JCII Camera Museum; Exploring a new charm of cameras
Mirrors of People’s Life and Camera Technology
The photograph is the popular pastime goods being loved by many people. It has been giving big influence to people’s live and culture. In this situation Japanese camera is boasting a top level technology, and keeps the highest reputation in the world. Particularly, Japanese optical manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Konica, Olympus, Ricoh, and others have played a central role in this technology development and marketing. Then I visited the “Japan Camera Museum” in Hanzomon, Tokyo on April for learning about cameras and their development history. The following is the a record of the Museum with some additional data..
The Contents are:
- Outline of Japan Camera Museum
- Historic Commentary Corner
- Evolution of Camera Technology and its Makers in Japan
- Flagship Camera Show (Canon, Nikon, Olympus etc.)
- Adoption of digital Technology and Instant Camera
- Advent of Motion Pictures in the Photo World
- Charm Points of the Japan Camera Museum
The Camera Museum was running a special exhibition of “The Flagship Camera Show” when I visited. So It was quite lucky for me to see a lot of high end cameras, which the photo makers have been proudly producing just on the one spot.
As mentioned above, Japan’s camera products are proud of its high quality, but this technology of camera has also applied and expanded to the office equipment, information equipment, and medical equipment like optical precision machines in the later period. They are cultivated in the large part by Japanese manufacturers with sophistication of the optical technology which has grown in camera technology and related mechanization.
♣ Outline of Japan Camera Museum
The “Japan Camera Museum” is an unique industrial museum which was established by the Nippon Camera Foundation (JCII) in 1989. They hold various types of cameras, including the precious historic cameras, which tell the history of camera industry in the world and Japan. It is really a lively showcase of technology advancement in the world as well as Japanese camera technology from the beginning to now.
Refer to : ♥ JCII Camera Museum HP url: http://www.jcii-cameramuseum.jp/
The museum now stocks about ten thousands of camera units at home and abroad, and daily exhibits 300 units of rare and precious cameras. Besides, the museum periodically carries out the planned events to show the special photographs and cameras on the subjects, such as “Japan’s early camera”, “Treasured classic camera”, “Technology trajectory of digital camera”, “Memorial news photographs” and others from time to time.
The museum exhibition is classified into several sections, that is historic corner, Japanese camera collection, flagship camera (as planned exhibition at that time), photo principle and technology, treasury cameras, and experiment corners. And on the floor, many memorial cameras are placed to know how photograph machines are developed in the world.
♣ Historic Commentary Corner
At the historic corner, the museum puts up many commentary boards for explaining the roots of photographs and evolutions of technology with attractive episodes. For example, it gives useful comments on the “Camera-Obscura” in the 17c, which said to be the first photo device in the globe and also became the word origin of “camera” later. Similarly the museum exhibited the memorial records of photo images which had shot first in Japan in Edo era, and even photos in the early time of the world.
———————————- (Pictures in Edo period) —————-
However, the most outstanding exhibition might be a “Giroux-Dagereo” camera which appeared in France in 1839 as a commercial device. This collection is really precious because it is the only one among the existing a couple of units in the world.
♣ Evolution of Camera Technology and its Makers in Japan
The museum also shows the development story of camera makers and technological challenges in Japan. For example, the “Cherry Camera” (Handy Black-box Camera) as the first camera ever produced in Japan. This camera was produced by Konishi Co. (Now Konica) in 1903, which company was a leading manufacturer of photographs at that time. After the War, Konica has been producing several commercial cameras called “Pikari Konika” with flash light and “Jasupin Konika” adopting auto-focus system in its history.
On the other hand, Asahi Kogaku Co. has produced a single-lens’s reflex “Asahi Flex” camera and “Pentax” which invited the camera boom in Japan with the longest selling record. By the way, the company has changed the name to Asahi Pentax in 2002, but later Asahi merged with Ricoh in 2011.
Likewise, many episodes related Canon, Nikon, Olympus, even Sony (as a camera maker), and others are introduced chronologically in the museum with large number of specimens of real products.
