Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
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The Tsubasa Nettar (ツバサネッター) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folder announced by Kigawa in late 1940, and the Tsubasa Kiko Three (ツバサキコースリー) or Tsubasa Kiko III (ツバサキコーⅢ型) is a derivative made in 1941.

The Tsubasa Nettar[]


The Tsubasa Nettar is a horizontal folder. The body has tapered ends, and the three-part folding struts are similar to those of the Ikonta A by Zeiss Ikon. The name "Nettar" itself is an obvious reference to the Nettar, another product by Zeiss Ikon. The Tsubasa Nettar has a folding optical finder in the middle of the top plate, similar to the finder of the late Tsubasa Super Semi. The body release is on the right and the folding bed release is on the left, as seen by the photographer. The advance knob is at the bottom right, under the body, and the back is hinged to the left. The back latch consists of a long sliding bar.

Briefly announced[]

The Tsubasa Nettar was advertised in the October 1940 issue of Asahi Camera, together with the Tsubasa Super Semi.[1] The advertisement was placed by Optochrom, the sales company associated to Kigawa. The shutter is mentioned as a Kulax, giving 1–300 speeds, and the picture perhaps shows the word KULAX at the bottom of the shutter plate. There is a choice of two Erinar lenses, with f/4.5 or f/3.5 aperture, and no price is indicated. The advertisement displays a TSUBASA NETTAR logo, which is perhaps engraved on the folding struts.

The only other reported advertisement is dated December 1940.[2] No surviving example of the Tsubasa Nettar is known. The camera was perhaps never sold, and the use of the name "Nettar" perhaps caused some protest.

The Tsubasa Kiko Three[]


The Tsubasa Kiko Three is an evolution of the Tsubasa Nettar, with the same horizontal folding body. The advance knob at the bottom right was replaced by an advance key. There is a short top housing containing an eye level finder on the left and a brilliant finder on the right, and supporting an accessory shoe between the two. The body release is protruding from the top housing, to the right of the brilliant finder, and the folding bed release is in front of the accessory shoe. The back is hinged to the left, and the back latch consists of a long sliding bar. The red window is protected by a vertically sliding cover, and is placed at the top left or at the bottom right, depending on the particular example (see below).

The top housing has a large KSK logo engraved above the eye level finder, presumably for Kigawa Seimitsu Kōgaku. The company name and number 3 are embossed in the back leather: KIGAWA 3 KOGAKU. There is a logo embossed in the folding bed covering and at the front of the leather case, with the word KIKO diagonally written above a large number 3.

Advertisements and other documents[]

The camera was advertised and featured in Japanese magazines dated 1941.[3] The March 1941 advertisement in Shashin Bunka, placed by Optochrom, lists two versions, one with a Lucomar f/4.5 lens and a Kiko shutter (T, B, 5–200), for ¥85, the other with an Erinar f/3.5 lens and a Kiko shutter (T, B, 1–200), for ¥130.[4] The camera name is given both as "Tsubasa Kiko Three" (ツバサキコースリー) and as "Tsubasa Kiko III" (ツバサキコーⅢ型), and the name Kiko Three is visible at the front of the camera's top housing. The use of an English word in a camera name is unusual in military-ruled Japan of the time. Some of the company's officers perhaps had anglophile feelings, or a special relationship with Great-Britain, and the sales company Optochrom was renamed Nichiei Shōkai soon after, meaning "Anglo-Japanese sales company". All this ended some months later, the distributing company was renamed again as Kikō Shōji, and the Kiko Three marking disappeared from the top housing (see below).

The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 lists the "Tsubasa Kiko 3" (¥80), "Tsubasa Kiko IIIA" (¥100), "Tsubasa Kiko IIIB" (¥121) and "Tsubasa Kiko IIIC" (¥160).[5] According to their price categories, the three first models probably have an f/4.5 lens, and the IIIC probably has an f/3.5. The document also has a "Tsubasa Kiku" (¥43) and "Tsubasa Kiko II" (¥120) listed among 4.5×6 cameras, and a "Tsubasa Kiko I" (¥60), listed among 3×4 and 4×4 cameras.[6] These models are otherwise unknown, and their relationship to the Tsubasa Kiko Three is unclear.

The newer price list published in November 1941 has the "Tsubasa Kiku", "Tsubasa Kiko II", "Tsubasa Kiko III", "Tsubasa Kiko IIIA" and "Tsubasa Kiko IIIC".[7] All of them are attributed to Nichiei Shōkai, and the "Tsubasa Kiko IIIB" is no more listed.


Minor variations have been observed on actual examples of the Tsubasa Kiko Three. On the presumably early examples, the top housing is deeply recessed between the two finders, and is engraved Kiko Three at the front. This is the top housing pictured in the March 1941 advertisement cited above. Two surviving examples of this version have been observed.[8] One of them has a Lucomar 75/4.5 lens and a shutter giving 5–200 speeds engraved KIKO–SHUTTER at the bottom of the speed rim. The other is known to have the red window at the top left of the back.

On the presumably late examples, the top housing has a shallower depression between the two finders and no engraving at the front.

The example pictured in this page has a Pisco shutter (250–1, B, T) and an Eagle Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens. It seems that the back was modified over time. The original red window is at the top left, and the KIGAWA 3 KOGAKU embossing is at the bottom. There is an additional uncovered red window at the bottom right, pierced through the embossing, and it seems that the pressure plate was reversed to accommodate the new red window.

On another example with the late top housing, the red window is at the bottom right and the KIGAWA 3 KOGAKU embossing is moved towards the top of the back.[9] It has a Rapit Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens and an unmarked everset shutter giving 5–250, B, T speeds.

The example pictured in Sugiyama has the late top housing.[10] The shutter is a Kenzio giving 150, 100, 50, 25, B, T speeds. The shutter plate is inscribed PATENTS TSUBASA at the top and KENZIO at the bottom. The lens is reported as a ULL Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5.


  1. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79.
  2. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  3. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79. The shutter name is written キコー in katakana.
  5. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 3B, 4B, 6B and 7B.
  6. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, section 5, and type 3, sections 1 and 5B.
  7. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 1, 3B, 4B, 5B and 7B.
  8. Examples observed in online auctions.
  9. Example observed in an online auction.
  10. Sugiyama, item 1256.


  • 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 151 and 152.
  • "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 1, 3B, 4B, 5B, 7B.
  • "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 1, section 5; type 3, sections 1, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B.
  • 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.464.
  • 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 1256.


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