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The Vero Four (ヴェロ・フォアー) is a Japanese camera taking 4×4cm pictures on 127 film. It was distributed by Ueda Shashinki-ten from 1938 to about 1943.[1] At the beginning, the camera was made by an unknown company that used "n.m.k." initials. (The name "Star Camera Works" appears in advertisements and other documents dated 1938, but it was probably a dummy name belonging to the distributor, as other names ending in Camera Works.) From c.1939, the camera was made by Kinshō, which used a K.S logo.[2]


The Vero Four has a metal body and a telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly. The viewfinder sits in a recessed part of the top plate, slightly offset to the left. There is an accessory shoe at the left end. The advance knob is at the right end and the right half of the top plate is covered by a housing containing the advance mechanism and exposure counter. (The film paper backing was not marked for 4×4cm pictures at the time the camera was sold, and the exposure counter was absolutely needed.)

There is a single red window in the back, used to set the first exposure and protected by a horizontally sliding cover. Film loading is through the bottom plate, which is styled after the Leica screw mount models, with a single opening key at one end.

All the models observed have a Rapid-Vero shutter giving T, B, 1–500 speeds. The April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production says that the camera has a Rapid-Presto shutter made by Kinshō.[3] The Rapid-Presto was mounted on other contemporary cameras and has identical features to the Rapid-Vero (including a typical 1/300 setting); this was certainly another name for the same shutter.

The lens is a front-cell focusing Vero Anastigmat 6.0cm f/3.5 on the early models and a unit-focusing Verona Anastigmat 6.0cm f/3.5 on the Vero Four F. The Verona has three elements and was made by Kinshō.[4]


Original model, front-cell focusing[]

The original model has a front-cell focusing lens and no leather covering. The lens is a Vero Anastigmat 6.0cm f/3.5 and the shutter is a Rapid Vero giving T, B, 1–500 speeds.[5]

The camera was featured in the January 1938 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced above.[6] In this document, the camera is said to be distributed by "Star Camera Works" (スター・カメラ・ウワークス). The column mentions an auto-stop advance mechanism with automatic exposure counter, which is praised for its original design — i.e. not copied on foreign products.[7] The absence of a body release is regretted, but accounted for by the difficulties involved in adding this mechanism — certainly because of the telescopic tube configuration.[8] The picture shows an insert plugged into the shutter's cable release thread, certainly a soft release button. The price is quoted as ¥115, including the ever-ready case, hood and filter holder.

The original model also appears in advertisements running from January 1938 to September 1938.[9] Very early advertisements wrongly say that the camera can take 14 exposures in 4×4cm size,[10] and most documents omit 1/10 from the range of speeds, despite providing photographic evidence of its presence on the shutter dial. The price and accessories are the same as mentioned in the original announcement, and the company name in all the advertisements is "Star Camera Works", mentioned as the distributor.

The earliest picture, used till March 1938,[11] barely shows the details of the exposure counter, which appears as a mere slit. There may be a small button nearby, to unlock the advance mechanism, but it is barely visible. It is not clear if the picture shows a very early variant or an unfinished example. In some documents, the same picture was used with some retouch, notably in the surroundings of the exposure counter.

The shape of the exposure counter is better visible in the image inserted in the March 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera, though the picture shows traces of retouch and may again display an unfinished camera.[12] Subsequent pictures published from April onwards show a complete camera with operative exposure counter.[13] The counter scale is contained inside a parallelogram-shaped frame, certainly covered by a piece of glass. It is graduated from 1 to 12, with odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other. The index has a slotted head, and runs in a slit in the middle. (The same type of exposure counter has been observed on an early Vero Four F, see below.) The nearby button is quite large, and has fine mills around its base.

The name Vero is visible on the advance housing, together with a serial number. The letters n.m.k. are engraved above the viewfinder. (The same marking has been found on an early Vero Four F — see below — and on other Japanese products probably dating from the immediate postwar period, see N.M.K.) Finally, the soft release is longer — at least on the photograph used from April onwards.

No surviving example of the Vero Four with front-cell focusing lens has yet been observed.

Vero Four C and D[]

The Vero Four C is identical to the original model, and the Vero Four D is the same camera with artificial leather covering (or "rubber sheet"). The new names were used from October 1938,[14] after the introduction of the Vero Four F with unit focusing (see below). The October 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera shows the three models together.[15] The C and D are priced at ¥115, whereas the F costs ¥125.

