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Looking for any info on Komine
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:32 am    Post subject: Looking for any info on Komine Reply with quote

I've been researching Vivitar lenses and keep coming across references to "Komine" as the manufacturer of some of them. I've been unable to find any verifiable reference to a company called Komine that has any relationship with Ponder & Best or Vivitar. And I've found no trademark for Komine in either the US or Japanese trademark databases.

Is it possible "Komine" is a corruption of Kominar, a brand used by Japanese OEM lens maker Nittō Kōgaku. I'm still looking for a connection between Vivitar and Nittō Kōgaku, so it's just a guess at this point. (though some of the mid 1960s Kominar lenses do look very similar to early Vivitars)

A lot of the references to Komine seem to trace back to various Vivitar serial number lists but none of those provide any verifiable source. I'm beginning to wonder if Komine is an urban legend! Smile Can anyone enlighten me?


PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Komine is/was Nittoh Kogaku, Kominar was their name for Tessar-type lenses produced in the early days:

http://www.nittohkogaku.co.jp/english/focus/history.php

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
Product Lines:35mm interchangeable lenses


PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kominar was also used for some of the Nittoh/Komine lenses in the 1960's as it was still the house brand, and also a few up to the late 1970's I think, when they seem to have been made mainly for Fujica SLR's.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Komine is/was Nittoh Kogaku, Kominar was their name for Tessar-type lenses produced in the early days:

http://www.nittohkogaku.co.jp/english/focus/history.php

Komine Company,Ltd.
Manufacturers and Exporters


Thanks, but the URL you gave doesn't mention Komine or that address. In fact, the word "Komine" doesn't appear anywhere on the Nittō Kōgaku website. It's not mentioned at all in their official company history, while they do mention their Kominar brand lenses as well as working with Nikon and other camera manufacturers. It seems unlikely they'd leave out being the manufacturer of Vivitar lenses (but not impossible). Do you have a link for your source that says they're the same company?

Google only turns up two references for that address, one is this thread and the other is Japanese blog:

http://blues.pet-sounds.net/2008/01/14/komine-2

It would help if I read Japanese but from Google's translation, that blog entry says not that Komine is Nittō Kōgaku but that the blogger had a hard time finding any information about a company called Komine and his conclusion is that it must be a manufacturer that went out of business. Ironically, that blog uses the Cameraquest list of Vivitar serial numbers as the primary reference that Komine existed and had something to do with Vivitar.

He lists the address as the only evidence he could find of a company called Komine. It's a quote from a Japanese language BBS (forum) on Olympus OM lenses, which I traced back to this link:

http://3rdpartylens-om.bbs.coocan.jp/?m=delconfirm&id=203_5

From the google translation of that link I find that the address you quoted was found by another Komine searcher in a 1982 edition of "Camarart Photrade Directory" but was not found in the 1993 edition of the same export directory, leading them to think it had gone out of business. The writer also speculates that Komine was part of "Tapak International Elicar Panagor of Jaca Corp", it then goes on to say another possible Komine was found in a 1981 issue of the "MITI Industrial Statistics" with this address:

Inc. Komine
153 Post number 153
1-13-6 Aobadai 1-13-6 Meguro-ku, Tokyo
03-464-1191 Call 03-464-1191
Product Lenses

But otherwise, they too found no other proof of Komine's existence or of a link between Vivitar and Komine (and no connection between Komine and Nittō Kōgaku. If I'm reading it correctly they seem to say there is also no Japanese trade publication advertising for a company called Komine.

Good clues but still not hard evidence that Vivitar lenses were made by a company called Komine.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just send Nittoh Kogaku an email, that will clear it up.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've emailed Nittō Kōgaku and Stephen Grady, the author of the Cameraquest list of Vivitar manufacturers to find out what his source was. If I find out anything new I'll post it here.


PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've still found no definitive answer to the "who was Komine" question but I thought I'd offer an update on what I've discovered so far about the two leading theories and see if anyone else has any new leads.

Theory 1: Komine is a corruption of Kominar, Nittō Kōgaku's lens brand. I've found no evidence to confirm this and lot of details that suggest it's unlikely. The company made fixed-mount lens for medium format and 35mm cameras but there's not any evidence they manufactured 35mm interchangeable lenses for export and rebranding. A Vivitar employeed has confirmed they dealt with a manufacturer named Komine (not Kominar), further sinking this theory. Nittō Kōgaku has not replied to emails requesting information on the matter.

