The Picny (ピクニー) is a Japanese camera taking sixteen 24×36mm exposures on 127 film, made by Miyagawa Seisakusho and distributed by the Mitsukoshi department store. It was introduced in 1935 and advertised at least until 1940.
image by eBayer tuiteka (Image rights)
The body of the Picny seems to be made out of a metal tube (like the body of the Leica screw models up to the IIIb). The lens and shutter assembly is collapsible and is mounted on a helical, focusing down to 1/3 metre.
image by eBayer tuiteka (Image rights)
The top plate supports the advance knob at the right end, a key to open the camera, a tubular optical finder offset to the left and a screw thread to store 20mm filters at the left end. This filter holder was protected by the Japanese patent no.233457.
Film loading is through the top plate, in the same spirit as the bottom loading of the Leica screw models. On the original model, film advance is controlled by two uncovered red windows in the back but the case has a hinged metal plate acting as a red window cover when it is closed. This case was protected by the Japanese patent no.229066.
The bottom plate has a tripod thread and two round discs corresponding to the film spools. The serial number is engraved in one of them.
The shutter is unmarked, and gives T, B, 25, 50, 75, 100 speeds. It is cocked by a lever on the top and tripped by another lever. It was made by Miyagawa itself and protected by Japanese patent no.206258.
The lens is a four-element Picny Anastigmat 40mm f/4.5 made by Fujita Kōgaku Kikai. The lens name Picny anastigmat 1:4.5 F=40mm is engraved in the same plate as the shutter speeds, and no lens number is given. The 40mm focal length gives a moderate wide-angle effect, touted at the time as one of the camera's prominent features. The adoption of the 24×36mm picture format instead of 3×4cm is probably explained by the insufficient coverage of the lens.
Original black model
|Black Picny no.1131, f/4.5 lens.|
images by eBayer tuiteka (Image rights)
The original Picny was first sold in black finish. It was featured in the October 1935 issue of Asahi Camera. Advertisements dated October 1935, April 1936, February, March and August 1937 offered the camera for ¥48.80, case included (a Picny lens hood was available for ¥1.20 in the March and August 1937 advertisements). The distributor was the camera counter of the Mitsukoshi department store (三越写真機売場, Mitsukoshi Shashinki Uriba). In advertisements dated February and August 1938, the price was ¥58 and the following accessories were listed:
- lens cap (¥0.20);
- filter holder (¥1.20);
- lens hood (¥1.50);
- ever ready case (¥3.60);
- case screw (¥0.35);
- Picny album (¥1.50).
The August 1938 advertisement was inserted by the authorized dealer Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten and shows the name "Picny Camera Works" (ピクニーカメラウオークス) but this is only a name used for advertising purpose and was not the name of any particular company.
Serial numbers for the black Picny are known from 1131 to 2548, in a sequence which perhaps started at 1000.
|Nickel Picny no.3562, f/4.5 lens. The screw at the front of the shutter is not original.|
images by eBayer ipruksleica (Image rights)
The camera was later sold in nickel-plated finish. All the examples observed have an added distant release connector on the left of the shutter housing (as seen from the front). Only two serial numbers have been confirmed so far, both in the 35xx range.
The camera was modified in late 1939 as the Picny E (ピクニーE型). It differs by the bulging back, certainly making film loading easier. The rear lid of the top plate is modified accordingly, and the telescopic tube is pulled out a little less because the film plane has moved backwards. The camera has a single red window on the rear, offset to the left and protected by a horizontal sliding cover (It seems that the film rolls sold in Japan at the time had a series of numbers going from 1 to 16, usable with one red window only).
The single serial number confirmed so far for the Picny E is 4152. It gives a rough estimate of ca. 4,000 units for the total production of the 3×4cm Picny.
The Picny E appears in advertisements dated December 1939 and April 1940, at the price of ¥62. In that dated December 1939, the camera is announced as newly available and the following features are mentioned:
- red window cover;
- lighter color of the red windows making the numbers more readable;
- new construction for easier film loading.
The Picny is listed in the list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, in three versions called "Picny" (¥60), "Picny II" (¥60) and "Picny III" (¥77), with no further details (the Picny and Picny II may correspond to the black and nickel models, and the Picny III to the Picny E, but this is unconfirmed).
- 24×36mm picture size: "Picny kamera no jōzuna tsukaikata" article in Asahi Camera April 1936, reproduced in Awano, pp.7–8 of Camera Collectors' News no.332.
- Made by Miyagawa: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 164, confirmed by an advertisement dated September 1947 for the Picny B, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.162, stating that Miyagawa Seisakusho was the maker of the earlier Picny and Boltax.
- Dates: Kokusan kamera no rekishi mentions advertisements dated 1935 to 1938 but the Gochamaze website (archived) reproduces advertisements dated as late as 1940. This page of the JCII gives October 1935 as the release month but Lewis, p.51, says 1934.
- Patent number mentioned in advertisements reproduced in Awano, p.10 of Camera Collectors' News no.332 and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85.
- Patent number mentioned in an advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 12-V-3.
- Patent number mentioned in advertisements reproduced in Awano, Camera Collectors' News no.332, in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85 and in the Gochamaze website (archived).
- Four elements, made by Fujita Kōgaku Kikai: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item I4.
- "Picny kamera no jōzuna tsukaikata" article in Asahi Camera April 1936, reproduced in Awano, pp.7–8 of Camera Collectors' News no.332. See also the advertisements reproduced in Awano, Camera Collectors' News no.332, in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85 and in the Gochamaze website (archived).
- Sugiyama, item 3046, says that the black model came later in 1940 but this is a mistake.
- Article reproduced in Awano, p.5 of Camera Collectors' News no.332.
- Advertisements in Asahi Camera October 1935, April 1936 and February 1937 reproduced in Awano, pp.5, 6 and 9 of Camera Collectors' News no.332. Advertisement in Asahi Graph 24 March 1937, formerly reproduced in the Gochamaze website (archived). Advertisement in Asahi Camera August 1937, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85.
- Advertisement in Asahi Graph February 2, 1938, formerly reproduced in the Gochamaze website (archived). Advertisement in Asahi Camera August 1938, reproduced in Awano, p.10 of Camera Collectors' News no.332.
- Telescopic tube modification: Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.332.
- Advertisements in Asahi Graph December 20, 1939 and April 24, 1940, formerly reproduced at Gochamaze (archived).
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, sections 5 and 7.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 164.
- 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 192. (See also the pictures on pp.11 and 471.)
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Picny" (ピクニー). In Camera Collectors' News no.332 (February 2005). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced 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: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Item 164.
- "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 1, sections 5 and 7.
- 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). P.51.
- 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.692.
- 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 3045–6.
- Picny (black) in the Mediajoy Classic Camera website, follow the "Next" links to have an illustrated operating manual
- Picny (black) in Kamada Tetsuya's blog
- Picny (black) at Fukumaden
- Picny (black) at Kidō shūsei-chū (same example as Fukumaden)
- Picny (black) in the Camera database of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology
- Picny (black) and more pictures in Miyazawa Noriyuki's camera site (the shutter plate and lens rim are missing)
- Picny (black) in a page of cameras at Sasaki Yukio's camera page