Talk:Pearl (I), II and III

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Optical finder

I regularly use the words "folding optical finder" for the folding viewfinders that incorporate an optical device (usually reverse Galilean) as opposed to "folding frame finder" for the viewfinders that are only composed by folding frames with no optical element (also called sports finder).

Maybe this is not easily understood and can be explained better? --Rebollo fr 13:13, 2 July 2006 (EDT)

I've certainly seen the term used elsewhere, and I think it was used in the same way. But I'm sure it needs an explanation somewhere, as "optical finder" seems to be in contradistinction to some kind of "non-optical" viewfinder, and the latter is a very puzzling notion! -- Hoary 20:05, 2 July 2006 (EDT)
I will add this to the glossary, or make a glossary page to explain it (like brilliant finder). Maybe this will wait a couple of days, though. --Rebollo fr 03:55, 3 July 2006 (EDT)

Red windows

I have observed some Semi Pearl with two red windows, near the top of the back, protected by a vertically sliding common cover, and other examples with only one red window, centered at the bottom of the back, protected by a horizontally sliding cover. I don't know if the switch from two windows to one occured before or after the war. --Rebollo fr 15:21, 19 July 2006 (EDT)

I don't know either. I might guess, but that would only be a guess, and therefore worthless. (Incidentally, "horizontally" and "vertically" are a little obscure in the context of 4.5×6 cameras.) -- Hoary 03:08, 20 July 2006 (EDT)
I have seen a camera marked Rokuoh-Sha with two windows, another marked Konishiroku with two windows and another marked Konishiroku with one window.
I am tempted to guess that the switch from the Rokuoh-sha to the Konishiroku markings for the lens and shutter plate took place in 1943, when Rokuoh-Sha was merged into Konishiroku Shashin Kōgyō.
But you mention a postwar camera with Rokuoh-Sha markings:
"Miyazaki shows two examples, both with "SEMI PEARL" embossed on the leather (but in slightly different ways); the earlier one has front-cell focusing and a Hexar lens and Apus shutter both marked Rokuoh-sha; the later one unit focusing and a Hexar lens and Durax shutter both marked Konishiroku."
How can we be sure that the front-cell focusing one is earlier and the unit focusing one is earlier? Certainly not with the markings, because any Rokuoh-Sha marking after 1943 is a matter of reused old parts.
I am still a bit surprised: I can understand that a manufacturer uses old parts, but was Konishiroku exhausted to the point of using old shutter plates and lens rims with an old company name, without having them re-engraved?
--Rebollo fr 05:15, 20 July 2006 (EDT)
It's imaginable that both were available at more or less the same time. But if so, the front-cell-focusing Apus version would have been a lot less desirable; and I'd have thought that the manufacturer would have to come up with a separate name for this cheaper version. ("J", for "junior", seems to have been a popular name or suffix for cheaper versions; interestingly, this use seems to have completely disappeared during the half-century that followed.) Let's suppose, then, that they came out at different times. Then the sequence was either (i) the Rokuoh-sha version and later the Konishiroku version, or (ii) vice versa. The latter is very hard to imagine. In 1946 or thereabouts, was Konishiroku exhausted to the point where it would use parts marked with a name it had abandoned in 1943? I wouldn't be at all surprised if it were. I'm not sure if any new models of cameras for personal use came out in 1943; certainly none did from 1944 till the end of the war. Konishiroku made cameras for aerial reconnaissance but perhaps no others. After the war, it used its stock of old parts; the most recent of these would almost certainly have been marked Rokuoh-sha rather than Konishiroku. And so far as potential customers were concerned with brand names, I suppose that "Pearl" would have meant a lot more to them than either Rokuoh-sha or Konishiroku. -- Hoary 22:01, 20 July 2006 (EDT)
I am still a bit surprised. The company took the time to make new shutter plates and new lens engravings marked "Konishiroku" instead of "Rokuoh-sha", presumably after 1943, while it was not making complete cameras: even if the customer did not care, at least some people in the company did. These parts are easy to make, but I can imagine that some of them with the older engravings were re-used, especially in a complete lens or shutter assembly.
But then, how do we recognize a prewar example from a postwar one? And how can we be sure that the front-cell focusing examples are all postwar? I don't have any copy of Miyazaki's book, but I wonder to what extent we can trust his idenitfication of the two examples as postwar. --Rebollo fr 05:50, 21 July 2006 (EDT)
I'd guess that Konishiroku kept its postwar records. (It may have prewar/wartime records too.) Miyazaki long had a senior position within Konishiroku/Konica, and I suppose that the company's records would have been open to him. These may have told him of changes. He doesn't discuss the Semi Pearl in detail, as he has to treat the company's output of about sixty years in a compact [pocketable, rectangular, nonreflex!] paperback. Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, this book isn't at all scholarly, not specifying the authorities for its assertions. I don't have either that book or the ad book with me now, but I vaguely recall that no postwar ads have been located for the Semi Pearl, while prewar/wartime ads mention helicoid focusing -- long a feature of the big Pearl, and presumably a sales point for the Semi. And I've read of shortages of parts after the war, but not of shortages during the war, when companies suffered from other problems. -- Hoary 06:44, 21 July 2006 (EDT)
In the big book of ads, there are ads mentioned for the prewar model dated 1938 and 1939, and two of them are reproduced, showing the helical focusing. There are also postwar ads dated between 1946 and 1948, but none of them is reproduced (item 675). It mentions helical focusing for the postwar model, but that could be incomplete. I think that I will stop arguing in view of Miyazaki's testimony. It is not 100% sure however, especially in these complicated matters of wartime or postwar datation.
Speaking of Konishiroku cameras, if you want to know everything about the Pearlette, and possibly learn something about the postwar cameras made from parts, you can consider this Yahoo Japan auction. --Rebollo fr 07:19, 21 July 2006 (EDT)

