The Sakura Pocket Prano Hand Camera (さくらポケットプラノ手提暗函) is a Japanese folding camera made from 1906 by Rokuoh-sha, the manufacturing branch of Konishi (predecessor of Konica). It was succeeded by the Pocket Idea A1 and Pocket Idea B.
The Sakura Pocket Prano was inspired by models of the Rochester company, such as the Pocket Premo or Pocket Poco, and the name itself was undoubtedly crafted after "Pocket Premo". It takes 8×10.5cm tefuda-size pictures. It is made of red mahogany covered with black leather, and the apparent metal parts are nickel-plated.
There is a single folding strut on the left-hand side. The front standard consists of a metal plate sliding on a central rail, and pulled back and forth by hand for focusing. There is a nameplate at the bottom of the front standard. The brilliant finder is attached to the folding bed and has a small hood. It is placed opposite the distance scale, either on the left or on the right depending on the particular example.
The lens is reported as a Bausch & Lomb RR-type in various sources; at least one specifies the lens name Planatograph. The maximum aperture observed on at least one surviving example is US 4 in Uniform Scale, i.e. f/8. The shutters observed or reported on surviving examples have T, B, I settings. One source says that the T, B, I shutter is a Bausch & Lomb Auto, but another less reliable source says that it was made by Wollensak. Yet another source only mentions T and I, perhaps after original advertisements which only mention Time and Instant.
The camera was reportedly released in July 1906. It was perhaps initially called "Pocket Prano Camera", and the "Sakura" brand name was perhaps added in 1907 only. One source says that the camera released in July 1906 was called "Sakura Brand Portable" and was succeeded by the "Sakura Pocket Prano Portable" in October 1907; however no other mention of a camera called "Sakura Brand" has been found, and this might be a translation mistake.
Some sources say that the camera was initially priced at ¥26 in 1906. A catalogue dated 1907 reportedly lists the Sakura Pocket Prano at ¥26, with three double-sided plate holders and a case. Another catalogue by Ueda Shashinki-ten lists the Pocket Prano along with the larger Sakura Prano models. The price is given as ¥25 with a lens, and ¥15 for the body only.
It seems that the camera became the Sakura Pocket Prano B in October 1907, perhaps distinguished by its double extension bellows. An advertisement by Konishi Honten, probably dated late 1907, presents the "Sakura Pocket Prano Camera B" (さくら、ポケット、プラノ、カメラB號), priced at ¥15 with three double-sided plate holders. The case is listed separately at ¥1.20. The advertisement mentions a Time and Instant shutter, and says nothing of the lens equipment. The illustration shows a camera with double extension bellows and the brilliant finder on the photographer's left.
Variations in actual examples
The best available pictures are found in this and other pages at Neco's collection. The camera is identified as a Sakura Pocket Prano by the nameplate at the base of the front standard, reading Pocket Prano with a stylized cherry blossom. It has the brilliant finder on the left and the distance scale on the right. It seems to have single extension bellows but this is not entirely clear. It is not known if its red bellows are original or not.
Another camera is pictured in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. It reportedly has single extension bellows, and its front standard is similar to that of the previous camera, except perhaps for a missing locking key. The position of the brilliant finder and distance scale is the same.
The example pictured in Sugiyama, in Lewis and in this page differs by a number of points. The brilliant finder is on the right and the distance scale on the left, the focusing rails are different and the bellows certainly have single extension. The front standard differs from that of the previous examples, and has a nameplate at the bottom reading Folding Film. These details cast some doubt on the correct identification of the camera. Other Japanese copies of the Pocket Premo are known, such as the Iris, and the pictured camera is perhaps not a Pocket Prano.
- The name "Prano" is sometimes written "Plano" by mistake. The two spellings would be pronounced the same in Japanese, but "Prano" is confirmed by the markings on the camera itself. The phrase tesage anbako (手提暗函) is rendered as "Hand Camera" in the Konishi catalogue dated December 1911. In modern sources, it is often translated as "Portable Camera" and the camera called "Sakura Pocket Prano Portable". The Japanese word anbako literally means "dark box"; it was modeled after "camera obscura" and was used for cameras until around the 1910s.
- The tefuda format is confirmed by the advertisement reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. Sugiyama, item 1079, and McKeown, p.545, say 9×12cm by mistake.
- The finish is described in the advertisement reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha, and confirmed by the surviving example pictured in this page at Neco's collection.
- Bausch & Lomb RR: Sakai, p.17 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Bausch & Lomb RR Planatograph: this page and this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
- Surviving example pictured in this page at Neco's collection. The aperture is mentioned as US 4 in Sakai, p.17 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and as f/8 in Sugiyama, item 1079, and in McKeown, p.545.
- Surviving example pictured in this page at Neco's collection, and Sugiyama, item 1079.
- Bausch & Lomb Auto: this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. Wollensak: McKeown, p.545.
- T and I: Sakai, p.17 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. The advertisement reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha mentions Time and Instant in the text: 定時及び瞬間.
- July 1906: chronology from the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha, and this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology. The date is simply given as 1906 in Sakai, p.17 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and in the chronology at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
- The camera is referred to as the "Pocket Prano Camera" in the chronology from the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, whereas later models released in 1907 have the brand name "Sakura".
- Lewis, p.19.
- Lewis, p.19 (about the "Sakura Brand Portable"), and this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology.
- Sakai, p.18 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
- Extract of an Ueda catalogue reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. This is certainly the source for the prices given for the 1906 Pocket Prano in this page of the same website.
- This page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha, says that it became the "Pocket Prano B" in October 1907, and mentions double extension. Sakai, p.18 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, says that it became the "Sakura Pocket Prano B Hand Camera" in late 1907.
- Advertisement reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha. A similar advertisement is mentioned in Sakai, p.18 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). Pp.18–9.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P.545.
- Sakai Shūichi (酒井修一). "Konica history 2. Meiji 36-nen – 40-nen." (Konica history 2. 明治36年–40年. From Meiji year 36 (1903) to Meiji year 40 (1907).). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.10, September 1987. No ISBN number. Konishiroku kamera no rekishi (小西六カメラの歴史, special issue on Konishiroku). Pp.16–23.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Item 1079.
- Tanaka Yoshirō (田中芳郎). "Meiji–Taishō jidai no Konishi Honten no kamera wo shiru tame no hon" (明治・大正時代の小西本店のカメラを知るための本, Books about the Konishi Honten cameras of the Meiji and Taishō eras). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.10, September 1987. No ISBN number. Konishiroku kamera no rekishi (小西六カメラの歴史, special issue on Konishiroku). Pp.92–4.
- Sakura Pocket Prano in Neco's camera collection, with more pictures here, here and here
- Sakura Pocket Prano in the Camera database of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology
- Pages of the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website:
|Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras ( )|
|plate||hand cameras||stereo hand cameras||strut folders||box||telephoto||SLR|
|Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano||Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano||Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok||Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy||Idea Telephoto||Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano|
|rollfilm||folders||box or collapsible||TLR|
|Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace||Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite)||Sakura-flex|