Kinka Lucky

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The Lucky (ラッキー) or Kinka Lucky (錦華ラッキー) is a Japanese camera taking 3×4cm exposures on 127 film. It was released by Yamamoto Shashinki Kōsakusho in late 1935 and advertised until 1937.[1]

General description

The Kinka Lucky is inspired from the Picny, itself copying the Gewirette by Wirgin. It has a rounded metal body and a telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly.

The top plate supports the advance knob on the right end, a key to open the camera, a tubular optical finder slightly offset to the left and a round plate on the left end. The top plate is removed for film loading, like the Picny and in the same spirit as the bottom loading of the Leica screw models.

Commercial life

The Kinka Lucky was reportedly featured as a new product in the December 1935 issue of Asahi Camera, and was advertised in the January 1936 issue of Ars Camera.[2]

The camera is simply called "Lucky Camera" in the advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1936, reproduced above.[3] Two versions are listed and pictured, with f/6.3 and f/4.5 lens, respectively priced at ¥22.50 and ¥33. Both have a folding frame-finder, whose front part is inscribed Lucky and folds above the rear one. The f/4.5 camera has a dial-set Elka shutter and an Anastigmat Trionar 50mm f/4.5 front-cell focusing lens, with serial number 371. The f/6.3 camera has a rim-set shutter and a Ceronar lens (see below for a description of the markings). The lens rim is fixed, and the telescopic tube is mounted on a focusing helical, with a distance scale at the base, graduated from ∞ to 1m.

The camera was advertised again as the Kinka Lucky in the December 1936, January and April 1937 issues of Asahi Camera, reproduced above.[4] More details are given for the two versions:

Two different models of ever-ready cases are offered, at ¥4.50 and ¥2.00; the difference between the two is unknown. The picture only shows the f/6.3 model, which now has a tubular finder instead of the folding finder.

Actual examples

An example of the original camera with folding frame finder was offered for sale at Westlicht in 2014.[7] It has the 50 mm f/6.3 Ceronar lens, in a helical focusing mount, and an everset shutter with speeds 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 second, plus 'B' and 'T', selected by turning the rim. The face-plate carries the lens name, beginning with ORIENTAL OPTICAL CERONAR and finally the aperture and focal length. MADE BY Y.C.E.W. TOKYO is printed underneath. Some of the initials probably stand for Yamamoto, Camera and Works but the meaning of the "E" is unclear. The camera has two red windows with a sliding metal cover. It has a tripod bush in the bottom.

Two surviving examples are known which have a tubular finder; both are pictured in Sugiyama.

The f/6.3 example is similar to the camera pictured in the January 1937 advertisement.[8] Like the exampe above, it has a focusing helical, and an everset shutter with speeds 1/25 - 1/100 second. The lens name is written on the shutter plate, as in the example above (and as on the Picny).

The f/4.5 example is similar to that pictured in the July 1936 advertisement, except for the tubular finder.[9] The base of the telescopic tube is plainly attached to the body by four screws. The lens is a front-cell focusing Anastigmat Trionar 50mm /4.5. The shutter is a dial-set Elka, marked ELKA on the speed setting wheel. The shutter plate has a TB logo on the right, and the aperture is set by an index at the bottom. The release lever is attached to the front of the shutter casing. There is a thread on the side for a cable release, and a hole under the lens for a thread and needle release device (a crude replacement for a self-timer).


  1. Dates: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.335. The camera was featured in the new products column of the December 1935 issue of Asahi Camera.
  2. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.335.
  3. Advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1936, p.A62, also reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102. It is the oldest document listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.335 and 343.
  4. Advertisements in Asahi Camera December 1936, p.A58, January 1937, p.A56, and April 1937, p.A65. That dated January 1937 is also reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.67. On p.335, the same book mentions a further advertisement in the November 1936 issue of Asahi Camera, but no such page appears in the copy owned by Camerawiki user Rebollo_fr.
  5. Name inferred from the katakana トリオナー.
  6. Name inferred from the katakana ヴァルダー.
  7. Lucky camera with f/6.3 Ceronar, offered for sale at Camera Auction 26, on 22 November 2014, by Westlicht Photographica Auction (now Leitz Photographica Auction). Several excellent pictures of the camera.
  8. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3027.
  9. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3026.


Original documents

Recent sources