Semi name

I think that another thing that explains why Konishiroku dropped the "Semi" name is that the Pearl range was now reduced to the 4.5×6 folder only, while the Baby Pearl and Pearlette were still sold for some time after the war. --Rebollo fr 15:25, 19 July 2006 (EDT)

That's possible. While I doubt that it had much importance in the renaming, I'll reword slightly. -- Hoary 03:10, 20 July 2006 (EDT)

Date of the Pearl II

An article about both the Pearl RS and the Pearl II is mentioned by Kokusan kamera no rekishi in the November 1950 issue of Asahi Camera. The same source also mentions many articles or advertisements dated January 1951. The 1952 date seems dubious. --Rebollo fr 15:34, 19 July 2006 (EDT)

Fixed (I hope). I'll reply to your other points a little later. Hoary 20:59, 19 July 2006 (EDT)
In view of the November 1950 article, I guess that the Pearl RS and Pearl II were released together. But I have no other data to prove this. --Rebollo fr 04:40, 20 July 2006 (EDT)
The big book of ads also mentions a November 1952 advertisement for the f:3.5 version. Of course this source can make mistakes, but I think that the mistakes are less probable from the editors of this book, copying the date of an ad that they have just found, than from anyone else. --Rebollo fr 05:19, 20 July 2006 (EDT)

Date of the Semi Pearl

Currently we have "the Semi Pearl, released in April 1938 (reference: Tanimura, "Pāru II."). But Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p. 338, says that the Semi Pearl is featured in the new products column of the February 1938 issue of Asahi Camera, and that it is advertised in the same magazine from January 1938 and in Kogata Camera from February. I think that we should simply say "released at the beginning of 1938", and put those details in a footnote. Most attempts to give a release month are probably bound to fail, a precision of a quarter of a year to half a year is enough. --Rebollo fr 18:24, 1 October 2006 (EDT)

The discrepancy is greater than it first appears, because the "February 1938" issue of a magazine would I think have been issued as early as 1937. Perhaps Tanimura got it wrong or made a typo. Or perhaps I made a typo when I put in this (mis)info. You're right: it's uninteresting and it can go into a footnote. -- Hoary 18:57, 1 October 2006 (EDT)

Postwar Semi Pearl again

The fact that there was a switch from Rokuoh-sha to Konishiroku markings together with the company's name change is confirmed by Miyazaki, pp. 12–3, who says that the Baby Pearl engraved Rokuoh-sha are prewar and the ones engraved Konishiroku are postwar. Moreover, the catalogue Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p. 18, mentions that the marking change occurred in 1943 and shows an example with Konishiroku markings, Optor lens s/n 1693 and Durax shutter, pretending on an unknown basis that it is a wartime example dated 1943. Kokusan kamera no rekishi also alludes to the fact in page 358, describing the postwar Semi Pearl. Of course it is not impossible that some examples marked Rokuoh-sha are postwar examples using old stock parts. I have seen at least one example with a Rokuoh-sha lens mounted on a Konishiroku shutter.

I still have doubts about Miyazaki's front-cell focusing example: the lens serial number is 6726, very low compared with the s/n 38527 on the example that we picture. It is possible that it was assembled after the war from old parts, with front-cell focusing because of a penuria of some elements. However it could have been assembled during the war as well, with front-cell focusing because of a shortage of some raw materials. My feeling is that we are lacking source about the wartime Semi Pearl. Note that there is a huge gap between the last prewar ad mentioned by Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p. 338, dated March 1939, and the earliest postwar ad, mentioned p. 358, dated October 1946.

Currently we are saying that the "postwar examples of the Semi Pearl are less numerous". I have only seen a small sample of about fifteen cameras, and only three of them are engraved Rokuoh-sha for sure, while ten have at least one Konishiroku marking. Of course the war destroyed many prewar examples, yet I would not say that the postwar model is rarer than the prewar one.

Other features could help us to refine the datation:

  • on the Rokuoh-sha and on some Konishiroku, the shutter name and aperture scale are engraved on small plates screwed to the shutter plate, while other Konishiroku (probably later) have a shutter plate directly engraved Durax;
  • the SEMI PEARL embossing in the front leather is either in a rectangular frame (probably early) and later in a hexagonal frame (probably late);
  • Hexar Ser.1 lenses seem older than the Hexar ones.

