Pigeon 35 & Related Models

Contents

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Inspiration
Pigeon 35 Based Cameras

Pigeon 35 Model I
Pigeon 35 Model P
Pigeon 35 Unknown Model (probably late I or early II)
Pigeon 35 Model II

Pigeon 35 Model IIA
Pigeon 35 Model IIB
Pigeon 35 Model III & IIIC
Pigeon 35 Unknown Model (Model J-like)
Pigeon 35 Model J and JII
Pigeon 35 Model S
Lacon & Saga Models
Focusing, Shutters & Lenses
Body Castings

Cosmo 35, Micronta 35 & Rolex 35 Cameras

Inspiration

In October 1948, Takachiho Optical Industries Co., Ltd (to become Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. on 1 January 1949) launched the Olympus 35, the first Japanese 35 mm viewfinder camera with fixed lens and leaf shutter (that is according to Olympus - Sugiyama agrees that it is the first post-War example of this type but also suggests that the bakelite bodied Super Olympic Model-D of 1936, no relation, is “the first Japanese 35 mm camera with lens shutter” - regardless, there were already countless similar models using 127 film). The Olympus had a f/3.5 4 cm Zuiko lens with 4 elements in 3 groups and a Seikosha Rapid shutter with a full range of speeds to 1/500. The Olympus 35 II was a prototype that didn't make production and the Olympus 35 III was a minor update. The Olympus 35 IV was released in November 1949 and remained in production until 1953. This was fitted with a Copal shutter with a top speed of 1/200 and was undoubtedly the inspiration for the Pigeon 35, either directly, or as a result of other similar models which quickly appeared. The camera below is an example of the Olympus 35 IV (there were later IV a and IV b variants with upgraded shutters including a return to the Seikosha on the IV b):

Note, the 35, 35 II and 35 III feature an external link to the shutter release somewhat like the Pigeon I and early Pigeon II models but on the Olympus cameras, this was hidden under a cover:

(Detail from larger web image)

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Pigeon 35 Based Cameras

The Pigeon 35 wasn't just one camera or model, there were quite a few variants, all seemingly developed from the original, some as upgrades and some as budget versions. Similar Pigeon 35 based cameras were also sold as the Lacon by the Lacon Camera Co. and a late type of the Lacon was marketed as the Saga. Generally There seems to be a little uncertainty as to whether Lacon was a separate entity or Shinano's own marketing name but “Shinano Camera Company Ltd.” does appear on at least some Lacon branded versions.

Current commentators all note that examples of the 35 seems to be well made for the type and are quite heavy and solid feeling (just like the Olympus 35) with an impression of at least reasonable quality. Some examples of recent photographs taken with them can be found on the net and they all look decent at screen resolutions. However, both the specs and operation were basic, reflected in the price comparison with the Pigeonflex (7,900 yen for the Model J compared to 14,800 yen for the quite basically specified TLR). The Olympus 35 varied between 10,600 and 15,500 depending on model and year in a financially volatile period. Its superior lens and sometimes superior shutter (Seikosha Rapid with 1/500 top speed on models I, III and IV b) no doubt accounted for some of the difference.

Note that the more sophisticated, folding rangefinder types, Pigeon V and 5B, were derivatives of the Toyoca B35 made for Endō by Tougodo, not Shinano and are not covered here. However to put the Pigeon era timeline into perspective, the Pigeon V was first advertised in December 1955 and the 5B was last advertised in September 1956 (information from Camera-wiki.org).

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Pigeon 35 Model I

According to Camera-wiki.org, this is the first known type. There is limited information but there are images of what are presumed to be the original Pigeon 35, the Model IIIC and two unnamed models which are in fact the Models J and JII (also note that the reference to “Pigeon 35 Model I at David Broglin's” is actually a later Model J). In reality, it is much more complicated than that. There is also a photo of a Lacon on the Lacon page (a middle type, not earliest or latest) but even less information. Below is an inverted and cropped version of the earliest Camera-wiki.org example, scanned by Rebollo_fr from the October 1951 edition of Japanese publication Camera Fan:

(Scanned by Rebollo_fr)

Unusually, Shinano is identified as the the maker and the camera was “expected to be available (from) Endō camera store” (the owner of the Pigeon brand). The specs from the original scan include an “N.K.S.” shutter with Bulb and 1 to 1/200 speeds with double exposure prevention but the ability to double expose if desired. A self-timer and flash sync are included (the flash sync is a 2 pin type). I don't think that the lens name is quoted but specs are given as f/3.5, 50 mm (later versions of the Pigeon 35 are 4.5 cm and and marked 45 mm for the Lacon). Knurling on the film advance and rewind knobs is half-height. The model name in the ad is model “I”, almost certainly as in the Roman numeral. It is a basic, fixed lens 35 mm camera with rim-set leaf shutter. To load/unload, the back is removable with a central locking mechanism on the base plate. The 4 digit body serial number is 1196.

