The Tone (トーン) is a Japanese subminiature camera taking 14×14mm exposures on 17.5mm film, made in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The Tone has a better finish than most other Hit-type cameras. The top housing covers the whole length of the camera, and contains an eye-level finder in the middle and a waist-level finder on the right, as seen by the photographer. The name Tone is engraved above the eye-level finder, together with the mention PAT. and a TOKO logo.
The film is advanced by a knob at the top left, as seen by the photographer. The advance knob is engraved MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN on some examples, but not all. The back is hinged to the left and is locked by a sliding button on the right. It contains a single red window, protected by a sliding cover. The camera has no tripod thread.
The shutter gives 25, 50, 100, B speeds, selected by an index at the top. It is cocked by a lever on one side, and tripped by the release lever on the other. The lens is a Tone Anastigmat 25mm f/3.5. It is focused from infinity to 3ft by turning the front cell, an unusual feature on a Hit-type camera. The aperture is set from 3.5 to 11 by an index at the bottom.
The case is made of brown leather, embossed Tone at the front. The original box is red or blue, inscribed Tone CAMERA.
|Tone. Pictures courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera. (Image rights)|
Origin and commercial life
The Tone is attributed in some sources to Tōyō Kōki or "Tōyō Kōki Seisakusho". This name is sometimes translated as "Toyo Optical Co.", and the attribution to "Toyo Kogaku" is surely a wrong back translation.
The camera itself has a TOKO logo engraved at the top, presumably for Toyo Koki. This is very close to the TOKO logo found on the Mighty, another dual-finder Hit-type camera made by Tōkō Shashin, and this has led to the misconception that the Tone and Mighty were made by the same manufacturer.
Some sources say that the Tone was released in 1948. In August 1949, the Tone was available in the USA for $9.95. The camera was advertised in Japanese magazines from October 1949 to May 1950. The May 1950 advertisement in Asahi Camera was placed by the trading company Tōshin Bōeki, certainly the camera's distributor, and does not mention the manufacturer's name. It gives the price of ¥1,700 for the camera with case, and ¥1,950 including the shipping fees and a pack of six film rolls.
- Original boxes pictured in this page at Submin.com.
- "Tōyō Kōki K.K.": Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.355. "Tōyō Kōki Seisakusho": this page at Kikaishiki kamera no susume.
- "Toyo Optical Co.": Sugiyama, item 5148.
- "Toyo Kogaku": McKeown, p.933.
- For example in McKeown, p.933.
- Released in 1948: Sugiyama, item 5148, McKeown, p.933.
- Original receipt reproduced in this page at Submin.com.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.355.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.150.
- 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 615.
- 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.68 (brief mention only).
- 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). P.933.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. P.77 (brief mention only).
- 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 5148.
- Tone at Submin.com (also has documents: instructions for film processing and a receipt)
- Tone at Subclub.org
- Tone among other subminiature cameras at the Subminiature site of Gary Sivertsen
- Tone, lot no.670 of auction no.7 (May 21, 2005) by Westlicht Photographica Auction