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. 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.