A similar camera has come up for sale on eBay with very good, detailed photos. The serial number is only approximately 30 higher. The lens is a f/3.5 50 mm “SHINANO COHOTO”. Focusing on both cameras seems to be by rotation of the front ring which moves the whole lens/shutter assembly in and out:

(Detail from larger web image)

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Pigeon 35 Model P

Sugiyama shows a camera of very similar appearance to the first type in regards to top plate, viewfinder and knobs with half-height knurling. Not surprisingly, it is also claimed to be from 1951. He calls it a “Pigeon P”. It has the same 50 mm “SHINANO COHOTO” f/3.5 lens of the second example above. However, the Tubasa shutter is lower spec with Time, Bulb and speeds limited to 1/25 to 1/150 speeds. Focusing is by front lens element (similar to the front ring rotation of the Model I but only the front element moves, not the whole assembly) so the lens/shutter assembly is very similar to the later J models.

It may precede the Model I but there is no way to know for sure. Personally, I think that it is from a very similar time, possibly a fraction later because of the Kodak ASA type flash sync (instead of 2 pin type on the Model I), and that given the low spec shutter and front element focusing, it is a budget type companion for the Model I, just as the J models seemed to be later on.

Amazingly, in the same week that I saw my first Model I for sale, the first Model P was listed as well. Unfortunately, there are some bits missing including the lens bezel and retaining ring with lens details:

(Detail from larger web images)

The shutter has the same specs as Sugiyama's P but the name is “KIKO-C”. What I understand is that “Tubasa” and “Tsubasa” are names used by camera maker Kigawa Kōgaku and that it was probably also responsible for the KIKO-C shutter.

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Pigeon 35 Unknown Model (probably late I or early II)

The camera below might be a version of the Model I or it may be a different model that fits between the I and the II below or it could even be the first type Model II, but its serial number is only about 150 more than the first Model I above and 120 more than the second:

(Detail from larger web image)

Like the above examples, it still has a 50 mm lens instead of the 4.5 cm of later models. The lens name is “SHINANO S-COHOTO”, note the addition of the “S-”. The TSK shutter features Bulb and 1 to 1/200 speeds. Like later examples, the winding and rewinding knobs now have full-height knurling. It is the first example with lever focus. This is at the back of the lens assembly and incorporates a depth of field scale. Like the Model I, the whole lens/shutter assembly moves in and out. Like the Model P, the flash sync is an ASA shutter mounted type.

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Pigeon 35 Model II

Please take the “II” model names below with a huge grain of salt - they are useful for putting variants in chronological order, no more than that. I haven't seen “II” used in any official context in ads or reference sources other than Sugiyama (see IIA below) but both Manfred Schmidt Collectible Cameras and Accessories and Cameras Downunder list a “Model IIA” and which matches this example. Because Sugiyama, who is sometimes wrong but more often right, calls the next version “Model IIA”, I'm going to call this version “Model II”. It would be reasonable to assume that there would be a “Model II” before a “Model IIA” (see “Model III” and “Model IIIC” below). Although it is possible that the unknown example above is the original “II”, I think that the changeover of lens specs from 50 mm to 4.5 cm is as much a defining moment as trim details.

(Detail from larger web image)

As far as I can tell, the top plate is the same as the cameras above including the external mounting screws and the shutter button. The lens board or mounting plate is the more sculpted style of later cameras. The shutter is a TSK with Bulb and speeds from 1 to 1/200. The lens is a f/3.5 4.5 cm TOMIOKA Opt. Co. TRI-LAUSAR with flash sync and self-timer.

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Pigeon 35 Model IIA

I'm calling this lovely example below “IIA” because it is a bit later and matches Sugiyama's IIA from 1952:

(Images courtesy of Chris Whelan)

(Click on images for larger version)

There are two other examples in my database with similar, but slightly lower, serial numbers.

