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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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The Kelly (ケリー) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera, made at the beginning of the 1940s. It is a copy of the large Baldax model, recognized by the name Kelly embossed in the leather covering at the front. The camera is attributed to Miyoshi Kōgaku in original sources, but it was actually a rebadged version of the Semi Proud, and later of the Semi Rody.

See also the Kely, which has a similar name but is perhaps unrelated.

Original documents

The Kelly appears in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, for ¥160.[1]

The camera was then featured as the "Semi Kelly" (セミケリー) in a column in the July 1941 issue of Asahi Camera.[2] The document attributes the camera to Miyoshi Kōgaku, and mentions a U.L.L. f/3.5 front-cell focusing lens and a Koho shutter (T, B, 1–150).[3]

Finally, the camera appears in another official price list dated November 1941, where it is attributed to Miyoshi too.[4]

Actual examples

Two surviving examples of the Kelly have been observed so far.

Rebadged Semi Proud

The camera pictured in this page is exactly similar to the Semi Proud with body release. The folding optical finder and body release are placed opposite the advance knob. The back latch is the same as found on late examples of the Semi Proud.

The shutter is the early version of the Koho (1–150, B, T); a linkage is provided behind the shutter casing to connect the release lever placed at the top to the body release mechanism. The lens is a U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, as announced in 1941.

Rebadged Semi Rody

The other camera[5] is very similar to the Semi Rody, another Baldax copy made by Shibayama. The body shape is slightly different, and the configuration is reversed, with the folding finder and body release on the same side as the advance knob. The folding bed release and a tripod thread are placed on the opposite side. In the back, the red windows are protected by individual sliding covers. The back latch is exactly the same as on the other camera (the part is shared by the late Semi Proud and the Semi Rody).

On that camera, the shutter is a late version of the Koho (1–200, B, T), adapted for a body release. The aperture scale is directly engraved at the top of the shutter casing, and there is a conspicuous blank space at the bottom of the front plate, for a separate aperture scale. The lens is the same U.L.L. Anastigmat f/3.5 as on the other camera.


  1. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, section 7B.
  2. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
  3. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336, after the July 1941 article in Asahi Camera.
  4. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 7B.
  5. 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. Item 92. (Unlike most other cameras covered in this book, no advertisement is reproduced.)
  • "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, section 7B.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in 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. Pp.108—9. Type 3, section 7B.

The Kelly is not listed in Sugiyama.