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Shinkoflex

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The Shinkoflex and Flex Six are Japanese 6×6 SLR cameras made in the first half of the 1940s, and identical except for the name.

Date and original documents Edit

Many sources say that the Shinkoflex appeared in 1940.[1] It is said that the Shinkoflex was the first Japanese 6×6 SLR, the first Japanese rollfilm SLR with a focal plane shutter and the first Japanese camera to have an advance lever.[2]

However neither the Shinkoflex nor the Flex Six are mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, which should list the whole Japanese camera production of the time.[3] It seems that no advertisement for the camera was placed in the Japanese camera magazines.[4]

A Shinkoflex or Flex Six body is nonetheless pictured in an advertisement dated March 1942 for the Kanko mirror lenses made by Kansai Kōgaku.[5] The Shinkoflex also appears in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production.[6]

Maker and distributor Edit

The Shinkoflex is usually attributed to Yamashita Shōten (some sources say "Yamashita Shōkai" by mistake) but this was certainly only the distributor.[7]

The 1943 government inquiry says that the shutter and lens were made by Shinkō, the same company which made the Shinko Baby and probably the Shinko Super.[8] The maker's name is unfortunately missing from the document, but it seems likely that the company which made the focal-plane shutter also made the rest of the body.

The Flex Six is attributed to Kyōto Seiki for an unknown reason,[9] but the camera is merely a name variant of the Shinkoflex.

Description Edit

The Shinkoflex and Flex Six are strongly influenced by the Reflex-Korelle, with a focal plane shutter and a cube-like mirror box protruding from the body. The left half of the top plate has an advance lever and perhaps an exposure counter. The right half has the speed setting knob, with B, 10–500 speed settings.[10] (Despite its probably common origin, the shutter of the Shinko Super only has 1/200 instead of 1/500 top speed.) It seems that the release button is on the right-hand side of the mirror box. The nameplate (Shinkoflex or Flex Six) is above the lens, in front of the viewing hood. The back is hinged to the right.

It is said that the lens is interchangeable.[11] It is not known if it used the same mount as the Reflex-Korelle. The lens mentioned in the 1943 government inquiry is the same four-element Shinko 80/3.5 as on the Shinko Super.[12]

Actual examples Edit

Two actual examples of the Shinkoflex have been observed. One is pictured in Sugiyama and has a Radionar 7.5cm f/3.5 lens by Schneider, a lens that was perhaps originally made for the Reflex-Korelle.[13] The other is pictured in Lewis[14] and in this page of the JCII collection and has a different lens and a larger lens plate, almost covering all the front plate.

One example of the Flex Six is pictured in Sugiyama with a front-cell focusing U.L.L. Anastigmat 80/3.5 lens mounted on the larger lens plate.[15]

Kanko mirror lenses Edit

The Kanko mirror lenses made by Kansai Kōgaku were available for the Flex Six or Shinkoflex body. (See the article about Kansai Kōgaku for the full range.) Surviving examples are known of the 450mm focal length Kanko 2600. One is pictured in Sugiyama and another in this page of the Old Telescope website.[16]

Notes Edit

  1. Date: Sugiyama, items 2008, 2027 and 6008; McKeown, pp.592 and 1020; this page of the JCII collection.
  2. See for example Sugiyama, item 2027, and McKeown, p.1020.
  3. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku".
  4. The camera is not mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, which makes a near exhaustive survey of advertisements.
  5. Advertisement published in Hōdō Shashin, reproduced in the Gochamaze website.
  6. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 127.
  7. Sugiyama, item 2027, and McKeown, p.1020, attribute the camera to "Yamashita Trading Co." This page of the JCII collection says "Yamashita Shōkai", but an advertisement for the Shinko Super reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.74, gives the name Yamashita Shōten. Lewis, p.57, says Yamashita Shōten too.
  8. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item F-5, lens item M3.
  9. Sugiyama, item 2008, McKeown, p.592.
  10. Speed range: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item F-5, Sugiyama, items 2008 and 2027, McKeown, pp.592 and 1020.
  11. Sugiyama, item 2027, McKeown, p.1020.
  12. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item M3.
  13. Sugiyama, item 2027.
  14. Lewis, p.57.
  15. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 2008.
  16. The camera is called "Flex Six (military version)" in Sugiyama, item 6008, but nothing indicates that it was made for the military.

Bibliography Edit

These cameras are not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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