Shinano Pigeon J II
Three Pigeon models were the last offered by Shinano:
- Pigeon J II, a viewfinder, which I deal with here.
- Pigeon 35 IIIc, a viewfinder, mentioned in McKeown, Kadlubek and Sugiyama, shows the same image as the Pigeon III. No further information is available; I have seen none for sale for the past decade or so.
- A Klapp rangefinder camera, the Pigeon 35V, is also a shy model, with no online images, seen only in the books.
Back to the Pigeon J II. According to the three above books, it had two variants, both made in 1954. The first model had a PCK shutter, and the second had a Copal shutter. I have an NKS shutter. Mick Eckman reviews a Pigeon 35 J with the same shutter but a different lens, but I don’t have a 35 J in my database, nor do the three guidebooks. I assume this is a variant as mentioned in my Pigeon 35 IIa page.
With this model, it seems that Shinano has decided to go mainstream, removing the elaborate control system offered on the early Pigeon and the Pigeon 35II. The top still has the two knobs, one at each end, only where in the previous models, both knobs were the same size, here, they reduced the rewind knob diameter by 2mm. It is immaterial, and I doubt any cost savings, but it is an eyesore. The viewer housing is subtle, better styled than the 35 II, and not as aggressive. The rewind release button and the frame counter remain unchanged from the previous models.
The lens barrel is different from its predecessors. It hints at the Geman monoblock cameras, where the controls blend within the barrel. The speed setting dial is at the front, easy to operate and read, with the aperture lever moved to the left. Focusing is by a smaller ring at the front end, marked with feet on my unit. The shutter still needs cocking via a lever above the lens, with the winder just pulling the film to the next frame and enabling the next frame upon trigger release. Where in the past models the trigger/shutter coupler was external, here it is concealed within the lens assembly, I guess they found a matching shutter. No self-timer. Lens and shutter specs are modest, as at other Pigeons; they seemed to have no aspiration to compete with the big boys. It is a shame as the first model was brilliant, and the rest have not followed.
The back camoes off fully, with a release ring marked C and O. What they added here, and was long overdue with the Pigeon models, is an extra support pin at the middle to keep the camera from falling forward, a feature much needed in the earlier models. Two threads at the bottom ready to accept either right-wing or socialist tripod.
The camera I have came half naked, with no skin at the front and peeling at the back. I have three other Shinano models that have perfect skin. I’m unsure what happened here; perhaps the factory was running out of steam with the last model. As such, I redressed it with Vvivid vinyl, cheap and easy to use. Also available on Amazon for next-day delivery.
Although plain, this is a good-looking camera with no outstanding features like the earlier models. For the collector, if it comes by as a bargain, go for it; otherwise, pass.
|Pigeon J II
|605 gr, Body with lens
|Class average weight
|478 gr, Body with lens
|Service / repair links
Pigeon 35 IIa