The postwar First Six (ファーストシックス) are Japanese 6×6cm folding cameras, made by Tokiwa Seiki from 1952 to 1956. They are very different from the prewar and wartime First Six made by Kuribayashi. Both the prewar and postwar cameras were distributed by Minagawa Shōten, that was surely the owner of the "First" brand name.
All the postwar models are horizontal folders, with three-part struts inspired from the Ikonta. These struts are engraved with the First logo inside an oval, that was already used by Minagawa in advertisements for the prewar models. The main body has polygonal ends. The name FIRST SIX is embossed on the leatherette covering of the front door.
The back is hinged to the right, as seen by the photographer, and is retained by a sliding bar on the left. The tripod socket is centred under the camera, and there are film flanges at both ends of the bottom plate. All the models have a front-cell focusing lens.
The original model was simply called First Six, with no model number. It is easily distinguished by its streamlined top housing, containing an eye-level finder and an angle finder placed side by side.
The eye-level finder is placed right in the middle, and the angle finder is slightly offset to the left. The name is engraved at the front of the top cover, with the words FIRST and SIX on either side of the finder windows. The shutter release and folding bed release have an identical elongated shape and are symmetrically placed: shutter on the right, folding bed on the left. The advance knob is at the left end; it has knurls on the side and an arrow at the top to indicate the winding direction.
The original model was announced in Japanese magazines dated June 1952, and advertised from July 1952 to March 1953. The November 1952 advertisement in Asahi Camera lists the camera with a First Anastigmat 75/3.5 coated lens and a Compur-like shutter (five blades, 1–400) synchronized via an ASA bayonet post. The text mentions the ability to take 6×6cm and 4.5×6cm exposures, by way of a mask.
None of the actual examples observed so far has the dual-format ability. The back contains a single octagonal red window at the centre, protected by a horizontally sliding cover, inscribed 6X6.
The First Six V and VA
The First Six V has a redesigned top cover, containing an uncoupled rangefinder combined with the viewfinder.
The First Six I and III
The First Six I and III have yet another top housing, containing two separate viewfinders, one for each exposure format. The two windows are arranged at the front so as to look like a rangefinder camera, a kind of deception used on other Japanese cameras of the time, such as the Atom Six.
- First Camera Works. First Six. User manual for the First Six V published c.1953, date not indicated. Document reproduced in this Flickr set by Rebollo_fr.
- 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 754–7. (See also the advertisements for items 748, 751 and 753.)
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). Pp.75, 79 and 83 (brief mentions only).
- 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.922.
- 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 1297–300.