The three models (C, D and F) are listed again in the January 1939 advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced above, at an unchanged price.[16] The picture only shows the models C and D, together with their accessories: filter holder, silver lens cap with Vero engraving, lens hood and leather case.

The Vero Four C and D no longer appear in the April 1939 advertisement in Asahi Camera.[17]

Vero Four F, unit focusing[]

The Vero Four F, introduced in October 1938,[14] has a focusing helix at the base of the telescopic tube and a Verona Anastigmat 6.0cm f/3.5 lens. The shutter rim is engraved RAPID–VERO at the bottom, and the lens rim is engraved Verona Anastigmat f=6.0cm 1:3.5.

First version[]

The first version is otherwise identical to the Vero Four D. It is pictured in the October 1938 advertisement in Asahi Camera, already cited above.[18] The April 1939 advertisement in the same magazine lists the Vero Four F alone, still at ¥125, but shows an outdated picture of a Vero Four D instead.[19] The document includes a list of accessories: filter holder (¥1.50), lens hood (¥2) and case (¥6). An advertisement dated December 1939 shows a murky drawing, on which the details of the exposure counter cannot be observed, and gives the same price and accessory list.[20]

A single surviving example of the first version has been observed, with a body number in the 1xxx range, and the very low serial number 0340 on the lens.[21] It has the same parallelogram-shaped exposure counter as described above for the Vero Four with front-cell focusing lens, and also has the letters n.m.k. engraved above the viewfinder (see above).

Second version[]

The second version of the Vero Four F has a different exposure counter and advance mechanism. It has a K.S. logo above the viewfinder, certainly standing for Kinshō (or maybe Kinshō Seisakusho, see Kinshō). The frame counter now appears under a crescent-shaped window, displacing the Vero engraving to the rear. The button has moved too and a small lever is added behind, with A and G indications. When in the "A" position, the advance knob can be turned at will; when in the "G" position, the exposure counter mechanism is engaged, and the film is advanced one frame at a time. (When loading the camera, the lever is set to "A" and the film is advanced to the first frame using the red window on the back. Once the film backing paper shows "1", the window slide is closed and the top lever is set to "G". After a photograph is taken, the button on top of the camera is temporarily pressed and the advance knob is turned. The counter will then advance and the film knob will stop at the next frame. Once all 12 pictures are taken, the lever on top is set to "A" to allow the film to be freely wound. The frame counter resets to 1 at the same time the lever is set to "A".)

Early examples of the second version have the same viewfinder window and advance knob as the first version. A single such camera has been observed so far.[22] It has a body number starting with "2", and three-digit lens no.364, very close to no.0340 found on an example of the first version described above.

Later examples of the second version have a separate frame added to the front of the viewfinder, attached by two small screws, and a newer advance knob with no screw head at the top. Two surviving examples have been observed, with body numbers in the 2xxx range and lens numbers in the 07xx and 08xx range.[23]

Third version[]

The third version has a round window for the exposure counter, instead of the former crescent-shaped window. This version is the most common, and one example is pictured in this page. Body numbers have been observed in the 3xxx to 6xxx range, and lens numbers in the 2xxx to 4xxx range.[24]

Late documents[]

A drawing of the third version was used in the April 1940 advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced above.[25] Later advertisements in the same magazine, such as those dated May, August, November 1940, or January 1941, show an outdated picture of the second version;[26] that dated December 1940 displays a yet older picture of the Vero Four D.[27] In most documents, the camera's price is unchanged at ¥125 — when quoted.[28]

The camera also appears in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, under the names "Vero Four" and "Vero Four F", both priced at ¥125.[29] This might indicate that the front-cell focusing model was still available for sale, or this might be a confusion.

The April 1941 advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced on the right, lists the Vero Four F along with other cameras distributed by Ueda. It seems to show a picture of the third version.

The Vero Four is still mentioned in the April 1943 government inquiry.[30] In the document, the shutter is listed as a Rapid-Presto instead of Rapid-Vero.

Rangefinder conversions[]

The Cyclon coupled rangefinder conversion offered in 1943 and 1944 for the Gelto was also available for the Vero Four (presumably only for the unit-focusing Vero Four F).[31] The conversion is described in detail in this section of the Gelto page. It is not known if the earlier conversion with separate range- and viewfinder, called "Suzuki coupled device", was offered for this camera. No surviving example has been observed with a rangefinder conversion.


