Oscar Six and Renown Six
The Oscar Six (オスカーシックス) and Renown Six (レナウンシックス) are Japanese 6×6 folding cameras with a non-coupled rangefinder, made by Fujiwara Seisakusho in 1953–4. The Kohken Chrome Six is a name variant sold by an unknown distributor.
The Oscar Six and Renown Six are horizontal folders, with a diecast body and straight diagonal struts. The uncoupled rangefinder is combined with the viewfinder and contained in the top housing. The common eyepiece is offset to the right, as seen by the photographer, and the round second-image window is on the left. The rangefinder is driven by a wheel falling under the left thumb. The folding bed release and accessory shoe are above the rangefinder, and the shutter release is at its usual location on the right.
The film is advanced by a knob at the right end of the top plate, and has an arrow engraved to indicate the turning direction. The back is hinged to the left and contains a single red window in the middle, protected by a built-in cover controlled by a small sliding button.
On the Renown Six, the name Renown is embossed in the back leather, above the red window, and at the front of the leather case. The top plate also has Renown and the model number Ia or IIa above the viewfinder. There is a hexagonal ARW logo embossed in the leather of the folding bed.
The Oscar Six Ia
The camera was first announced as the Oscar Six Ia; it was advertised under that name from October to December 1953 and was featured in the November issue of Kohga Gekkan. It has a front-cell focusing Yamasaki Congo 75/3.5 lens, and a Vario-type shutter (B, 25, 50, 100), synchronized via an ASA bayonet post. In an advertisement in the October 1953 issue of Shashin Salon, Fujiwara describes it as an introductory camera (入門カメラ), and prices it at ¥8,300 (including the leather case).
No surviving example of the Oscar Six has been observed yet, and it is not known if the camera was actually sold under that name.
The Renown Six Ia
The camera was soon renamed Renown Six Ia, perhaps because the Oscar brand was already registered by someone else. It was featured under that name in the January 1954 issue of Ars Camera and was advertised from January to May of the same year. In the May advertisement in Sankei Camera, no difference is visible from the previous model, except for the lens name H-Congo. (The letter "H" certainly stands for Hard Coating.) The distributor is given as Sanyō Shōkai and the price is ¥8,500.
|Renown Six Ia, certainly with B, 1–200 speeds. The picture appears in an advertisement in Shashin Kōgyō May and June 1954, ostensibly for the Renown Six IIa. (Image rights)|
At least two examples of the Renown Six Ia have been observed with the simple synchronized shutter (B, 25–100) announced in the advertisement. Another camera is known with an RKS shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer), also having an ASA synch post. On all these cameras, the lens bezel is engraved K. Yamasaki H–CONGO 1:3.5 f=7.5cm No.xxxxx on a black background, and lens numbers are in the 16xxx and 17xxx range.
The Kohken Chrome Six
The Kohken Chrome Six is a name variant of the Renown Six Ia. The camera is very rare, and appears in no known printed source. Pictures of a single camera have been observed so far, showing the name KOHKEN CHROME SIX engraved on the top plate, the rest of the camera being identical to the Renown. That particular example has an S-Congo 7.5cm f/3.5 lens (no.51283) by Yamasaki, in an RKS shutter (B, 1–200). Another example has been reported with an Okoru (オーコール) Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens.
The Renown Six IIa
|Renown Six IIa, from Shashin Kōgyō July 1954. (Image rights)|
The Renown Six IIa has a film reminder added at the left end of the top plate, and a rectangular frame surrounding the viewfinder and rangefinder windows. The shutter is a Renown (B, 1–200), with a self-timer and a PC synch socket; the name RENOWN is engraved at the bottom of the speed ring. The lens bezel is engraved K. YAMASAKI H–CONGO 1:3.5 f=7.5cm No.xxxxx on a black background. Serial numbers for the H-Congo are known in the 18xxx and 19xxx range.
The model IIa was featured in Japanese magazines dated from May to September 1954, and was advertised from May to December. It was priced at ¥9,800 (case included). The May and June advertisement in Shashin Kōgyō, reproduced below, is ostensibly for the IIa, but shows an outdated picture of the Ia. The July issue of the same magazine briefly features the camera as a new product. In the August advertisement in Camera Mainichi, the hard-coated Congo lens from Yamasaki, with its thirty-year history, is made a sales point. This was not enough for the camera to meet success, and the Fujiwara company ceased to produce cameras after this attempt.
|Advertisement in Shashin Kōgyō May and June 1954. (Image rights)||Announcement in Shashin Kōgyō July 1954. (Image rights)|
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.348.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.124.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1411, and example observed in an online auction.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1412, where it is called "Renown Ia (Deluxe)", certainly because of the better shutter.
- Example observed in an online auction, with a case wearing the KSK logo of Sumida Kōki Seisakusho.
- Example formerly reported in a page at Anonymous Album Peko, Roman spelling "Okoru" in the left menu of another page. In that page, the camera is attributed to Sumida Kōki Seisakusho, perhaps by mistake.
- The camera with Okoru lens is attributed to Sumida in a page formerly shown at Anonymous Album Peko and the camera with S-Congo lens comes with a case wearing the KSK logo of Sumida, though this might be a coincidence.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374.
- Advertisements in Shashin Kōgyō May 1954, p.369, and June 1954, p.430.
- Column in Shashin Kōgyō July 1954, p.26.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.212.
- Advertisement by Fujiwara Seisakusho in Shashin Kōgyō:
- no.24, May 1954, p.369;
- no.25, June 1954, p.430.
- Shashin Kōgyō no.26, July 1954. Shashin Kōgyō Nyūsu (写真工業ニュース, News from the photographic industry). Pp.26–7.
- 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 432 and 1041–2.
- 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.332.
- 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 1411–2.