|Honor 50mm f/1.9 no.61177. Picture by eBayer analogue_audio. (Image rights)|
The Honor lenses were made in Japan in Leica screw mount. These lenses rarely appear in original Japanese documents, and they were perhaps made for export only. The standard 50mm Honor were offered by Zuihō Kōgaku Seiki for its Honor S1 and Honor SL rangefinder cameras. Wide-angle and tele Honor lenses are known as well, but it is not known for sure if they were distributed by Zuihō or if they appeared after the demise of that company.
Honor standard lenses
It is almost certain that the Honor standard lenses sold with the Honor cameras were not made by Zuihō, but the name of the subcontractor is not known for sure.
Some sources say that these lenses were made by Konishiroku. This assumption is not supported by any original document, and might be a guess relying on the fact that Konishiroku was Zuihō's former lens supplier, and on the common aperture of the Hexanon f/1.9 and Honor f/1.9. It seems rather illogical, because Konishiroku was a prestigious company, which is not known to have supplied OEM products, and Zuihō would have gained little by selling Hexanon lenses under its own less illustrious brand. It seems more plausible that Zuihō decided to find a cheaper lens supplier, to offer the camera at a lower price, or that Konishiroku decided to stop the production of Leica-mount lenses, forcing Zuihō to find an alternative.
The most plausible candidate is actually Tomioka, a manufacturer which supplied many lenses for rebranding by other companies. One source reports the existence of a Tominon C 50/1.8 lens in Leica screw mount, said to be "similar to the Honor lens". This report remains unconfirmed, and the lens maximum aperture does not correspond to either Honor lens. However the finish of the Honor lenses reminds Tomioka products of the time, notably the Yashinon and Yashikor 5cm lenses of the Yashica YE and YF (whose attribution to Tomioka is almost certain), or the Tominon 5cm f/2 in 42mm screw mount.
Honor 50mm f/2
The Honor 50mm f/2 was certainly the first lens badged by Zuihō. It appears on the Honor S1 in the July 1959 issue of Shashin Kōgyō, and on the Honor SL in the December 1959 issue of Nihon Camera.
The lens has six elements in four groups. The barrel is black and chrome. The focusing ring is predominantly black, and is driven by a tab with infinity lock. The distance scale is engraved in feet on most lenses — certainly for export to the US — and in metres on others — for domestic or other markets. The minimum distance is either 3.5ft or 1m. The aperture ring is black and chrome, with the aperture scale graduated from 2 to 22 in the black portion. The front bezel is black, with Honor 1:2 f=50mm Zuiho Optical Co. Japan N°xxxx engraved in white. The lens is sometimes found with a chrome front cap, engraved Honor in black.
The known serial numbers have four digits, from 5811 to 6295. The sequence maybe started at 5800 or 5801, perhaps indicating that the lens was released in 1958.
Honor 50mm f/1.9
|Honor 50mm f/1.9 no.61177 on a Honor SL. Picture by eBayer analogue_audio. (Image rights)|
The Honor 50mm f/1.9 came afterwards, and no mention has been found in any original document. The focusing ring is knurled and has a slightly different tab, with no infinity lock. The distance scale is engraved in feet most often, in metres sometimes; the minimum distance is again 3.5ft or 1m. The aperture is all black, graduated from 1.9 to 16. The tip of the barrel is bright chrome, and the base around the lens mount is satin chrome. The front bezel is engraved Honor 1:1.9 f=50mm Zuiho Optical Co. Japan N°xxxxx in white on a black background. The lens takes 43mm diameter filters. It is sometimes found with a black front cap, engraved Honor in white.
It is said that the Honor f/1.9 lens performs reasonably well up to f/5.6, but should not be specially looked after for its picture-taking ability.
The known serial numbers have five digits, from 61177 to 61633. It is tempting to say that the two first digits indicate year 1961, though it is not known if the Honor S1 and SL were still offered for sale at the time on some markets.
