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The Viscawide-16 is a Japanese camera taking panoramic exposures on 16mm film, made from 1961 by Taiyō Kōki.


The Viscawide-16 has the shape of a brick, with a rotating lens at the front, covering 120 degrees.[1] The overall dimensions are 121.8×53.8×47mm.[2] There is some controversy on the exposure size: many sources say 10×52mm, certainly corresponding to the nominal size advertised by the company, whereas actual users report 10×49mm.[3] In any case, the resulting pictures fit in any 6×6cm enlarger.

The main body is made of black plastic, and the top and bottom plates are chrome plated. The bottom plate is removable for film loading, and is locked by a knob with O and C indications (for Open and Close). The film is inserted in a pair of cassettes, specific to the Viscawide and inscribed VISCAWIDE–16 CO.LTD. There is no sprocket shaft, and the camera can take any type of film stock, perforated (with one or two rows) or unperforated.[4]

The rear part of the top plate is covered by a folding frame finder. The advance wheel is on the right, as seen by the photographer. Behind this, there is a small window for an exposure counter, and a small button which is certainly used to reset the counter.

The shutter consists of a slit running in front of the in-curving film path and coupled with the movement of the lens. It is wound by a key at the top, in front of the viewfinder, and tripped by a lever sliding backwards, at the right end of the body. The speeds are selected by a lever on the left, with a choice of H (High, 1/300) and S (Slow, 1/60) — most cameras have a third OFF position, acting as a shutter lock (see below). The shutter slit has a fixed width, and the speed only depends on the tension of the main spring.[5]

The lens is a Lausar 2.5cm f/3.5 made by Tomioka. Its name and features are engraved on the advance wheel, and the lens rim itself is only engraved VISCAWIDE–16 JAPAN. The aperture is selected by an index around the lens, from 3.5 to 16. An exposure table is attached to the camera's back.

The camera is identified by the name VISCAWIDE–16 inscribed above the lens. The letters ST–D (whose meaning is unknown) are engraved on the top plate, together with the serial number. The company name TAIYOKOKI CO. LTD. is embossed on the camera's back, together with a logo. The bottom plate is engraved SANSHO.L.L. PAT.P MADE IN JAPAN, but the exact meaning of the engraving in unknown.

The camera is usually found with a zipped pouch and a short strap, attached to a single lug on the right end. A specific UV filter is known too, engraved VISCAWIDE–16 UV JAPAN.

Commercial life and evolution

The Viscawide-16 was announced in the September 1961 issue of Camera Geijutsu, and was advertised in Japanese magazines until September 1962.[6] The May 1962 advertisement in Asahi Camera mentions the maker Taiyō Kōki and the distributor Ōsawa Shōkai.[2] It gives the price of ¥7,600 for the camera with two film cassettes, and ¥800 for the case. The camera was perhaps also distributed by a company called Visca Co., Ltd., at least on some markets.[7]

The camera slightly evolved during its production run. The first version has a three-position speed selector, including an OFF setting. The edges of the bottom plate are smooth and have no grips. For the first version, serial numbers are known in the 60xxx – 62xxx range, from 60148 to 62191.[8] The second version is identical but for two small grips added to the bottom plate, to make it easier to remove. Serial numbers are known in the 62xxx and 64xxx – 68xxx range, from 62521 to 68538.[9] The third version has a two-position speed selector, without the OFF setting. Serial numbers have been observed in the 67xxxx–70xxx range, from 67930 to 70137,[10] perhaps indicating a cross over period in production. We can roughly estimate the total production of the Viscawide-16 at little more than 10,000 units, or maybe a few thousand less if the numbering sequence was not continuous.


  1. 120 degrees: advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.268.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.268.
  3. 10×52mm: Sugiyama, item 6047; Lewis, p.111; Pritchard, p.64; Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.396. The advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.268, mentions a height to width ratio of 1:5.2. This page at and this page at mention an actual size of 10×49mm. (The size is also wrongly reported as 14×52mm in Hagiya, p.158 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35, and in "Panorama kamera", p.89 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, and as 10×46mm in McKeown, p.912.)
  4. Hagiya, p.158 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35.
  5. Hagiya, p.158 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.35, and "Panorama kamera", p.88 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
  6. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.396.
  7. An instruction sheet for the Viscawide-16, reproduced in this page at, mentions the company name "Visca Co., Ltd.", with no further detail.
  8. S/n 60148 pictured in this page at Cameras Downunder. S/n 60209 observed in an online auction; S/n 60769 observed in a Japanese online auction; S/n 61370 pictured in Christies Sale 5690 / Lot 224; S/n 62009 observed in an online auction; S/n 62191 pictured in this page at
  9. S/n 62521 observed in an online auction; S/n 64314 was previously shown at a uk blog; S/n 64712 observed in a Japanese online auction; S/n 65180 pictured in Joop's Camera Collection; S/n 65465 pictured in Westlicht Photographica Auction 11, lot 675 (see links below); S/n 65959 observed in an online auction; S/n 66243 pictured in page at S/n 66356 pictured in Westlicht auction 18, lot 523 (see links below); S/n 68617 observed in a Japanese online auction; S/n 67442 Flickr; S/n 68538 reported in this page at (from eBay auction of 10th February 2003).
  10. S/n 67930 (to be photographed--heritagefutures); S/n 67983 observed in a Japanese online auction; S/n 68099 pictured in Pritchard, p.64. S/n 69321 pictured in Westlicht auction 18, lot 523(see links below); S/n 70137 pictured in this page at



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