The Semi Kreis (セミクライス) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera, advertised by Murakami Shōkai (predecessor of Kenko) in 1941 and 1942. The camera is extremely similar to the right-hand release models of the Star Semi, and they were certainly made by the same manufacturer, probably Takahashi.
All the models of the Semi Kreis are vertical folders with straight folding struts and a rounded body, certainly shared with the right-hand release models of the Star Semi. The finder, advance knob and body release are to the right when the camera is held vertically by the photographer, the reverse of the usual arrangement. The folding optical finder is in the middle of the top plate. The body release is actioned by the right hand's finger and the folding bed release is on the left. The advance knob is at the left end. The back is hinged to the right and has a single red window to control film advance, situated near the top left and protected by a vertically sliding cover. The same SEMI KREIS is embossed in the front leather in capital letters.
All the models have a Star 75/3.5 or 75/4.5 three-element lens made by Takahashi. The shutters are called Star-Alpha or Star-Rapid and were made by Takahashi too.
Advertisements and other documents
The Semi Kreis was released around late 1940: a "Semi Kreis II" is listed for ¥88 in the official price list compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, with no further detail. It was advertised as a new model (新発売) in January 1941.
In a March 1941 advertisement by Murakami Shōkai, the camera was offered with a Ueber-Rapid shutter giving T, B, 1–500 speeds. This is certainly the distinguishing feature of the original Semi Kreis. The shutter plate is inscribed EXCELLENT at the top and the speed rim is engraved UEBER-RAPID at the bottom. There was a choice of two lenses:
The Semi Kreis II and III have an Orient A shutter (T, B, 1–200, self-timer) made by Tōyō Kōki. The shutter plate is inscribed Orient A at the bottom. The 200–1, B, T speed settings are inscribed in that order in the shutter plate itself. The two models are mentioned in the official price list dated November 1941, and they were advertised together in the January 1942 issue of Shashin Bunka:
Two surviving examples of the Semi Kreis have been observed so far. One is an original model with Ueber-Rapid shutter and Hershl f/4.5 lens. The other is a Semi Kreis III, with Orient A shutter and K.O.L. Trio 75/3.5 lens, pictured in McKeown.
- Dates: advertisements and articles listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.335–6. In this document, the spelling "Semi Krais" is a mistake.
- Star Semi made by Takahashi: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 25–8. It is not known for sure if this attribution is valid for the right-hand or left-hand release models, or both.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, section 6A.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.335–6.
- Advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.68.
- Spelling reported in an online auction. The advertisement reads ハーセル katakana.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.335.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 6B and 7B.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.68.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943, item 55.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- McKeown, p.885. The shutter is reported as an "Orient 21" because the letter "A" in the Orient A marking has a strange form, easily mistaken for the number "21".
- 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 72–4.
- "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 6B and 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 55.
- "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, section 6A.
- 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.885.
The Semi Kreis is not listed in Sugiyama.