At last, I have seen two examples with a single red window. The back is identical to the later Pearl (I), so we can guess that they are among the very last examples.

--Rebollo fr 07:32, 2 October 2006 (EDT)

Post-scriptum: I found a picture of another front-cell focusing Semi Pearl, in McKeown, with an Apus and a Hexar Ser.1, both marked Konishiroku. This partly confirms what Miyazaki says.

Pearl IIIMX and IIIL

I wonder if the names "Pearl IIIMX" and "Pearl IIIL" were effectively used by Konishiroku. Miyazaki gives "Pearl IIIMXL" instead of IIIL. --Rebollo fr 17:20, 2 October 2006 (EDT)

Finder of the Pearl IV

Maybe I've imagined this, but I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere that the frameline of the Pearl IV moves according to distance -- as does that of, say, a Cosina Voigtländer Bessa R/R2/R3a etc. Today I looked at and through an example for perhaps the third or fourth time, and no it doesn't move. I think that descriptions of the moving frameline (if I haven't just imagined them) come from misunderstandings of descriptions of what you do get, which is little horizontal lines close to the horizontal lines of the main rectangle, designed to show the extreme of the parallax effect. (I don't seem to be able to express this both clearly and briefly. Please help.)

Parallax correction aside, every example I've seen of the Pearl IV has a wonderfully bright and clear finder. But I've a hunch that the wind mechanism is complex and troublesome. If the price were a lot less, I might buy one and, if the wind mechanism broke down and were unrepairable, have it converted to red-window operation, like an Iskra. But it's expensive, so I won't. (Meanwhile, the finder of earlier models is excellent by "spring camera" standards other than that of the IV.) -- Hoary 10:25, 26 February 2007 (EST)

I too had read this here and there. I had even heard that the finder automatically compensated for parallax and angle of view (apparent focal length) during focusing. The explanation now seems clear enough, I just added something in the main text so that not everything is in a footnote. --Rebollo fr 16:11, 1 March 2007 (EST)

I'm now looking (for the first time ever) at Jason Schneider on Camera Collecting, which I believe is the first of three volumes. On p.36 he confidently writes about the parallax-correcting, angle-correcting framelines. It's not clear that he's observed the camera for himself. I wonder if (a) he got this wrong and that his misunderstanding has been copied, or (b) there were actually two versions of the IV. -- Hoary 10:49, 16 March 2007 (EDT)

Indeed, I checked the same source tonight. And I see the same thing repeated in this page by Dante Stella (who is maybe copying Schneider.) I don't think there were different versions of the Pearl IV, but I will have a close eye to the Japanese sources (maybe not today.) What you describe is unambiguously a fixed frame finder, with small index lines for parallax correction, and I think that the two sources are wrong. --Rebollo fr 15:02, 16 March 2007 (EDT)

I'm increasingly certain that JS didn't observe the camera himself. He doesn't say he didn't, but he tends to talk of the "feel" etc of cameras, and for this camera he's silent about this kind of thing.

I keep seeing JS cited. (Whether or not he's a good writer, he's certainly a very readable one; and as I understand it back in the 1980s -- and perhaps later -- he had very little competition in English.) Perhaps he's wrong, and all the misunderstandings in English stem from him.

Production of the Pearl IV was not so low. I wonder where most of them went. They're not rare in Japan, but they're also less common in stores than their production number would suggest. (Maybe people have just hung on to them.) -- Hoary 20:28, 16 March 2007 (EDT)

5,000 is not that many. Compare for example with the probable 10,000 units of the Carl Six, a camera that is not seen very often. Examples of cameras that are seen reasonably often are the Waltax and Zenobia (100,000+ examples in total) or the Gelto (50,000+ examples, pre and postwar). Perceived rarity is somewhat problematic: if you're specifically looking for some model and don't see it often, or see it but can't afford it, you'll perceive it as "rare". This is the case of the Pearl IV for most people. It is rare in the sense that its total production is low when compared with the number of people who are interested in buying it. Same thing for the Cyclope: 2,000 examples is not extremely low, but it is hard to find and hard to buy. Nearly all the examples are owned by collectors who are not willing to sell, or by dealers who are willing to sell high. --Rebollo fr 12:56, 17 March 2007 (EDT)


Why not getting rid of "folders" in the title and move to "Pearl (4.5×6)"? All the Pearl models are folders anyway. --Rebollo fr 16:08, 26 September 2007 (EDT)

Why not indeed? -- Hoary 19:36, 26 September 2007 (EDT)
Because fixing the links is a pain, that's why! -- Hoary 23:54, 26 September 2007 (EDT)
True, but link fixing is not absolutely necessary, only double redirections really need fixing. To have [[Pearl (4.5×6)|Pearl III]] instead of [[Pearl (4.5×6 folders)|Pearl III]] pointing to a redirect is better but not an obligation. --Rebollo fr 05:03, 27 September 2007 (EDT)
An admin's gotta do what an admin's gotta do, and anyway I can't concentrate on anything more substantial while Linux is installing itself on the computer next to this one. -- Hoary 07:10, 27 September 2007 (EDT)