The Mihama Six is a series of 6×6 folding cameras using 120 film, produced by Mihama (or Suruga) from 1952 until 1957. There are a number of models, all sharing the same body with horizontal folding bed. This body was manufactured by Takane, at least for the early days. An MSK logo appeared on the folding struts.
No model of Mihama Six has any automation for film advance, and all but one can take both 6×6 and 4.5×6 pictures. These have two red windows in the back, one for each format, with a sliding cover accordingly engraved. All the lenses are 75mm f/3.5 unless stated otherwise. Mihama does not seem to have been a lens maker, and "Mihama" lenses can be presumed to have been a mere matter of branding.
Earlier models, without rangefinder
The first Mihama Six was released in 1952 — the name of the company at the time was Mihama Seikō (三浜精工株式会社). At first glance it may appear to be a rangefinder camera, but instead it has two viewfinders, one for 6×6 and the other for 6×4.5. It has been observed with either a Mihama or a Seriter lens, and with an NKS shutter (B, 1–200). It has been reported with a Nomular 75/3.2 lens, and also with an alternative shutter, called MKS or MSK depending on the source.
McKeown  mentions a Mihama Six Model-X, a simpler version, apparently for 6×6 format only. The camera pictured has no top housing, only a tubular optical finder centered on the top plate and a diecast accessory shoe between the finder and the advance knob.
The Mihama Six II (1953) adds a viewfinder switch on the back left that puts a red mask across the viewfinder that is not in use. It has a C. Mihama lens and an NKS shutter (B, 1–200). The Mihama Six IIIA (1954) — from Suruga Seiki (駿河精機株式会社) rather than Mihama — adds a depth-of-field scale; it has been observed with either a Mihama lens or a Kepler triplet lens, and either an NKS shutter (B, 1–200) an NKS-FB shutter (B, 1–300) or an MSK shutter (B, 1-200).
|Mihama Six Model I, Seriter Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, NKS shutter, bottom synch pin.|
images by Jay Decker (Image rights)
|Mihama Six Model II, C Mihama Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, NKS shutter, ASA bayonet synch.|
images by Fred Sherfy (Image rights)
|Mihama Six Model IIIA, C. Kepler Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens no.20694, NKS-FB shutter (B, 1–300), PC synch post.|
images by Garry Orman (Image rights)
Later models, with rangefinder
The Mihama Rhyme Six I (1954) has a single viewfinder, combined with an uncoupled rangefinder. The viewfinder is to the right (when holding the camera), and the rangefinder window to the left: the reverse of the usual arrangement. The rangefinder is set by a knob under the left thumb. The lens is either a Tri-Lausar from Tomioka or a Kepler of unknown provenance. The Mihama Rhyme Six II (also 1954) switches around the positions of the viewfinder and rangefinder. The Mihama Six R (1955) is a Rhyme Six II with a Toko lens (from Tōkyō Kōgaku) and either an NKS-FB or a Copal shutter (B, 1–300). An advertisement in the January 1955 issue of Shashin Salon offered the IIIA for ¥9,800 and the R for ¥15,300.
The Mihama Six S (also 1955) is a major improvement, with a coupled rangefinder and unit focusing. The lens is either a C. Kepler or a Toko, the shutter either NKS-FB or Copal MX (both B, 1–300). An advertisement in the June 1955 issue of Shashin Salon offered it for ¥14,000. The Mihama Six S2 (1957) — from Mihama Camera (ミハマカメラ株式会社) — has a brightline finder, a Lausar 80mm f/3.5 lens and shutter speeds of B, 1–400. An advertisement in the August 1957 issue of Shashin Salon offered it, complete with case and flashgun, for ¥13,000.
- Hagiya Takeshi, "Mine Shikkusu: Gunma-ken Takasaki-shi no kameramēkā".
- 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). Page 909.
Sources / further reading
- 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 941–7, 1670.
- Hagiya Takeshi (萩谷剛). "Mine Shikkusu: Gunma-ken Takasaki-shi no kameramēkā" (ミネシックス：群馬県高崎市のカメラメーカー, Mine Six: A camera-maker in Takasaki, Gunma). Chapter 7 of Zunō kamera tanjō: Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari (ズノーカメラ誕生：戦後国産カメラ10物語, The birth of the Zunow camera: Ten stories of postwar Japanese camera makers). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1999. ISBN 4-257-12023-1.
- Kawamata Masataku (川又正卓). Mihama Six IIIA. In Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: The use of and actual examples from 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.126–7.
- Mihama Rhyme Six page at Puppy's Island, with sample pictures
- Six Model II article at SCR's Gazō & Mycamera's pages
- Repair notes of the camera presented just above, with pictures and sample photos at the Handmade and Classic Camera website
- Mihama Six Model II at Itō Sadanobu's camera collection
- Mihama Six Model II (archived) at Japan Family Camera
- Mihama Six Model S (archived), including an original ad, at the website of Mihama Giken, a company founded by the son of Mihama's founder