PhotoHistory 1970s

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Chronological history of photography in Japan in the 1970s (Showa 45 - 54)

Researched and compiled by Philbert Ono

1970 (Showa 45)

The Canon F-1 is introduced, Canon's first professional SLR camera forming the core of an SLR system. Canon starts overseas camera production in Taiwan. By 1996, about 80 percent of Canon cameras are made outside Japan.

The Fujica ST 701 is the first Japanese SLR camera to employ a silicon photocell which was much more effective than conventional systems for light readings in low-light conditions.

The Mamiya RB 67 Professional medium-format camera is introduced.

Expo '70 in Osaka is held.

1971 (Showa 46)

The Asahi Pentax ES (Electronic Shutter) is the first SLR camera to have an electronic focal-plane shutter. It is also the first camera to have an aperture-priority exposure control system. Within the following ten years, virtually all camera makers incorporated aperture-priority exposure control.

The Japan Photograph Copyright Association (Nihon Shashin Chosakuken Kyokai) is established, headed by with WATANABE Yoshio.

A new copyright law to be enacted from Jan. 1, stipulates that a copyright for a photograph will be valid for 50 years after publication.

1972 (Showa 47)

The Winter Olympics are held in Sapporo, Hokkaido in Feb. Canon develops the F-1 with high-speed motor drive shooting at 8 to 10 fps for photographers covering the event.

In July, the Olympus OM-1 (M-1 in Japan) camera is introduced with unprecedented compactness and lightweight for a camera of its class.

The Japanese version of Life magazine ceases publication in Dec.

Okinawa is reverted to Japan from U.S. control.

1973 (Showa 48)

The Canon Salon opens in Ginza, Tokyo in Feb.

Shashin Hihyo (Photo Critic) magazine starts publication.

The National Police Agency start to incorporate an ID photo in Japanese driver's licenses.

Eugene Smith exhibits his photos of Minamata at Seibu Dept. store in Shibuya, Tokyo in April.

1974 (Showa 49)

Popular Photography magazine includes a major feature story on contemporary Japanese photography.

A photo exhibition called "New Japanese Photography" featuring 200 photos by prominent photographers such as ISHIMOTO Yasuhiro, OHARA Ken, JUMONJI Bishin, TOMATSU Shomei, DOMON Ken, and HOSOE Eikoh is held at New York's Museum of Modern Art from March to May.

The Mamiya RB-67 Pro S medium-format camera is introduced, an improved version of the original RB-67 Professional four years before. The Pro S had a coupling which automatically switched the viewfinder masking for vertical and horizontal shots when the revolving back was rotated.

1975 (Showa 50)

At the major Japanese camera manufacturers, sales of photographic equipment fall below 50 percent of total sales. Sales from office automation equipment and other electronic devices start accounting for majority sales.

The Olympus OM-2 camera is introduced. Light sensors on the shutter curtain metered the light through the lens for quick and accurate exposure control.

The Shimazu family in Kagoshima discover in a warehouse a daguerreotype portrait of Lord SHIMAZU Nariakira. This is thought to be the oldest surviving daguerreotype taken by a Japanese photographer.

Minolta Photo Space opens in Shinjuku, Tokyo in Oct.

The Contax RTS camera is introduced, a joint effort by West Germany's Zeiss and Yashica.

1976 (Showa 51)

The first Kimura Ihee Award, sponsored by Asahi Shimbun newspapers, is presented in April.

The Fujicolor FII400 color negative film is marketed. It is the world's first ISO 400 color film.

The Nikon Salon presents the first Ina Nobuo Award in Nov. The award is given to the photographer exhibiting the year's most outstanding work at the Salon.

Customs inspectors at Haneda Airport prohibit Ed Weston's nude photos from entering the country. The photos were to be part of an exhibition.

The Canon AE-1 SLR camera is introduced, heralding the use of more electronics in SLR cameras. It had an integrated circuit for exposure control. It was also the first camera using a flashing light for the electronic self-timer.

1977 (Showa 52)

The Fujibro WP is the first B/W resin-coated paper made in Japan. Marketed by Fuji Photo Film in June.

The Konica C35AF, the world's first practical autofocus 35mm compact camera, is marketed in Nov. by Konishiroku Shashin Kogyo. It incorporated Honeywell's VAF module.

The Canon AE-1 marked the shift of cameras from manual models to electronic ones. It was an electronic SLR camera with a CPU which linked the electromagnetic release, self-timer, and electronic flash electronically. A year later in 1978, the market sees the Canon A-1 which controlled everything electronically.

1978 (Showa 53)

Zeit Photo Salon opens in Nihonbashi, Tokyo in April. It is Japan's first gallery to be a dedicated dealer of original prints.

The Canon A-1 is introduced, the first camera in the world to have all exposure functions controlled by a microcomputer. It enabled aperture-prority and shutter-priority autoexposure.

1979 (Showa 54)

The Committee for the Establishment of Photographic Art Museums in Japan is formed to promote the establishment of photography museums and collections. WATANABE Yoshio heads the committee of some 60 members from the photographic community. At the time, there was no museum dedicated to photography. (The Commitee disbands in 1994 upon the establishment of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.)

The Canon Sure Shot compact camera with an infrared rangefinding system is introduced.

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