Sanwa Mycro

introduction | original | pre-war | post war | Model I | Model II | Super 16 | Model IIIA | Tripod | Film | Filters | Waist Level finder

With a fixed-focus 20mm (f4.5-11) lens, speeds of B, 1/25 - 1/100, the Mycro series are among the higher-quality cameras using 17.5mm roll film. These models are capable of taking good photographs with a range of features and accessories.  First seen in 1938 the Hit-type cameras are sometimes termed 'Mycro' cameras using 'Mycro format' film.

An excellent web site dedicated to finding the variations in Mycro and Mighty cameras is at  Contract the site owner Hirofumi for details

There is no book of Mycro cameras, but there is a book in which the Japanese camera and Japanese subminiature camera in particular are discussed. The book is written in Japanese and English. Title:: THE COLLECTOR'S GUIDE TO JAPANESE CAMERAS, ISBN: 4-257-03187-5, Publisher:, Sugiyama Koubou, Author: Sugiyama Kouichi, Price: 14,563 JPY

There are articles written by Mr.Awano on Camera Collectors News (CCN) which he also publishes.

The Mycro series includes several models with many variations; at least 20. The broad classification is:-

The original model has a square view finder but in appearance more similar to the Midget with it's pop up finder than the later Mycro models.

Results taken with a Mycro IIIA can be seen at and more at

Notes by Al Doyle 1998/01/01

The Sanwa Mycro was introduced in 1938 by the Sanwa Trading Company. It quickly became the model for many of the HIT type cameras seen at photo swap meets.

The Mycro I has a fixed focus two-element 20mm f/4.5 Una lens, with continuous apertures to f/11. The shutter speeds are continuous from 1/25 to 1/100th sec., plus B. Glass viewfinder produces a same-size image of subject. No tripod screw, light meter, flash synch, or accessory shoe.

Best features: Small size (2" x 1-1/4" x 1-1/4".) Pull-down shutter lever which can be activated by a thread or trip wire. A 14 x 14mm format, on un-perforated 17.5mm film. (To make an 8 x 10" print, the useable area of the Mycro negative is 11.2 x 14mm which is larger than that from a Minox, Minicord, Stylophot, and all 10 x 14mm cameras.)

Worst features: Camera uses Size 00 roll film. Best way to obtain all 10 exposures is with Thin-Pack (2.5mil) emulsions. Modern colour films which are 5mil and thicker, tend to make a bulky roll, which limits Mycro to 8 colour exposures. Shutter requires using a Shutter Set Lever, AND a shutter lever; rapid sequence photos are virtually impossible with all the knob turning, frame reading, and lever setting. The frame numbers must be read from backing paper through red window which is hidden behind a sliding door on back. This makes it impossible to advance film correctly in total darkness. However, the number of turns required for proper frame spacing can be learned in an evening. "Red" window is actually a salmon colour, but the camera can use InfraRed emulsions if care is taken to read frames in low level diffuse lighting.

There are three basic models, I (1938), II (1940-49) and IIIA (1950.) There are minor variations in each model, especially in model II. The top of the camera may say Mycro, Mycro Patents, Mycro Camera Company Ltd., or Sanwa Co. Ltd. The basic (miniature Leica) configuration and features remain the same, although Mycro IIIA is slightly shorter in height than I and II. Current selling price $125-$275.

Personal notes: I used this camera on a daily basis for about two years in the early '50s. and I can attest to its picture taking abilities. You can't expect the moon from a two-element lens, yet there is no pin cushion or barrel distortion, and no meaningful chromatic aberration seen in colour prints or slides. However, night photos taken with the Model I and some Model IIs will show delicate spikes around pinpoint light sources, because the front element is uncoated. Daylight pictures taken with the sun shining across the lens will definitely show flare.

When you only need the camera for waist-level photography, the viewfinder can be removed, to make it one of the smallest cameras in all of subminiature photography. It's ability to sit unnoticed for years, to be activated by the light pull of a thread, made it the first of the 'stealth' cameras.

Last Updated on 6th July 2005