The Semi Crystar (セミクリスター) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera announced by Crystar Kōki in 1953. The Korin and Union Model U are name variants of the same camera.
The camera is a vertical folder with folding struts copied from the Ikonta. The tubular finder is to the right when the camera is held vertically by the photographer, the reverse of the usual arrangement. There is a body release on the right of the viewfinder, and the advance knob, folding bed release and accessory shoe are on the left. The back is hinged to the right and contains a single red window at the top left, protected by a vertically sliding cover. All the cameras have a front-cell focusing 75mm f/3.5 lens; the lens name differs on the various models but it is perhaps merely a matter of branding. On all the cameras observed so far, the shutter has B, 1–200 speeds, a self-timer and an ASA synch post.
The camera is extremely similar to the first version of the Semi Mihama except that the top plate is leather covered and that there are no cut-offs in the folding struts. These models are perhaps name variants of the Semi Mihama.
The Semi Crystar
The Semi Crystar is sometimes called "Semi Crystar Model U" or "Crystar Model U", and no confirmation has been found of its official name. The brand name Crystar is embossed in the front and back leather, and the lens name is C. Magni Anastigmat.
The camera was featured in the April 1953 issue of Ars Camera, with the Magni lens and an NKS shutter. The actual examples observed so far have the shutter name MGN inscribed at the bottom of the speed rim.
The Korin is a name variant of the Semi Crystar, whose distributor is unknown. The lens is called C. Korin Anastigmat, and the name KORIN is embossed in capital letters, in the front leather and in the case. One example has been observed with an NKS shutter, another is reported with a K.O.C. shutter.
The Union Model U
The Union Model U is another name variant, probably sold by the company Union Kōgaku which also sold the Union Semi, a name variant of the Zenobia. The brand name Union is embossed in the leather covering at the front and perhaps at the back too, and the name "Union Model-U" is perhaps inscribed above the viewfinder. The lens is called C. Union Anastigmat. One example is pictured in Sugiyama with an MSK shutter, engraved M.S.K. at the bottom of the speed rim.
- The name "Semi Crystar Model U" is found in Sugiyama, item 1290, and in McKeown, p.546 (about the Korin). An example has been offered by a Japanese dealer as a "Crystar Model U".
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.351.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1290, and example observed for sale in Japan, lens no.6030.
- NKS: example observed in an online auction. K.O.C.: McKeown, pp.545–6.
- "Union" at the back, "Union Model-U" above the viewfinder: see the report in this post at experts.about.com, for a camera coming with a case marked "Semi Crystar".
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1424.
- 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 498. (Unlike most other entries in this book, no advertisement is reproduced and no picture is given.)
- 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). P.83 (brief mention only, mistakenly calling the camera "Semi Cristar").
- 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). Pp.231 and 545–6.
- 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. Items 1290 and 1424.