All posts by Dirk


MS Optics Lens News Fall 2015


MS Optics Reiroal 35/f1.4

While we are eagerly awaiting the release and shipment of the new MS Optics (former MS Optical) MS Apoqualia-G/Apolia-G 35/f1.4 lens, Tokyo premium camera boutique Map Camera has announced a lens named MS Optics Reiroal 35/f1.4, which is now available for pre-order exclusively on the Map Camera web site at the price of ¥143,800.

The Map Original lens is limited to 100 pieces and is produced in a very attractive “platinum chrome plated” finish, including a vented MS Smart Hood. Map have also put together a nice special feature page around Mr Miyazaki’s lens craft, which offers some behind the scene photos on how the lenses are made in his basement workshop. The site also explains the origin of the lens name. It is based on a poem called “Aomori Elegy” composed in the 1920s as part of “Spring and Shura” poetry, where the term “Reiro lens” appeared in one episode, which Map Camera have then based the lens name on.

We hope you find these MS Optics lens news of interest and welcome questions or comments.

For those wishing to be placed on a notification list for the Apoqualia 35/f1.4 lens which is set for release in October, please register on the product listing page.

Royal Road is the Way of Bronica

Royal Road is the Way of Bronica from Japan Exposures on Vimeo.

In 2010 I met up with Tony Hilton, the author of the book Bronica: The Early History and Definitive Collector’s Guide. Tony and I went to a place in north-west Tokyo called Kami-Itabashi, trying to find remaining traces of Zenzaburo Yoshino’s camera company.

Be sure to also read the previous article Mr. Zenza’s Rolls-Royce.


Call for entries: The Perar Book

MS Optical Super Triplet Perar 3.5/35 Mark IIIn 2010, Mr Sadayasu Miyazaki of MS Optical designed and manufactured the MS OPTICAL SUPER TRIPLET PERAR 3.5/35 for Leica M mount.

Since then, many hundreds of these tiny wonders have been sold and reached the camera bodies of people all over the world. This is not limited to the original 35mm focal length, as later a 28mm, 24mm and most recently a 21mm super-wide Perar followed suit.

At Japan Exposures, we would like to celebrate this and are calling all photographers who have taken pictures using this Super Tpirlet Triplet lens. Our aim is to collect images from everyone and everwhere, then to pick the 100 best images and put them in a printed book to be handed to Mr Miyazaki (alert: this is a surprise and he does not know about this yet!). That way he can see how far his creations have travelled and what people have captured with them.

MS Optical Super Triplet Perar 3.5/35 Mark II

Japan Exposures was founded in 2004 and was the first site offering photo equipment, lens conversions, films and camera & parts sourcing from Japan. Since the beginning, we have been very happy to be able to work with Mr Miyazaki. This little project is meant to be a token of appreciation to him and his work.

We hope that you share this sentiment and would like to invite you to participate by submitting your photograph(s) to us. We will keep you informed on the developments of this endevour and at a later stage you will have the opportunity to purchase the book yourself.

You will find practical guidance below on how to submit your material.

Thank you and please spread the word to all “Perargraphers”!

Current Status

Editing— We are no longer accepting submissions and are editing entries for including in the book. Thanks!

 Submission Guidelines and Procedure

We will use Flickr to manage submissions. If you don’t use or like Flickr, please email us.

  1. Please join the Flickr group The Perar Book and add your image to group pool.
  2. Please include the following info with your image in the description field or tags:
    • Lens used (and if possible serial number); it’s sufficient if you just state the focal length i.e. 21, 24, 28, 35. Example: Perar 28 #065 (MS Super Triplet Perar 28/4 serial number 065)
    • Your location country or the location country where the image was taken (supposed to indicate where the lens went)
  3. Should your image get selected, we will later approach you privately to give you the option to provide your real name for credits and a high-resolution file for printing
  4. If we cannot ascertain the above information, we may reject the image on these grounds

Takehiko Nakafuji Gallery

Normally I don’t feel like taking photo book titles too seriously, but in this case I was not really sure whether my understanding of the word to ramble was correct. Indeed, it can be interpreted as talking a long walk for pleasure or to walk or go from one place to another place without a specific goal, clear purpose, or direction.

