Cameras


The company (or companies) named "Toko" made many cameras over the years. But there may be or more likely there have been more than one Toko camera company at various points in time. One Toko camera company made a wide variety of subminiature cameras. The same company - or perhaps a different one - made several medium format cameras. The same company - or perhaps still another one - made various large format cameras. Few people have heard of any of them and the name is often confused with Toyo, Tojo, etc. Some of the large format Toko cameras are marked with the model name and/or serial number, but some are not marked in any way. The earliest models are probably the ones that are most likely to be unmarked or unlabeled.  Most of the cameras were available in Cherrywood (the lightest and least expensive wood), but they were also available in Rosewood (slightly heavier and more expensive), or Ebony (even heavier and even more expensive), as well as special order woods (which, of course, are even more expensive). Some, and perhaps all, of Toko's 4x5 cameras were made by Nagaoka -- a well-known 4x5 camera manufacturer.  We know this because some of the later Toko FL-451 and FL-452 4x5 cameras have a plate on the bottom saying "Manufactured by Nagaoka".  Perhaps Nagaoka bought Toko at some point or pehaps Toko had Nagaoka make some of their later cameras.  Nagaoka 4x5 cameras typically have aluminum metal parts whereas Toko cameras use more attractive brass parts.  I do not know if any Toko cameras are still being made. In any event, they are difficult to find on the used market, but typically they sell for much less than similar, better known 4x5 cameras -- even  though they are probably less full-featured.  The website www.toko.com does not list any photographic gear.

Toko Nikki II


My Toko Nikki II is in beautiful rosewood with a Beattie Intenscreen and extra fresnel lens for even better viewing.  Here it is with a 125mm Fujinon NW f5.6 lens.

The Toko Nikki II was my first 4x5, purchased in 1985. I still have it. The 1985 Buyer's Guide from Popular Photography lists a Nikki I, a Nikki II and a Nikki III. The Nikki I was the same as the Nikki II, but it lacked the back focus movement of the Nikki II, so it was less expensive and extends only to 12 inches (300mm). I have never seen or heard of a Nikki III, so I doubt that there ever was one. Maybe it was on the drawing board, but I don't know what features could have been added to the Nikki II - maybe front shifts or rear rise?

The Toko Nikki II adds rear focus to the Nikki I so you can extend the back out (60mm) or move it forward (50mm). This allows you to set the total bellows extension anywhere from 65mm to 360mm (14 inches). It also lets you use super-wide-angle lenses - even without a recessed lensboard and without having to drop the camera bed -- as well as using longer focal lenses such as 300mm and 360mm lenses - and even 400mm telephoto lenses. With a recessed lensboard you are even able to use extra-super-wide-angle lenses such as the 47mm Schneider XL (see below) and with extension cones you can use 600mm lenses (see below).

Both cameras have substantial rise and fall on the front standard (75mm up or down) as well as left and right swings (20 degrees left and right) and backward and forward tilts (90 degrees forward and 20 degrees back). Neither has shift on the front standard. On the rear standard both have left and right shift (20mm left and right) and left and right swings (12 degrees left and right) and backward and forward tilts (28 degrees backward and 20 degrees forward). There is no rise and fall on the rear standard.

The front standard took Wista or Linhof type lensboards but the shutter hole was purposely placed off-center (a little lower than dead center). The rear standard was a standard, universal spring back accepting 4x5 sheet film holders, Polaroid film packs and holders, 6x7 and 6x9 roll film holders, and even 5x7 film with an adapter back.

Toko FL-452


My Toko FL-452 is in beautiful cherrywood with a Beattie Intenscreen and extra fresnel lens for even better viewing.  Here it is with a 300mm Fujinon C f8.5 lens.

The Toko FL-452 is almost identical to the Nikki II. They also made a FL-451 which was the same as the FL-452, but it lacked the back focus movement of the FL-452, so it was less expensive and extends only to 12 inches (300mm). They never made a FL-453, which confirms my belief that there never was a Nikki III either. The Nikki cameras had a small clip on the top to keep the camera body closed when collapsed, but this was removed on the FL cameras to keep the clip from accidentally scratching the top of the bellows.

Like the Toko Nikki II, the Toko FL-452 adds rear focus to the FL-451 so you can extend the back out (60mm) or move it forward (50mm). This allows you to set the total bellows extension anywhere from 65mm to 360mm (14 inches). It also lets you use super-wide-angle lenses - even without a recessed lensboard and without dropping the camera bed -- as well as using longer focal lenses such as 300mm and 360mm lenses - and even 400mm telephoto lenses. With a recessed lensboard you are even able to use extra-super-wide-angle lenses such as the 47mm Schneider XL (see below) and with extension cones you can use 600mm lenses (see below).

Both the Toko FL-452 and the FL-451 have substantial rise and fall on the front standard (75mm up or down) as well as left and right swings (20 degrees left and right) and backward and forward tilts (90 degrees forward and 20 degrees back). Neither has shift on the front standard. On the rear standard both have left and right shift (20mm left and right) and left and right swings (12 degrees left and right) and backward and forward tilts (28 degrees backward and 20 degrees forward). There is no rise and fall on the rear standard.

The front standard took Wista or Linhof type lensboards but the shutter hole was off-center (a little lower than dead center). The rear standard was a standard spring back accepting 4x5 sheet film holders, Polaroid film packs and holders, 6x7 and 6x9 roll film holders, and even 5x7 film with an adapter back.

Lenses

"Normal" lenses

Wide-angle lenses


Telephoto and Long lenses


Fisheye lens


Macro and Micro lenses

Macro-Micro gear

Pinhole "Lenses"


Pinhole "lenses" are a little trickier to use, but they are well worth the effort. First of all, they are really not lenses, nor are they made by any major manufacturers. They are merely tiny, "needle" holes in paper, plastic or metal. They have great depth of field due to their tiny apertures, but the edges of the image are fuzzy. Some people love them, others hate them. I'll leave that part up to you. The best pinholes are laser pinholes in small, thin metal sheets because they have very clean edges, but these are also the most expensive. They come in a variety of "focal lengths", just like real lenses. And they usually don't come in easy-to-use, common mounts, attachments or adapters. They are just pinholes in some sort of material. I'll let you figure out how to attach them to your camera. Here's how I did it.

My pinholes are:

Here is the breakdown of apertures from f16:

f16 f22 f32 f45 f64 f90 f125 f180 f250 f360 f500 f720

So, on a sunny day, to get from f16, with a 300mm pinhole you will need about 250 times as much light.  On a sunny day with ISO 125 film, instead of using 1/125, you'll need about an eight second exposure -- with no filters being used.  Even with fast film, you'll have a long exposure. And for slow film, filters, lower light, etc., you will be there all day and need a steady tripod, lots to eat and drink, a comfortable chair, a timer, a newspaper, and a good, locking cable release.

As you can see, the apertures are tiny and they are not adjustable. Other companies make pinholes of other focal lengths -- or you can make them yourself, but you will have to figure out the f-stop and the focal length. Either way, you have to attach them to your camera -- somehow. I know of no photographic meter that reads to f455, so bring a calculator or piece of paper. With pinhole cameras the focusing is not fixed. These are just estimates to get the overall sharpest results. So, for example, with a 75mm pinhole, create 75mm of extension on your camera between the pinhole and the film. You will need a tape measure. This will, of course, give you the best possible picture at infinity, but with the incredible depth-of-field it should cover all distances well. You can focus closer, but you will need to adjust the time accordingly and focus on the ground glass carefully -- if you can! You can focus pinholes at any distance, but getting an useable image on the ground glass is not easy. In all cases you will need a very good ground glass cover. People will think you are a complete idiot, but you will get great results. My Toko's maximum bellows length is 360mm so I can't go any longer than that (without some modification) but I like the wider-angle pinhole shots anyway. It's just something to keep in mind when searching for pinholes. With most 4x5 cameras you will not have a problem -- other than attaching the pinholes to the shutter.

For five of my pinholes (118mm to 289mm), I use a Leica  (39mm) thread, metal lens cap. First, a hole (about ¼ inch) is drilled in the middle of the lens cap and then the pinhole is taped to the rear of the lens cap so that the pinhole is in the middle of the ¼ inch hole in the lens cap. Together with a Leica-to-Copal #1 adapter (hard to find), they screw into the front of the Copal #1 shutter (after the lens has been removed, of course). This makes using them pretty easy. Chances are, one of your large lens shutters is a Copal #1. With other shutters you might need a different adapter(s).

For my other two pinholes, I had to get creative to avoid vignetting due to the width and length of the shutter and the adapter. If placed on the front of the shutter with the adapter, the image on the film was cut off on the edges. I could crop the image in the darkroom of course, but that basically gives me a longer focal length lens. Not what I wanted. These two pinholes, the 73mm and the 88mm, are attached to 32.5mm metal lens caps that ALMOST screw into the REAR of the Copal #1 shutter. I guess the rear thread is 33mm or 34mm - not something I could buy. They are just a little too small for the Copal #1 so I use a little bit of black tape to keep the lens cap and pinhole in place on the rear of the shutter.

Keeping these cameras in great working condition involves preventive maintenance and general day to day cleaning. No need to install new CMMS software or firmware to these cameras.


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