory (in Yukigaya-Ōtsuka, Tokyo) was destroyed by bombing toward the end of the war, and when the war ended Tomioka moved to a western outer suburb of Tokyo. Its Kamakura factory, which had escaped unscathed, raised capital independently and became a separate company.[5]

The newly independent Ōfuna company tried to diversify its activities to various civilian products.[6] It made the Herlight 4×4cm box camera from 1947, and at least one Herlight prototype was made for 24×36mm pictures on 35mm film. This first attempt to enter the camera market was not a success, and the company continued the production of binoculars, making a number of them for the US occupation army.[7]

Some years later, the distributor Kashimura Yōkō, which was already distributing the Ōfuna binoculars, solicited the company to make a line of cameras.[8] These would be the Ofunaflex TLR and the Ofuna Six folder, released in 1953. These cameras sold poorly, and their production was stopped around 1955. At the time, other Ōfuna products included binoculars, opera glasses, enlarging lenses and military products.[9]

The company's last incursion on the camera market was the coupled-rangefinder Ofuna Six, actually a rebadged Mine Six by Takane, ordered by Kashimura for export. The Ōfuna company continued the production of binoculars, then closed its doors in 1963.[10]

Camera list

Lenses

  • Ofunar 5cm f/1.9 lens in Miranda mount
  • E-Ofunar 8cm f/3.5 enlarging lens[11]
  • E-Ofunar 7.5cm f/3.5 enlarging lens
  • E-Ofunar 5cm f/3.5 enlarging lens (four elements)[12]
  • Ofunar cine lenses[13]

The Ofunar 50mm f/3.5 lens found on a Gokoku with Leica mount might have been made by Tomioka's Ōfuna factory during World War II, or by Ōfuna after the war. (See Gokoku and Ricohl.)

Other

  • binoculars
  • military optics

Notes

  1. English name visible in an advertisement reproduced in Hagiya, p.162 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari. The translation "Ofuna Optical and Mechanical Works" given in Lewis, p.82, was certainly not used by the company.
  2. Hagiya, p.149 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari. Lewis, p.82, says that Ōfuna was "a World War II subsidiary of Nippon Kogaku", apparently by mistake.
  3. Geographic extension of Ōfuna: Ōfuna in the Japanese Wikipedia.
  4. Hagiya, p.149 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  5. Hagiya, p.150 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  6. Examples are given in Hagiya, p.150 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  7. Hagiya, p.155 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  8. Hagiya, p.155 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  9. Hagiya, pp.162–3 and 167 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  10. Hagiya, p.167 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari. Lewis, p.82, wrongly says that Ōfuna went out of business in 1954.
  11. Reported in this thread at photo.net.
  12. Four elements: advertisements dated November and December 1953 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.125.
  13. Hagiya, p.164 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.

Sources / further reading

Links

In English:

In Japanese:

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