Keppler’s Vault 13: The Japanese Photo Industry Part 3

This is the third and final part of a 48 page article about the Japanese Photo Industry which originally appeared as special section of the April 1957 issue of Popular Photography magazine. The second part of this series can be read here.

Unlike the first two parts of this Japanese Photo Industry special section, the final 16 pages have no articles or stories. It’s one big Japanese Directory of cameras, lenses, filters, exposure meters, and more.

If you were in the market for a new camera in 1957 when this issue was originally printed, these pages would have served as sort of a buyer’s guide to pretty much every Japanese camera product at the time.

Today, in 2018, I find that these old product guides are incredibly interesting. Not only do you get to see how they were sold and marketed back then, but you get to see how the prices have changed on some models, and you also get to learn about some lesser known models that you might be unfamiliar with.

Models like this Kallo-W rangefinder with it’s 6-element Prominar 35mm f/2.8 lens are listed in this directory, yet hardly discussed today.

Models like the Auto Terra I, Kallo-W, and Walzflex II don’t often appear in discussions in collectors groups, yet at the time of this article, were current models that had history gone in a different direction, could have been modern classics today.

Interested in a Nikkor 85mm f/1.5 screw mount lens (remember the Nikon F wouldn’t debut until 2 years after this article)? Be prepared to fork over $299.50 (or $2678 today). How about a monster Canon 800mm f/8 screw mount lens for $796 (or $7120 today)? Can you even buy a $7000 lens today?

Not everything in this directory has a price, but it’s still a fascinating look back at the growing Japanese camera industry as of 1957. The amount of growth in Japan between 1947 and 1957 was amazing, but it would continue to grow in the decades to come. Imagine how big a directory like this would have been if it were made in 1967 or 1977?

I hope you enjoyed this 3 part series as much as I did. I love the history that the Keppler’s Vault series allows me to dig up, but seeing so much great information all neatly organized into a single 48 page special section was a great find. I can only hope to find more sources of information like this to share with you in the future!

All scans used with permission by Marc Bergman, 2018.

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