The Carl Six is a horizontal folding camera, with the viewfinder protruding from a sleek and low top housing. The advance knob is on the left when held by the photographer, and it is said to contain a ratchet-wheel. On the top housing there is also an accessory shoe and the folding bed release in the middle, the shutter release on the right and a low decorative knob at the right end. The name Carl-6 is engraved on the left of the shutter release, and is sometimes accompanied by the model number (MODEL I or MODEL II), sometimes by the serial number. The rest of the top housing is leather covered. The leather on the outside of the front door (the front of the camera when the lens is collapsed) is embossed CARL.
The back is hinged to the right and has two red windows, one for each format. They are protected by horizontal sliding covers, running under a metal plate marked Carl, 16.E.X. and 12.E.X. Two hinged flaps serve as a film mask for 4.5×6 exposures.
The lens is front-cell focusing and is said to be made by Tomioka. The actual engraving is CARL Anastigmat 1:3.5 f=80mm N°XXXXXX. The serial numbers observed so far all begin with "27", probably for Shōwa year 27 in the Japanese calendar, corresponding to 1952. There is a black depth-of-field scale between the speed ring and the focusing ring and the aperture is set by an index on the top of the shutter housing. Most examples have a black aperture scale but others have a silver one.
The overall finish of the Carl Six has received a number of positive comments. However it was reportedly sold for ¥11,000 (probably in the typical version with B, 1–200 speeds), a price that was not very high.
| Carl Six, incurved struts, serial number on top, Carl Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens no.279624, Olympia shutter (reported).|
Pictures courtesy of Reid at Pardees Camera. (Image rights)
Evolution through advertising
The original Carl Six has straight folding struts and two vertical red lines in the viewfinder to delineate the 4.5×6 format. In an advertisement dated July 1952, it was offered in two versions, both having the Carl Anastigmat 80/3.5 coated lens, a K.O.C. synchronized shutter and a special self-timer lever:
- Carl Six I (Ⅰ型) with B, 10–200 speeds;
- Carl Six II (Ⅱ型) with B, 1–200 speeds.
No company name is mentioned in the advertisement. The K.O.C. shutter name perhaps stands for Kigawa Optical Company, and a K.O.C. logo is engraved in the folding struts of at least some examples as well as on the camera's box. This perhaps means that the company was still called Kigawa Kōgaku at the beginning, before it became Carl Kōgaku.
New Carl Six
The New Carl Six was announced in 1953 for a short time. Three new features were mentioned in advertisement dated April 1953:
- the viewfinder had a new system to display both the 6×6 and the 4.5×6 frames, replacing the two red lines;
- the folding struts had a new incurved desing, making the camera easier to open and fold;
- the camera was sold in a "make-up box" (美麗化粧函), actually a wooden box.
In this advertisement, the company name was Carl Kōgaku (カール光学) and there was a COC Carl logo, "COC" surely standing for Carl Optical Company. The shutter was called COC and was synchronized via an ASA bayonet post, but no COC shutter has been observed on an actual example so far. The lens was called Carl Six Anastigmat (カールシックスアナスチグマット) but it seems that it was never marked as such on the actual cameras. Three versions were listed:
- New Carl Six BI (BⅠ型): B, 10–200 speeds, self-timer;
- New Carl Six BII (BⅡ型): B, 1–200 speeds, self-timer;
- New Carl Six BIII (BⅢ型): B, 1–200 speeds, no self-timer.
The observation of actual examples shows many minor variations, to the point that it is difficult to get a clear view of the evolution sequence.
| Carl Six, straight struts, MODEL I on top,|
Carl Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens no.276272,
K.O.C. shutter (B, 10–200).
Picture courtesy of Scott at www.collectiblecameras.com. (Image rights)
The main change appears to be the switch from straight to incurved folding struts. Despite what is said in the April 1953 advertisement, most examples with incurved folding struts still have the two red lines in the viewfinder for the 4.5×6 format, but at least one actual example has been observed with translucent plastic strips outside the frontmost glass element, indicating the 4.5×6 field of view.
It seems that the examples with MODEL I or MODEL II engraved on the top are early ones, whereas the examples with the serial number engraved on the top are later. The highest serial number observed is 80615, on an example with incurved struts. It is said that more than 100,000 examples were made: Kokusan kamera no rekishi mentions an article in the October 1952 issue of Photo Art about a photo contest celebrating the 100,000th Carl Six (カールシックス10万台発売突破記念懸賞募集). However this production figure is extremely unlikely for a camera that was only sold for some months. The highest lens serial number observed is 279790 and it is very probable that the numbers started at 270000 or 271000, thus accounting for a production of about 10,000 units.
Most examples have the K.O.C. shutter, with the name K.O.C. engraved at the bottom of the speed rim. The ones with 10–200 speeds have a black aperture scale with a triangular aperture index, a distant release connector and an ASA bayonet post. The ones with 1–200 speeds have a black or silver aperture scale and a variety of synch connectors: one or two pins at the bottom right or an ASA bayonet post. The self-timer is at the bottom of the shutter housing but it can also be actioned by a lever placed on the side, making the control easier to access.
Other shutter types have been observed, all of them giving B, 1–200 speeds:
- NKS, silver aperture scale, no self-timer, ASA bayonet post, on an example with no mention of Model I or II on the top and no engraving on the struts;
- Olympia (reportedly; the name engraving begins with OLYM), black aperture scale, self-timer, ASA bayonet post, on an example with the serial number on the top;
- S.S.S., black aperture scale, self-timer, ASA bayonet post, on an example with incurved struts, perhaps an internal finder mask and the words CARL SIX MADE IN JAPAN embossed in the back leather.
- ↑ The camera itself is engraved Carl-6 but the advertisements are labelled "Carl Six".
- ↑ Dates: advertisements and articles listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.349.
- ↑ Ratchet wheel: Kawamata, p.116 of Supuringu kamera de ikou.
- ↑ Made by Tomioka: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.349.
- ↑ Kawamata, pp.116–7 of Supuringu kamera de ikou.
- ↑ Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.131.
- ↑ Box pictured in Kawamata, p.117 of Supuringu kamera de ikou.
- ↑ Advertisement published in Shashin Salon, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.131.
- ↑ This box is pictured in Kawamata, p.117 of Supuringu kamera de ikou.
- ↑ Example pictured in Kawamata, pp.116–7 of Supuringu kamera de ikou.
- ↑ Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.349.
- ↑ The figure of 100,000 might include earlier cameras branded Kigawa, but this is mere guesswork.
- ↑ Example observed in an online auction.
- ↑ Example observed in an online auction.
- 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 462–3.
- Kawamata Masataku (川又正卓). "Carl-6." In Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: The use of and actual examples from 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.116–7.
- 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.464.
- 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 1288.