Our Lomopedia series has been home to some quite interesting pieces. Now, we have another unique addition to our growing collection. We present to you the Press Van 120.
The Press Van 120 was a medium format camera manufactured by Suzuki Kogaku Kogyo K. K. in 1954. It featured a strut-folding design and a more-than-capable f/3.5 75mm Asahi-Kogaku Takumar lens. The Van Press takes 6x6 and 4.5x6 cm images on 120 film. It has two folded masks on both sides of the film plane made for shooting with the smaller format. Another clever feature of the Van Press 120 was its rotating pressure plate that shows the correct red window for film winding from 12 to 16 exposures.
Despite its big size, the Press Van 120 neatly folds into itself when not in use — an advantage of the strut-folding design. Users can easily stow away the camera in a coat or bag pocket when in transit. This also protects the bellows from accidental punctures and rips. Sitting at the heart of the camera is the Takumar glass lens with a Seikosha-Rapid shutter. A simple push of a button above the lens swings it into action, ready for shooting.
However, shooting with the Press Van 120 requires a bit of practice. It had separate eyepieces for the viewfinder and the coupled rangefinder — a design that can be confusing to first time shooters. Aside from that, the Press Van is a charming vintage camera. Its bold looks and its unique styling make it a truly great find, that is if you can cop one. It's a rare piece of gear. So much so that it's almost unheard of. Suzuku Kogaku Kogyo K. K. also released a similar model (same shutter mechanism and lens) that shoots 120 and 35mm film a year before, the Van Press 6x6 35mm.
Press Van 120 Technical Specifications:
Lens: Asahi-Kogaku Takumar f/3.5 75mm lens
Shutter: Seiko-Rapid Shutter, 1 second to 1/500 second, Bulb mode
Focus: manual focusing ring, coupled rangefinder
Other notable features:
- distance scale
- depth-of-field scale
- film type knob (panchro, infrared, color, ortho, etc.)