The prewar and wartime Semi Lyra (セミライラ) is a vertical folder, copy of the Ikonta. It has a folding optical finder in the middle of the top plate (as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally). There is a button on the right, releasing both the folding bed and the folding finder, and an advance key at the bottom right to advance the film. The back is hinged to the left and contains two red windows.
|Fuji Kōgaku logos.|
Pictures by eBayer nanitescs. (Image rights)
The camera is simply embossed LYRA in the front leather, a FUJI KŌGAKU logo is embossed in the back leather and FUJI KOGAKU logos are engraved in the folding struts.
The Semi Lyra is not uncommon, at least in Japan, and it is not renowned for its quality of construction, a hint of this being that many examples are found today with torn bellows.
The original Semi Lyra was introduced in mid-1936 and has no body release. It was sometimes called Semi Lyra I (セミライラⅠ型) after the introduction of the model II. The early model has a leather handle over the back latch. The first examples have no red window cover, and the back logo is embossed so as to be read with the camera held in a vertical position.
In an advertisement dated December 1936 by the distributor Yamamoto Shashinki-ten, the camera was offered with f/6.3, f/4.5 or f/3.5 lens, respectively for ¥35, ¥43 and ¥58. No further detail is given.
- Pionar f/6.3 lens, Picco shutter, ¥35;
- Terionar f/4.5 lens, Noblo shutter, ¥43;
- Terionar f/3.5 lens, Noblo shutter, ¥58;
- Goldar f/3.5 lens, Noblo shutter, ¥70.
|Original Semi Lyra, Fuji-kō Anastigmat Terionar 75mm f/3.5 lens no.44328, Noblo shutter, T, B, 5–200 speeds.|
Pictures by Sharon Riehl. (Image rights)
Both the Picco and the Noblo shutters are everset. The Picco gives T, B, 25, 50, 100 speeds and also equips the Baby Lyra. The Noblo gives T, B, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 speeds. The aperture scale is at the bottom of the shutter plate. The shutter plate has the name NOBLO or Picco in cursive letters at the top, and a logo on the right reading Fk inside a circle (surely for Fuji Kōgaku), meant to look like the FD logo of the Compur shutter.
Added body release, Fujikō shutters
|New Semi Lyra, Fujikō B shutter (T, B, 5–250), Terionar f/4.5 lens no.61008.|
Pictures by eBayer nanitescs. (Image rights)
The New Semi Lyra (新型セミライラ) or Semi Lyra II (セミライラⅡ型) was released at the end of 1937. It has a body release added to the left of the viewfinder. At the same time, a horizontally sliding cover was added for the red windows, and the back logo was rotated so as to be read with the camera held in the horizontal position.
Two new shutter types were introduced, the Fujikō B (T, B, 5–250) and the Fujikō A (T, B, 1–300), both with a setting lever. The shutter plates are black, marked FUJIKŌ at the top and FUJIKŌGAKU at the bottom. The aperture scale is placed above the shutter housing. The early examples have an additional release lever mounted on the front of the shutter housing.
|Anastigmat Terionar 1:3.5 75mm Lens|
in Fujikō B Shutter
image by Hans Kerensky (Image rights)
The Goldar f/3.5 lens was reportedly advertised with the Fujikō B shutter in April 1938.
It seems that the Fujikō A was only introduced some months later. The September 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera gives the same price for the versions with Fujikō B, and adds two versions with the Fujikō A:
The model with no body release was still available. It is called ordinary model (普通型) in the same September 1938 advertisement, with f/4.5 lens (¥52) or f/3.5 lens (¥62). At least one example of the Semi Lyra has been observed with a Fujikō B shutter with front-mounted release lever and no body release; that particular camera has the older type of back latch, and corresponds to the ordinary Semi Lyra sold after the introduction of the Fujikō shutters.
Newer back latch
The back latch was replaced around 1939 by a newer part consisting of a long sliding bar with no handle. The front-mounted release lever of the Semi Lyra II certainly disappeared at the same time.
An advertisement dated December 1939 has four versions of the Semi Lyra I and four of the Semi Lyra II:
- Semi Lyra I, f/6.3 lens, Picco shutter, ¥44;
- Semi Lyra I, f/4.5 lens, Picco shutter, ¥50;
- Semi Lyra I, f/4.5 lens, Fujikō B shutter, ¥58;
- Semi Lyra I, f/3.5 lens, Fujikō B shutter, ¥68;
- Semi Lyra II, f/4.5 lens, Fujikō B shutter, ¥67;
- Semi Lyra II, f/3.5 lens, Fujikō B shutter, ¥77;
- Semi Lyra II, f/4.5 lens, Fujikō A shutter, ¥78;
- Semi Lyra II, f/3.5 lens, Fujikō A shutter, ¥88.
The list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 mentions four versions of the Semi Lyra II, called "Semi Lyra II L" (¥74), "Semi Lyra II Y" (¥85), "Semi Lyra II R" (¥88) and "Semi Lyra II E" (¥98), and four versions of the Semi Lyra I, called the "Semi Lyra I L" (¥53), "Semi Lyra I Y" (¥62), "Semi Lyra I R" (¥74) and "Semi Lyra I E" (¥85). They certainly correspond to the eight combinations described above. The names form the word "L-Y-R-E" in ascending price order and this is certainly not casual.
The actual examples of the Semi Lyra II observed so far all have the Fujikō B shutter and Terionar lens, and no picture of the other versions has yet been found.