Other Honor lenses
The other Honor lenses were certainly rebadged versions of Komura or Acall lenses. Unlike the standard lenses, they do not display the name of the Zuihō company, and it is not sure if they were distributed for the Honor cameras or if some other distributor re-used the Honor brand after it was made available by Zuihō's demise.
Honor or W.Honor 35mm f/3.5
The Honor or W.Honor 35mm f/3.5 is known in at least two versions.
Black and chrome version
The first version has a black and chrome barrel, which is extremely similar to the W-Komura 35mm f/3.5 made by Sankyō Kōki or to the W.Acall 35mm f/3.5 made by Kyōei. According to the pictures observed so far, the W.Acall looks closer, and is almost identical to the Honor; however one source says that the Honor lens is engraved "S.K. Japan" on some part, therefore attributing it to Sankyō Kōki.
The black focusing ring has eight knurls and is engraved in feet only. The base of the barrel is chrome plated and has depth-of-field indications. The front of the barrel rotates during focusing. The aperture is set by turning the chrome front rim, along the two aperture scales engraved from 3.5 to 22 on the front part of the focus ring.
The front bezel is either engraved HONOR 1:3.5 f=35mm or W.HONOR 1:3.5 f=35mm. The only number confirmed so far is 10093, with a "K." prefix: K. No.10093. The meaning of this prefix is unknown: "K." might stand for the Komura brand name or for the maker's name Kyōei.
The lens was supplied with a dedicated auxiliary finder. It is shaped as a cylinder, with a black main part engraved HONOR and 35mm in white at the top. The front and rear ends are chrome-plated. The rear part rotates for parallax correction, and is engraved in metres and feet, from ∞ to 1m or 3ft. This viewfinder is exactly similar to that supplied by Kyōei for its own W.Acall 35mm f/3.5 — maybe Sankyō Kōki was offering the same viewfinder for the W-Komura at the same time.
All black barrel
|Honor 35mm f/3.5 K. no.10191. Pictures by Michaelangelo Di Nonno. (Image rights)|
The second version has an all black barrel. The front part is wider, and the lens certainly has a larger filter diameter than the first version. The focus ring has many knurls (perhaps twelve), and is engraved in feet (in white) and in metres (in orange), down to 3.5ft and 1m. It has the mention LENS MADE IN JAPAN on the underside. The front part of the barrel rotates during focusing. There is a knurled aperture ring, with two scales graduated from 3.5 to 22, moving along two red dots on the front edge of the focus ring. The front bezel is engraved HONOR 1:3.5 F=35mm, and the only number confirmed so far is 10191, with a red K. prefix. This number is very close to no.10093 mentioned above, perhaps indicating a very limited production — however it is not certain that the two numbers belong to a same sequence. The lens comes with a short black hood, but it is unsure if this is original.
Honor 135mm f/3.5
|Honor 135mm f/3.5 K. no.90498. Pictures by M. Matusiak. (Image rights)|
The Honor 135mm f/3.5 is known from a single example, with lens number 90498, pictured above. It has a black and chrome barrel, again very similar to the corresponding Komura and Acall 135mm f/3.5 lenses. The black focusing ring has fine mills and is engraved from infinity to 5ft (in white) and 1.5m (in orange). The base of the barrel is chrome plated and has depth-of-field indications. The aperture ring is quite large, and has the same black finish as the distance ring. It is engraved from 3.5 to 22 on both sides. The front bezel is engraved HONOR 135mm f:3.5, and the serial number again has a "K." prefix: K.No.90498.
- HPR, pp.188 and 415, this page (archived) by Ian Norris, this page and this page at Pacific Rim Camera.
- This is the hypothesis favoured in Awano, p.56 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.37, and Nekogahora, p.15 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.45.
- This is compatible with the dates of production of the Konishiroku lenses.
- HPR, p.414.
- Column in Shashin Kōgyō July 1959, p.39.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.379 (item 1140).
