Baby Suzuka

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The Baby Suzuka[1] (ベビースズカ) is a 3×4 folding Japanese camera, made and sold by Sankō[2] between 1951 and 1954. It was essentially a copy of the Baby Pearl, and was the last example of that type of camera, originally inspired by the Zeiss Ikon Baby Ikonta.


The Baby Suzuka is a vertically folding camera, with a folding optical finder and curved struts like the Baby Pearl from Konishiroku. There is an advance knob on the left of the finder and on the right is the folding bed release button. The back is hinged to the left and has a single red window, protected by a vertically sliding cover, to control film advance.

The front leather is embossed SuzuKa in the examples observed[3] and SUZUKA in the advertising pictures. The back latch also has a small SUZUKA engraving.

The lens is a Teriotar Anastigmat 5cm f/3.5, advertised as a coated one[4] and marked with a red C. The lens serial numbers observed have five digits, sometimes including the letter "A" or "B" at the beginning. The shutter has 150, 100, 50, 25, B speeds and is marked SUZUKA. The aperture scale is at the bottom of the shutter plate and the release lever is directly situated on the shutter housing.


The original Baby Suzuka has no flash synchronization. It was first advertised in the July 1951 issue of Asahi Camera.[5] The column in Camera Fan October 1951, reproduced below, gives the price as ¥3,800 — case is ¥700 extra.[6] Advertisements in Asahi Camera dated early 1952 convey the same information.[7]

The Baby Suzuka II adds flash synchronization via a pin at the bottom left of the shutter casing. It was first advertised in July 1952,[8] and was priced at ¥4,300 (case not included) in December.[9] The advertisement reproduced below was placed by Sankō in the September and October 1953 issues of Asahi Camera.[10] Dedicated filters and a lens hood are mentioned in the document, which also contains some praise words by Yoshikawa Hayao (吉川速男). Further advertisements appeared until mid 1954;[11] no trace of the Sankō company is left after that date.


  1. It is called "Suzuka Baby I" in McKeown, p.870, the reverse of what appears in the advertisements.
  2. Made and sold by Sankō: column in Camera Fan October 1951, p.31 (三光株式会社製造・発売). Other original documents mention Sankō as the distributor (発売元) and do not specify the manufacturer. Many recent sources, like Sugiyama, item 1420, McKeown, p.870, Lewis, p.75, Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.18, and this page of the Asacame website attribute the Baby Suzuka to Sanwa Shōkai (三和商会), but this is a mistake.
  3. In Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.18, in this page at Asacame and in online auctions.
  4. Advertisements in Asahi Camera January and December 1952, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.142.
  5. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.353.
  6. Column in Camera Fan October 1951, p.41.
  7. Advertisement in Asahi Camera January 1952, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.142, and in Asahi Camera April 1952, reproduced in this page at Media-Planet (archived).
  8. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.353.
  9. Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.142.
  10. Advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1953, p.195, and October 1953, p.225.
  11. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.353. See also a price list including a Baby Suzuka II, published in 1954, reproduced at Shashin-Bako.


Original documents

  • Asahi Camera. Advertisements by Sankō:
    • September 1953, p.195;
    • October 1953, p.225.
  • Camera Fan October 1951. "Kokusan kamera daitokushū" (国産カメラ大特集, Large special issue on Japanese cameras). Pp.25–44.

Recent sources

  • 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. Items 547–8.
  • 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.75 (brief mention only).
  • 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.870.
  • Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten (思い出のスプリングカメラ展, Exhibition of beloved self-erecting cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.26.
  • 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 1420.


In Japanese: