Tokyo Koken Dolca 35

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Tokyo Koken Dolca 35

The Dolca 35b is the first model made by Tokyo Koken, one of the many camera makers that flourished post WWII, just to quietly vanish after half a decade or so. The company name means Tokyo Optical, which could be associated with Tokyo Optical Works, another company with a short lifespan, makers of the Dorima TLR line.

Tokyo Koken made five camera models.

  • 35, a viewfinder, with which I deal here.
  • 35 IA, a viewfinder/rangefinder, Leica III style.
  • 35 II, a rangefinder, 2.8/50.
  • 35 IIA, a rangefinder, 3.5/50.
  • 35 IIS, a rangefinder.
  • 35 U, a viewfinder/rangefinder.

I cite these models based on several sources, some contradicting.

The camera is different from most of the Japanese post-war models I have. It is much better built and finished. A Japanese website, deciphered through Google Translate, suggests that it is a copy of the Konica I, as were the later models. It does resemble it; see the image below.

There is no information about exporting this model so that it could have been made for the domestic market only, or the company collapsed after firing several models within a few years without a solid financial base. It should be noted that at that period, about 500 camera makers competed in the cash-strapped home market.

The body is heavy casting, with no plastic in sight. It is heavier than the notoriously heavy Halina 35X. Parts are well machined and well finished in satin chrome, away from the thin metal punched sheets offered by most Japanese makers at the time.

The top is plain and self-explanatory. The winder just winds and does not cock the shutter. A pushbutton in front at the winder side releases the winding after each frame. The film is drawn over two cogs and stops until the button is pressed.

The lens retracts out and locks with a slight right turn; a red line and arrow mark the position. An easy-to-reach latch with long and smooth travel drives the focusing ring. Distance is marked in meters, so it was not intended for the US market. When the lens is retracted and positioned by the arrow, the controls are as follows:

  • Cocking lever at 1 o’clock
  • Shutter release at 8 o’clock
  • Self-timer at 6 o’clock
  • A tiny aperture lever is hidden behind the cocking lever
  • A prominent synch port at 5 o’clock.

The bottom has two machined rings, one threaded, that balance the camera on a flat surface. A unique rewind release that I have not seen before is via a smaller ring on a left-hand screw that allows the release pin to disengage. Elsewhere, it just takes pushing a pin to release. Here, it is elaborate, thoughtful and over-engineered.

The speeds are generous, much more than the comparable no-name models. It offers B, 1- 200, with several slow speeds, compared to 25-200 on most cameras of that era. The Nipol shutter is attributed to Tohokoken, the maker of the Camel camera line.

Camdex list number 79421
Brand Tokyo Koken
Model Dolca 35
Manual at
Format 35mm
Introduced 1952
AKA Dolca 35 I
Country Japan
Qty made
Initial price 14,500
Currency Yen
Type Viewfinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 630 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 475 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range N/A
Kit lens 3.5/50
Lens make Komail
Filter size N/A
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make Nipol
Light meter None
Winder Knob
Lock No
Speeds B, 1-200
Mirror N/A
Viewer Viewfinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync M
Sync speed 50
Timer Yes, mechanical
Battery, original N/A
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See
More Japanese site 1
Japanese site 2
Japanese site 3




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