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.379 (item 1140), after Nihon Camera December 1959.
- See for example the pictures in this page at Kuroneko Camera (archived).
- No.5811 pictured in the column in Shashin Kōgyō July 1959, p.39. No.6295 observed in an online auction.
- An example in metres is pictured in Nekogahora, pp.14–5 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.45, and another in this page at Innovative Cameras.
- Awano, p.13 of Camera Collectors' News no.36 and p.57 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.37.
- Nekogahora, p.15 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.45.
- No.61177 observed in an online auction. No.61633 sold on a Honor S1 as lot no.47 of the June 8, 1995 auction by Christies.
- HONOR: lens pictured in this page by Nekosan (archived). W.HONOR: lens pictured in this page and this page by Pacific Rim Camera.
- Example pictured in this page.
- Shashin Kōgyō no.87, July 1959. "Line-Up: Kokusan fōkaru purēn shattā tsuki 35-miri kamera" (国産フォーカル・プレーンシャッター付35ミリカメラ, Japanese 35mm cameras with focal-plane shutter). Pp.38–9.
- 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.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Kokusan Barunakku-gata kamera: Ōnā, Ichikon" (国産バルナック型カメラ・オーナー、イチコン, Japanese Leica-type cameras: Honor, Ichicon). In Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.37, March 1996. No ISBN number. Leica Book '96 (ライカブック'96). Pp.56–7.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Ōnā 35 S1" (オーナー35S1, Honor 35 S1). In Camera Collectors' News no.35 (May 1980). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Ōnā SL" (オーナーSL, Honor SL). In Camera Collectors' News no.36 (June 1980). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha.
- Christies auction catalogues:
- Cameras and optical toys. Nov. 24, 1994, lot no.232.
- Cameras and optical toys. Aug. 31, 1995, lots no.35, 46 and 47.
- HPR. Leica Copies. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1994. ISBN 1-874485-05-4. Pp.183–90 and 414–5.
- Kaneko Hiroyasu (金子宏泰). "Ōnā 35 nyūshu no ki" (オーナー35入手の記, Story of the acquisition of Honor 35). In Camera Collectors' News no.63 (September 1982). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.17–8. (The author shows a picture of Honor cameras and lenses and tells how he obtained them, but says little of their features.)
- Nekogahora Makoto (猫洞まこと). "Ōnā SL" (オーナーSL, Honor SL). In Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.45, March 1998. ISBN 4-257-13014-8. Sekai no Raika-gata kamera (世界のライカ型カメラ, Leica-like cameras of the world). Pp.14–5.
- Shinohara Shōichi (篠原昭市). "'Honor' o tatta 1,000-en de katte 'Honor' no ōnā ni natta hanashi" (「Honor」をたった1,000円で買って「Honor」のオーナーになった話, How I bought a 'Honor' for 1,000 yen and became the owner of a 'Honor'). In Camera Collectors' News no.128 (February 1988). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.25–7. (The author shows pictures of a Honor SL with Honor lens, and tells how he obtained it, but says little of the features.)
- 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 3274–5.
- Honor family and W.Honor 35mm f/3.5 lens at Pacific Rim Camera
- Honor lenses in the Honor family at Nekosan's website (archived)
- Honor 50mm f/2 on a Honor S1 at Kuroneko Camera (archived)
- Honor 50mm f/2 on a Honor S1 and on a Honor SL at Ian Norris' Prime Lens (archived at archive.org, July 2018)
- Honor 50mm f/1.9 on a Honor SL among copies of the Leica III at Massimo Bertacchi's Innovative Cameras
- Past sales by Westlicht Photographica Auction (now Leitz Photographica Auction):
- Honor 50mm f/2 on a Honor S1: lot no.408 of the October 28, 2007 auction by Skinner
- Honor 50mm f/1.9 on a Honor SL: lot no.604 of auction no.9741 (November 18, 2003) by Christies