When I saw my first Fujipet, I instantly fell in love with its design. To me, it is the epitome of 1950s Japanese futuristic style. It is art. It has Astroboy hair. It just looks COOL. When I finally found one (then two), I knew it was something special. Again, it just looks so COOL, and you look cool using it. When you carry it, people give you that "what the..." look. And, yes, it is fun and easy to use! What can it do? Check out the site, and I will do my best to let you in on everything I know about this little wonder. Which isn't a heck of a lot so far, but I hope to increase my knowledge base and share it with you.
FUJIPET 6X6 120 CAMERAAs far as I know, there are three Fujipet models. The camera I will focus most of my attention on is the original 120 roll film camera as seen on the front page. It takes 12 6x6 shots on a roll of 120 film, color or black and white. It was first introduced in 1957 (Showa 32) with production ending in 1963 (Showa 38). There were minor design changes and a few different colors throughout its life, which I attempt to catalogue on the Camera Gallery page.
- Plastic or glass, single element, fixed lens.
- f11, f16, f22, two plate, with no detent.
- B, 1/50 leaf shutter.
- 6x6 cm ‘Buroni’ format (Bronica - 120 in Japan) for a 56 x 56 mm exposure.
- Base is tripod threaded.
- Flash shoe (cold, with ext sync socket).
- 120x100x75mm, weight:332g.
The key components are as follows:
To counter the plastic lens effects (mainly vignetting), the film plane on the inside of the camera is curved. You can see this in the photos that aren't cropped on the Photo Gallery page. I find it particularly interesting that they spent so much time designing a very well-built camera that counters the effects of a plastic lens, rather than just using a glass lens. I guess the initial R&D stage was cheaper than producing precision glass lenses for all the cameras sold.
In creating this camera, Fuji intended to open up the Japanese photography market by including women, children and beginners. Until then, photography had generally required high-end equipment (other world markets had already introduced popular "family friendly" cameras, such as the Brownie, long before). Design was a joint venture between Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and the Konan camera laboratory. Fuji sold nearly a million Fujipets by 1963, making a domestic sales record at the time. The original selling price was 1950 yen. To distinguish the 120 from the other Fujipet models, it earned the nickname "Thunderbird."
Words from a Fujipet UserThe camera for boys & girls of Fuji and its name was also Fujipetto. The factory of Fuji Film was located on the north side of Imaizumi Elementary School (in the old Yoshiwara city, in Fuji prefecture).
Nobody used full names these days, so it was only called the ‘Film’. The company houses were also along side the school, and a classmate’s father was a factory manager there (Suzuki-san).
A monthly manga was our favorite magazine – we used to read it while eating chipped-ice in our favorite mom-and-pop candy store. One day I went to play in Suzuki-san’s house and we discovered an accumulation of ‘Children’s’ Science’ magazine. We did not have money to buy such magazine, we were very enviable, and went crazy and read.
Since Suzuki-san was Film employee, although I do not know if he was ‘rich’, he had Fujipet laying in his house.
Then probably Fujipet was considered garbage and thrown away. Now it is remembered in our hearts…
FUJIPET 120EEThe Fujipet 120 EE was introduced in 1961. It uses no batteries, just a selenium cell to move a snappy variable slot aperture over the opening depending on how much light there is. Note the single lever for releasing the shutter.
PET 35The Pet 35, a 35mm version of the camera, was introduced in 1959 to meet the needs of the growing 35mm market. This camera employs the dual levers and can be focused.
THUNDERBIRDBefore the Fujipet that we all know and love, there was... The FUJIPET. Actually, it's still just a Fujipet, but the original model was different in many ways. I haven't really thought of a cool nickname for this model to differentiate it, though I've heard it referred to as the Thunderbird by a friend. I usually refer to it as the first-generation Pet or simply Pet-1.
The biggest difference is in weight. Pet-1 is much heavier than the remodeled Pet. It feels, and looks, more serious than later Pets. Viewed from the front, the levers are slightly skewed. The shutter mechanism is a little bit different and can't be swapped with the later model. The fake leather is much smoother and actually feels like leather. The Pet-2 feels distinctly plastic. The badge is more silver compared to that on Pet-2 (non-gold models), which have a slight bronze color. Overall, a heftier build. Pet-1 is most common in black with silver trim. It is also less common than Pet-2, but there doesn't seem to be any difference in value between the two.
Most first-gen Pets are black, but they were also made in red and green. These are definetely rare and even bring a higher price in Japan, where the Pets are cheaper in general. I haven't seen the green variation, and this is the only red I've seen. It's a very nice looking camera!
OTHER VARIATIONSThere are other variations between Fujipets, regardless of Pet-1 or Pet-2 status. The most obvious would be the date stamp under the top metal piece. Every Pet I've seen has a different stamp, which also appears under the leatherette on the bottom of the camera. I assume the middle is the Showa date. 33 would be 1958... how that compares with the 9 9 30, I have no idea. The bottom is possibly who built the camera, or where it was built. I think that the name at bottom right is Muranaka, but that's with my bad Kanji skills. The others all have too many strokes for me to figure out.
I guess that's enough Fujipet overload for now...to come are extra goodies, manuals and a camera breakdown!