Theory 2: Komine is Komine Company, Ltd, an obscure lens manufacturer that was in business from the 1960s or 1970s and went out of business in the late 1980s or early 1990s. This one is looking more hopeful at least. I've been able to confirm this company manufactured and exported 35mm interchangeable lenses and that they existed during the time range of Vivitar's Komine lenses. That's about it though. Most of what I've been able to turn up on this company are trademark filings and entries from 1982 and 1985 Camerart Photo Trade Directories. (If anyone has Camerart directories from other years and wouldn't mind looking them up, please post the entry for Komine Company, Ltd. and check for any ads or 35mm lens listings for the company)

Relevant camera-wiki articles are:

Komine Company, Ltd
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Komine

Nittō Kōgaku
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Nitt%C5%8D_K%C5%8Dgaku

Vivitar serial number/manufacturer info
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Vivitar_serial_numbers


PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. We have seen "Kominar" branded T-mount presets (1960's) as well as auto lenses for Fujica mount (late 1970's).
And of course plenty of Kominars on 35mm rangefinders, TLR's, etc.
I have never seen a lens labelled "Komine", but plenty of Kominars.

2. "Kominar" brand was used by Nittoh, for certain into the 1960's

3. Companies don't usually allow others to take over their brands.

4. Many Japanese companies were renamed in the 1960's-early 1970's to match their branding - Asahi became Pentax, etc. Its also not unlikely that a spin-off company to handle a product line (for a while anyway) was created with a name similar to the product line.


PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, several good points.

luisalegria wrote:
1. We have seen "Kominar" branded T-mount presets (1960's) as well as auto lenses for Fujica mount (late 1970's).
And of course plenty of Kominars on 35mm rangefinders, TLR's, etc.
I have never seen a lens labelled "Komine", but plenty of Kominars.

2. "Kominar" brand was used by Nittoh, for certain into the 1960's

3. Companies don't usually allow others to take over their brands.


Yes, those basically sum up why I think it's unlikely Komine is related to Nitto. There are Nitto-made Kominar lenses appearing before, during, and after the time Ponder & Best was doing business with a company named Komine.

luisalegria wrote:

4. Many Japanese companies were renamed in the 1960's-early 1970's to match their branding - Asahi became Pentax, etc. Its also not unlikely that a spin-off company to handle a product line (for a while anyway) was created with a name similar to the product line.


True, but not Nitto. They changed their name to Nittō Kōgaku (or Nittoh Kogaku if you prefer) in 1943 and the only change since is when they added the "K.K." after incorporating in 1951. They still use the same name today. The Nitto website offers a fairly comprehensive history including name changes, acquisition, subsidiaries, etc. dating back into the 1800s. There is no mention of starting a subsidiary named Komine.

On the other hand if Komine Co. was renamed, the only brand they ever filed a trademark on was Minec and I've not seen any likely companies named Minec around. I've seen unconfirmed accounts saying Komine Co. went out of business in the late 1980s due to the high cost of licensing autofocus patents. I haven't found any evidence confirming that point yet but it seems plausible; a lot of other companies got out of the consumer lens business around that time (like Kino Precision, for example).


PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, but what I haven't seen are "Kominar" lenses between the time of the T-mount presets (mostly sold by Allied Impex under the Soligor brand but enough were sold as Kominar to establish the connection) and the last Kominars of the early 1980's (I was wrong on my date). The period in between seems to be neatly filled with the Vivitar lenses with the serial numbers attributed to "Komine".

If we can find a Kominar that looks like one of the Vivitars with a "28" serial number I think it will neatly establish the "Komine" maker as Nittoh, or its successor to the brand and product line.


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hopefully this will add some confusion to the discussion.



PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A parallel thread on this subject https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/tell-me-about-komine.456767/

I have a Kominar-E 7.5cm/3.5 Enlarger lens, nice optic, very well made.
seen here on my bellows.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lightshow-photography/tags/kominare75cm35/


PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

praktiman wrote:
Hopefully this will add some confusion to the discussion.



This is truely unique and rare. I've seen Kominar but never seen a Komine lens, let alone this 58mm f/1.2!


PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

praktiman wrote:
Hopefully this will add some confusion to the discussion.



so FWIW the kanji (i've a little japanese) for Seisakujyo / seisakusho is '製作所' which means 'Manufacturing', but '小峰 製作所' (Komine Manufacturing) doesn't turn up anything immediately relevant to this discussion


PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Someone who speaks, reads and writes Japanese needs to go there and hunt down some ancient pensioners to figure out all these things.
Before they all die.


PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

luisalegria wrote:

I've seen unconfirmed accounts saying Komine Co. went out of business in the late 1980s due to the high cost of licensing autofocus patents. I haven't found any evidence confirming that point yet but it seems plausible; a lot of other companies got out of the consumer lens business around that time (like Kino Precision, for example).


In the late 80's komine was mainly selling lenses via Vivitar (ponder & Best) with the highest quality and regularity (komine lenses manufacturing quality was at highest level and optical quality from very good to top
When Minolta introduced the 7000 ,the 1st modern af camera they sold their lenses during one/two years on their own , then were licensing the mount to ONLY seven manufacturers (cosina, kobori...) but NOT to komine (as well as not to sigma but sigma reversed the engineering !)
We can presume the high cost for engineering af lenses was too high for them and the market was to small if no way to sell to minolta's users
After that, it was too late .. Remember : major companies also disappeared (or nearly disappeared) from slr market after af success as olympus who needed nearly ten years after om line collapse to come back with 4/3 line.