Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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Semi Kinsi | Lord | Lyrax | Nippon | New Olympic | Semi Olympic | Semi Renky | Auto Victor | Well Super
Sun Stereo
Semi Elka | Semi Keef | Napoleon
Postwar models ->
Japanese SLR, TLR, pseudo TLR and stereo ->
Japanese 3×4, 4×4, 4×5, 4×6.5, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

See also the Heil Four, a possible name variant of the Olympic Four II.

The Heil (ハイル) are Japanese 4.5×6 folders made and sold from 1941 by Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō (today Ricoh).[1] The name "Heil", also found on a variant of the Olympic Four, was clearly used to demonstrate Japan's alliance with Germany. During the war period, Riken often used such names (on the Adler cameras), or other "patriotic" names, which remind sinister times.

General description[]

The Heil is a vertical folder, copy of the small version of the Baldax for #00 shutters. There is a folding optical finder in the middle of the top plate, and a button on the right to release the folding bed. The advance knob is at the bottom right and the tripod screw in the middle of the bottom. The back is hinged to the left. The name Heil is embossed in calligraphic letters in the front leather.


The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, already mentioned a "Heil" (¥74) and a "Heil C" (¥88), certainly corresponding to the two versions described below.[2] The same two models also appeared in a similar price list dated November 1941.[3]

Original Heil[]

The original Heil (or "Semi Heil")[4] has the typical Balda struts and no body release. The back latch is covered by a leather handle. It has an everset shutter giving T, B, 5–200 speeds. The shutter plate is inscribed HEIL at the top and has an AKK logo on the right (certainly for Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō). The lens is a Ukas Anastigmat 75mm f/4.5 with a black bezel. The aperture scale is at the bottom of the shutter plate.

This model is pictured in an advertisement dated February 1941 for the Riken range.[5] It seems that it was featured in a column of the September 1941 issue of Asahi Camera.[6] It is mainly known by one surviving example, pictured in various sources, easily recognized by the non-original accessory shoe added to the back latch.[7] The camera pictured in Sugiyama as an "Adler III" is exactly similar, except for the standing leg.[8] It does not correspond to the original pictures of the Adler III, and is certainly another example of the Heil.

Heil C[]

The Heil C (ハイルC型) has the same body but it has flimsier struts like the Nettar, a body release and a new type of back latch without the leather handle.

The Heil C was offered for ¥101 in an advertisement by Doi Shōten dated January 1942,[9] with an Ukas Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens and a setting shutter giving T, B, 1–200 shutter. The shutter plate is black and is certainly written ROICO III in white letters. The 200–1, B, T speed settings are inscribed in that order on the shutter plate itself. The lens has a silver bezel and the aperture scale is on top of the shutter housing. One actual example of this model has been observed.[10]

The Heil C was offered in two versions in an advertisement dated July 1942, again by Doi Shōten:[11]

  • Ukas Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens, T, B, 25–200 speeds (the low speed is barely legible) for ¥85;
  • Ukas Anastigmat 75/3.5 lens, T, B, 1–200 speeds for ¥101 — case extra ¥7.60.

The mention of an f/3.5 lens for the same price as the f/4.5 model of the previous advertisement is probably a mistake. In the advertising picture, the camera has a Ukas Anastigmat 75mm f/4.5 lens together with a Roico III shutter giving T, B, 1–200 speeds. The speed settings are engraved on the shutter rim in the T, B, 200–1 order, and the name ROICO III is inscribed at the bottom of the rim. One actual example of this model is pictured in this page of the AJCC website.

The government inquiry compiled in April 1943 mentions a "Semi Heil" with a Ukas 75/4.5 three-element lens made by Riken and a Roico III shutter.[12] The shutter is curiously attributed to Asahi Musen, a dependent company of Riken, whereas the Roico and Roico I shutters are attributed to Riken in the same document.[13]

An example of the Heil C is pictured in McKeown with a different folding optical finder, whose rear part folds above the front part, and a smaller body release.[14] It has a Wester Anastigmat 75/3.5 lens and a Buick Model-1 shutter giving T, B, 150, 100, 50, 25 speeds, marked BUICK MODEL–1 at the top of the shutter plate. This lens and shutter equipment is perhaps not original.


  1. Made by Riken: advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.83. This page of the Ricoh official website says the contrary, certainly by mistake.
  2. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 4A and 6A.
  3. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 4A and 6A.
  4. This version is called "Semi Heil" in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338, Tanaka, pp.17–8 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, Sugiyama, item 1071, and this page of the Ricoh official website. No original advertisement has yet been observed and the official designation of the camera is unknown.
  5. Advertisement in Gakusei no Kagaku, reproduced in the Gochamaze website.
  6. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  7. Example pictured in Tanaka, pp.17–8 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, Sugiyama, item 1071, and this page of the Ricoh official website.
  8. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1030.
  9. Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.83. See also this advertisement dated 1942 reproduced in Nostalgic Camera by Toshio Inamura.
  10. Example observed for sale by a Chinese dealer.
  11. Advertisement in Asahi Graph (July 29, 1942), reproduced in Gochamaze website.
  12. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 52.
  13. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter items 18-P-4, 18-P-19 and 18-P-20.
  14. McKeown, p.833, calls the camera "Semi Heil".



In Japanese:

Asahi Bussan and Riken prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rigid or collapsible
Vest Adler | Gokoku | Semi Kinsi | Letix | Olympic | New Olympic | Regal Olympic | Semi Olympic | Super Olympic | Vest Olympic | Riken No.1 | Ricohl | Roico | Seica | Zessan
folders pseudo TLR TLR
Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Adler Four | Adler Six | Gaica | Heil | Kinsi Chukon Ref Ricohflex | Ricohflex B