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4×4 Herlight
Japanese true TLR ->
Japanese 6×6, 4.5×6, 3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5 ->

The Herlight is a Japanese box or pseudo TLR made by Ōfuna Kōgaku from 1947. It normally takes 4×4cm pictures on 127 film, but at least one prototype was made to take 24×36mm pictures on 35mm film.

Description of the 4×4cm Herlight[]

The Herlight is a box-shaped metal camera, and can be described as a box or a pseudo TLR. The whole body is painted in a chocolate colour, and has no covering at all. The camera is held by a handle attached to the left-hand side.

There is a large brilliant finder at the top, above the lens. The name Herlight is written above the camera behind the finder eyepiece. The film is advanced by a knob on the photographer's right. The removable back contains a single red window and is locked in place by a latch under the body. The film runs from bottom to top, and the supply spool is loosely contained in a void compartment, with no film flange at all.[1]

The shutter has two blades behind the lens.[2] It is controlled by a square selector on the right-hand side, with B and I indications for Bulb and Instant.[3] There is a thread for a cable release just below the speed selector, and the main release lever is further below.

The lens is a fixed focus 5cm f/6 called Triplet Ofunar. The aperture is selected by a knob under the lens. The aperture scale, with 6, 9, 12, 16 settings, is inscribed on a riveted metal plate with a hexagonal OFUNA logo.

Documents and actual examples[]

No period document mentioning the Herlight is known so far. The oldest reported mention of the camera is in the 1956–57 camera annual of the Japan Camera Industry Association, where the Herlight is said to have been sold from March 1947 to March 1949.[4]

Pictures of four surviving 4×4cm Herlight are known. The example pictured in this page has an unknown lens number, whose first digit is "1", either in the 1xx or 1xxx range. Its back is striated back and has the red window offset to the left and protected by a horizontally sliding cover. The example pictured in this page of the AJCC has lens no.1683, and an example was displayed in an exhibition of the JCII museum with lens no.2750;[5] in both cases, the features of the back are unknown. The third example, pictured in Sugiyama and in Hagiya, has lens no.3308; its back is plain flat and has the red window in the middle, protected by a vertically sliding cover.

24×36mm prototype[]

Two pictures of a 24×36mm Herlight camera are published in Hagiya, from the album of Kunitomo Kenji (国友健司) who worked at Ōfuna from December 1949.[6] The pictured camera has lens no.1272 and is displayed with about two dozen Herlight lens units, among which no.2351 and no.2371. The 24×36mm prototype was thus probably made towards the beginning of the production.

The exposure chamber is modified, with a compartment for a 35mm film cartridge at the bottom and a take-up spool at the top. A rewind knob is added to the bottom left. The advance knob at the top right is internally geared with the sprocket shaft and with an exposure counter disc visible on the photographer's right. There is a small button protruding behind the exposure counter; it is aligned with the sprocket shaft axis and is certainly used to disengage it for rewind. The back is absent from the pictures, but we can guess that it has no red window. The viewfinder's top window is probably adapted to the picture size, but this is not confirmed.

The shutter controls on the right-hand side are similar to those of the 4×4cm model. A speed setting knob is added to the left of the aperture knob (as seen from the front). It has B, 10, 25, 50 settings and is certainly functional only when the main shutter selector is on the I position. The rest of the camera is similar to the 4×4cm Herlight. Two screws are missing in the exposure chamber, perhaps indicating that this prototype was not finished.


  1. Picture in Hagiya, p.153 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari, showing the back open.
  2. Hagiya, pp.153–4 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  3. B and I: Sugiyama, item 4147.
  4. Document mentioned in Hagiya, p.154 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
  5. Example pictured in Watakushi no ni-gan-refu kamera-ten, p.28.
  6. Hagiya, pp.151 and 154–5 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.


This camera is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.


In Japanese: