The Semi-Tex (セミテックス) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera, made by Kyokutō Kōki Seisakusho from 1937, then by Nomura Seisakusho in the early 1940s.
Description of the 1937 model
The Semi-Tex is a vertical folding camera, copy of the Ikonta with the typical three-part folding struts. There is a folding optical finder in the middle of the top plate; its front part folds above the rear part. The body release is on the viewfinder's left — as seen by a photographer holding the camera horizontally. The button of the right opens the front door and the viewfinder at the same time.
The film is advanced by a key at the bottom right. The back is hinged to the left for film loading, and is locked by a latch on the right.
The name Semi-Tex is embossed in the leather covering at the front, and there is a logo engraved in the folding struts, perhaps reading KYOKKO MFG. CO.
Advertisements and other documents
|August 1937||September 1937|
|Advertisements in Asahi Camera. (Image rights)|
The Semi-Tex was advertised in the August and September 1937 issues of Asahi Camera. The advertisements, reproduced above, were placed by the manufacturer Kyokutō Kōki Seisakusho. They show a winged logo reading KYOKKO MFG.CO., and display the trademark "Simpu". They boast the camera as the first Japanese folding camera equipped with a body release.
The document dated August mentions a Hikari (ヒカリ, i.e. "Light") shutter to 1/250, copy of the Compur, and a Simpu (シンプー) lens made by Kyokutō itself. Prices are quoted for the camera with f/4.5 lens (¥70, ¥75 and ¥85) and with f/3.5 lens (¥85 and ¥95); no detail is provided on the different versions.
The September advertisement mentions a choice of 1/250 or 1/300 top speed, and of f/4.5 and f/3.5 maximal aperture, and does not quote any price. It gives the name of the distributor Nisshin Shōkō, but does not quote any price.
The picture looks the same on both advertisements. It shows a Semi-Tex with Simpu f/4.5 lens, whose serial number is faintly legble as N°1.
The two documents mention various accessories, apparently sold as a set with the camera: ever-ready case, lens hood with filter holder, lens cleaning device, exposure table and user manual.
|Announcement in Asahi Camera September 1937. (Image rights)|
The new products column of Asahi Camera September 1937 briefly mentions the camera too. The document, reproduced on the left, mentions the Hikari shutter (T, B, 1–250) and Simpu lens. It gives the price of ¥85 for the camera with f/4.5 lens, and ¥95 with f/3.5 lens.
The camera was featured again in the February 1938 issue of the same magazine. The document, reproduced below, only mentions the Simpu f/4.5 lens, said to have four elements. It lists three versions of the Hikari shutter, called Hikari I, II and CP. The Hikari I is everset, whereas the II and CP have a setting lever and a release lock. The range of speeds is 5–250, T, B on the Hikari I and II; it is unspecified on the CP, which perhaps corresponds to the Compur copy going to 1/300.
|Column in Asahi Camera February 1938. (Image rights)|
After these documents dated 1937—38, the camera was no longer mentioned in Japanese photography magazines. It seems that it was nonetheless produced until the early 1940s. The camera appears in the list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, in three versions called "Semi-Tex I" (¥62), "Semi-Tex II" (¥74) and "Semi-Tex III" (¥88), with no further detail. A similar price list dated November 1941 has the same three models, and attributes them to Nomura Seisakusho.
No surviving example of the 1937 Semi-Tex has been observed yet. One camera has been seen with the front leather embossed S.M.–TEX and a shutter plate marking ending in ...KUTO–KOKI, probably "KYOKUTO–KOKI". It differs from the 1937 model in various points, and might correspond to a later model. The viewfinder has a different shape, with the rear part folding above the front one. It is not coupled to the folding bed, but manually opened by pressing a spring on the side. There is no body release but an accessory shoe to the left of the finder, though this arrangement is perhaps not original. The back is locked by a sliding bar, and there is no leather handle. The advance key at the bottom right has a different shape too. There is a single red window, at the bottom of the back.
- Column in Asahi Camera February 1938, p.361.
- Advertisements in Asahi Camera August 1937, p.A75, and September 1937, p.A74. That dated September is reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.80.
- Column in Asahi Camera September 1937, p.524.
- Column in Asahi Camera February 1938, p.361.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 3A, 4A and 6A.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 3A, 4A and 6A.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Asahi Camera. Advertisements by Kyokutō Kōki Seisakusho:
- August 1937, p.A75;
- September 1937, p.A74.
- Asahi Camera September 1937. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and machinery). P.524.
- Asahi Camera February 1938. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and machinery). P.361.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, sections 3A, 4A and 6A.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in 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. Pp.108—9. Type 3, sections 3A, 4A and 6A.
- 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 153.
The Semi Tex is not listed in Sugiyama.