  1. Dates: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.341, run from 1938 to 1941, and the camera was still mentioned in the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") compiled in April 1943.
  2. Made by Kinshō: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 153.
  3. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-R-4.
  4. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item K4.
  5. The full range of speeds is specified as T, B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 in the column in Asahi Camera January 1938, pp.173–4.
  6. Column in Asahi Camera January 1938, pp.173–4.
  7. Original text: 一駒分ずつの自動捲止めとなし、撮影駒数は矢張り自動的に標示されます。是等の点に独自の創案の覗われるのは、国産カメラとして誠に嬉しい事です。
  8. Original text: これがボデイ・レリーズであったならと思われますが、此形式では装置に困難が伴いましょう.
  9. Advertisements in Asahi Camera January 1938, p.A45, February 1938, p.A33, March 1938, p.A43, April 1938, p.A39, May 1938, p.A41, June 1938, p.A39, and September 1938, p.A35. See also the advertisements in Asahi Graph, 17 January, 23 March and 29 June 1938 reproduced in Gochamaze.
  10. Advertisement in Asahi Camera January 1938, p.A45, and advertisement in Asahi Graph, 17 January 1938, reproduced in Gochamaze.
  11. Column in Asahi Camera January 1938, pp.173–4, advertisements in Asahi Camera January 1938, p.A45, and February 1938, p.A33, and advertisements in Asahi Graph, 17 January and 23 March 1938, reproduced in Gochamaze.
  12. Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1938, p.A43.
  13. Advertisements in Asahi Camera April 1938, p.A39, May 1938, p.A41, June 1938, p.A39, and September 1938, p.A35, and advertisement in Asahi Graph, 29 June 1938, reproduced in Gochamaze.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.341.
  15. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.92.
  16. Advertisement in Asahi Camera January 1939, p.A25.
  17. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.92.
  18. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.92.
  19. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.92.
  20. Advertisement on p.24 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, December 15, 1939, reproduced on p.58 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  21. Example observed in an online auction.
  22. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3053, and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.13.
  23. Example pictured in the Christies auction catalogue dated 13 January 1994, lot 221 (body no.2529, lens number reported as 0771), and example pictured in this page of the AJCC (body no.2x25, lens no.0838).
  24. Examples observed: body no.3118 (online auction and online shop, lens not original); body no.3727, lens no.2009 (online auctions); body no.44xx, lens no.2889 (online auction); body no.4784, lens no.3080 (this page); lens no.3220 (Sugiyama, item 3054); lens no.44xx (McKeown, p.943); body no.6367, lens no.4255 (page at Japan Family Camera); body no.6617, lens no.4513 (online auction).
  25. Advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1940, pp.A21–2.
  26. Advertisement in Asahi Camera May 1940, pp.A21–2, and advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.76 and 77.
  27. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.72.
  28. Advertisements in Asahi Camera April 1940, pp.A21–2, and May 1940, pp.A21–2, and advertisements dated August 1940 and December 1940, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.72 and 76. The price is not mentioned in the advertisements dated November 1940 and January 1941 reproduced in the same book, pp.76 and 77.
  29. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, section 10.
  30. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 153.
  31. Advertisements dated October 1943 and May 1944 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.112.


Original documents[]

  • Asahi Camera. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and materials), January 1938, pp.173–4.
  • Asahi Camera. Advertisements by "Star Camera Works":
    • January 1938, p.A45;
    • February 1938, p.A33;
    • March 1938, p.A43;
    • April 1938, p.A39;
    • May 1938, p.A41;
    • June 1938, p.A39;
    • September 1938, p.A35;
    • January 1939, p.A25;
    • April 1940, pp.A21–2;
    • May 1940, pp.A21–2;
    • April 1941, no page number.

Recent sources[]

  • 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 239. (See also the advertisements for items 129 and 136 and the picture on p.13.)
  • Christies auction catalogue: Cameras and Optical Toys (13 January 1994), lot no.221.
  • "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. Item 153.
  • "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 10.
  • 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.943.
  • Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisement on p.58, corresponding to p.24 of the December 15, 1939 issue.
  • 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 3053–4.


In Japanese: