The Pioneer (パイオニア) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera, sold in 1955 and 1956 by Pioneer Camera. This company had the same address as Katsuma Kōgaku (one of the successors of Fuji Kōgaku). It seems that the Pioneer has the same body casting and folding struts as the postwar Semi Lyra made by Katsuma.
The Pioneer is a vertical folder with straight folding struts and a back hinged to the left. The viewfinder is centered and contained in a top housing. The accessory shoe is immediately above the finder, the shutter release is on the left and the folding bed release is on the right. There is a film reminder knob on the left end and a decorative round part on the right end.
The film is advanced by a lever that protrudes on the left, behind the top housing. The camera was advertised as the first Japanese folder to have lever advance, and the Olympus Chrome Six V and R II would use the same system. The film advance is controlled via a red window at the top right of the back.
The name Pioneer is stamped in the front leather and engraved in front of the accessory shoe. The serial number is engraved on the right of the top housing.
The lens is a Golder Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.2, advertised as hard coated, and the shutter is a Pioneer-U with B, 10–200 speeds, synchronized with a PC connector, engraved Pioneer–U in the speed rim. The aperture is set by an index, on top of the shutter housing.
The camera was certainly not a commercial success, and it is rarely found today. Lens numbers are known in the 12xxx and 13xxx range, and the only body number reported so far is in the 14xxx range.
- The Golder lens name was used before the war by Fuji Kōgaku for four-element lenses.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.358.
- Advertisements published in Sankei Camera (December 1955) and in Camera Mainichi (March 1956), reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.160.
- Example observed in an online auction, lens no.12246, and example reported in this page at Rieki-juku, body no.14901, lens no.13467.
- 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. Item 682.
The Pioneer is not listed in Sugiyama.