Okaya Lord II A

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Okaya Lord II A

Okaya Koki, translated as Okaya Optical Machinery, was one of several hundred post-war Japanese camera makers that bloomed briefly and withered without leaving any legacy. Little is known about the factory besides its location and a short camera list. I read that Okaya was associated with the Hattori stores that held the rights to the Lord model name. Hattori was also associated with what had become the Seiko watch company, assumingly related to the Seikosha shutters.

Okaya is known for making its own lenses under the Highkor brand, which according to online articles were of high quality. It is unknown if the company was absorbed into another manufacturer or simply shut down. The first model came out in 1953, and the last in 1959. Adding three years before for design and production, and three years after for decline, the company’s lifespan was twelve years, about the same as a German Shepherd.

The Lord brand name brings to mine the Leidolf camera line, with Foxtechna of Yugoslavia having three models named Lord. There are views that Okaya selected this name to borrow from Leidolf’s fame, but the dates do not tally. The earliest Leidolf Lord variant appeared at about the same time as the Okaya Lord.

The first camera, known as Lord or Lord I, was a viewfinder. It was followed by the Lord II A and II B, similar models, differ by the lens, 2.8 & 3.5, respectively. The Lord IV A, B, and D pursued with a lever winder, with Lord 4D and 5D a year later. Again, the models in each group were similar other than the glass. The Lord SE added a light meter, the Lord Martian was futuristicly restyled, and the Lord SL of 1959 reverted to the SE style and closed the list.

The cameras are pretty rare in the used market; either not many were initially sold or they were held in low esteem. Allied Impex Corp (AIC) of Miranda fame imported some models to the US. The few Okaya models that change hands on eBay to do so on the cheap.

The Okaya Lord II A is a vanilla Japanese camera typical of the era. Compact and lightweight, it offers the basics, with one exception.

Top carries the knob winder that turns anti-clockwise, an easy-to-reset frame counter and a rewind knob with film speed memo. The winder stops at each frame and releases upon the trigger press. The winder does not cock the shutter.

The lens assembly has a feet-marked focusing dial, which is easy to use with a finger rest. A trigger cocking lever sits on top of the lens barrel, and it takes activating it with each frame. The aperture lever is at the bottom of the barrel. An arm that pushes the trigger release is at seven o’clock. As the lever is exposed, it allows the shutter to fire a double exposure.

A side clasp releases the hinged back. The bottom has the rewind release, with another similar-looking button head that needs to be pulled out with a fingernail. The rod that slides out pulls a film-cutting blade.

Such blades are seen in some Exakta models and on the KMZ Start. It made sense when the film was expensive so users could change it mid-roll. However, the models mentioned could use cartridge-to-cartridge film transport, so the exposed roll part was safe in the take-off cartridge. Here, there is an integral take-off spool, so unless I miss something, it takes a darkroom to remove the exposed part, making me wonder what the blade serves.

The inside shows a well-made film pathway with a geared film pull and a prominent pressure plate.

For the collector, it would be nice to have a working unit, as they are inexpensive. Besides the blade, this model is a run-of-the-mill Japanese 1950s camera, no different from many other models.


Camdex list number 33665
Brand Okaya
Model Lord II A
Value Lord II A
Format 35mm
Introduced 1954
Country Japan
Qty made
Initial price
Type Rangefinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 530 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 625 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range N/A
Kit lens 3.5/40
Lens make Highkor
Filter size Push 28.5 mm
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make Seikosha Rapid
Trigger On top
Winder Knob
Shutter_cocking Lever on lens barrel
Light meter None
Lock No
Speeds B, 1-500
Mirror N/A
Viewer Coupled rangefinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync M
Timer No
Battery, original N/A
Sync speed
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Other Mid-roll cutoff blade
Service / repair links See camerlog.com

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