Kinka plate folders

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Japanese plate film: monocular, box, strut-folding and SLR ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Kinka (錦華カメラ) 6.5×9cm plate folders were made in the early 1930s by Yamamoto Shashinki Kōsakusho. One source says that they were released in 1931.[1] The company later made a number of other cameras under the Kinka brand: see Kinka Lucky, Kinka Roll and Semi Kinka.

The wooden Kinka

The original Kinka has a mixed body with a wooden rear casing and metal folding bed. There are small folding struts with a peculiar shape, double extension bellows driven by a small wheel on the photographer's right, and a distance scale on the left. The camera has a collapsible brilliant finder with a square window, and a wireframe finder with a rounded eyepiece on the rear.

Only one example has been observed so far.[2] It has vertical movements driven by a knob atop the right-hand branch of the U-shaped front standard, and perhaps horizontal movements as well. Its lens is an Anastigmat Trioplan 10.5cm f/4.5 by Meyer, mounted in a dial-set Vario shutter (25, 50, 100, B, T), with a simple "needle" self-timer.

An unidentified plate folder pictured in Yazawa has some similarity with the above camera, and might correspond to a wooden Kinka.[3] It has similar folding struts, focusing rails, focusing wheel and front standard with a knob for vertical movements. It mainly differs by the shape of the handle lugs and brilliant finder and by the absence of a wireframe finder.

The metal Kinka

The next model has an all-metal body, and a focusing worm screw on the photographer's right. It has double extension bellows, the same viewfinder eyepiece and the same folding struts as the previous model. The pulling handles at the base of the front standard have a different cylindrical shape. The vertical and horizontal movements are perhaps still available, but the setting knob has disappeared. The brilliant finder has a different shape with a round window.

The June 1932 advertisement in Asahi Camera says that the Kinka was copied by a host of other cameras, whose most prominent sales point is to keep silent on their build quality. The pictures show the metal model with worm screw focusing; an oval plate engraved KINKA HAND CAMERA is visible inside the folding bed. The camera was supplied with three plate holders and one film pack holder. The following versions are listed, all with Meyer Anastigmat lenses:[4]

The Kinka A mentioned in a June 1935 advertisement is perhaps a new name for the original metal Kinka.[5]

The two surviving examples pictured in Sugiyama are similar to the camera presented in the June 1932 advertisement. One of them has a Trioplan 10.5cm f/6.3 lens and a Vario shutter (25, 50, 100, B, T).[6] The other has a Maro Anastigmat 105mm f/6.3 lens and a dial-set shutter (25, 50, 100, B, T), also inscribed MARO on the speed dial.[7] This Maro brand is otherwise unknown. Another surviving example is fitted with a Schneider Radionar f/4.5 12cm in a Pronto shutter.[8]

The Special East distributed by Sone Shunsuidō in 1929 is quite similar to the metal Kinka, of which it was perhaps a name variant.

The Kinka C and Kinka D

The Kinka C is a cheaper version of the original Kinka, and it has the same folding struts and wireframe finder. It only exists with an f/8 lens, and the shutter plate is inscribed KINKA C at the top in the advertising picture observed so far.[9] It seems that the focusing worm screw has disappeared, and the camera is perhaps focused by manually moving the front standard.

The Kinka D is a more expensive model. It has double extension bellows, driven by a small focusing wheel on the photographer's right, and a patented exposure table.[10] The folding struts and handle attachment differ from that of the previous models, and the wireframe finder has been replaced by a folding frame finder attached to the rear.

The Kinka D was advertised alone in the May 10, 1934 issue of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, where the price is said to vary from ¥33 to ¥85.[11] The Kinka A, C and D were advertised together in the June 1st, 1935 issue of the same magazine, from ¥15 to ¥85.[12] The Kinka C and D were advertised in Asahi Camera in July 1935.[13] In the document the Kinka C is offered for ¥15 with one plate holder and one film pack holder, and two versions of the Kinka D are listed:[14]

An advertisement in the December 1935 issue of Photo Times says that Kikōdō was a distributor of the Super, Kinka and Peter cameras.

The Kinka C was advertised again in Asahi Camera December 1936.[15] This is the last known mention of a Kinka plate folder. The document lists the camera for ¥15, and mentions a leather case at ¥3.00. The textual description is supplemented by a picture of the Kinka Roll 6×9cm rollfilm camera, perhaps by mistake.

One surviving example of the Kinka D has been observed with a Rulex A (1–250, B, T) and a Radionar 10.5cm f/3.5 made by Neumann & Heilemann, certainly from imported Schneider elements.[16]


The camera pictured as a Kinka in Lewis does not correspond to any of the models described above: it has different folding struts, a different wireframe finder, and a focusing wheel to the right.[17] It has an Elka shutter with a hole for a thread and needle release, and the lens engraving perhaps has Fuji Optische Werk.[18]

The Kinka camera pictured in Kamera no ayumi is again very different from the models described above, notably in the folding struts, wireframe finder, front standard and handle attachment.[19] It has one-and-a-half extension bellows, driven by a wheel on the right. The shutter is a dial-set Pronto, and the lens is a Trinar-Anastigmat 10.5cm f/4.5 by Rodenstock.


  1. Lewis, p.47.
  2. Example pictured in this page at Asacame.
  3. Example pictured in Yazawa, p.22 of Camera Collectors' News no.271. The author says that the Trimar lens and Vario shutter mounted on the camera are not original.
  4. Lewis, p.47, gives similar lens and shutter options, but says "Auto Prontor" for "Auto Pronto", certainly by mistake.
  5. Advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, June 1st, 1935, p.5, reproduced on p.23 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  6. Sugiyama, item 1073.
  7. Sugiyama, item 1073.
  8. Collection Dirk HR Spennemann.
  9. Advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1935 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.67.
  10. Patented exposure table: advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1935 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.67 (特許露出表付). The advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin no.1, 10 May 1934, reproduced on p.12 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku, only says "utility model" (新案).
  11. Advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin no.1, 10 May 1934, p.10, reproduced on p.12 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  12. Advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, June 1st, 1935, p.5, reproduced on p.23 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  13. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.67.
  14. Advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1935 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.67.
  15. Advertisement in Asahi Camera December 1936, p.A58.
  16. Example observed in an online auction.
  17. Lewis, p.47.
  18. The engraving is barely legible, but the name "Fuji Optische Werk" is reported in McKeown, p.328, for the company Fuji Kōgaku.
  19. Kamera no ayumi, p.84.


  • Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ). Advertisements by Yamamoto Shashinki Kōsakusho:
    • June 1932, p.A34;
    • December 1936, p.A58.
  • 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 64–5 (see also the advertisement for items 124–5).
  • Kamera no ayumi. Zen nihon shashin renmei sōritsu 50-shūnen kinen (カメラのあゆみ・全日本写真連盟創立五〇周年記念, History of cameras, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the All Japan Association of Photographic Societies). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1976. No ISBN number. P.84.
  • Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). Pp.47–8.
  • 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.1020.
  • Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisements on p.12, corresponding to p.10 of issue no.1, dated May 10, 1934, and p.23, corresponding to p.5 of the June 1st, 1935 issue.
  • 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 1073–4.
  • Yazawa Seiichirō (矢沢征一郎). "Renzu no hanashi (181) Torimā renzu" (レンズの話[181]トリマー・レンズ, Lens story [181] Trimar lens). In Camera Collectors' News no.271 (January 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.21–3.


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