Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
Semi Ace | Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Semi Ako | Ami | Bakyna | Semi Chrome | Semi Clover | Collex | Semi Condor | Semi Dymos | Semi Elega | Semi First | Auto Semi First | Baby Semi First | Gaica | Semi Gelto | Semi Germa | Hansa Semi Rollette | Heil | Hokoku | Hope | Kadera | Kankyu | Kelly | Kiko Semi | Semi Kinka | Semi Konter | Semi Kreis | Semi Kulax | Semi Lead | Semi Leotax | Semi Lester | Loyal | Semi Lucky | Semi Lyra | Semi Makinet | Semi Metax | Semi Minolta (I) and II | Auto Semi Minolta | Semi Miss | Mizuho | Semi Mulber | Semi National | New Gold | Okaco | Oko Semi | Semi Olympus | Semi Olympus II | Semi Osamo | Semi Pearl | Primo | Semi Prince | Semi Proud | Semi Prux | Roavic | Semi Rody | Rondex | Semi Rosen | Semi Rotte | Seica | Seves | Semi Shiks | Sintax | Semi Sixteenth | Semi Solon | Semi Sport | Star Semi | Semi-Tex | Tsubasa Kiko Three | Tsubasa Nettar | Tsubasa Super Semi | Ugein | Vester-Lette | Victor | Waltax | Wester | Zeitax
Semi Kinsi | Lord | Lyrax | Nippon | New Olympic | Semi Olympic | Semi Renky | Auto Victor | Well Super
Sun Stereo
Semi Elka | Semi Keef | Napoleon
Postwar models (edit)
Apollo | Semi Blond | Semi Crystar | Daido Semi | Doris | Semi Frank | Semi Gelto | Semi Golder | Karoron | Karoron RF | Kely | Kiko Semi | Korin | Kuri | BB Kuri | Lark | Semi Leotax | Semi Leotax DL / R | Lo Ruby | Semi Lord | Luck | Semi Lyra | Semi Masmy | Middl 120 | Semi Mihama | Mikado | Million Proud | Semi Minolta III | Semi Minolta P | Semi Oscon | Semi Pearl | Pearl I–III | Pearl IV | Petri | Petri RF | Petri Super | Pioneer | Semi Proud | Semi Rocket | Rocky Semi | Rosen | Ruby | Shinkoh Rabbit | Semi Sport | Tsubasa Semi | Union Semi | Union Model U | Walcon Semi | Waltax | Semi Wester | Zenobia
rigid or collapsible
Semi Dak | Semi Hobix | Super Semi Plum | Rocket Camera | Tomy
Japanese SLR, TLR, pseudo TLR and stereo models ->
Japanese 3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Semi Rotte[1] (セミロット) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folder made by Kuribayashi and distributed by Minagawa at the beginning of the 1940s, about which little is known.[2] The BB Semi Rotte is a model with dual finders, only known through some surviving examples. The model was perhaps continued after the war as the BB Kuri.


It is said that no advertisement for the Semi Rotte was published in any Japanese magazine.[3] However, an advertisement was placed in a book about the Semi First dated February 1940.[4] The camera is pictured with a folding optical finder but no detail is given. The shutter seems to be a Rotte Model-1 (see below). The text of the book briefly mentions the Semi Rotte, saying that it has been sold only for a short time at the date of publication.

The list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, mentions a Semi Rotte (セミロット) in three versions: "Semi Rotte I" (¥62), "Semi Rotte II" (¥121), "Semi Rotte III" (¥160).[5] A similar list dated November 1941 adds a "Semi Rotte V", in the same price category as the "Semi Rotte III".[6]

The government inquiry compiled in early 1943 also mentions three versions:[7]

  • "Semi Rotte I", First f/4.5 lens, Vic I shutter (25–150, T, B);
  • "Semi Rotte II",[8] First f/4.5 lens, Rotte shutter (1–200, T, B);
  • "Semi Rotte III", First f/3.5 lens, Hit-Rapid shutter (1–500, T, B).

