Japan: 1958-1959: Zunow:

The legendary Zunow:

Few people have heard about the Zunow camera. Even fewer have seen photographs of it, and fewer still have actually seen one live. The number of people owing one is probably so low that even collectors have given up finding one. It was produced in very low numbers in Japan from 1958 and for only a short time. A production rate of only 8 pieces a day was not enough to pay for the expenses. Besides, it was only sold in Japan. It has been said that less than 500 were produced from August '58 till end of production in '59. However,I have one sample numbered 1959 552, and there is (was) one for sale with sr. 1959 867! in July '19. (and again in March 2020.) So, the number of produced cameras may have to be revised.
The camera was ahead of its time, with some worlds first features, like the auto diaphragm technique. (Well, Hungarian Gamma Duflex had it some ten years before, but that was a porro prism, not a penta prism.) But although the cameras were on a high technical level, the quality was not quite matching. They needed to be serviced quite often, at least once a year when regularly used. 

Zunow Optical Company started producing lenses for other brands early in the 40's, and with great technical success. Later, rangefinder cameras like Leica and Nikon were among the ones to gain from this, although they made first class lenses themselves. Zunow made 1:1,1 lenses from 1953 on, when others struggled with 1:1,8!
The very first Orion/Mirandas also came with Zunow lenses. (5cm 1:1,9)
After ending the camera production, Zunow continued producing lenses, until financial problems forced them to give up in the very early 60's. Some sources say January 1st 1961.
This is how it looked.
Here is my Zunow slr of 1959. Not complete, though.
Produced in 1959. Number 552. May have been among the very last one to be produced. So far, one has assumed that the total number was less than 500.
Frame counter seen without top plate.
Like a clockwork.
This one came in parts.
Plastic front cap.
Miranda like layout, except for the shutter time dial: placed under the winder, so you could dial it with your fingertip. Many years should pass before anyone copied it. Today it is considered vital for easy control.
Zunow featured interchangeable finder.
The mythical logo as seen on the prism house.

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28.03 | 10:32

Thank you for the comment!

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27.03 | 21:31

Great article. Lots of good information. Thank you.

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12.03 | 13:06

Thank you!
There were small differences between the AP and S models, as explained in the text. As fa as I know, the eyepieces were identical.

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12.03 | 09:40

Hi, Thanks for very useful information!
I plan to replace viewfinder eyepeice of my Pentax AP. Do you think Pentax share the same part across AP and S series?

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