Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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Semi Kinsi | Lord | Lyrax | Nippon | New Olympic | Semi Olympic | Semi Renky | Auto Victor | Well Super
Sun Stereo
Semi Elka | Semi Keef | Napoleon
Postwar models ->
Japanese SLR, TLR, pseudo TLR and stereo ->
Japanese 3×4, 4×4, 4×5, 4×6.5, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

See also the Semi Adler and Adler III (4.5×6cm), Adler A (4.5×6cm), Adler C (4.5×6cm), Adler Four (4×4cm), Adler Six (6×6cm) and Vest Adler (4×6.5cm).

The Semi Adler and Adler III (アドラーⅢ型)[1] are 4.5×6cm folding cameras sold from 1937 by Asahi Bussan, then by Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō and its parent company Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō (predecessor of Ricoh).

General description[]

The Semi Adler and Adler III are copies of the large Baldax model. They were certainly rebadged versions of the Semi Victor, supplied by Motodori. All the versions have a folding optical finder and no body release. The film is advanced by a knob at the bottom right, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally. The back is hinged to the left, and the back latch is covered by a leather handle. (See the page on the Semi Victor for a full description.)

Semi Adler by Asahi Bussan[]

The earliest mention of the Semi Adler found so far is an advertisement by Asahi Bussan in British Photography Journal Almanac 1938, published in late 1937.[2] The camera has the name Adler embossed in the leather covering at the front. The lens is a Ukas Anastigmat f/4.5 and the shutter, advertised as "Olympic System", gives T, B, 150, 100, 50, 25 speeds. The shutter plate is inscribed NEW OLYMPIC at the top and has the round AB logo of Asahi Bussan on the right (the same as on some Olympic models).

Semi Adler and Adler III by Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō[]

The Adler III appears in a catalogue by Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō reproduced above, certainly dated 1938.[3] The document says it was introduced before the Adler A and Adler B.[4] The camera has the name Adler III embossed in the leather covering at the front. The shutter is a Peerless (5–200, B, T), marked PEERLESS at the bottom, with the round AKK logo of Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō on the right. It is everset and has a release arm at the front, and looks exactly similar to some versions of the Rulex by Neumann & Heilemann.[5] In the text, the lens is described as an Adler Anastigmat f/4.5, but the picture shows a Delter Anastigmat marking, as on the Semi Victor. The price is given as ¥65 (case ¥7 extra).

The same catalogue briefly lists the Semi Adler for ¥55 in another place.[6] It shows another picture of a similar camera in its ever-ready case, certainly corresponding to the this model, with the name SEMI ADLER at the top of the shutter plate.[7]

The advertisement in Shinkō Graph August 1938, reproduced on the right, lists the same features and shows a picture taken from a different angle, showing the absence of a body release.[8] Another document dated 1938 reportedly lists the Semi Adler for ¥60 and the Adler III for ¥75, with ten-month payment option.[9] The Adler III also appears in the new products column of the October 1938 issue of Asahi Camera, and in an advertisement by Ueno Shōten in the April 1939 issue of the same magazine.[10]

Finally, the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 has a Semi Adler for ¥62, with no further detail.[11]

No surviving example of the Semi Adler or Adler III has been observed yet. The camera pictured as an "Adler III" in Sugiyama[12] is actually a Heil, copy of the small Baldax model, and the camera pictured as an "Adler III" in this page of the Ricoh official website is actually a 6×6cm model, certainly an Adler VI (1938 model).


  1. The name "Adler" was clearly used to demonstrate Japan's alliance with Germany. During the war period, Riken often used such names (they also sold a Heil camera), or other "patriotic" names.
  2. Advertisement for the Olympic and Semi Adler, published in the 1938 issue of the British Photography Journal Almanac, pp.694–5.
  3. Catalogue Olympic Products, c.1938, p.16.
  4. Catalogue Olympic Products, c.1938, p.14: 弊社では先にブローニー(½)判のアドラーⅢを発売しましたが、その好評嘖々たるに鑑み今回姉妹機としてアドラーA型及びB型を特に速写ケース付で発売致しました.
  5. See the comparison of the Peerless and Rulex in the page on the Adler A.
  6. Catalogue Olympic Products, c.1938, p.30.
  7. Catalogue Olympic Products, c.1938, pp.14–6.
  8. Advertisement in Shinkō Graph August 1938, p.39.
  9. "Riken Konzern geppō" (理研コンツエルン月報), quoted in Tanaka, p.16 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14.
  10. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.334. The book mentions a body release for some reason.
  11. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, section 3A.
  12. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1030. The same camera is described in McKeown, p.828, as an "Adler III".


Original documents[]

  • Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō. Olympic Products. Catalogue published c.1938 (date not indicated). Document reproduced in this Flickr set by Rebollo_fr.
  • "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, section 3A.
  • Shinkō Graph (新光グラフ) August 1938. Advertisement by Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō on p.39.
  • The British Journal Photographic Almanac 1938, edited by Arthur J. Dalladay. London: Henri Greenwood & Co., Ltd. Publication date not indicated, certainly late 1937. Advertisement by Asahi Bussan on pp.694–5.

Recent sources[]

The camera listed in Sugiyama (item 1030) and McKeown (p.828) as an Adler III is actually a Heil.


In English:

In Japanese:

Asahi Bussan and Riken prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rigid or collapsible
Vest Adler | Gokoku | Semi Kinsi | Letix | Olympic | New Olympic | Regal Olympic | Semi Olympic | Super Olympic | Vest Olympic | Riken No.1 | Ricohl | Roico | Seica | Zessan
folders pseudo TLR TLR
Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Adler Four | Adler Six | Gaica | Heil | Kinsi Chukon Ref Ricohflex | Ricohflex B