The main difference to the II is the larger viewfinder housing. The shutter is a NKS with Bulb and speeds from 1 to 1/200. The lens is a f/3.5 4.5 cm TOMIOKA Opt. Co. TRI-LAUSAR with flash sync still on the shutter (just under the “S” of NKS) and self-timer.

On the left is the same camera with lens hood marked “Pigeon 36” and filters that fit inside the hood, on the right a hood marked “Pigeon 35” (both come with adaptors) and more likely to be specifically for the Pigeon 35 camera (more on lens hoods here):

(Images courtesy of Chris Whelan)

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Pigeon 35 Model IIB

I'm calling this one below “IIB” because it is a bit later still. Instead of the shutter button on the top plate (for which Shinano used an external link to facilitate the in/out movement of the shutter), it is a lever on the left side (looking at the camera) of the lens mount and the top plate mounting screws are now hidden:

(Detail from larger web image)

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Pigeon 35 Model III & IIIC

The Model III is easy to identify, it has a new streamlined viewfinder housing covering the full width of the top plate with “Model - III” engraved near the accessory shoe (it and the Model S are the only Pigeon 35 versions with the model names marked on them). Model IIIC version featured in Camera-wiki.org and scanned by Rebollo_fr from January 1955 edition of Shashin Kōgyō (the original scan includes the model IIIC name):

(Scanned by Rebollo_fr)

I have photos of three versions of the Model III (confirmed by Sugiyama); one with the new streamlined top plate already but knob wind still (presumably plain Model III) and the focusing lever, shutter release and flash sync from the model IIC above together with a full range off shutter speeds from Bulb and 1 to 1/200 and self-timer. Lens and shutter names are unknown. The second adds lever film wind (not cocking, but even so, this must have been one of the first Japanese implementations). This was possibly the Model IIIB but I have not seen that nomenclature used anywhere. The lenses are “TOMIOKA Opt. Co. TRI-LAUSAR” (except as noted below). Shutters are TSK except for an earlyish example with an NKS. The third (Model IIIC) has the lever film wind but changes the lever focusing to a dial in the same place and moves the flash sync to the body. See below for lenses and shutters. Note, “B” or “C” does not appear on the top plates. Sugiyama lists the first two from 1952 and the IIIC from1954.

(Detail from larger web images)

Below is correspondent Tom Chandler's Pigeon IIIB:

(Images courtesy of Tom Chandler)

This camera is transitional - it adds an “S” to the lens name to become “TOMIOKA Opt. Co. S-TRI-LAUSAR” as found on all following IIIC examples, however the lens serial number remains within the typical 25xxxx to 26xxxx range of the IIIB examples rather than the lower 24xxxx numbers of the IIIC examples. It is also the first example with a new back lock design found on the following IIIC examples and which is the same as featured on the Model J below.

As noted earlier, on the IIIC the flash sync moved from the lens to the body. On the earliest IIIC examples, the sync is still the ASA type but on later ones it is a PC type. However, whereas most examples are fitted with NKS shutters, one latish example is fitted with an NKS-SC and on this example only, the sync reverts to the lens but is the later PC type. The last IIIC in my database doesn't appear to have a shutter name but I can't be absolutely certain of that.

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Pigeon 35 Unknown Model (Model J-like)

This seems to be a cross between the II models and the following Model J. It has a body with viewfinder housing and shutter release like the Model IIB but has the front element focusing, S-Lausar lens and NKS shutter without slow speeds or self-timer like the Model J with body and lens numbers also similar to the middle of J production. One difference to both the J models is that flash sync is on the shutter rather than on the lens mount.

I had only seen one example but then correspondent Randy Leist wrote providing details of his example (below) and one other:

(Image courtesy of Randy Leist)

As both the J and this model share lens and shutter types and front element focusing, they seem much closer to each other than the images first suggest. To me, it looks like a pre-J model. Using the basic Model J design parameters but still featuring the Model II body before developing a unique to J style. It could be an early form of J or it could have its own name. Or it could just be another niche model sitting in between the II varieties and the J:

(Images courtesy of Randy Leist)

(Click on images for larger version)

Note that the back lock is still the earlier first type which precedes the III and J models. Also, on early II models and the J models, the film sprocket shaft is not covered (late II models and III models are unknown, none visible, all Lacons are like this but with the later lock).