The Semi Lyra F and J
The Semi Lyra F (セミライラＦ型) was released at the end of 1940. It has the new Fujikō F shutter giving T, B, 1–200 speeds and a Terionar lens. It always has the new type of back latch with no handle. The shutter plate is usually yellowish with black markings, but it perhaps also exists in black with white markings. These markings are almost the same as on the previous Fujikō shutters, except that FUJIKŌ at the top is written in two parts: FUJ and IKŌ, with an arrow between both.
The Semi Lyra F was already mentioned in the January 1941 official price list cited above, in two versions called "Semi Lyra F L" (¥88) and "Semi Lyra F R" (¥98), certainly with f/4.5 and f/3.5 lens respectively. These two versions were offered in advertisements dated May 1941 and July 1942:
The official price list dated November 1941 has a "Semi Lyra J L" and a "Semi Lyra J Y", along with the "Semi Lyra F L" and "Semi Lyra F R". These models certainly have the Fujikō J shutter, the same as the Fujikō F with an added self-timer, also mounted on the Lyra Six J and Lyra Flex J.
The Semi Lyra F and J are mentioned with the Terionar f/3.5 lens in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production. The camera was advertised in Shashin Bunka until June 1943. The Semi Lyra J is still listed in an advertisement by Banno Toyoji Shōten dated February 1944.
Actual examples of the Semi Lyra F have only been observed with the f/3.5 lens so far. All have the yellowish shutter plate and the Fuji–kō Anastigmat Terionar lens engraving, with a lens number under 120000. On the Lyra Six F and Lyra Flex F, the lens engraving was changed to Fuji–kō Terionar between lens no.120000 and no.126000 and the yellowish shutter plate was replaced by a black one at the same time. This perhaps also applied to the Semi Lyra F.
Several aftermarket conversions were offered by Japanese workshops. The Sun film stop is an auto-stop device, advertised by Yamashita Yūjirō Shōten in January 1939, and described in the page about Yamashita. It was available for the Semi Lyra and other similar cameras, such as the Super Ikonta, Ikonta, Nettar, Welta Perle, Semi Prince and Semi Minolta. In 1943, rangefinder conversions were offered by Hakkōdō for the Semi Lyra and various other copies of the Ikonta or Nettar (see this page).
- The first advertisement mentioned by Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342, is dated June 1936. The same source says that the camera was featured in the new products column of the August 1936 issue of Asahi Camera.
- Semi Lyra I: advertisement on the second cover of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, December 15, 1939, reproduced on p.34 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- Advertisement published in Sunday Mainichi (13 December 1936), formerly reproduced in the Gochamaze (archived) website.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi in two parts, p.100.
- This version has not yet been observed. Tanaka, p.78 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, says that the f/6.3 lens is called Terionar but this is probably a mistake.
- This version is pictured in Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.15, and has been observed in online auctions.
- This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 1162, and has been observed in online auctions.
- This version has not yet been observed.
- Advertisement for the Lyra Flex in Ars Camera March 1938, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.101.
- The first advertisement mentioned by Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342, is dated November 1937. The same source says that the camera was featured in the new products column of the December 1937 issue of Asahi Camera.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.100.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342. The same source also mentions the Picco shutter for the Semi Lyra II, but this is certainly a mistake: the Picco shutter is everset, only has one release lever at the top and is not well suited to a body release.
- Advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1938, observed in an online auction.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Compare for example Sugiyama items 1163 and 1164.
- Advertisement on the second cover of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, December 15, 1939, reproduced on p.34 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 2, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A and 7A.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342, says that it was featured in the new products column of the October 1940 issue of Asahi Camera.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 6A and 7A.
- May 1941: advertisement for the Lyra range published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.100. July 1942: advertisement published in Asahi Graph (29 July 1942), formerly reproduced in the Gochamaze (archived) website.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 6A, 6B, 7A, 7B.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 48–9. In the available reproduction of the document, the Semi Lyra J is simply called "Semi Lyra", the Fujikō J shutter is called "Fujikō I" and its self-timer is not mentioned, certainly by mistake (shutter item 18-P-22). The Fujikō J shutter is confirmed to have a self-timer in an advertisement dated May 1941 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.100.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342.
- Advertisement on the back cover of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, February 15, 1944, reproduced on p.78 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- See for example Sugiyama, item 1165. This camera has also been observed in various online auctions.
- 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 292–4. (See also the advertisement for item 164.)
- "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 6A, 6B, 7A 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. Items 48–9.
- "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 and 7A.
- 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.328 (pictures a Semi Lyra F).
- Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisements on p.34, corresponding to the second cover of the December 15, 1939 issue, and on p.78, corresponding to the back cover of the February 15, 1944 issue.
- Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten (思い出のスプリングカメラ展, Exhibition of beloved self-erecting cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.15.
- 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 1162–5.
- Tanaka Masao (田中政雄). "Sonota no nihon no supuringu-kamera" (その他の日本のスプリングカメラ, "Other Japanese folding 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.8, September 1986. No ISBN number. Supuringu kamera (スプリングカメラ, special issue on spring cameras). Pp.76–80.
- Pages of Ranzōsha's camera site:
- Semi Lyra II and Semi Lyra F in the first page of the Yamada Camera Museum
- Sample picture taken by a Semi Lyra II at the AJCC website
- Semi Lyra F at Itō Sadanobu's camera collection
|Fuji Kōgaku cameras ( )|
|prewar and wartime models||postwar models|
|Baby Lyra | Baby Lyra Flex | Baby Balnet||Dianette | Pionette||Lyravit||Balnet Four||Comex|
|Bakyna | Semi Lyra | Lyrax||Lyra Six | Lyra Flex||Lyra (6×9)||Semi Lyra | Pioneer||Lyra Six | Lyraflex|