|Lord 4D. Picture by David Broglin. (Image rights)|
The Okaya Lord 4D is a 35mm fixed lens rangefinder introduced in 1956 by Okaya Optical Works of Nagano, Japan. It is fitted with a 40mm / f2.8 Highkor lense and a Seikōsha MXL shutter.
The Lord 4D has some interesting and unique features for its time : a semi-wide lens with a hyperfocal distance lock, and a built-in film cutter.
|Lord 5D. Picture by David Broglin. (Image rights)|
The Okaya Lord 5D is the same chassis fitted with a semi wide-angle 40mm / f1.9 Highkor lens, (Okaya’s own) and Seikōsha MXL leaf shutter. Despite that the Okaya Lord 5D is more common than the 4D, it remains a virtually unknown compact 35mm coupled-rangefinder camera.
Okaya Optical was the extinct Japanese manufacturer of "Lord" rangefinder 35mm cameras, "Vista" binoculars and opera glasses, rifle scopes, and other optical products from 1953 to 1959. Okaya Optical was headquartered in Tokyo with production in Okaya City, Nagano Prefecture.
Okaya's cameras were distributed in the Japanese domestic market by K. Hattori & Co., Ltd. (now Seiko Corporation) and imported into the U.S. by Allied Impex Corporation in New York City. All of its cameras were branded “Lord” with “Okaya Optic” logo appearing on some lens caps or subtly debossed into vinyl chassis coverings.
Despite Okaya camera’s differentiated features and superior build quality, they suffered a lack of market awareness that conspired to make them quite rare and the cameras were apparently never distributed in markets outside Japan and the U.S.
Introduced in 1957, the Lord 5D exudes quality and is extremely well built and finished. It offers good optical performance with reasonable contrast from its semi wide-angle 40mm f1.9 Highkor lens, coupled with excellent mechanical performance in a solid chassis. The Lord 5D is fitted with a host of unique technical innovations that might have helped differentiate it in the crowded marketspace of the late 1950’s if Okaya had been able to garner any market visibility for their cameras.
Unfortunately for Okaya, their US importer Allied Impex Corporation barely did any advertising for the marque, and was apparently unsuccessful to get product placement reviews with popular photography periodicals of the day. AIC was fully engaged promoting their own Soligor brand name for cameras and lenses imported from Japan and importing the Miranda line of cameras until AIC actually took one hundred percent control of the Miranda company at some time in the late 1960s; (AIC subsequently went bankrupt in 1976). It seems that AIC was largely inactive with Okaya’s cameras.
Key/Unique Features Include:
- 40 mm Highkor f/1.9 triplet lens with bayonet filter thread, delivers good optical performance.
- Seikōsha MXL leaf shutter offers three possible flash sync speeds: M, F, X. ‘M’ pre-ignites the flash 20 milliseconds before the shutter is fully open, ‘F’ pre-ignites the flash 5 milliseconds before the shutter is fully open and ‘X’ ignites the flash when the shutter is fully open.
- Bright, clear viewfinder with easy to see, blue-tint RF spot and fixed framelines with parallax compensation marks.
- With two strokes of the film advance lever, the shutter release button pops up showing a red band to indicate the shutter is loaded
- Unusual that the filter mount is a Bay41 bayonet mount
- Okaya claimed it was the only camera with “Snapshot Lock” that is actually a hyperfocal distance lock button that limits the rotation of the lens helicoid to be able to shot middle distances without focusing
- Multiple exposure capability: after the first exposure, pressing the rewind button on the bottom of the camera disengages the film drive sprocket such that the film does not advance as the film advance lever is cocked to reload the shutter. After the second exposure, the film drive sprocket is reengaged by pressing a rewind release button on the rear face of the camera below the shutter film advance lever
- Built-in film cutter, (much like early Exakta cameras from East Germany). The idea was that you didn't need to wait to expose the roll but just cut the exposed part, take it out and have it developed. Of course you needed to do this in a darkroom. Perhaps this made sense in early days when 35mm film was rare and expensive, but when the camera was released in 1957 this no longer made much sense
- The camera uses black yarn light seals that never require replacement
- Standard accessories include a push-on lens cap and owner’s manual
- Attractive, reliable and easy to use
Minus Points Include:
- Lacks exposure control system
- Two-stroke film advance lever
- Lens rendering tends to be somewhat soft
- Cold shoe for flash
- Odd-sized, unique bayonet mounted lens hood and filters are impossibly rare
- Prone to lens flare
- Expensive in it's day at $99.95 in 1957; equivalent to $850 in 2015 dollars
- Uncommon in its day, a Lord 5D is quite difficult to find
Okaya Debossed Logo