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Kuribayashi, later Petri, was a Japanese camera maker.

History Edit

Early period Edit

Most sources say that the company was founded as Kuribayashi Seisakusho in 1907 by Kuribayashi Yōji (栗林庸二), manufacturing tripods and dark boxes.[1] Its first camera was the Speed Reflex, supposedly released in 1919.[2] However, a Petri catalogue dated August 1981 reportedly says that the company was founded in 1918 and that the Speed Reflex was introduced in 1922.[3]

Thirties Edit

The company became Gōshi-gaisha Kuribayashi Shashin Kikai Seisakusho (㈾栗林写真機械製作所) in 1930.[4] From 1929 to the war many cameras made by the company were called First and advertised as "made by First Camera Works". These First cameras were distributed by Minagawa Shōten, and it seems that "First Camera Works" was nothing more than a name and logo forged by Minagawa for advertising purpose (see the discussion about the Camera Works endings).[5] (The "First Camera Works" name and logo were used again after the war for the First Six and Firstflex cameras made by Tokiwa Seiki and again distributed by Minagawa.)[6]

The Kuribayashi company had an address in Adachi (Tokyo) in 1943.[7] It is said that this was only the second factory, the offices and main building being in Shitaya (Tokyo), and that this Shitaya building was destroyed by an aerial bombing in 1945.[8]

Postwar period Edit

The company changed status in 1949 and became K.K. Kuribayashi Shashin Kikai Seisakusho (㈱栗林写真機械製作所) in 1949.[9] At that time the headquarters were in Chiyoda (Tokyo), and the plant in the Adachi factory mentioned above.[10] The company did not renew its cooperation with Minagawa (owner of the name "First"). It had to look for another brand name and finally settled on Karoron and Petri. Kuribayashi made a range of 4.5×6 folders under these names and a single 6×6 TLR model called Petriflex. Its first 35mm camera was released in 1954 and its first 35mm SLR in 1959. The company became Kuribayashi Shashin Kōgyō K.K. (栗林写真工業㈱) in 1956.[11] In 1962, it took the name of its products and became Petri Camera K.K. (ペトリカメラ㈱). In 1968, it released the Petri Color 35, a very compact camera said to be inspired by the Rollei 35.

The Fotochrome is usually identified as a Petri manufacture but in fact, there is little evidence for this. It's more likely that it was made by Copal as that company sued Harrison Fotochrome in the late sixties for payment for the manufacture of a camera in the mid-sixties. Fotochrome had refused to pay as the cameras were late (not timely) and mostly defective. There is no record of Fotochrome commissioning any other camera. Copal won the case in 1971 but by then, Fotochrome had filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Petri Camera went bankrupt in 1977 or 1978. It was revived as Petri Kōgyō K.K. (ペトリ工業㈱) but it abandoned camera production some time thereafter. It seems that the company still exists (2009) and makes telescopes.[12]

The company seems unrelated to the current Kuribayashi Seisakusho Co., Ltd. founded in 1944.[13]

35mm film cameras Edit

Rangefinder, fixed lens Edit

Viewfinder, 24×36mm Edit

Viewfinder, 18×24mm Edit

SLR Edit


  • Petri Flex
  • Petri Flex 7
  • Petri Penta
  • Petri V VI
  • Petri V VI II
  • Petri FT


  • ==Petri flex==
  • Petri FTX
  • Petri FT II
  • Petri FT EE
  • Petri FT 1000
  • Petri TTL (also sold as the Focal TLR)
  • Petri FA-1
  • Petri MF-1
  • Petri MF-2
  • Petri MF-3
  • Petri GX-1 (From the post-1977 era, with Pentax K-mount lenses)

120 film cameras Edit

4.5×6cm folder Edit

6×6cm folder Edit

6×9cm folder Edit

6×6cm TLR Edit

127 film cameras Edit

Plate film cameras Edit

  • Speed Reflex (4.5×6cm, 6.5×9cm or 8×10.5cm SLR)
  • Mikuni (6.5×9cm folder)
  • First (6.5×9cm folder)
  • First Etui (6.5×9cm folder)
  • Kokka (6.5×9cm folder)
  • Romax (6.5×9cm folder, the attribution to Kuribayashi is unsure)
  • Tokiwa (6.5×9cm folder, the attribution to Kuribayashi is unsure)

Notes Edit

  1. Baird, p.11, Lewis, p.184 and this page of the Japan Memory website.
  2. Baird, pp.13 and 40–2. Lewis, p.36.
  3. See this page by Sumida Petri-dō.
  4. Date: Baird, p.15. Baird gives Shashin instead of Shashin Kikai.
  5. Baird, p.15, suggests that First Camera Works was a manufacturing company jointly owned by Kuribayashi and Minagawa, but it seems that no actual company had this name.
  6. See the First Six and Firstflex leaflet reproduced in butkus.org's Orphan Camera website.
  7. This address was Tōkyō-to Adachi-ku Ueda-machi 1807 (東京都足立区上田町1807). Source: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras").
  8. Baird, p.28.
  9. Transition visible between two advertisements dated 1949 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.178. Baird, p.30, omits the word "Kikai" by mistake.
  10. The address of the office was Tōkyō-to Chiyoda-ku Kanda Nishiki-chō 3–16 (東京都千代田区神田錦町3の16). The plant was at the same place as before, but the address was now Tōkyō-to Adachi-ku Umejima-chō 1807 (東京都足立区梅島町1807). Source: advertisements dated 1949 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.178.
  11. Dates: Baird, p.32.
  12. It is listed in this page, dated 1 June 2009, of the Japan Telescope Manufacturers Association.
  13. See the chronology of the company's website.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In French:

In Japanese:


Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First
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