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Pigeon 35 Model J and JII

Below is an item from the April 1954 first edition of “Orient Photography”. The photo is of what is probably the most common type Pigeon 35 and appears to be the same version as appears with the Yashima Pigeonflex in the Japanese ad. Both name it as the “model J”:

(Scan courtesy of Chris Whelan)

Note, the lens name is given as “S-Trilauser” but I think that should be “S-Lausar” (the Tomioka lenses featured on all found Model J examples are “S-Lausar”).

This reverts to front element focusing like the earlier Model P and the familiar shutter release button on the top plate but has a new viewfinder housing with platform for the accessory shoe and the external screws have disappeared from around the top plate, certainly making it a little later than the first of the Model II types. Like the Model P and the unknown type directly above, the Model J seems to be a budget version, losing the self-timer and slow shutter speeds. These are now limited to Bulb and 1/10 to 1/200. It was available at the same time as the Model III and like the last version of that, the IIIC, it has the flash sync in the body instead of on the lens as with earlier models and also a new look back lock on the base plate:

(Detail from larger web image)

However, whereas late IIIC examples have a PC flash socket, I have not found any J or JII examples so equipped.

Generally, these details suggest that the two models are of a similar vintage, confirmed by Sugiyama as 1954. The flash sync suggests that the IIIC may have outlasted the two Js but probably, they were intended as budget companions to the Model IIIC.

There is also a JII model:

(Detail from larger web image)

There are 20 examples of the J and 14 examples of the JII in my database. Whilst there is some confusion about which model is which, the J in Orient Photography, the JII brochure above, Sugiyama and a JII camera with matching JII user manual confirm that the J is on the left below and the JII is on the right:

(Detail from larger web images)

Cosmetically, the differences are that the camera on the left has leatherette with embossed lines top and bottom like other models and the lens board is two tiered, or “sculpted” as I described it earlier on, and the camera on the right has plain leatherette and a plain, flat lens board. Note, whilst the flat lens board trim seems to share the style with the first Model I, both Js are from much later with both featuring the new flash sync in the body instead of on the lens - the flat trim and plain leatherette are probably aimed at a more modern appearance and/or cost saving.

The model J has higher body serial numbers but the lens numbers of the JII are higher (although as noted below, the branding is different) so each model seems to have its own number series.

Whilst there are different lenses and shutters used, the specs are identical across both types. The lenses are the usual f/3.5 4.5 cm and the J continues with Tomioka as a supplier with the lenses now branded “Tomioka S-Lausar” but the JII introduces the “Pigeon” brand. It seems possible that the S-Lausar is related to the Tomioka four element Tessar type “Lausar” range but as the better specified Model II and Model III examples feature Tri-Lausar triplets, it seems equally unlikely that the S-Lausar, or the Pigeon would be superior. More likely, the opposite BUT, stranger things can be found and which lens to fit is after all a marketing decision about what customers want and will pay for. On the other hand, the Google translation of a partial tear-down by a Japanese blogger suggests that the S-Lausar is indeed a triplet (whether by reputation or actual inspection is not clear). So, probably a triplet but lingering doubt.

The J features both NKS and “Shinano” shutters (in one group near the end of serial numbers before reverting to NKS for the last camera); the JII features mostly PCK shutters with the first two and last 3 examples in my database being Copal, all without slow speeds or self-timer.

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Pigeon 35 Model S

The Model S is rare. It's existence was first identified by correspondent Randy Leist when he found the combined manual below for sale with a Pigeon 35 Model J:

(Detail from larger web image)

The fact that the J and S share a manual (there is also a discrete manual type for the Model J) is a significant clue. I have since found one that has sold in Japan. Like the III models, its name is on the viewfinder housing making it easy to identify. Amazingly, it has a budget type JII body complete with the same shutter type with limited speeds and front element focusing lens but it features a rangefinder plonked on top in a pseudo-Leica style viewfinder housing. This is almost certainly not coupled to the focusing. The distance is read off the dial at the back and transferred to the distance scale on the front. As such it is more of a focusing aid than a focusing method (note, there is no connection to the later Tougodo made Pigeon V and 5B models):

(Details from larger web images)

The viewfinder housing appears to be a stretched version of the middle Lacon type below. Whereas the shutter button end is identical, the Model S housing sits closer to the rewind knob even though the shape is the same. Also, on this camera at least, the film winding knob has knurling typical of the J models and earlier Pigeon 35s but the rewind knob has knurling typical of the middle Lacon (both knobs are shorter because of the raised platform of the viewfinder housing).

