Idea Telephoto

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Japanese plate strut-folding cameras (edit)
No.0 (4×5cm) CH
atom (4.5×6cm) Idea Spring
meishi (5.5×8cm) Minimum Idea | Korok
daimeishi (6.5×9cm) Idea Spring | Minolta | Auto Minolta | Auto Press Minolta | Nifca-Dox | Vester Klapp
tefuda (8×10.5cm) Focal Happy | Idea Spring | Idea Telephoto
10×15cm Kongo Press
kabine (12×16.5cm) Idea Spring | Idea Telephoto
Japanese plate film: monocular, box, folding bed and SLR ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Idea Telephoto Camera (アイデア望遠写真暗函) is a Japanese special camera for telephoto pictures, made from 1909 by Rokuoh-sha, the manufacturing branch of Konishi (predecessor of Konica).


The Idea Telephoto was certainly developed for balloon photography, and was inspired by European designs made for that purpose, such as the Carl Zeiss' Magnar Camera. It is said that the camera appeared in April 1909,[1] and some sources say that it was made on request of the Balloon Research Group of the Japanese Army.[2] This certainly corresponds to the Rinji Gun'yō Kikyū Kenkyū Kai (臨時軍用気球研究会, Provisional Military Balloon Research Society), but this group was created in July 1909, later than the date reported for the Idea Telephoto.[3] The camera was nonetheless certainly used on the balloons developed by this group.


The Idea Telephoto has an elongated body, shaped as a box. The square front standard is mounted on rack-and-pinion struts with a bellows. There is a handle on the side of the body, to carry the camera. The lens is protected by a flap hinged at the top. There is a Newton finder atop the body, and a wireframe finder hinged to the top of the front standard. The shutter is of the focal-plane type.


It is said that the Idea Telephoto was made in tefuda-size (8×10.5cm) and in kyabine-size (12×16.5cm). Both models reportedly have a Dallmeyer New Large Adon lens, the smaller model having a 12in f/4.5 and the larger model having a 17in f/6.[4] It seems that the camera was not made for the military only but was commercially sold, at the price of ¥209 or ¥277 depending on the size.[5]


  1. Kikuoka, p.27 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology.
  2. Kikuoka, p.27 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10: "陸軍の気球研究会", and Lewis, p.20.
  3. Created in July 1909: Chronology of the Meiji era (archived) and Tokorozawa Airfield page.
  4. Kikuoka, p.30 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  5. Kikuoka, p.30 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.



In Japanese:

Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
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