Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Konica/Konishiroku Kogaku/Konishi

Konishi-ya was one of the first Japanese companies to become involved in the sale of photographic supplies, dating back to 1873. This makes them older than Kodak. Founded by Rokusaburo Sugiura, a pharmacist in Tokyo, when he began selling photographic supplies in his store. In 1878, he gave his shop to his younger brother and opened a new store, Konishi Honten. Konishi began production of photographic supplies in 1882, and began building their first camera, the Cherry. It was a simple box camera, the first Japanese camera aimed at the amateur market.

The name of the company was changed in 1921 to reflect that the company had been turned over to his oldest son. The new name was Konishiroku Honten.

The company survived the war, and like many Japanese photographic concerns, prospered under the occupation and into the postwar era. In 1948 Konishiroku introduced the first camera to carry the Konica name. Known at the time as just "The Konica", it is now referred to by collectors as the Konica I. It can be assumed the name Konica was derived from Konishiroku Camera, much as Leica was derived from Leitz camera. The camera was so successful that the Konica name was used on all of their 35mm cameras, and eventually became the name of the company.

In addition to cameras, Konishiroku also produced film, at first under the name Sakura, as well as close-up devices under the name Pleasant.

Konica products were not known for their innovation, but rather as well made, well thought out designs. The few products that were innovative, such as the 1960 Konica F SLR with built in selenium meter and Copal Square vertical blade shutter, were not overly successful, and had little influence on the market. As the market began to tighten up in the 1970's, a number of Japanese companies began to either close or discontinue camera production, such as Miranda, Petri and Topcon. By 1988 they had dropped their SLR line, selling mainly point and shoot cameras. In 2003 Konica merged with Minolta in the creation of Konica- Minolta. This only delayed the inevitable. The march to digital left many manufacturers out in the cold. Konica-Minolta was one of them. In 2007, they closed down their photo imagining division (film, paper, chemistry and processing machines) and sold their digital SLR design to Sony.

Konica Box Cameras
Konica 35mm Rangefinder
Konica Aerial Cameras