All three shutters are in #00 size. The Vic I was made by Miyoshi, the Rotte by Kuribayashi itself and the Hit-Rapid by Tokiwa Kōgaku (it was also mounted on the First Reflex).[9] The First lenses have three elements and were made by Tokiwa Kōgaku.[10]

Description and actual examples[]

The Semi Rotte[]

The Semi Rotte is a vertical folder, copied from the Nettar with straight diagonal struts. The body release is to the left of the viewfinder and the folding bed release is on the right (as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally). There is a key at the bottom right to advance the film. The back is hinged to the left and the back latch consists of a long sliding bar. The name SEMI-ROTTE is embossed in the front leather. At least some examples of the leather case have the First CAMERA WORKS logo and the name SEMI ROTT (with a typo) embossed at the front.[11]

One actual example has been observed with a Rotte Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5 lens and a Rotte Model-1 shutter giving 200–1, B, T speeds.[12] (The Rotte f/3.5 lens has three elements and was made by Tokiwa Kōgaku, it was certainly also the case of the Rotte f/4.5.)[13] The lens and shutter equipment corresponds to the Semi Rotte II of the 1943 inquiry. The speed settings are inscribed on the shutter plate in that order. The shutter plate also has ROTTE MODEL-1 at the top and ROTTE at the bottom, with waveline drawings on both sides.[14]

The BB Semi Rotte[]

The BB Semi Rotte has the same dual finders as the late BB Semi First and the BB Baby Semi First, with an eye-level finder on the left and a brilliant finder on the right, grouped in an L-shaped housing. The name B.B. SEMI ROTTE is inscribed above the eye-level finder, and SEMI ROTTE is embossed in the front leather. The camera is otherwise similar to the Semi Rotte.

Examples are known to exist with a First f/4.5 lens and a Rotte shutter (similar to the one described above).[15]

The BB Kuri[]

The BB Kuri is presumably an early postwar renaming of the BB Semi Rotte, contemporary to the Kuri, postwar continuation of the Semi First. Only one example has been observed so far, with the name B.B. Kurī engraved above the top housing, and the same SEMI ROTTE embossing in the leather as on the wartime camera.[16] This example has a Wester f/3.5 lens and a Northter Model-I shutter giving T, B, 1–200 speeds.


  1. It is called "First Semi Rotte" by mistake in Baird, pp.66 and 81.
  2. Made by Kuribayashi and distributed by Minagawa: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 13–5.
  3. Furukawa, pp.21–4 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  4. Advertisement placed in Semi Fāsuto no tsukaikata (User guide to the Semi First), reproduced in Furukawa, p.26 of Camera Collectors' News no.277. The date of publication of the book is curiously given as February 30, 1940.
  5. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 3A, 6B, 7B.
  6. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 3A, 6B, 7B.
  7. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") (listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943), items 13–5.
  8. The document has "Semi Rotte III" but this is certainly a typo.
  9. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter items 18-U-13, 18-P-5 and 18-R-1.
  10. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens items Lb18 and Lc2.
  11. Example pictured in Furukawa, p.24 of Camera Collectors' News no.277.
  12. Example pictured in this page.
  13. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Lb21.
  14. A similar shutter is pictured in Baird, pp.86 and 88 and in McKeown, p.577, on a BB Baby Semi First.
  15. Example pictured in Furukawa, pp.19–25 of Camera Collectors' News no.277 (lens no.36550), and example observed in an online auction (lens no.36509). The description of a similar example has been found in another online auction, with no pictures (reported lens no.1071).
  16. Example observed in an online auction.


  • Baird, John R. Collectors guide to Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. Grantsburg, WI (USA): Centennial Photo Service, 1991. ISBN 0-931838-16-9. Pp.66 and 81.
  • Furukawa Haruo (古川保男). "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). In Camera Collectors' News no.277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.19–27.
  • "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, 6B and 7B.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Items 13–5.
  • "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, 6B and 7B.

This camera is not listed in Sugiyama nor in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.

Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First