Samoca camera list

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Samoca camera list

Early Samoca models page
Late Samoca models page

Sanei Sangyo made Samoca cameras, projectors and light meters in Japan in the post-war years. The company operated between 1952 and introduced the last model in 1963. In this short time, the company had presented an impressive array of cameras, many more than the typical camera makers of that era. As I stated numerous times in my previous posts, such as here, about 500 camera makers, primarily small-scale enterprises, offered their wares to the G.I. contingent there. Most had a few models, sometimes sold under different banners, and almost all manufacturers have vanished within a short decade.

There is little information available about the Sanei Sangyo company other than listings of the models line up.

Samoca had 22 models under its name. Some were marked < EP>, solely sold in the GI shops there, some probably sold in the local market, and some made their way to the U.S. The easiest way to define which was which is the markings on the focusing dial, metric or imperial. Two models were rebranded by Sears, the Tower 57 and 57A, and one by Hanimex, the A35. I would take it as a badge of honour for Samoca, as Sears had tapped on reliable names such as Mamiya, Olympus, Pentax, and Nicca, oddly together with lesser German brands. In the early 1980s, Halina sold several cheap models under the Samoca name, as they did with the Ansco name in the U.S.

The Samoca camera can be grouped into three categories: the very-early, the modified-early, and the late.

The very-early models include the elusive Samoca 35, and the II, III, and IV. Quirky, tiny, and odd-looking viewfinder cameras. Basic features but sufficient specifications for the undemanding user. Coking is via a plunger that preceded the Vitessa for several years. The last in this group, the Samoca 35V, marked as = 35 =, had done away with the plunger and was restyled with a Gothic arch at the front. This style will feature in most of the following Samoca 35 models.

Trailing behind the early model group came the 1956 Samoca 35EM, still a viewfinder, which had added a light meter in place of the arch.

The modified-early group began with the Samoca 35 Super of the same year, the first rangefinder. The following year, a similar model with a meter was named Samoca Super X. This came in two lens flavours, the Super X 2.8 and Super X 3.5.

The two other models in this group are the Samocaflex I and II, 35mm TLR cameras. Both were identical other than the shutters, Seikosha Rapid and Seikosha MX, respectively. The Samocaflex resembles the Swiss-made Bolsey C or the Tougodo Hobix S III. Tougodo had several other 35mm TLR models, but they were side to side, such as the Meikai.

A seemingly transitional model, the Samoca 35J had a streamlined body and a square lens board. One passed by on eBay in 2022.

The late models group included traditional, vanilla-styled cameras made from 1958 to 1963. Seven rangefinders and two viewfinders, with or without uncoupled meters. The cameras are finely designed and well-made, and my units are clean and nicely preserved. However, nothing here stands out from the other cameras of that generation, which probably contributed to the company’s demise.

The early groups’ cameras are collectibles. The late models are often offered for sale, but there are hardly any takers. This is reflected in their value; see the links in the table below. The sought-after models are the Samocaflex, some fetching over $1,000 in the major auction houses. The 1980s point-and-shoot and viewfinders made by Halina are worthless.


28E Elite 1957Rangefinder
35 Super X 2.8 1957Rangefinder
35 1952Viewfinder
35 II 1952Viewfinder
35 III 1955Viewfinder
35 IV 1955Viewfinder
35 J 1958Viewfinder
35 LE 1958Rangefinder
35 LE II 1963Rangefinder
35 M-28 1958Rangefinder
35 M-35 1958Rangefinder
35 Super 1956Rangefinder
35 V 1955Viewfinder
35 EM 1956Rangefinder
35 Super X 3.5 1957Rangefinder
35 LD 1961Rangefinder
EE-2.8 1962Viewfinder
EE-3.5 1962Viewfinder
MR 1961Rangefinder
Samocaflex 35 1955TLR
Samocaflex 35 II 1957TLR

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