I also have spent many hours, if not days, taking long walks in various Japanese cities taking photographs. The photo walk is a common activity and popular in Japan. The goal was to take photos of people in the streets going on about their daily business. Taking photos this way is surely pleasurable and even more so it is to find that you have taken interesting photographs that are worth showing to others. You go into the darkroom or work on the computer and do your processing, crank up contrast and the intensity of your pictures. You think of the next place that you could go or travel to, to take more photos. But the thought that keeps lingering in my mind is the second meaning of the ramble. The lack of goal, purpose or direction. Not that these are necessary all of the time. Still, it somewhat leaves a void and the thought that perhaps the rambler is not privileged, but condemned to ramble, and the photographs may bear witness to this.

Takehiko Nakafuji has been traveling the world and documenting it for nearly 20 years. The following photographs come from his latest work, STREET RAMBLER, which sees Nakafuji in such diverse places as Cuba, New York, Paris, Russia, Shanghai, Berlin, and his native Tokyo.

STREET RAMBLER is available in the Japan Exposures Book Shop.

Photography in Japan 1853-1912

As the old saying goes: “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” Then again, while reading Terry Bennett’s fascinating book “Photography in Japan 1853-1912”, historic repetition seems almost inevitable as despite developments in society and technology, human nature is hardly changing at all and distinct personalities are thriving to define key moments in history.

The book, which is digestibly structured in portions of decades, starts out with a fireworks of “firsts”. The first photograph taken in Japan, the first photograph taken of a Japanese, the first photograph taken by a Japanese, the first photo studio by Japanese and foreigners alike and even the first Paparazzo-type shot of a ruling Japanese Emperor. These events, however , are simply the correlation with developments of Japan as a whole. Photography is a side-effect of political and geo-political developments in Asia at a greater scale. We soon realise that this book is not only fascinating for the reader interested in photography alone, but provides ample historic and cultural context on Japan as a place as well. This is much appreciated and holds some surprises, even for those of us who think of ourselves as being familiar with it. For example, I was surprised that in those days it was prohibited for any Japanese to leave the country. Violations would be punished by execution. You can perhaps imagine (and this is covered in the book) the treatment of foreigners by the armed population.

Japanese Wrestlers by T. Enami

Above: Japanese Wrestlers by T. Enami

Photography is always as much a technological phenomenon as it is a sociological one, perhaps even more so and even today. It should therefore not surprise anyone that the advance of photography in Japan is primarily driven by the rise of the medium in English-speaking countries, which is to say the United States and the British Empire. In these cultures, photography always seemed to have a special position. With a few exceptions, British and American residents are also the key persons bringing photography, sometimes on the sidelines of other engineering activity, into Japan. In an age where only the privileged were able to travel themselves, but the masses knew that the wider world existed, there was an enormous appetite for pictures taken in far-flung places. While our view focuses on Japan in this case, this is probably by no means exclusive to Japan.

The developments in trade, and especially maritime trade, make the arrival of photography on the sidelines of the forced opening of the country seem completely inevitable. The treaty forced into effect by Perry’s Black Ships triggered, what seemed like a primitive isolated jungle tribe to be propelled into modern civilisation as if a fast-forward button was pressed. It is fascinating to think about how much intellectual potential laid untapped during the feudal era Japan that ended in the 1850s.

Edward Meyer Kern, American Cemetery, Gyokusen-Ji Temple, Shimoda, Japan ca 1855

Edward Meyer Kern, American Cemetery, Gyokusen-Ji Temple, Shimoda, Japan ca 1855

As one would expect, the early photographic activities are dominated by Western technology and personalities. In the course of a relatively short time — how appropriate for photographic history — a transition is made that put the medium into Japanese hands under Japanese cultural terms. It is a perfect adoption process at which end photography is comfortably embedded and placed into the Japanese cultural fabric, of course as one would expect it to occur in other cultures too. There is no further need for the rest of the world to steer the course of developments. This seems like an obvious truth that can also applied to other disciplines, but here photography serves as a suitable case study. There is one aspect, that Bennett occasionally highlights, which is to separate technical ability from artistic ability. These are, unsurprisingly, up to this day two different things in photography, in any culture.


The book is a fascinating treasure trove of information and artifacts, which I found surprisingly engaging and entertaining for the reader. The lifestyles and work ethics of the personalities involved make it a very vivid read. True to the somewhat ephemeral nature of photography itself, there are constant reminders on the perilous Japanese environs and the vulnerability of the photographic medium. Earthquakes and, above all, fires and more fires cause an entire artistic legacy to be lost forever. Add to that the curious practice of studios buying other photographers’ works and marketing them as their own and you are set up for a never-ending mystery filled with conundrums around who did what and under what name! And more often than not, a sparkling career is ended by, what nowadays seem like trivial illnesses or conditions that were capable of ending someone’s life. I was relieved to observe that life expectations increased over time and by the end of the book, there is the odd personality getting over 90 years old, whereas around 50 years seemed to be more common in the 1850s.

