The original Semi Kinka is an Ikonta copy, with a folding optical finder and no body release. The advance key is at the bottom right, as seen by a photographer holding the camera horizontally.
|Red windows. Picture courtesy of Craig Supplee. (Image rights)|
The back is hinged to the left, and the back latch is covered by a leather handle. There are two red windows, protected by horizontally sliding individual covers, normally marked A and B. The folding struts are engraved KINKA Y.C.W. (certainly for Yamamoto Camera Works). The name SEMI–KINKA is embossed in the leather covering at the front; it is repeated on the back of the early cameras, but this additional marking was abandoned on later examples.
|Advertisement for the Semi Kinka in Asahi Camera November 1937. (Image rights)|
- Ceronar Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens, Super Rapid shutter (1–300, self-timer), chrome trim, ¥70;
- Ceronar Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens, Felix shutter (25–150), black trim, ¥45;
- f/6.3 lens, ¥35, available soon (近日提供).
The case is offered separately, at ¥4.50. The layout of the red windows is emphasized in the document, though it does not differ much from the usual configurations. Pictures of the two most expensive versions are provided.
|Announcement of the Semi Kinka in Asahi Camera January 1938. (Image rights)|
The original model was also featured as a new product in the January 1938 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced above. The document gives a succinct description of the camera, and only mentions the two most expensive versions. (The f/6.3 version was perhaps never produced.)
Three surviving examples of this model have been observed so far. Two of them have the Ceronar and Felix combination, with black body edges. The Felix shutter is everset, and is tripped by a lever at the top. Its front plate is inscribed FELIX at the top and Y.C. WORKS at the bottom, and has a logo on the right, with the letters YR inside a circle. The speeds are engraved in the rim in the order T, B, 150, 100, 50, 25, and the aperture scale is at the bottom, from 4.5 to 25.
The third example, pictured below, has the Ceronar f/4.5 lens and Super Rapid shutter, with chrome fittings. All the body edges are chrome plated, as well as the viewfinder. There is a small claw on the side of the viewfinder, certainly used to hold it in closed position, which is absent on the black examples. The shutter has T, B, 1–300 speeds and a self-timer lever at the bottom, with a red dot. The shutter plate is silver finished and has TOYO NEW–S at the top and SUPER RAPID at the bottom.
|Semi Kinka, original model, chrome finish, Ceronar Anastigmat 75mm f/4.5 lens no.7728, Super Rapid shutter.|
Pictures courtesy of Jo Coffman. (Image rights)
Models with body release
The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 has a number of versions: "Semi Kinka I" (¥53), "Semi Kinka II" (¥62), "Semi Kinka III" (¥74), "Semi Kinka IV" (¥85), "Semi Kinka V" (¥88) and "Semi Kinka VI" (¥98), with no further details. Except the Semi Kinka I, all these versions are also in a similar price list dated November 1941, where the camera is attributed to Yamamoto Kōsakusho. It is not known if these model names were actually used by Yamamoto.
The government inquiry compiled in April 1943 still mentions the Semi Kinka, with a Kadera 75/3.5 three-element lens made by Gojō (the former Kajiro Kōgaku) and an Orient A shutter (T, B, 1–200, self-timer) made by Tōyō Kōki. In this document, Yamamoto (山本) is only cited as the distributor, and the maker of the camera is registered as Konishisha (小西写). This is probably the abbreviation of some company name; the closest match is Konishiroku Shashin Kōgyō (predecessor of Konica), but it is highly implausible that this company was involved in the production of the Semi Kinka, and there is perhaps a mistake in the document.
Various surviving examples of the Semi Kinka have been observed with a body release. All have a new type of back latch, consisting of a long sliding bar with no leather handle, and they have a chrome viewfinder whose opening is coupled to the release of the folding bed. These cameras are nearly identical to the first model of the Semi Mulber distributed by Kuwata, and to the Adler B distributed by Riken.
|Semi Kinka, body release, newer back latch, Kadera Anastigmat 75mm f/4.5 lens no.3963, Lex shutter (T, B, 5–200).|
Pictures courtesy of Adrian Gotts. (Image rights)
The camera pictured above has a Kadera Anastigmat 75mm f/4.5 lens (no.3963) in a Lex shutter (T, B, 5–200) made by Mars. Its advance key has a peculiar shape, also found on the early Semi Mulber. For some reason, the red window covers do not have the typical A and B indications.
At least two later examples are known with the Kadera f/3.5 and Orient A combination, and the KINKA Y.C.W. engraving on the folding struts. They have the same type of advance key. The lens is engraved Kadera Anastigmat 1:3.5 F=75mm N°xxxx, with lens numbers in the 43xx range. The shutter plate is marked Orient A in fancy letters at the bottom, the 200–1, B, T speed settings are written on the shutter plate in that order, and the aperture scale is above the shutter casing.
|Semi Kinka, body release, newer back latch, Nett Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5 lens no.2055, Wing Anchor shutter.|
Pictures courtesy of Craig Supplee. (Image rights)
Finally, the camera pictured above has a Nett Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5 lens and a Wing Anchor shutter, giving T, B, 150, 100, 50, 25 speeds. The shutter plate is inscribed WING ANCHOR at the top, MADE IN JAPAN at the bottom, and has an NE logo on the right; the aperture scale is at the bottom. The Nett Anastigmat lens is otherwise unknown, and the Wing Anchor shutter is usually found on Kigawa products; it is not known if this equipment is original on the Semi Kinka. That camera has the A and B red window covers, and a different type of advance key. It also has a KKS logo engraved on the folding struts, instead of the usual KINKA Y.C.W. The "KKS" initials are often found on products distributed by Kuwata Shōkai; this might indicate that the body were originally made for a Semi Mulber, but was completed as a Semi Kinka for some reason.
- All the examples observed so far with the SEMI–KINKA marking on the back have no body release, whereas those with a body release have no such marking.
- Advertisement published in Asahi Camera November 1937, p.A51, also reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.67.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi p.335.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1075, and example observed in an online auction.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A and 7A.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 62, lens item Lb10, shutter item 18-P-23.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 62.
- Example of the Semi Mulber pictured in Sugiyama, item 1208.
- Example pictured in this page at Dora's blog, and example observed in an online auction.
- Asahi Camera January 1938. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and machinery). P.172.
- Asahi Camera. Advertisement by Yamamoto Shashinki Kōsakusho in November 1937, p.A51.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, sections 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7B.
- "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 62.
- "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 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A.
- 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 68–9.
- 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.1020.
- 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. Item 1075.