The Roico (ロイコ) is a 4×4cm format camera, made by Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō (today Ricoh) from 1940 or 1941. The Roico name is the acronym of Riken Optical Industry Co., and the camera was certainly produced in Riken's Ōji plant. At about the same time, a sub-company of Riken called Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō was making the Letix, another 4×4 camera.
The Roico has a metal body, said to be based on the body of the Gokoku and Ricohl 3×4 camera, without the focal plane shutter and adapted for the larger 4×4 exposure format. It seems that the Molby camera by Kuribayashi also shares the same body.
The lens and shutter assembly is mounted on a collapsible helical with a focusing tab. There is a tubular optical finder in the middle of the top plate and an accessory shoe at the left end. The name ROICO is engraved between the two.
The advance knob is at the top right and is mounted on a small housing containing an automatic stop advance device and an exposure counter. (This device was necessary because at the time, the film paper backing was not marked for 4×4cm pictures.) The frame counter is reset by a rotating button which looks like a body release (certainly on purpose). The release lever itself is on the shutter housing.
|Picture courtesy of eBayer 2265cats. (Image rights)|
The back is removed together with the bottom plate for film loading. It contains a single red window on the left, protected by a cover retracted via a thumbwheel. The red window is used to set the position of the first exposure. The back is locked by rotating knobs at both ends of the bottom plate, with O and L positions. The serial number is engraved in the left hand knob.
The Roico camera was perhaps planned after the Gokoku proved unreliable, to make use of the dies or body castings. It is announced for future release (予告) in advertisements for the Olympic Four in the March to May 1940 issues of Asahi Camera. In these documents, no price is indicated and no picture is provided. The camera is announced as having a 60mm f/3.5 lens, T, B, 5–250 speeds, auto-stop film advance, helical unit-focusing and a parallax correcting viewfinder. This version with parallax correcting finder might correspond to the "Roico I", but that feature was certainly abandoned before the camera went into series production.
|April 1940||May 1940|
|Advertisements by Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō in Asahi Camera.|
The Roico is mentioned as a future camera. (Image rights)
Early Roico II
The camera appears in the list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, under the names "Roico II" (¥95) and "Roico III" (¥125), with no further details. In an advertisement in the January 1941 issue of Asahi Camera, the Roico II is listed as a new product with a 60mm f/3.5 lens and T, B, 5–250 speeds. The document mentions helical unit-focusing and auto-stop film advance, but not parallax correction; again no picture is given.
|Advertisement by Doi Shōten in Asahi Camera April 1941. (Image rights)|
Actual examples corresponding to the early Roico II have been observed with a Roico Anastigmat 60mm f/3.5 and an everset shutter giving 5–250, B, T speeds.
Late Roico II and Roico III
The Roico II and Roico III are mentioned in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production. On both models, the lens is a three-element Roico 60mm f/3.5 made by Nippon Kōsokki. The Roico II is listed with a Roico shutter (5–200, T, B) and the Roico III with an RKK shutter (1–200, T, B).
At least one surviving example corresponds to the Roico III, with a setting shutter giving T, B, 1–300 speeds, engraved RKK at the bottom of the speed rim.
|Roico, Kraft-Anastigmat 5cm f/3.5 lens no.151665.|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer 2265cats. (Image rights)
The example pictured above has a Kraft-Anastigmat 5cm f/3.5 lens mounted on a shutter with setting lever giving B, 1–300 or perhaps B, 1–500 speeds (the top speed is barely legible). It is not known for sure if this equipment is original or not. This lens was originally made by Takahashi for the Kraft, a camera made by Echt. Conversely one Kraft camera is known with a Roico Anastigmat 50mm f/4.5 lens. This might indicate that there were reciprocal supply agreements between Echt and Riken (see also the discussion on the Kraft and Letix).
Late production examples also exist with an NKS shutter (T, B, 1–200) with setting lever. They have ROICO at the bottom of the shutter plate. Some have NKS at the base of the speed rim, whereas others have NKS–TOKIO.
