See also the wartime Wester, a very different 4.5×6cm camera made by the same manufacturer in the first half of the 1940s.
The Semi Wester (セミウエスター) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera made around 1951 by Nishida. It was followed by the Wester 6×6 folders.
The postwar Semi Wester is a horizontal folder with straight diagonal struts. The main body shows some similarity to the late variant of the Apollo and to the postwar Semi Proud made by Sumida. It is possible that Nishida bought the body shells to that company, but nothing is known for sure.
The top plate is peculiar to the Semi Wester. It has a folding optical finder in the middle. The folding bed release is on the left and the body release on the right, as seen by the photographer. The advance knob is at the right end, and there is an accessory shoe at the other end.
The back is hinged to the left, and is retained by a sliding bar on the right. It has a single green-coloured rectangular window at the bottom, protected by a sliding cover.
The name Semi Wester is engraved on the top plate, on the viewfinder's left, and the company name NISHIDA OPTICAL CO. is inscribed on the viewfinder's right. The initials NKK (for Nishida Kōgaku Kōgyō) are embossed in the leatherette of the front door, and the name SEMI WESTER is embossed on the back.
The lens is a three-element Wester Anastigmat or C. Wester Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5, with front-cell focusing. All the lenses are coated, and the "C." prefix makes no practical difference. The shutter is a Wester giving B, 1–200 speeds, with a self-timer and a synch pin at the bottom. The shutter plate is inscribed WESTER at the top and the rotating rim is engraved N.K.K. at the bottom.
The ever-ready case is made of brown leather and is embossed Wester at the front.
|Semi Wester no.2009, Wester Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5 lens no.19348, NKK Wester shutter.|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer camera$. (Image rights)
Commercial life and variations
Only a few surviving examples have been observed so far. The examples pictured in this page have a serial number engraved on the top plate (no.1989 and 2009), and a Wester Anastigmat coated lens numbered in the 19xxx range. The example pictured in Sugiyama seems to have similar features. Other cameras have a C. prefix added to the lens name; at least one is known to have no serial number on the body and a larger spacing between the words NISHIDA and OPTICAL CO.
|Semi Wester no.1989, Wester Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5 lens no.19142, NKK Wester shutter.|
Pictures copyright Tsuguhide Nakagi. (Image rights)
|Announcement of the Semi Lord in Asahi Camera September 1951. (Image rights)|
A rebadged version of the Semi Wester was featured in Japanese magazines dated September and November 1951. The name is only known in katakana: セミロード, certainly for "Semi Lord". The column in Asahi Camera September 1951, reproduced above, says that the Semi Lord I has a Lord (ロード) 75/3.5 lens and a synchronized shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer). Judging from the very small photograph, the pictured camera looks indistinguishable from the Semi Wester, and seems to have an NKK Wester shutter. In the document, the distributor is mentioned as Inoue Shōten, and the price is given as "about ¥10,000". The text goes on saying that a Semi Lord II would appear with a modified viewfinder.
No surviving example of the Semi Lord has yet been observed, and it is not known if the camera was actually sold.
- Tanimura, p.25 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.346.
- Tanimura, p.26 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1439, and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
- Examples pictured in Tanimura, p.25 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, and observed in an online auction.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374 (item 1046).
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.374, says "Semi Roud" but this source is not very reliable for Roman spellings, and "Semi Lord" is more plausible.
- Asahi Camera September 1951. "Shinseihin memo" (新製品, New products memo). P.103.
- 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. Items 386 and 1046.
- 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 1439.
- Tanimura Yoshihiko (谷村吉彦). "Wester Six". 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.11, March 1988. No ISBN number. Shirarezaru kamera (知られざるカメラ, special issue on unknown cameras). Pp.25–7.