soratama: the development story

Zenji Uehara, an experimental photographer was seeking to commercialize soratama.
Meanwhile, Akira Ishikawa, President of COZO FILTERS CORP. was a devoted reader of the "Ayashii tankentai"(suspicious expedition party) series by Makoto Shiina in which Uehara also appears as a party member. The serendipitous encounter of the two men led to the commercialization of Soratama 72.

soratama: the development story

An editor turning into a photographer.

Zenji Uehara, an experimental photographer whose imaginative works attract people, has an interesting biography.

He began associating with "Hon no zasshisha" while as a university student and joined the "Ayashii tankentai" (suspicious expedition party) camps led by Makoto Shiina. He appears in the series of books by Shiina as "Zenji Uehara," with his first name spelt in katakana. Ever since, he has used this katakana spelling of Zenji as his pseudonym, he says.

While working as an editor, he was fascinated by photography and became a freelancer.
His field of work continued expanding, from editing and photographing to film shooting staff jobs, image processing and animation film production.

He started a series of experimental photos on Daily Digital Creators magazine.

He invented soratama out of an inspiration.

And he invented soratama in 2009.

When he tried shooting a photo through a transparent ball of a door peephole held in hand, the photo showed both inside and outside of the door. This discovery inspired him to invent soratama.

His idea of an apparatus using a cookie box and an acrylic ball, once published, soon won the favor of photographers.
He also tried fabricating glass ball soratamas, but the problem was that they were too costly for commercial production.

We can manufacture even small lot products.

"I had an aspiration for commercializing soratama using an optical glass from the beginning."
Uehara asked major manufacturers, but they were not interested in its commercial production because the expected number of lots was too small.

Meanwhile, Akira Ishikawa, President of COZO FILTERS, was a fan of the "Ayashii tankentai" series and happened to read Uehara's article.

Exactly when Ishikawa was looking for ideas for a new product capitalizing on his company's video and camcorder filter manufacturing expertise, he read an article on soratama and contacted Uehara.

When the goals of the two men agreed, the stream for the commercialization of Soratama 72 began to flow forward just naturally.

Uehara's passion about Soratama 72 is so strong that he even designed the package himself.
In designing the package, Uehara capitalized on his experience in book designing, he says.
This was the first experience for COZO FILTERS to make a "three-dimensional design" product.

To manufacture Soratama 72, the company started with the development of new machines and built its production line based on the expertise grown over more than 70 years since its foundation.

After all these, Soratama 72 was finally commercialized.


Zenji Uehara

Experimental photographer.
He has tried many methods of experimental photography and published his works, including those using a soratama lens or a camera shake amplifier and the circular window series.
He has also worked on the issue of color management from early on, writing articles and giving lectures for propagating knowledge on its work flow.