The lens numbers observed so far go from 11813 to 17486, for a sequence perhaps starting at 10000. The Roico 60mm f/3.5 lens was probably used on this camera only, and we can thus give a rough estimate of about 8,000 examples of the Roico.
|image by Geoff Harrisson (Image rights)|
|Advt, Jan. 1944 in Shashin Kagaku scanned by rebollo_fr (Image rights)|
The Cyclon coupled rangefinder conversion Cyclon offered in 1943 and 1944 for the Gelto was also available for the Roico. The conversion is described in detail in this section of the Gelto page. It is not known if the earlier conversion with separate range- and viewfinder, called Suzuki coupled device, was offered for this camera. Only one surviving example of the Roico has been observed with a rangefinder conversion, it is pictured below.
|Roico with Cyclon rangefinder added|
images by Geoff Harrisson (Image rights)
- According to this page of the Ricoh official website.
- Arimura, p.6 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, says this of the Gokoku, which has a similar body.
- "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi", p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, and this page of the Ricoh website.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item K7.
- Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1940, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104, advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1940, p.A86, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.64, and advertisement in Asahi Camera May 1940, p.A83.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, sections 9 and 10.
- Advertisement in Asahi Camera January 1941, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.65.
- Advertisement in Asahi Camera February 1941, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
- Examples pictured in this article by David Silver (lens no.11813), pictured in this page and this page at Asacame (lens no.12125), and observed in an online auction (body no.12182, lens no.12172).
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 146–7.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3049 and "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi", p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14 (lens no.13150), examples pictured in this page (lens number is probably 13433) and this page (lens no.13674) of the AJCC, and examples observed in online auctions (lens no.15392 and 15738).
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3050 and "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi", p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14 (lens no.16528).
- Example pictured in this page, body no.12552. The example was repaired at some time: two screws are missing from the front of the top plate.
- NKS: example observed in an online auction (lens no.14235). NKS–TOKIO: example pictured in McKeown, p.833 (lens no.17486), and example observed in an online auction (body no.17223, lens no.17422).
- Advertisements dated July 1943 and May 1944 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.111–2.
- Asahi Camera. Advertisement by Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō:
- April 1940, p.A86;
- May 1940, p.A83.
- Asahi Camera. Advertisement by Doi Shōten in April 1941, p.509.
- "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. Items 146–7.
- "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 9 and 10.
- 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 323–4. (See also the advertisements for items 47 and 53.)
- 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.833.
- "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi" (戦前のリコーカメラ・補遺, Prewar Ricoh cameras – appendix). 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.14, October 1989. No ISBN number. Rikō kamera no subete (リコーカメラのすべて, special issue on Ricoh). Pp.21–2.
- 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 3049–50.
- Tanaka Masao (田中政雄). "Rikō kamera no nagare" (リコーカメラの流れ, Evolution of the Ricoh cameras). 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.14, October 1989. No ISBN number. Rikō kamera no subete (リコーカメラのすべて, special issue on Ricoh). Pp.8–11.
- Article about the Gokoku, containing information about the Roico, by David Silver, from the issue #154 of Camera Shopper, in the International Photographic Historical Organization website
- Roico in the Ricoh camera list of the Ricoh official website (copied in this page of the Kitamura Camera Museum)
- Riken 127 film cameras and A-Z 127 film cameras, with the Roico on this page, at Asacame,
- Prewar Japanese 127 camera page, including the Roico, at Nekosan's website
- Pages of the AJCC website:
|Asahi Bussan and Riken prewar and wartime cameras ( )|
|rigid or collapsible|
|Vest Adler | Gokoku | Semi Kinsi | Letix | Olympic | New Olympic | Regal Olympic | Semi Olympic | Super Olympic | Vest Olympic | Riken No.1 | Ricohl | Roico | Seica | Zessan|
|Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Adler Four | Adler Six | Gaica | Heil | Kinsi||Chukon Ref||Ricohflex | Ricohflex B|