Tell me about "Komine"...

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. I'm in the midst of gathering information for a future post and I've hit a stumbling block. I've always assumed that there was a Japanese lensmaker in the 1960's called Komine; many Vivitar lens, for instance, are attributed to this manufacturer. However, the deeper I dig, the less I find. There seems to be several hints that Komine was somehow involved with the Nittoh Kogaku company who made made the "Kominar" series of lenses, but I can find nothing to substantiate this.
    Can anyone supply some information establishing that there was indeed a lens manufacturer called Komine, and has anyone ever seen a lens bearing this name either as a brand or as a manufacturer? Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    Camera-wiki.org states unequivocally that the Kominar is by Nittoh Kougaku, and gives a link to the company webpage, which also says so, without mentioning the involvement of any other party.
     
  3. All I could find is that there is currently a hype about Komine lenses, and according to sellers most Vivitar lenses are manufactured by this mysterious manufacturer. Maybe similar to the Tomioka hype, you won't find any M42 f/1.2 or f/1.4 lens which is NOT supposed to be made by Tomioka, although none of the sellers has any proof.
     
  4. Of the Vivitar Series-1 70-210 lenses, Komine is the source listed for variant 3 at ( http://www.robertstech.com/vivitar.htm ). Among the others, strangely enough, Tomioka is not listed :)
     
  5. I don't think Komine and Nittoh Kogaku are the same company. Here is something I found online, quoted from an old directory of photo-related companies. It seems likely that the company no longer exists, and so the address given here is presumably no longer useful, but it does seem to indicate pretty clearly that Komine was a business of its own, not just a brand name.
    Komine Company, Ltd.
    Manufacturers and Exporters
    4-2,2-chome, Hatanodai, Shinagawa, Tokyo 142
    Cable Address: Kominemoro TOKYO
    Tel :03-781-4414
    Business Office: Suzufusa Bldg. 16-12, 1-chome,
    Kami-Meguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153
    Tel :03-792-2421
    President: Manjiro Komine
    Product Lines: 35mm Interchangeable Lenses
     
  6. A Google™ reveals a modern Komine company, but it seems to be sports and cycling accessories. Probably lots of Komine companies over time in the city of Shirakawa, Fukushima, Japan, named after the local castle , I suspect, though the family name looks more probable for the lens company, of course.
     
  7. Thanks, one and all. You all seem to have trodden the path I've been along. I can't find any link between a Komine manufacturer and Nittoh Kogaku, and, as Peter observed, there is a history of that company at the Nittoh Kogaku website and no mention of the name Komine. The name itself does not seem to be uncommon, but I still haven't found the definitive statement: "In the 1960's there existed in the city of Nagano a lensmaker by the name of Komine..." or somesuch. Craig comes closest to it with the company details, but I could take that thread no further when I discovered it, which is a little frustrating. One would think some traces of a company's activities would remain.
    Many thanks for your efforts.
     
  8. Dang it Craig, you beat me to that. I found that info at work on my phone and was hoping to post it when I got home. :)
    Rick, here is a link that mentions the info Craig posted. You have probably come across it in a google search but maybe you didnt.
    http://forum.mflenses.com/viewtopic.php?t=42604
    If you read down there is a possible tie in to Tapak International Elicar Panagor of Jaca Corp, whatever that is. You might have to spend some time translating the original Japanese page to get the correct info. I do like the fact that the Presidents name is listed as Manjiro Komine, that leads some credence to a driving force behind an actual company.
    If Komine was an actual company then we can see what they made for Vivitar. But surely they didnt sit around and wait for a Viv contract. There are no Komine branded lenses, so who else did they contract out to? Soligor? The great Soligor 28mm Bestiary listed here http://forum.mflenses.com/soligor-12-8-f28mm-21and-versions-t30866,start,150.html states that apparently they did, although Im a little vague on how they came up with that other then one guy saying "I reckon that one was Komine" (which he did on the first page, but I will be honest I havent read the whole thing). How many other third party lenses out there have been either correctly or incorrectly attributed to this mythical manufacturer. Maybe we should start a "Supposed Komine Lens" list and see if there are any attributes across the board that begin to appear. Here is a link that ties them in with Elicar lenses. And Rokunor, Panagor, Panagor-Admiral along with Viv and Sol.
    http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/4205-elicar-lens.html
    Another Elicar tie in, somebody says the lens was made by Tokina (15 posts down, by ccroy) and it is immediately refuted that it was made by Komine Optical.
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/nikon_d300_users/discuss/72157626130979807/
    Im really beginning to wonder if the original person who came up with the Vivitar list maybe just mis-remembered or mis-typed Kominar as Komine. It could be a simple transposing of two letters for one. In which case we have a definite Nittoh Kogoku connection that is real and valid.
    Very interesting question Rick. Thanks for asking.
     
  9. Thanks, David, you mind whirs pretty much as mine does; I've been tossing round the same ideas. The whole question of "Who made what Japanese lens?" is fascinating, albeit time-consuming, and as Winfried noted, there's quite some retrospective aura being attached to companies that may or may not ever have produced a lens themselves, or even existed...
     
