Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Nicca (Kogaku Seiki SHA)

Kogaku Seiki SHA was founded by former employees of Seiki Kogaku (Canon) in the late 1930s or 1940. I am not certain how they got away with a name so similar to the company they left. Perhaps it was because they merged with Omiya Photo Supply in June 1941. Omiya was the sole distributor of Canon cameras and held the rights to the name Hansa.

Their first product were rangefinders used as accessories on Leica Standards. They also offered the service of installing slow speeds on Canon Hansa/Original cameras. In 1941 they were given an order to produce a copy of the Leica for the Ministry of War. Copies of both the Leica III and the Standard were produced, mainly for the war effort.

After the war, production resumed. In October 1947 the company name was changed to Nippon Camera Works LTD, and the cameras then carried the brand name Nicca. In 1950 the company name was changed to Nicca Camera Works LTD, and again in November 1951 it was changed to Nicca Camera Co. LTD.

The company priced its products very aggressively, and they were sold in great numbers. In 1952 they landed a contract with Sears Roebuck to build Tower cameras. As they did not have an optical works, the lenses were sourced from other manufacturers, mainly Nippon Kogaku. The quality of the Nikkor lenses helped sell the Nicca (and Tower) cameras, and gave Nippon Kogaku the cash to survive while it developed, refined and marketed its own camera, the Nikon.

Nicca could not keep up with advances in the market. By the late 1950s the SLR was stealing away market share, and the offerings of their competitors became too sophisticated to keep up. In May 1958 Nicca was absorbed by Yashica.

Nippon/Nicca Cameras