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Lacon & Saga Models

I have photos of three versions of the Lacon. Although the sculpted lens mount is from the earlier JI, overall, the features seem later than the Pigeon 35 or either of the J models. The viewfinder housings/top plates followed a similar evolution to the Pigeon 35 but they are different to the Pigeon versions. The bodies, shutter release by button, focusing by front element rotation and lens and shutter specs basically match the two Pigeon 35 J models, except that the middle version only gains a self-timer. In other words, they are all more basic than the Pigeon 35 I, II and III models. The flash sync remains on the shutter body as for earlier Pigeon 35 models but on the other hand, all the Lacon examples and the one Saga feature PC type flash sync sockets only shared with the last of the Pigeon IIIC models suggesting that the Lacons are more recent than the Pigeons. Similarly, all three Lacon types have the newer style back lock on the base plate found on the Pigeon 35 Model IIIC and J/JII.

As far as I am aware, only the third Lacon type has an identified version name, “C” which is marked on the bulbous one piece top plate incorporating the viewfinder (“Type C” in the user manual). The three versions are shown below - note the text behind the Lacon name on the middle camera is “Shinano Camera Company Ltd.”

(Detail from larger web images)

Three Type Cs in my database still have their presentation boxes: two are plain red brown all over with gold text and one has a blue bottom and white top, both parts with a reptile skin pattern and also gold text. The interesting thing is that both style boxes are marked “National Optical Co., Ltd.” Were the Lacons produced by Shinano for the National Optical Co. or was Shinano taken over by this company or merged with some unknown entity? A search has turned up no clues at all.

The shutter speed range of Bulb and 1/10 to 1/200 shared with the J models is updated to the more modern Bulb and 1/25 to 1/300 on the last six of the eight Type Cs in my database.

The shutters on the first two versions are branded “Shinano” and unnamed on the Type C. The lenses on the first two versions are branded “Shinanokōki Lacor” and “S-Lacor” on the Type C.

The only Saga named model I have seen is identical to the later Lacon Type C with Bulb and 1/25 to 1/300 shutter, except its top plate is engraved “Saga Three-Five”.

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Focusing, Shutters & Lenses

Whether by front ring rotation/lever/dial movement of the whole lens/shutter assembly (Pigeon I, II and III variants) or by front element only movement (Pigeon P, J, JII, S, Lacon and Saga), focusing on all models is set by simple distance scale (the S has a rangefinder aid). The more up-market Pigeon I, II and III variants started with “normal” shutter buttons and an external link to the shutter but changed to a shutter lever on the lens board and internal link. The budget versions all have “normal” shutter buttons except for the unknown J-like model.

This table consolidates detail from the above discussion. Note, only some of the model names are confirmed, I have used “logical” names to fill in the gaps. These are highlighted in grey fill:

Model
Lens
Focal
Length
Focusing
Shutter
Brand
Speeds
Self-timer
Release
Pigeon 35
I
Shinano Cohoto
50 mm
Front ring
NKS
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Button
P
Shinano Cohoto
50 mm
Front element
Tubasa
B, 1/25-1/150
Yes
Button
P
?
?
?
Kiko-C
B, 1/25-1/150
?
Button
?
Shinano S-Cohoto
50 mm
Lever
TSK
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Button
II
Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
TSK
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Button
IIA
Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
NKS
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Button
IIB
Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
NKS
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Lever
III
Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
Lever
IIIB
Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
NKS
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Lever
IIIB
Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
TSK
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Lever
IIIB
S-Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
TSK
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Lever
IIIC
S-Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
NKS
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Lever
IIIC
S-Tri-Lausar
4.5 cm
Lever
NKS-SC
B, 1-1/200
Yes
Lever
?
S-Lausar
4.5 cm
Front element
NKS
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Lever
J
S-Lausar
4.5 cm
Front element
NKS
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
J
S-Lausar
4.5 cm
Front element
Shinano
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
JII
Pigeon
4.5 cm
Front element
PCK
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
JII
Pigeon
4.5 cm
Front element
Copal
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
S
Pigeon
4.5 cm
Front element
Copal
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
Lacon
A
Shinanokōki Lacor
45 mm
Front element
Shinano
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
B
Shinanokōki Lacor
45 mm
Front element
Shinano
B, 1/10-1/200
Yes
Button
C
S-Lacor
45 mm
Front element
Unbranded
B, 1/10-1/200
No
Button
C
S-Lacor
45 mm
Front element
Unbranded
B, 1/25-1/300
No
Button
Saga
Three Five
S-Lacor
45 mm
Front element
Unbranded
B, 1/25-1/300
No
Button

