Nishida Kōgaku was a Japanese maker of cameras, lenses and shutters from 1936 to 1958.


The company was founded in 1936.[1] It began by making lenses and shutters for other companies, primarily under the "Wester" brand. This name is an adaptation of the company's name "Nishida", which consists of two parts: nishi, meaning "west"; and ta, whose pronunciation many Japanese people find indistinguishable from the "ter" sound of English "after". The "Northter" brand was also used for some shutters, obviously after "Wester".

The company released its first camera in the early 1940s, called Wester or Semi Wester. It was its only camera model before 1945. In 1943, the full name of the company was Nishida Kōgaku Kikai Seisakusho (西田光学器械製作所), and the address was in Tokyo, Takinogawa-ku Takinogawa-chō 1935 in Tokyo.[2]

After the war, the company was called Nishida Kōgaku Kōgyō K.K. (西田光学工業㈱), and it was likely based in the same buildings.[3] It made another Semi Wester 4.5×6cm folder followed by a series of Wester 6×6 folders, and it continued to supply Wester shutters and lenses to other manufacturers. As many such companies, Nishida failed to take the turn from medium-format folders to 35mm cameras at the end of the 1950s. It sold one 35mm model called the Auto West before going bankrupt in January 1958.[4]

Camera list[]

6×6 folders[]

  • Wester Model II
  • Wester Chrome Six
  • Wester Chrome Six R
  • Super Wester
  • Wester S2
  • Wester Autorol
  • Wester Atlasix, also sold as the Fodor Six by Fodor

4.5×6 folders[]

  • Wester or Semi Wester (wartime model)
  • Semi Wester (postwar model)

The Apollo and Mikado are often attributed to Nishida, but it seems that this is a mistake and that the body was made by Sumida.

35mm rangefinder[]

  • Auto West



  1. Tanimura, p.25 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
  2. Company name in an advertisement dated March 1943 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.59, with the exact address Tōkyō-shi Takinogawa-ku Takinogawa-chō 1935 (東京市滝野川区滝野川町1935). The name "Nishida Kōgaku Seiki Seisakusho" (西田光学精機製作所) and a similar address with "1985" instead of "1935" is found in the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras").
  3. From 1951 to 1953, the address was Tōkyō-to Kita-ku Takinogawa-chō 1935 (東京都北区滝野川町1935). From 1954 to 1958 it was Tōkyō-to Kita-ku Takinogawa-chō 6–12 (東京都北区滝野川町6–12), probably designating the same place after some address reform. Source: advertisements dated 1951 to 1958 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.119–20 and 222–3.
  4. Bankruptcy: Lewis, p.104.

References / further reading[]