Atom Six

Jump to: navigation, search
Japanese Six (6×6)
Postwar models (edit)
Aires Viceroy | Angel Six | Aram Six | Astoria Super Six | Atom Six | Balm Six | Baron | Beauty Six (1950) | Beauty Six (1953) | Calm Six | Carl Six | Centre Six | Crown | Crystar Six | Daido Six | Dorima Six | Doris Six | Ehira Six | Elbow Six | First Six | Flora Six | Fodor Six | Frank Six | Fujica Six | Super Fujica Six | Futami Six | Gotex | Grace Six | Kohken Chrome Six | Kyowa Six | Liner Six | Lyra Six | Mamiya Six | Middl Six | Mihama Six | Mine Six | Minon Six | Mizuho Six | Motoka Six | Mount Six | Muse Six | Super Naiku | Ofuna Six | Olympus Six | Olympus Chrome Six | Orion Six | Oscar Six | Pigeon Six | Planet | Please Six | Pluto Six | Poppy Six | Press Van | Press Van-120 | Proud Chrome Six | Proud Super Six | Renown Six | Ricoh Six | Ruvikon | Ruvinal | Sanon Six | Silver Six | Sisley 1 | Sisley 2 & 3 | Sister Six | Tenar Six | Toho Six | Tomic | Toyoca Six | Ugein Six | Wagen Six | Walcon 6 | Welmy Six | Wester | Windsor Six
rigid or collapsible
Dia Six | Ehira Chrome Six | Enon Six | Flora | Flashline | Fujipet | Harmony | Mikono-6 | Orion | Ponix | Rich-Ray-6 | Shumy | Weha Chrome Six
Japanese 6×6 TLR, pseudo TLR and medium format SLR ->
Japanese Semi (4.5×6) and older 6×9 ->

The Atom Six (アトムシックス) is a 6×6[1] folding camera made by Atom Kōki Seisakusho. Advertisements for both model I and model II were published in Japanese photographic magazines from July 1952 to September 1953.[2] The Atom Six looks from the front as if it is a rangefinder camera, with two or three windows depending on the model, but these are separate viewfinders.

Common features

The Atom Six I and Atom Six II have the same body and mainly differ by the top housing. The folding struts are styled after the Ikonta and display the AOW logo of Atom Optical Works. The back is hinged to the right, the advance knob is at the top right and has an arrow to indicate the winding direction.

All the models have a 75mm f/3.5 lens, which is coated in at least some examples; focusing is by movement of the front lens element. The shutter typically has speeds of 1–200 and B, is synchronized and has a self-timer.

The camera is approx. 145 mm wide, 100 mm tall, 48 mm deep when folded and 100 mm when unfolded. The weight is approximately 740 g (varying slightly with the specification).

When unfolded, the flat part of the front door is level with the bottom plate, so the camera sits level on a table, as in the photographs below.

The Atom Six I


The Atom Six I[3] has two viewfinders: a direct-vision finder at the center, with a rectangular window, and a right-angle 'Watson' finder on the left (as seen by the photographer), with a smaller round window and a small viewing screen on top of the camera. There is an accessory shoe between the two finders. The name ATOM–6 is engraved at two places of the top housing: on the top of the camera between the eye-level finder and the advance knob, and on the back, on the left of the finder eyepiece. The AOW logo is repeated on the right of the shoe.


In an advertisement in the April 1952 issue of the Japanese magazine Camera Fan,[4] the Atom Six I is offered with a Seriter lens and an NKS shutter. The advertisement both says that the camera would become dual format in late February (2月下旬より) and that the model II would be released at the same date, with various improvements in the lens and other parts. (Despite the April publication date, all this is redacted in the future, probably because the advertisement was written some time before the date printed on the magazine cover.)

The production of the Atom Six I was not halted after the release of the model II: an advertisement in Asahi Camera December 1952[5] lists the model I with a Seriter lens and an AKS shutter, along with the model II. The AKS initials certainly stand for Atom Kōki Seisakusho. Examples have been observed with an ATOM marking on the shutter rim, it is not known if this corresponds to the AKS shutter or not.

Variations and actual examples

The camera was released as a single-format model, taking twelve square pictures per roll. The early examples have a single red window in the middle of the back, surrounded by a small plate marked 12EX. The name ATOM–SIX is also embossed in the back leather under this red window. The late examples have two red windows and can take twelve square or sixteen rectangular pictures. The change presumably occurred after the introduction of the Atom Six II, to standardize the supply of parts. On the modified back, the red windows are surrounded by small plates marked 12EX and 16EX,, with sliding red-window covers, and the name ATOM–SIX I is embossed at the bottom right.

Other minor changes occurred during the production of the camera. Some cameras have a rounded lens standard (chrome or black), an advance knob with three rows of fine knurls and an external frame surrounding the main finder window, attached by two screws. Others have a square lens standard (again chrome or black), two rows of knurls on the advance knob and no frame around the viewfinder window. It seems that these three features were altered simultaneously.

The observed lens and shutter combinations are:

  • Seriter lens, Atom shutter;[6]
  • Seriter lens, EKS shutter;[7]
  • Atom lens, Atom shutter;[8]
  • Atom lens, NKS shutter;[9]
  • Atom lens, S. Luna shutter;[10]
  • Atomar lens, NKS shutter;[11]
  • Atomar lens, MSK shutter;[12]
  • Atomar lens, O.K.K. shutter.[13]

The Atom Six II


The design of the Atom Six II[14] is very distinctive. Some examples seen have two rectangular windows for two separate telescopic viewfinders, and a smaller round window for the right-angle finder, between the two. As seen by the photographer, the right eyepiece is for square format and that to the left for rectangular. An accessory shoe is added to the left end of the top plate, and the folding bed release has moved to a new location behind the shutter release. The name ATOM SIX–II and the AOW logo is engraved above the viewfinders. However, more than one example has been seen in which the camera back is impressed 'ATOM SIX-II', but the arrangement of the top plate is as described for the Six-I above; there is only one telescopic viewfinder, in which a transparent green mask shows the limits of the smaller format. Further, the top plate on these examples is engraved 'ATOM 6'.


As said above, there is an allusion to the Atom Six II in an advertisement in Camera Fan April 1952[15] (where the camera is said to be released in late February). The camera is presented as a new product (新発売) in an advertisement in the August 1952 issue of the same magazine,[16] where three versions are listed:

  • Type A: Atomic lens (four elements), NKS shutter;
  • Type B: Atom lens (three elements), AKS shutter;
  • Type C: Seriter lens (three elements), Atom shutter.

The December 1952 advertisement in Asahi Camera already cited above offers the Atom Six II with Atomic or Atom lenses and Atom or NKS shutters.[17]

Variations and actual examples

The Atom Six II is always dual-format, and the back is the same as on the examples of the Atom Six I with two red windows. The embossing at the bottom right reads ATOM–SIX II.

The minor changes in the lens standard and advance knob described for the Atom Six I occurred after the introduction of the model II, and examples are known in both varieties.[18] None has an external frame around the finder windows.

The observed lens and shutter combinations are:

The Atomar lens may correspond to the four-element Atomic lens, mentioned in advertisements but never observed.


  1. Strictly, 'square format' would be a better description. The camera leaves a rather generous margin, and the image is actually only 53 mm square. With the extra mask for 16 exposures, the format is 50 x 43 mm,
  2. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.345.
  3. This model is called "Atom Six I", "Atom Six II" and "Atom Six IIb" in Sugiyama, items 1273–5, and McKeown, p.86, probably by mistake.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.116.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.116.
  6. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1273, example pictured in the Zeppan Tōsan photo site, and example observed in an online auction.
  7. Seen on an online auction 11/2020
  8. Example pictured in McKeown, p.86.
  9. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1274, and example pictured in this page.
  10. Example pictured in this page at Japan Family Camera (archived).
  11. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1275.
  12. Example reported in an online auction (no picture observed). It might be an Atom Six II as well.
  13. Example offered for sale by a dealer (no picture observed). It is reported as an Atom Six IIb, surely a mistake for an Atom Six I.
  14. This model is called "Atom Six II (H)" in Sugiyama, items 1273–5, and McKeown, p.86, probably by mistake.
  15. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.116.
  16. Advertisement published in Camera Fan, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.116.
  17. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.116.
  18. Compare the examples pictured in Sugiyama, items 1276 and 1277.
  19. Examples pictured in Sugiyama, items 1276 and 1277.
  20. This is only a five-speed shutter; 1/10 - 1/200 plus B, with self-timer. This camera has a top plate and viewfinders typical for a Six-I.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Examples observed in online auctions.

Sources / further reading


In English:

In Japanese: