[IMAGE OF TOKO LITERATURE]

The company (or companies) named "Toko" -- which in Japanese means "Time of Opportunity" -- made many cameras over the years. But there may be, or more likely there may have been, more than one Toko camera company at various points in time. One Toko camera company made several subminiature cameras both before and after the war, such as the 16mm Toko Teleca and Toko Cyclops cameras, as well as the 17.5mm Toko Tone and Toko Mighty cameras.  The same company, but probably a different one, named Toko (which in this case is an abbreviation of Tokyo Kogaku) made several 35mm cameras, such as the well-respected Topcon line, and several medium format (120/220, 127, etc.) cameras as well, such as the Primo, Jr. line. The same company -- and probably still yet another one -- made various 4x5", large format cameras. Their name is often seen as TÖKÖ (see above), which to some might suggest that it is somehow connected to Tokyo Kogaku, but it probably isn't.  But if there was only one Toko camera company they have come a very long way, indeed.  Just in case, here is a shot of a 17.5mm Toko Tone on top of a 4x5" Toko FL-452.  Things have come full-circle -- here we see, probably the first Toko camera, meeting perhaps the last Toko camera!  They appear to be quite content with each other!  As well they should;  afterall, they have a lot more in common than just their name.


OK, so I know you are now curious. Let's do a quick comparison between the two, shall we?

 

Toko
Tone

Toko
FL-452

Adjustable
shutter speeds?

Yes

Yes

Adjustable
aperture?

Yes

Yes

Adjustable
focusing?

Yes
Manual

Yes
Manual

Built-in
meter?

No

No

Viewing
method

Viewfinder &
Waist-level
finders

Ground
glass

Self-timer?

No

No

Film advance

Manual

Manual

Cost

About $40-50
if you can find one

About $800-1,000
if you can find one

Weight

85gr. (3oz.)
with lens

1,700gr. (60oz.)
without lens

Film format

17.5mm rolls

4x5" sheets

Image size

196mm2

10,856mm2

Cost per
exposure

1-2¢

$1-2

I'll let you be the judge.  Can't decide which is best?  Why not just get one of each?

Alas, few people have ever heard of this camera company (or companies), plus the name "TOKO" is often confused with Toyo, Toho, Tojo, etc. Some of the large format Toko cameras are marked with the company name, the model name and/or a 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.  It appears that the large format Toko company only manufactured 4x5 format, folding wooden cameras. All are hand-made.  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 perhaps Toko out-sourced some of their later cameras to Nagaoka.  Nagaoka 4x5 cameras typically have aluminum or chrome metal parts whereas Toko cameras use more attractive (in my opinion) 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 if the better known brand has fewer features.  Go figure!  The website www.toko.com does not list any photographic gear.  

Below are the Toko, wooden, folding, 4x5", "field" cameras that I know about.  There may have been at least a few cameras made before the two main "series" (below) because a few TOKO 4x5 cameras have shown up without any series marking or serial number. It might be that the plate with the series designation and/or serial number simply fell off, but details on these cameras are not available, and so there is no way to know how they compare feature-wise.


Nikki series of Toko wooden, folding, 4x5 cameras

FL series of Toko wooden, folding, 4x5 cameras

Accessories for Toko wooden, folding, 4x5 cameras

Here are some comparisons between Toko and other wooden, folding, 4x5 cameras

Here's a page that shows some of the 4x5 gear that I use

And if you are interested in finding out more about the great line-up of lenses that Fuji made -- and still are available used -- check out THE WEB'S MOST COMPLETE FUJINON LARGE FORMAT LENS LIST.


* Emphasizing quality over quantity, you are visitor web counterto the TOKO 4x5 website. Thanks for stopping by. Please visit us again -- and help spread the word!
                                                                                     web counter


COPYRIGHT@1995-2019 by Joe McGloin.
All Rights Reserved.
The material on this website is protected by US Federal copyright laws. It cannot be copied or used in any manner without specific approval from the owner.