The Picny B (ピクニーB) is a Japanese camera taking twelve exposures on Bolta film, made around 1948 by Miyagawa Seisakusho. It was a postwar redesign of the Boltax made by the same manufacturer. A version taking perforated 35mm film was developed as the Picny 35.
Description of the viewfinder Picny B
The Picny B has an all-metal body with rounded edges. The top and bottom plates are chrome plated. The tubular viewfinder is offset to the left, as seen by the photographer. There is a round film flange at the left end, displaying the camera name PICNY B. The advance knob is at the right end, and is surrounded by a disc with frame numbers engraved. The advance knob presents minor variations in the top part and in the milled pattern on the side. The camera reportedly has auto-stop film advance. The auto-stop mechanism is certainly very simple, and the only visible part is some sort of claw attached to the top plate by two screws. The whole top plate is removed for film loading, and is locked in place by a key offset to the right, with O and L indications (for Open and Locked).
The back has a door hinged to the left, showing the exposure chamber and certainly supporting the pressure plate. It certainly makes film loading easier, and it is used to set the position of the first exposure, before setting the frame counter to 1. The bottom plate is attached to the body by four screws.
The lens and shutter assembly is attached to a collapsible tube mounted on a focusing helix. The distance scale is engraved in feet down to 2ft. The lens is a Picner Anastigmat 4cm f/3.5 with no serial number. It was perhaps made by Fujita, which made the Picner 40mm f/4.5 lens of the Boltax. The shutter is a Picny (B, 25–100), wound by a lever on one side and tripped by another lever on the opposite side. The black shutter plate has the speed scale at the top, in the order 100, 50, 25, B, silver stripes on the sides and the name PICNY at the bottom. This shutter is perhaps the same as on the Boltax, and was probably made by Miyagawa itself.
The Picny B was advertised in the September to November 1948 issues of Kohga Gekkan. The September advertisement was placed by the distributor Chiyoda Shōkai, and it confirms that the camera was made by the same Miyagawa Seisakusho which made the Boltax and the 3×4 Picny. It presents the camera as a new model (新発売) and lists the main improvements from the Boltax:
- the new Picner Anastigmat 4cm f/3.5 lens;
- the double extension helical, keeping down the camera's width;
- the new auto-stop film advance and viewfinder, and improved back door;
- the elongated shape, making the camera more beautiful;
- the ability to be easily converted into a coupled-rangefinder camera.
The rangefinder Picny is called "Picny C" in some sources, but no original document has been found so far to confirm this. On the contrary, the advertisement for the Picny B mentions the possibility to convert the Picny B by the addition of a coupled rangefinder. It is not known if this conversion was made by the Miyagawa company itself. (Such rangefinder conversions were offered for the Boltax by independent workshops during the war.)
The rangefinder camera has a reversed body, with a removable bottom plate. There is a top housing covering the whole length of the top plate. It contains a viewfinder and a coupled rangefinder with a separate eyepiece offset to the left. The front of the top housing has one rectangular window for the viewfinder and two round windows for the rangefinder, placed on either side. The top housing is lower at the right end, and supports the same advance knob, exposure counter and auto-stop mechanism as on the Picny B. The camera name PICNY is engraved above the viewfinder.
The surviving examples show minor variations in the advance knob and in the size of the viewfinder window. Some have a hinged door on the back, and perhaps correspond to modified Picny B. At least one camera reportedly has no back door but a screwed metal part similar to that of the Dan 35 II, perhaps used to used to fine tune the infinity focusing during assembly or repair. It also has a large tab added to the focusing ring, and might correspond to a genuine Picny C. Finally, another example has a focusing scale engraved in metres down to 0.7m and crocodile skin covering, a finish which is perhaps not original.
- Examples of the Picny B and rangefinder Picny pictured in Sugiyama, items 4249–51, and examples observed in online auctions.
- Advertisement dated September 1948, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.162.
- Picner 40mm f/4.5 lens made by Fujita for the Boltax: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item I5.
- Picny shutter made by Miyagawa for the Boltax: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 12-V-3.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.359.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.162.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.359.
- Sugiyama, items 4250–1; Takesaki, p.95 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.21.
- Example pictured in this page at Submin.com.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4250, and in Takesaki, p.95 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.21.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4251.
- 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 699.
- 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 4249–51.
- Takesaki Harutoshi (竹崎春年). "Boruta-han kamera no subete [katarogu]" (ボルタ判カメラのすべて[カタログ], All Bolta-size cameras [catalogue]). In Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.21, June 1992. No ISBN number. Kurashikku kamera daikenkyū (クラシックカメラ大研究, studies on classic cameras). Pp.95–105.