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Medium format MF film SLR camera


Production details
System: Kowa Six (1968)
Imaging plane
Maximum format:Medium format 6x6
Mount and Flange focal distance:Kowa Six [79mm]
Imaging plane:56 × 56mm film
Type:In-lens leaf shutter
Exposure metering:None
Exposure modes:Manual
Physical characteristics

Manufacturer description #1

The Kowa/SIX is a 6 x 6 SLR of the leaf shutter type. It is a large-format camera. However, it may be described as a compact large-format camera beyond expectations. The camera may be held and fits both hands. There is no fear of camera shake even when it is held in the hands. The Kowa/SIX is ruggedly built for a lifetime of hard use. It is a camera buiIt for professional use.

To give full play to the mobility of a 6 x 6 SLR, Kowa's technical staff has come up with this unique SLR on the basis of over twenty years experience. The mobility of this camera makes it highly rated among professionals and semi-professionals throughout the world.


As the Kowa/SIX is of the leaf-shutter type, it is fully synchronized with electronic flash and flash buIbs at shutter speeds of up to 1/500 sec. This high efficiency in flash synchronization is something which cannot be expected of cameras of the focal plane shutter type. The camera displays its superb performance at high shutter speeds in electronic flash photography.


Because of the incorporation of the leaf shutter system, shutter shock has been eliminated. As the Kowa/Six does not use the quick mirror return system and has incorporated the newly designed built-in air damper, the shock of the mirror and light shading plate has further been reduced Therefore, it has become possible to take razor sharp pictures with the camera held in the hands.

All lenses for the Kowa/SIX employ advanced SEIKO SLV between-the-Iens leaf shutters. All of the lenses offer speeds from 1 to 1/500, plus T, M and X flash synchronization at all shutter speeds, and a self-timer. The shutter speed scale is of even interval with click-stops at each speed. The shutter release, button has a lock.


Type: Leaf-shutter 2-1/4 square (6 x 6) single-lens reflex camera

Film Acceptance: 120 (12 exposure) or 220 (24 exposure) roll film; flip-over 12/24 pressure plate

Lens Mount: Positive Kowa bayonet with locking-collar; mount/dismount lever

Shutter: #0 SEIKO SLV between-the-lens leaf-shutter; 1-1/500 sec., Plus T; self-timer; M and X flash synchronization at all speeds. Same for all lenses

Focusing: Direct helicoid type

Viewing System: Interchangeable through-the-lens system. Standard system includes waist-level finder hood with interchangeable pop-up magnifier, matte fresnel viewing screen with fine ground plate focusing spot

Diaphragm: Fully automatic; depth-of-field preview lever. Same for all lenses

Film Wind: 360 deg. knob with flip-out crank advances film and winds shutter; stops automatically on first frame; automatic double-exposure prevention

Frame Counter: Automatic zero-reset; 12/24 selection

Camera Back: Hinged and removable

Manufacturer description #2

Here is a decisive and singular achievement in fine photography. The Kowa/SIX embodies all of the advantages of medium-format photography and reflex viewing in a camera that handles like a '35'. It can, in fact, mean so much to your photography that it must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

The Kowa/SIX is a precision instrument that's ruggedly built for a lifetime of hard use. It comes with an 85mm f/2.8 Kowa lens that gives you an almost startling degree of sharpness, contrast, and freedom from distortion. It has a pressure plate that instantly switches position to let you use either 120 or 220 type film. M and X flash synchronization occurs at all shutter speeds. And beyond all of the other superb features of the camera itself is the unlimited versatility of the system you can build around your Kowa/SIX.

There's a wide range of lenses, prisms, viewing screens, and more. And to underscore the uniqueness of the SIX you can add a through-the-Iens meter/viewfinder. No other 2 1/4-square SLR in the United States lets you do this.




The incomparable look of a professional-black camera can now be yours with the Kowa/SIX. A complete black camera is available, including body, 85mm f/2.8 lens, and a new fully self-erecting finder hood with an interchangeable viewing magnifier.

The black Kowa/SIX body is available separately to expand your Kowa/SIX system, or to combine with any of the lenses available for the SIX.

Also available separately in black is the superb 85mm f/2.8 Kowa lens. Just like the camera, the lens barrel is specially treated to preserve the depth and beauty of the black finish for years to come.

From the editor

A variant of the Kowa/SIX that adopted interchangeable film back system was introduced in 1973.

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Table of contents
Instruction manual
Kowa Six system cameras

Copyright © 2012-2022 Evgenii Artemov. All rights reserved. Translation and/or reproduction of website materials in any form, including the Internet, is prohibited without the express written permission of the website owner.

35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm

Travellers' choice


Among autofocus lenses designed for 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras only. Speed of standard and telephoto lenses is taken into account.

Professional lens (Top class)

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Electromagnetic diaphragm control system

Provides highly accurate diaphragm control and stable auto exposure performance during continuous shooting.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/ on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.