Shinano Pigeon 35 IIa
At the heels of the first Pigeon camera, came a flight of siblings. Most followed the leader as viewfinders, with a few nonconformists, a TLR and an elusive rangefinder. Some changed their names to Lacon, but all carried the same DNA, as evidenced by their looks.
Shinano made cameras for a very short time, between the late 1940s and 1956. I have 17 models recorded, but this might be incorrect due to possible duplications or mistaken identification of some models.
Subject to post-war unreliable supply chain constraints and makeshift production facilities, manufacturers kept changing components and making slight changes on the fly. Results were variants of a particular model, where, in most cases, the manufacturers did not bother to rename it other than in internal records. It was left to camera historians to catalogue those variants. Here comes the problem. Several guidebooks cover the camera world. For Japanese products, one may swear by McKeown, Kadlubek or Sugiyama. As it happens, each of them may assign a different tag to a specific model. It does not end there. Sugiyama is short on models but assigns an image to each entry. Kadlubek is long on model names, but with Shinano, there is no single image. McKeown is somewhere in between, which leaves the sorry researcher (me) with the internet. The only consistent reality on the internet is its inconsistency.
Item in focus: seven years ago, I bought a camera parcel from Auction Team Breker, an authority in this field. Amongst these was a camera they identified as Pigeon 35 IIa, which is now on my bench. I cannot find any matching image for cross reference, online or in print. Search for Pigeon 35 IIa returns a different camera. So, there is an error somewhere. I will stick to the name given by the seller.
This model was made about the same time as the early Pigeon but shares little with it. Where the early one exudes solid craftmanship, this looks as if the manufacturer tried to cut costs, and I say it after being in the metal industry for a long time. On top, the viewer housing is part of the cover, with an uneven superstructure also holding the cold accessory shoe. While changing the viewer, they could have enlarged it rather than kept it as tiny as the previous model. Wind/rewind knobs are unchanged, as is the rewind release button.
The trigger lever has moved to the front and branches of the lens assembly. The harp-style focusing arm stayed as before. The aperture scale is on top, but the controlling lever is at three o’clock, which is unnatural. Speeds selector dial and trigger cocking arm stayed as before. The synch connector was reduced to a standard size and located by the self-timer lever at the bottom of the lens battel.
The back cover is fully removable, keeping the same sea shell style lock. There are two mounting threads at the bottom, which is nice; I guess they have a reason for two, but neither is deep enough to accommodate a standard screw; it takes a washer to secure it in place.
The lens is a Tri-Lusar 3.5/45, with a TSK shutter. Modest today, but in line with what was expected at the time.
Good to know:
- The Winder does not cock the shutter but will stop at a single frame.
- It takes pressing the trigger to allow for the next winding to prevent double exposure.
- The shutter cocking lever is on top of the lens barrel.
|Pigeon 35 IIa
|640 gr, Body with lens
|Class average weight
|475 gr, Body with lens
|Service / repair links
Pigeon J II