The Royal Camera Company, Daiou Shashin Kōki or DSK, was a camera fabricator established in Tokyo, Japan, during the latter half of the 1950's. As well as producing and exporting cameras under its own company label for approximately four-to-five years, it developed ties worldwide through Ogino exporting, Tor Optical Company and I S Photo of Japan, Hanimex in Australia, Wirgin in Europe and North America, Brumberger and Mansfield Industries in North America. It produced well-made rangefinders assembled with Tomioka optics, Copal shutters and Sekonic non-coupled selenium cell meters. The company logo was a crowned shield with the letter R and C in it. On the earlier models it was engraved in the accessory cold shoe. On later models the logo was embossed into the leatherette on the left front panel. Cosmetically, the chrome finish on some of the later Royal camera models can be thin and fragile, and subject to brassing and corrosion.
The company disappeared during the unregulated expansion of Japanese photographic industry of the late 1950's.
Royal Camera Company models
There were two model families. The earlier models were based on a shutter-in-body chassis:
The later models were developed from a simpler shutter-in-lens chassis:
Royal Camera also rebadged its later cameras for sale by other distributors mentioned above. Examples include:
- 1957 Wirgin 19E, rebadged from Royal 35M
- 1958 Ogino Ogikon 35E, from 35LE
- 1959 Ogino Ogikon 35P, from 35P
- 1959 I S Photo Hiyoca, from 35P
- 1959 Tor Optical Torca, from 35P
- 1959 Hanimex C 35, from 35P
- 1959 Hanimex D 35, from 35P
- 1959 Hanimex Holiday II, from 35P
- 1959 Brumberger catalog number 1561, from 35P
- 1959 Luxall, from 35P
- 1959 Mansfield Skylark E, 2 models from 35M and 35LE
- 1959 Mansfield Skylark V, from 35P
Royal Camera Company production
With a short-lived company such as Royal Camera, it might be possible to estimate production volume based on camera body serial number ranges. The five-digit body serial numbers on the earlier 1955-57 models seem to begin around 190xx and rise sequentially to around 23xxx. This would indicate a volume of a few thousand Royal 35 /35S cameras.
The five-digit body serial numbers for the later 1957-59 models begin around 500xx and rise sequentially to somewhere below 699xx. This range was used for the 35M, 35LE and 35P combined. Interestingly the rebadged Skylark E / V, Wirgin 19E and Ogikon 35P body serial numbers were intertwined in this range. Rebadged Ogikon 35M, Brumberger, Hiyoca and Hanimex C35/D35 bodies carried separate serial number ranges. All this would indicate production of only a few tens of thousands for later Royals and their rebadged family.