  10. I sense the need for a comprehensive and long-lasting web site on the subject of third party lenses. I think bits and pieces have been in various places in the past, but nothing really complete, and much of what there has been is now accessible (if at all) only through the Wayback Machine.
     
  11. I think I've seen a few lenses with the Komine marking. if I am not mistaken they were Spiratone lenses marked Made By Komine. Or... maybe that was Mitake.
     
  12. Tricky isn't it! Never seen the Komine branded lenses here, although you would think that Kominar is just a short leap, and I have a few of those on various cameras. The multitude of marketing brands makes the ID business a bit of a nightmare and Cosina for example, made a plethora of lenses with branding other than there own.
     
  13. Thanks, Jeff and Tony, it's all interesting, and somewhat academic, but I like a little detective work, now and then. Craig, I don't know if you've discovered this site but it often contains a few pointers, but no mention of Komine, I'm afraid.
    http://www.photopentax.com/compatibilite-en.html
     
  14. "I sense the need for a comprehensive and long-lasting web site on the subject of third party lenses."​
    You've probably found remnants of Robert Monaghan's old site on archive.org via the Wayback Machine. I perused that site often during the 1990s when it was still actively maintained. Excellent resource for medium format and third party lenses.
    Nowadays the best compromise for helping to ensure the longevity of a site may be Google's freebie Blogger platform. It's good enough that Strobist has used it for years. And it can be modified from the default templates. Google has published a written commitment to preserve blogspot.com Blogger sites indefinitely, even if the blog is dormant for years. So far they seem to be honoring that commitment - I set up a Blogger site around 2005 and have never updated it, but it's still there in case I ever change my mind.
    I've suggested this as well to folks who've bemoaned the loss of sites that used to host darkroom equipment instruction manuals. Blogger is linked with Picasa and offers fairly generous hosting of image files, so screencaps in PNG or JPEG format, as well as PDFs, could be stored there and linked to the blog.
     
  15. Yes, Komine, constructed lenses and a few of the earlier Vivitar Series 1, lens designs (Series 1, 70-210 3'rd edition, Series 1, 28-90, were, and are high quality optics. They made them to a price point. And back then, Vivitar did not skimp on their Series 1 designs. Many of the Komine made non-Series 1, lenses are of superb optical and mechanical design and construction. if you'd like more information, check out the Kiron Klub.
     
  16. Yes, Komine, constructed lenses and a few of the earlier Vivitar Series 1, lens designs (Series 1, 70-210 3'rd edition, Series 1, 28-90, were, and are high quality optics. They made them to a price point. And back then, Vivitar did not skimp on their Series 1 designs. Many of the Komine made non-Series 1, lenses are of superb optical and mechanical design and construction. if you'd like more information, check out the Kiron Klub.
     
  17. Yes, Komine, constructed lenses and a few of the earlier Vivitar Series 1, lens designs (Series 1, 70-210 3'rd edition, Series 1, 28-90, were, and are high quality optics. They made them to a price point. And back then, Vivitar did not skimp on their Series 1 designs. Many of the Komine made non-Series 1, lenses are of superb optical and mechanical design and construction. if you'd like more information, check out the Kiron Klub.
     
  18. I too have spent
    ages going into dead ends with Komine. I had the address:
    Komine Company,Ltd.

    Manufacturers and Exporters

    4-2,2-chome,Hatanodai,Shinagawa,Tokyo142

    Cable Address: KOMINEMORO

    TOKYO

    Tel:03-781-4414

    Business Office:Suzufusa bldg.,16-12,1-chome,


    kami-meguro,Meguro,Tokyo153

    Tel:03-792-2421

    President:Manjiro Komine

    Contact with JETRO London gave the following:

    There was the exact same company information about Komine Company ltd
    you sent us. It seems that the contact details of Komine was referred from 1982 Camarart Photrade Directory. However, the bulltein board said that Komine was deleted from the list of 1993 Camarart Photrade Directory.

    For your further information, I found that Komine had been a specialist in OEM design and manufacture of lenses but the company has gone out of business before 2008 from my further internet research.
    Previous contact with a nice lady at the Joint PhotoImaging Enterprises Association Int'l. in Japan, had given this information:
    Komine was one of our members and also
    quit this association around the same time as Kino.

    And:
    Kino Precision was a member of this association, but when AF SLR was

    introduced in 1985, many lens makers could not sustain their business due to

    high licensing fee to Minolta Camera Co. and many went out of business. Kino

    was one of them. I can't remember exactly when it withdrew from the lens

    business, maybe between 1986 and 1989.


    I’m fairly certain that Komine was a supplier to Panagor and Elicar (I think both tradenames belonged to the JACA Corporation), along with Vivitar, Rokunar and Soligor (before and after Allied Impex).

    If anyone has more detail on JACA I’d be interested to hear about it.
     