Camera-wiki.org notes the availability of NKS, PCK and TKS shutters on the Pigeon 35. I haven't found any with the TKS yet (made by Tōsei Kōki, different to the TSK made by Tōyō Seiki Kōgaku - I think that “TKS” is a mistake, McKeown lists TSK) but from photos of examples on the net, I can add Copal and Shinano, the latter which I assume is simply re-branding and of course, TSK. The Model P identified by Sugiyama has a Tubasa shutter with limited 1/25-1/150 speeds and another example has a similar spec Kiko-C probably made by the same company.

Lenses on the Models I and P are f/3.5 50 mm, branded “SHINANO COHOTO” and on the unknown model, “SHINANO S-COHOTO”. All other lenses are f/3.5 4.5 cm on the Pigeons, marked 45 mm on the Lacons. As the lenses on the otherwise higher spec Models II and III are triplets branded “TOMIOKA Opt. Co. TRI-LAUSAR” (“TOMIOKA Opt. Co. S-TRI-LAUSAR” on the IIIC model), it is tempting to assume that all the other lenses are of equal or lower quality, including the “TOMIOKA S-LAUSAR”. However, the usual Tomioka “Lausar” is a four element Tessar type so that remains a bit of an unknown - as noted earlier, there is some evidence that the S-Lausars are not Lausars so who knows? Note that triplet lenses, whilst quite acceptable for mass-market TLRs, are a poorer choice for 35 mm where their lack of sharpness in the corners and aberrations are magnified.

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Body Castings

All the bodies seem to be based on a similar design concept but there were some changes along the way. Image 1 is the inside view of what I have earlier called a Pigeon 35 Model IIA. It is very similar to the earlier Models I and P. The front casting is separate to parts of the transport assembly, note the alloy hook for the earlier type back lock knob shown in the IIA pictures further above (the I and P use the same hook but the lock is slightly different). The camera in image 2 is a Pigeon 35 Model JII. It has a one piece casting for the body and film transport. The Lacon Type B (perhaps, or at least, 2nd type found) in image 3 is very similar except the shaft of the sprocket drive is enclosed. What is believed to be the Pigeon 35 unknown model (cross between a Model II and J) also has the covered shaft and adds the black painted guides of the camera in image 4. The Lacon Type C in image 4 has a modified casting with more angular film chamber. Note that the cameras in images 2, 3 and 4 share the same type back lock internal catch plate and also the locking knob as shown for the Model J above and also below:

(Detail from larger web images)

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Cosmo 35, Micronta 35 & Rolex 35 Cameras

This is a postscript but a very important one in connection with the TLR genealogy. According to Camera-wiki.org, Cosmo Camera Seisakusho was the Japanese successor company to both Tōyō Seiki Kōgaku, maker of the TSK shutter, and Alfa Optical Co. which made Alfaflex and Cosmoflex TLRs (and very probably, Pigeonflex I, IB and IC models). Camera-wiki.org notes that the Cosmo Camera Seisakusho made Cosmo 35, Micronta 35 and Rolex 35 “body casting and removable back are copied on the Pigeon 35”. I'm not entirely sure what is meant by that statement but the Pigeon 35 is the earlier camera by several years, the Cosmo 35 being announced in September 1955. Certainly, the body castings and backs, outside and inside, appear to be near identical. The top plate and viewfinder housings are clearly different to the Shinano cameras but the octagonal bodies, the flat lens boards, shutter housings and front lever shutter release are very similar to, or at least look like evolved elements of, the Pigeon 35 II, III and J and Lacon models.

Below are photos of the same Cosmo 35 example - apart from the unmachined film guides, the castings and lock plate appear to be identical to the Model J above and similar to all the others:

(Detail from larger web images)

Below left is the central lock knob for the Cosmo 35 back and on the right, the lock from a Pigeon 35 J (the Pigeon 35 IIIC and Lacon models are the same, the earlier Pigeon 35 II & III models operate the same way but the locks are quite different):

(Detail from larger web images)

The Alfa Optical Co. link to the Cosmo 35 is strengthened by the lens name, “S. Cosmo”, as used on all its Alfaflex and Cosmoflex TLRs. Clearly at some point, there must have been a relationship of some sort with Shinano.

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