♣ Flagship Camera Exhibition
These total pictures were available in the special exhibition of “Flagship Camera Show”. In this exhibition, Japanese high-end memorial cameras were fully arranged to show following in the order of producing years. So the visitors easily understand how Japanese camera makers have grown and developed their photo technology in the competitive worlds, and how diversified the businesses from analog to digital, still picture to movie, film to IC, and so on.
♣ Example of Canon’s Flagship History
The Cannon, known for single-lens reflex, announced a prototype “Kannon” in the 1934 as the first camera product, then “Hansa Canon” of Leica style followed in 1935. The canon is known to have produced the first single-lens reflexing brand “Flex” in 1959 in the next, and the company cemented the status of major camera maker. After that, the company released many type of the first class cameras, for example, AF single-lens “EOS” which embodied an electric mount system in 1987. It is said that the canon is now keeping a leading
position of camera maker in the world.
♣ Example of Nikon’s Flagship History
The Japan Optical Industry (now Nikon), being born as a manufacturer of optical device in 1917, first produced “Nikon S” in 1950, and consecutively released the Leica SLR camera “Nikon F” in 1959. Since then, the company has been known as a major high-quality camera manufacturer. Especially its lens technology has got high reputation among the professionals. It has also released a luxury model “Nikon FM3A” in 2001. The Nikon opened the “Nikon Museum” in 2015 with commemorating 100 year anniversary as a leading camera maker.
(Nikon Museum Opened in 2015 in Shinagawa, Tokyo with commemorating 100 year establishment of Nikon)
♣ Example of Olympus’s flagship History
The Olympus, which is known in the medical optical equipment, first announced the Olympus Six (1940), then the company was growing as a prominent camera maker. In the 1960s, a series of “Olympus Pen” was released after the “Olympus 35”. The name Olympus is gradually becoming popular among the Japanese camera lovers since then.
On the other hand, the film-maker Fuji, opened up its own area by announcing a film- with-lens (disposable camera) “Quick Snap”, as well as Leica-type compact camera “Fujica 35M” in the 1980s. It has contributed a lot to popularize cameras among people.
It seems that the visitors would understand well about the transition of Japan’s camera technologies by looking at this special exhibition, especially on the development of optical system of mechanical cameras.
♣ Adoption of digital Technology and Instant Camera
In the meantime, along with the development of optical mechanical camera, various photo equipment have been invented and expanded the market in the 1990s by introducing digital technology. One of the important streams might be an appearance of so-called “digital camera”. As a result, beside of conventional optical manufacturers, many consumer electronics makers, such as Sony, Panasonic, Casio, such as Sharp, were beginning to release a variety of digital cameras by using digital technology. The visitors would understand how radically the technologies have evolved and changed the scene of photo world by viewing this exhibition.
In addition, the instant camera like “Polaroid” of shooting-to-printing camera, appeared in the photograph area too. The western manufacturers, such as US Polaroid and Kodak, have led first in this market, but, Yashica and Fujifilm began to follow them in Japan by the patent license.
♣ Advent of Motion Pictures in the Photo World
Co currently , the digital technology of photograph has promoted new technology advancement of the record media from film to magnet device. That enables photo makers, as well as electric makers to innovate video cameras from conventional 8 mm machines to new digital machines by fabricating of optical camera technology. All these products are displayed at the museum shelves and the visitors can examine these changes with their own eyes.
♣ Charm Points of the Japan Camera Museum
The Museum holds a huge precious collection of historical cameras too, in the 18c and
afterward, which had produced in the Europe and America besides Japanese ones. For example, there are the first fixed-focus lens box-camera “Kodak No1 Brownie Camera” released in 1888, the twin-lens reflex camera produced by Franke & Haidekke (now Rollei) of Germany in 1929, the classic “Leika” series camera by the German maker Leika, which has been long loved by professional photographers, and so on among them. It’s really enjoyable to be able to see such novel camera collections on the one spot.
I’ve got an impression this Camera Museum would be the best site to visit for understanding the principle of camera and its technology as well as cultural impact brought by camera and photographs..And I felt that I want to visit Nikon Museum before long to further explore the camera world more deeply.