  19. from Canon Manual Focus SLRs: A Collectors' Guide (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=skopec+canon&x=0&y=0)
    Komine is a Japanese optics company now known as Nittoh Kogaku K.K. The company produced several well-regarded Vivitar lenses as well as Elicar and some Spiratone, Rokunar and Soligor lenses. The company remains in business, but stopped marketing its lenses directly to consumers during the mid 1980s. Pristine samples are moderately collectible.
    The chapter on 3rd party lenses links over 60 trade names with manufacturers and distributors.
     
  20. have checked the Nittoh website and I see the link to Kominar, but no reference to Komine? Also there is no reference to the Komine address in Shinagawa, Tokyo?
    I have sent an 'e' to Nittoh to query this and I await their reply...
     
  21. Good to see the interest; to connect Komine and Nittoh might settle the matter, but I doubt that the connection can be established. Incidentally, John, from recall rather than checking back, I think "Panagor" was originally a brand created by Kino for the marketing of their lenses in Europe, so a Komine connection there would be unlikely. Yes, Eric, I've seen that statement made from several sources, but it's refuted by others and hard to substantiate. Sometimes, on the net, a statement is made and quickly takes on a life of it's own...
     
  22. In a French article on Kiron and the origins of Kino Precision (KP), the remark was made that KP 'only made lenses for Vivitar'. Contrary to what I and others have said in the past, I now don't believe there is a direct connection between Panagor (JACA corporation) and Kino Precision. The people that I've contacted in Japan seem to be reluctant to talk about their history.
    I'm trying to get my hands on a Kino made Vivitar 200mm f/3.5 and the later, more common, Komine made version, to see if the build is identical or not. That might go part way to establishing if the Panagor 90 and 55 macros were made by Kino or were indeed as now thought made by Komine who manufactured the Vivitar versions.
    Komine also made some of the first self contained AutoFocus Vivitar Series 1 200mm f/3.5 lenses, before production was taken over by Cosina, both of these lenses seem identical so perhaps there is a Komine/Cosina link too?
     
  23. Now that's interesting...Please keep us posted, John.
     
  24. Rick,
    can you point me to some of the sources that refute the Komine and Nittoh connection. I didn't find them in my search.
    Thanks,
    Eric
     
  25. I wish I'd kept better records of my browsing, Eric, but I began this post in an attempt to elicit information, which happily has occurred. I can't provide an absolute refutation any more than I can provide an affirmation, but on balance I'd say the jury is still out on the possible connection between Nittoh and Komine.
    The general gist of my opinion is summed up well by the posts of Steevithak, on this page, if you haven't come across it. I'll keep a watch on this MFL thread.
    http://forum.mflenses.com/looking-for-any-info-on-komine-t42604.html
     
  26. Thank you, Rick.
    I did a pretty careful scan of net resources while working on the book and didn't find any denials--just unanswered questions. I agree that the jury is still out and it would be nice if we had a Japanese speaking member to search the Japanese corporate records.
    One source that I found helpful (on several other makers and trademarks) is the US Patent and Trademark Office (uspto.gov). Their search routine turns up numerous references to konine but none regarding lenses.
    Good luck and please let me know what I can do to help.
    Cordially,
    Eric
     
  27. Thanks, Shiang, that's an interesting list in the Wiki entry, and the video certainly confirms Nitto Optical's production of the Kominar brand.
     
  28. Question here is also valid: http://forum.mflenses.com/tokina-and-komine-t18240,highlight,%2Bkomine.html
    In combination with this post: http://forum.mflenses.com/vivitar-135mm-f-2-8-fixed-mount-komine-made-lens-t25145,highlight,%2Bkomine.html from which i dare posting: [​IMG]
     
  29. A bit late, but following on from my earlier post about Kino and Komine incarnations of the same Vivitar lens, I've now collected examples of the Kino and Komine versions of both the 200mm f/3.5 and the 135mm f/2.8. The Komine versions are dated approx one year later than the Kino versions, but there is no similarity in their construction, so whilst it would appear Vivitar may have laid down the specification for the lens it would seem it was left to the individual sub contractors to come up with their own solution.
    There is a similarity between the Komine made Vivitar 200mm f/3.5 and the Panagor 200mm f/3.5 enough for me to venture the opinion that it too was made for Jaca Corp by Komine, but an Elicar (also a Jaca Corp brand name) branded version looks unlike either the Vivitar or the Panagor lens, leading me to believe a different contractor was used to manufacture that lens.
    To my eye both the Vivitar and the Panagor 90mm f/2.8 macro lenses appear to be similar in construction, making me even more convinced that they were both made by Komine.
    Despite extensive searches I've found nothing that links Komine to Kominar and remain convinced they are different companies.
     
  30. "...whilst it would appear Vivitar may have laid down the specification for the lens it would seem it was left to the individual sub contractors to come up with their own solution."​
    That's pretty much what a Vivitar official told Herbert Keppler for a magazine article several years ago. I tossed out most of my old magazines several years ago, but I think that article appeared in an early to mid-1990s issue of Pop Photo (not Modern, for which Keppler had written earlier).
    If I'm recalling the gist of the article correctly, for its Series 1 lenses, Vivitar designed an ideal version of a lens without regard to price. Then they'd work with the actual manufacturer (there were many) to arrive at a practical compromise to meet a price range for the intended market.
     

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