Japan 1969-2004: Cosina:

Cosina: The producer.

Cosina of Japan was first of all a producer for other brands. There is a list, the Cosina List, containing more than 113 models they produced, with only a little share bearing the Cosina label.

Cosina was a mass producer of cameras, mostly for other brands. They never came up with any big news themselves, but produced well functioning cameras. I came across a list of 113 models confirmed to be produced by Cosina, according to the author, and three more not yet confirmed. Only 25 of these models wore the Cosina label. Here is a CT-1A a good working plain camera. All Cosinas, also most of the house brands they produced, had Pentax K-mount, the closest one came to a universal mount. Size: 133x85x51. Weight: 418 grams. Sn. 90602046.
A Cosninon 50/2 lens followed most Cosinas. Note that Cosina did a smart choice by featuring the Pentax K-mount on all Cosina labelled cameras and on most house brands they produced, thus avoiding being isolated with a mount that few would want. The K-mount opened a door to all Pentax lenses (and most others by adapters).

The Cosina list:

 
 
Argus STL-1000
Bauer RX 1, RX 2
Canon T60
Carena CX 300, CX 500, KSM 1, KSM 2, MSTL, 1000, SRH 760, 1000 SX
Cavalier MSTL
Chinon CE II, CM 3, 5000 SE, GAFL-ES, Chinonflex, CE-3, CS-4, CM-5, CM-7, CG-5, 
          CX II, CP X
Cimko LS-1
Cosina C1, C2, CT-1, CT1EX, CX-2, CT-1A, CT-1G, CT-1 Super, CS-1, CS-2, CS-3, CT-4, 
          CT-7, CT-7D, CT-9, CT-10, CT-20, CT-90, EL Solar, Hi-Lite, Hi-Lite HDL, 
          Hi-Lite EC, Hi-Lite 405, CSM.
Elicar MN-1
Exakta Twin TL, HS-2, HS-3, HS-4, HS-10, HS-40, KE-5
Haking HG 1, HG 2
Hanimex DR-1
Kenlock KG-1
Konica TC-X
Miranda MS-1, MS-2, MS-2 Super, Memoflex
Nikon FM-10, FE-10
Olympus OM-10, OM-2000
Panagor CT 1 EX, CT 90
Pentax P 30T
Petri GX-1, GX-2, GX-3, GX-4, MF2, MF3, MF4, MF 101, MF 102, MF 103, MF 104
Porst Compact Reflex
Prinzflex Super TTL
Quantaray R400, RZ 800, DZ-RZ
Ricoh Singlex TLS, XR-1, KR-5, KR-5 Super 2, KR-10 Super, KR 500
Sears SL2, TLS 
Seimax SV7, SV9
Soligor SC-1
Topcon AM-1
Vivitar 220 SL, 420 SL, 650 SL, XV2, XV3, V2000, V6000
Voigtländer VSL 43
Yashica, FX-3 Super 2000
Zodel 2 MTL
 
Not confirmed:
Chinon/GAF L-CS
Topcon RE-200
Vivitar 400SL
 
About this list:
The actual number is actually higher than 113. For example, the Yashica mentioned is really not one camera, but at least four: FX-3 of 1979, FX-3 Super and the FX-3 Super 2000. And in addition: The FX-7, that was a FX-3 with a silver body.
Cosina itself produced at least CT-1, C-1S and C-3 in addition to the ones on the list.
The German trading company Photo Porst produced their Porst and Carena cameras mostly at Cosinas. Of the 26 Porst SLRs and 20 Carenas, probably a lot more than the few listed above were produced by Cosina. For instance, the Porst M-CE is identical to the Chinon CE-II. And among the many Chinon cameras produced by Cosina was the CE-II. But the Porst M-CE is not on the list. And Miranda MS-3 is also missing.
There are other similar examples.
The lens producer Sigma presented a M42 mount PP SLR in 1976, the Sigma Mark 1. It is said to be produced by Ricoh, being almost identical to the Singlex TLS. But the Singlex TLS is on the this list, and confirmes by others, while the Sigma is absent. Even Sigma's second PP SLR, the SA-1 with K-mount, was also a Cosina make. That adds another two to the list.
Ricoh XR-7 is also missing. 
 
So, probably most of the many house brands sold by warehouses all over the world were produced by Cosina. And they bought (or just used) some famous brand names after the original companies had to give up producing PP SLRs, like Miranda, Topcon, Petri, Exakta and Voigtländer. Miranda MS-series of the 80s, for instance, had nothing to do with Miranda as they ended in 1976.
 
Even more interesting are the names Canon, Konica, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax on the list. They are not represented by their top models, but Cosina evidently was so cost effective that they were able to produce some less advanced top sellers for the big ones, and more economically than the big ones could do themselves. The Canon, Nikons, Konica and Olympus OM-2000 are confirmed through other sources, such as Camerapedia. Olympus OM-10 is not confirmed and not very likely, in my view. The Pentax P30T, too, is not confirmed elsewhere. But after having outsourced  assembly, then production of the K1000 for some 20 years, it would not be quite unlikely if Pentax did it again. 
 
Cosina made PP SLRs into the new millennium. 2004 may be the year they ended production.
Today, giants like Asia Optical in Taiwan (and elsewhere) is doing the job. And most likely making more models with famous labels than we would like to know.
 
 
 
 

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Viv_targirl | Svar 13.01.2020 07.03

Anyone know what years the Vivitar V6000s were sold? I can't find that info and am interested.

Olek | Svar 07.01.2019 17.05

whether
cosina CT9
carena cx-500
exakta HS-4
miranda MS-2 / MS-3
petri GX5
vivitar v365
is the same model?

Olek 08.01.2019 15.42

Sorry, vivitar has the same shape but different texture of the handle and a smooth surface of the body.

Olek 08.01.2019 15.10

I have a Vivitar, in my opinion it differs only by adding contacts to AF lenses. At the moment I am waiting for a US shipment with a 75-200af lens to test this

bosse 07.01.2019 23.43

Adding: the first 4 seem like the same model. The Petri is almost identical, but has a different shaped grip. The Vivitar V365 is hard to find.

bosse 07.01.2019 23.22

Many of the model names on the Cosina list were identical cameras. Whether that goes for your 6 models, I do not know. But it wouldn't be unlikely.

Bosse | Svar 25.06.2017 21.36

The official producer was Chinon, according to Alpa sources. But we know that Cosina produced some cameras (and lenses) for Chinon.

M. Man | Svar 25.06.2017 21.23

The ALPA 2000 was a Cosina with M42 mount. I used to own one. Ever wonder why there are ALPA badged M42 lenses on eBay? They are from Cosina too.

Max | Svar 13.05.2017 14.20

Sadly not found the Ricoh XR-7 / Sigma SA-1 / Sears KS-2 camera(s) on the site. They could be produced by Cosina as well, but I have no information about this.

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I går | 14:32

It might be worth to mention that the Ia, IIa and IIb also were found in the US under Tower 23 and Tower 24 names.

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I går | 14:28

Hi Bosse,
There is very little evidence to support that the m42 versions were made by Asahi Opt. Company but more evidence that these were made by resellers.

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20.11 | 00:08

Hi Roland,
No I have no information about it. There were several producers of long tele lenses and they came with many names. Is it a preset lens? Serial nr?

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19.11 | 20:32

Hi Roland,
I have a Miranda camera and purchased a Safari 500mm 1:6.3 lens for it, but now cannot find any information on Safari lenses. Can you help?

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