Apollo and Mikado
See also the company Mikado Shōkai.
The Apollo and Mikado are Japanese 4.5×6 folders, made in the late 1940s and early 1950s and differing mostly by the name.
Origin and attribution
The Apollo and Mikado are attributed to Sumida Kōki and Nishida Kōgaku. They are a continuation of the Roavic made from 1940 by Miyoshi Kōgaku, itself the successor of the Semi Prux by Proud-sha and Miyoshi. In view of this and of the SUMIDA OPTICAL WORKS markings found on some examples, it is most likely that the actual maker of the body was Sumida, while Nishida was providing the lenses and shutters.
However, Nishida was perhaps involved in the development of the late variant of the Apollo, with straight diagonal struts (see below). The main body for this variant is very similar to that of the 1951 Semi Wester, the first camera released by Nishida after World War II. It seems plausible that Nishida bought the body shells from Sumida for its first camera. The path of the two companies later diverged: Sumida retained essentially the same body for its Proud folders, whereas Nishida developed a new rounded body for its line of Wester 6×6 folders.
The Apollo and Mikado were maybe produced for export only: today the camera is not uncommon in the West, while Kokusan kamera no rekishi does not mention any Japanese advertisement for the Apollo, and does not mention the Mikado at all.
The camera is a horizontal folder, nearly identical to the earlier Roavic. The body and folding struts of the early and medium variants are copied on the Duo Six-20 Series II by Kodak AG, except that the back is hinged to the left; the struts were later substituted by straight diagonal struts similar to those of the postwar Semi Proud. The optical finder is enclosed in the middle of a chrome top housing. The advance knob is on the right end, as seen by the photographer, and the body release is next to it. There is an accessory shoe on the left, and the folding bed release is just in front of it. There is a chrome bottom plate, with a tripod thread in the middle and film flanges at both ends. The lens standard consists of a chrome plate, supporting the lens and shutter assembly.
The early variant of the Apollo and Mikado has a back latch copied on Kodak designs and a small advance knob with a recessed top inherited from the Roavic. There is no depth-of-field dial and the left end of the top plate has a visible screw. There are two rectangular red windows in the back near the bottom, protected by a common cover sliding under a metal plate. Given their position, these red windows correspond to the numbers from 1 to 16 marked on the rollfilm's paper back for the 4.5×6 format, thus the rationale for having two of them is unclear.
The name APOLLO or MIKADO is engraved above the viewfinder, together with the serial number; it seems that there is a common sequence for the Apollo and Mikado cameras, and it is perhaps common with the Roavic too.
The examples of the early variant observed so far all have a Wester Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, with a black or silver bezel, and a Northter shutter giving T, B, 1–200 speeds, sometimes with a self-timer. The name NORTHTER is inscribed at the top of the shutter plate, with the model number at the bottom, and the speed rim is sometimes engraved WESTER N.S.D.
|Apollo no.13741, medium variant, two red windows, Wester Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens no.7441, N.K.K. Wester shutter (T, B, 1–200).|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer intercamuk. (Image rights)
The medium variant has a flat back latch covered by a rectangular leather piece, a larger advance knob with a flatter top and a depth-of-field dial or a round film flange at the left end of the top plate. During the production of this variant, the right-hand red window was suppressed, leaving space for a SUMIDA OPTICAL WORKS engraving. It is also said that the covering was changed from leather to vulcanite at some time.
The markings above the viewfinder are the same as on the early variant, except that the name Mikado was written in lowercase with a different font on the late examples. The name APOLLO 120 or MIKADO 120 is embossed in the leather above the red windows, sometimes with the mention MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN (these markings were perhaps already present in the early variant).
Most examples of the medium variant observed so far have a Wester Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, with a silver bezel, and a Wester shutter. The early Wester shutters give T, B, 1–200 speeds, have a black face inscribed WESTER at the bottom and are engraved N.K.K. at the base of the speed rim, in a small blackboard font. Intermediate examples have no T setting, and a flash synchronization was later added. The late examples have a silver face also inscribed WESTER and are engraved N.K.K. on the speed rim in a larger font.
|Mikado, medium variant, single red window, S.O.W. Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens no.2087, NKS Tokyo shutter (B, 1–200).|
Pictures courtesy of Robert Weiss / eBayer sweetbobby. (Image rights)
One example of the Apollo is known with a Wester shutter and a C.O.W. Anastigmat 75/3.5 lens. Examples of the Apollo and Mikado are known or reported with a S.O.W. Anastigmat 75/3.5. These initials probably stand for Sumida Optical Works. An example of the Mikado is known with a Proud-Rapid shutter, reportedly giving B, 1–500 speeds. Another example of the Mikado has been reported with a Wester Anastigmat 75/3.5 lens in an NKS Tokyo shutter (B, 1–200).
The late variant has straight diagonal struts and is extremely similar to the Semi Proud, of which it is certainly an export version. There is no depth-of-field dial, replaced by a round film flange, and a frame is added around the front elemnt of the viewfinder. This variant is only known under the name Apollo, and it is not known if the Mikado was still available.
Some examples are engraved APOLLO and Model, II above the viewfinder. One of them is known with a Proud shutter giving B, 25, 50, 100, 200 speeds, inscribed PROUD at the top of the shutter plate, and a Proud Special 7.5cm f/3.5 lens. Other examples are engraved Apollo and Mod, 1950 at the top, and other engraving versions perhaps exist.
This variant certainly corresponds to the Apollo II, reported to appear in Japanese camera magazines dated December 1949 and March 1950.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.345, only mentions the "Apollo II", attributing it to both companies. Sugiyama, items 1269 and 1350, attributes the "Apollo Semi II" and "Mikado Semi" to Nishida. McKeown, pp.737–8 and 907, tries to distinguish between the "Apollo 120" (or "Apollo Semi II") and "Mikado" attributed to Nishida, and the "Mikado 120" and "Mikado Semi" attributed to Sumida, but these distinctions seem pointless.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.345.
- Apollo pictured in McKeown, p.737; Mikado pictured in McKeown, p.738 (body no.13157, lens no.12114); Mikado observed in online auctions (body no.13000 with lens no.5037; body no.13215 with lens no.8560); Mikado pictured in this page and this page of the AJCC.
- Change from leather to vulcanite covering: McKeown, p.738.
- Apollo pictured in McKeown, p.738; Apollo observed in online auctions (body no.13206; body no.13741 with lens no.7441; body no.15230); Mikado pictured in Sugiyama, item 1350; Mikado observed in online auctions (body no.1260x with lens no.13391; body no.14x47 with lens no.7773).
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1269.
- Mikado pictured in this page; McKeown, pp.738 and 907.
- Example pictured in McKeown, p.907.
- Example reported in an online auction (no pictures).
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- One example is reported by Hoary as having both "Apollo II" and the description as the 1950 model on top.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.345.
Sources / further readings
- 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 366; unusually, the book does not show any advertisement for the Apollo II, whose makers it names as both Sumida and Nishida.
- 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). Pp.737–8 and 907.
- 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 1269 and 1350.