Once more regarding the repetition of history: the improvement of image quality afforded by 19th century photography, you can easily find yourself looking into the eyes of people, and to some extent scenery, that belie the fact that they existed over 100 years ago. Personalities, their desires and goals, their practices and methods do not seem to have changed enough to make it appear that it happened a long time ago. Perhaps not even the now dominating digital photography and the distribution means of the internet are really changing this — we might well be in the 1850s of the digital age right now. The photographic activities we see are just the manifestation of what has always been there and what we want photography to be for us.

Japan Exposures would like to thank Tuttle Publishing for their support during this review.

Top photo: Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934) circa 1880 location Yokohama, Japan hand painted albumen print

Dialogue with Charlotte Dumas

Charlotte Dumas is a photographer based in Amsterdam. Her latest book,
Anima, features the burial horses of Arlington Cemetery.

Japan Exposures: First of all, congratulations to your personal “Japan Exposure” in IMA Magazine! Could you describe how the feature came about?

Charlotte Dumas: I think the first time one of my publications was featured in IMA was the issue previous to this one with the publication Repose. Then right after they contacted me again because of the publication ANIMA which I’ve done last year and shows 14 portraits of the burial horses of Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC. I portrayed the horses at night in their stables as they were drifting to sleep. During the day they work pulling the caissons that carry the caskets of deceased soldiers of the US. Charlotte Cotton was asked for this issue to name some of her favorite books and included this one in her choice. I was very happy about that.

Japan Exposures: Can you please describe your photographic interest and background, including the relation to Japan (if any), and the some detail around the work that was featured?

Charlotte Dumas: I think I mentioned this above already a bit but I mainly take portraits of animals and have been doing so since 2001. My main focus is on animals that are of some significant importance to us either practically as well as symbolically. Because it’s becoming increasingly rare to use animals being used for labour (although some professions are gaining popularity) and their continuing disappearance in our daily life I try to find places and situations where they are still prevalent in a specific function such as police or army horses or search dogs (see Retrieved -on the search dogs of 9/11) or where they encounter us by their overlapping habitat, such is the case in my most recent project which will be published next month ‘The Widest Prairies’ (oodee publishing) which focuses on the wild horses of Nevada that roam the residential areas of the desert population.

Charlotte Dumas -- Ima Magazine spread

Japan Exposures: Do you think your work was of particular interest to a Japanese audience, and if so, can you explain why?

Charlotte Dumas: I wouldn’t be able to say for certain but I know that one of my earlier series (Day is Done resp.) did get some attention in Japan. This series involved lying down roman army horses and I think ANIMA is definitely a series that a Japanese audience can appreciate for it’s spiritual character. The vast and rich history of animals in mythology in Japanese (and in general) culture is in many ways a great inspiration to me as a photographer researching each of my subjects. There is always a strong connection to the history of each subject both in reality as in the depiction and place they have in art history.

Japan Exposures: Here at Japan Exposures, we get numerous requests from people asking for advice to get noticed in Japan, which you have obviously accomplished. What is your advice to achieve this?

Charlotte Dumas: I’ve been making (small) books since 2005 on my own behalf sometimes in close collaboration with different publishers. I think doing this is a great way to distribute ones work internationally and allowing it to be seen by people who can then in their turn recommend it to a larger crowd making the work more known. It’s a very democratic process that I am a big fan of. It is really nice to get the recognition from people who buy and celebrate your books.

Japan Exposures: Language barrier aside, we believe that the Japanese photo world is unique and extremely broad, photography and photographers seem abundant. What is your impression?

Charlotte Dumas: I think Japan has a great and excellent eager audience that loves art and photography and follows it very closely. There is a great public interest I think and worth investigating as well as (trying) to take part in. I am planning my first trip to Japan next spring to photograph and can’t wait to experience the culture myself.

Japan Exposures: Are you interested in Japanese photography and if so, can you elaborate what you like about certain work or artists?

Charlotte Dumas: One of the books and work that springs to mind immediately is that of artist Akito Tsuda and his book Street Cats, brilliantly done and beautiful direct work. I love the very personal approach that many Japanese photographers incorporate in their work and feel affinity with that for sure.

I appreciate greatly the work by Daido Moriyama and this I say not just because of the famous photo of the street dog. I just saw a fantastic show titled ‘With a Trace: photographs of absence’ curated from the Bidwell collection at the Akron museum of Art that included a wonderful work by Moriyama on the ungraspable factors and layers of life.