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Speed Reflex

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Japanese plate SLR cameras (edit)
atom (4.5×6cm) Simplex Reflex | Speed Reflex
meishi (5.5×8cm) Speed Reflex
daimeishi (6.5×9cm) Convex Reflex | Hogo Reflex | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Simplex Reflex | Speed Reflex
tefuda (8×10.5cm) Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Photo Deluxe Reflex | Speed Reflex
nimaigake (8×12cm) Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Sakura Reflex Prano
kabine (12×16.5cm) Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911)
daikabine (13×18cm) Guaranteed Reflex
unknown Hardflex | Leinflex | Photoman Special Reflex
Japanese plate film: monocular, box, folding bed and strut-folding ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Speed Reflex (スピードレフレックス) is a Japanese SLR made in the 1920s by Kuribayashi, and distributed by Saneidō and Sone Shunsuidō.[1]

Description Edit

The Speed Reflex has a boxy shape, inspired by English models such as the Thornton-Pickard Ruby Reflex, the Marion Soho Reflex or the Houghton Ensign Reflex. The front standard is mounted on a rack-and-pinion device with double extension bellows, driven by a knob on the photographer's left.[2] The removable lensboard is attached to a plate sliding vertically in the front standard, allowing vertical movements and locked in position by a wheel.

The main body has a large viewing hood, hinged to the front or to the rear, and strap lugs on both sides. There is a self-capping focal plane shutter, wound and set by a knob on the photographer's right.[3] The mirror is raised and the shutter is tripped by a lever placed on the same side. The camera has a revolving back, allowing to take vertical and horizontal pictures.[4]

Evolution in the advertisements Edit

Many sources say that the Speed Reflex was introduced in 1919.[5] However an advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1928 says that the camera was introduced three years before.[6] Some sources try to distinguish the tefuda-size Speed Reflex and the meishi-size Speed Reflex Junior, but this is not confirmed by the original advertisements found so far.[7]

The advertisement by Saneidō in Asahi Camera September 1925 presents the camera as the "Speed Reflex, renaming of the Junior" (ジュニオル改称スピードレフレックス).[8] It is listed in both tefuda and meishi formats; however it is unclear if the cameras advertised as meishi size are 5.5×8cm or 6.5×9cm. In the picture, the viewing hood is hinged to the rear. The shutter is said to give 1/10 to 1/1000 speeds. The camera was supplied with three plate holders and one film pack holder. The following versions are listed:

body size meishi tefuda
lens
Royal ¥90 ¥100
body only ¥70 ¥80

The same advertisement also mentions a Photoman Special Reflex for ¥125, about which nothing is known.

In the advertisement by Saneidō in Ars Camera February 1927, the camera is simply called Speed Reflex. Three models are available, in tefuda (8×10.5cm), meishi (5.5×8cm or 6.5×9cm) and atom (4.5×6cm) formats. The pictured camera is certainly the larger tefuda model. The lensboard is covered by a flap and a small SPEED REFLEX nameplate is attached immediately above. The following versions are listed:

body size atom meishi tefuda
lens
Carl Zeiss Tessar f/4.5 ¥175
Dallmeyer Speed f/4.5 ¥135
body only ¥85 ¥75 ¥80


In the advertisement by Saneidō in Asahi Camera March 1928, the camera is said to be a commercial success.[9] It is said that many points were unsatisfactory when the camera was released three years before, and that they were corrected thanks to the unremitting support of the public.[10] The same three formats are offered, and the pictured camera is perhaps the middle meishi model. The following versions are listed:

body size atom meishi tefuda
lens
Tessar f/3.5 ¥185
Tessar f/4.5 ¥158 ¥180
Krauss Tessar f/4.5 ¥155
Xenar f/4.5 ¥130
Ernoplast f/4.5 ¥120 ¥125
Kenngott f/4.5 ¥110 ¥115
Royal f/4.5 ¥88 ¥93
body only ¥85 ¥80


In the advertisement by Saneidō in Asahi Camera May 1929, it is said that the camera received the first prize for "excellent Japanese products" at the Tokyo Fair commemorating the Imperial Coronation, held in 1928 in the Ueno Park.[11] The same prize is mentioned in May and July 1929 advertisements placed by Minagawa Kamera-ten for the Mikuni, also attributed by Kuribayashi.[12] This prize was certainly granted to the Kuribayashi as a whole. No other detail is given in the advertisement for the Speed Reflex, and the illustration is the same as in March 1928.

The advertisement for the Speed Reflex in Asahi Camera September 1929 does not show any company name. The stylish illustration shows some changes in the camera body. The viewing hood is now hinged to the front and has an ES logo. It seems that the small SPEED REFLEX nameplate has moved to the main body, just below the viewing hood. The range of shutter speeds is given as 1/15 to 1/10000, obviously a typo for 1/15 to 1/1000.[13] The following versions are listed:

body size atom meishi tefuda
lens
Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.7 ¥270 ¥320
Ernotar f/2.7 ¥170
Carl Zeiss Tessar f/4.5 ¥140 ¥152
Xenar Anastigmat f/3.5 ¥150
Xenar Anastigmat f/4.5 ¥115 ¥120
Kenngott Anastigmat f/4.5 ¥107 ¥115
body only ¥58 ¥75 ¥80

Surviving examples Edit

The Speed Reflex is very uncommon.[14] The camera is easily identified by the SPEED REFLEX nameplate and the ES logo embossed on the viewing hood.

The two better known examples are pictured in Sugiyama and in McKeown.[15] Both are reported as daimeishi size (6.5×9cm).[16] The two examples have the viewing hood hinged to the front, with an ES logo embossed, and have a small SPEED REFLEX nameplate attached to the front of the main body, the same as in the September 1929 advertisement, but none has a lens cover. The two examples only differ by the lensboard attachment and by the finish. The presumably earlier example has black fittings and T, 15–1000 speeds.[17] It is missing the locking wheel for the vertical movements of the front standard. The lens is a Cooke Anastigmat 5″ f/3.9, which is perhaps not original.[18] The presumably later example has chrome fittings, T, 10–1000 speeds and a Yamasaki Congo 13.5cm f/4.5 lens which is probably not original either.[19]

Another example, perhaps in tefuda-size, has been observed with a non removable lens board, to which the nameplate is attached at the top of the front plate.[20] Its viewing hood is hinged to the front, and it reportedly has 15–1000 speeds.

Notes Edit

  1. Made by Kuribayashi: Lewis, p.36, Sugiyama, items 2028–9, Baird, pp.13 and 39–42, McKeown, p.575. (No original document has been found so far to confirm this.) Distributed by Saneidō and Sone Shunsuidō: Lewis, p.36, Baird, p.42. Advertisements by Saneidō are reproduced in this page.
  2. Double extension bellows: advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.40.
  3. Self-capping: advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.40.
  4. Revolving back: advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.40.
  5. Release date: Lewis, p.36, Sugiyama, items 2028–9, Baird, pp.13 and 39–42, McKeown, p.575. No original document has been found so far to confirm this.
  6. Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1928, p.A21.
  7. Baird, p.41, says that the Junior has no lens cover and has the viewing hood hinged to the front. However all the original illustrations found so far show a hinged lens cover, and the distinction between front and rear-hinged viewing hoods does not seem to be related to the format.
  8. Advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.40.
  9. Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1928, p.A21: ヨクウレルスピードレフレックス.
  10. Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1928, p.A21. The same thing is repeated in an undated advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22.
  11. Advertisement in Asahi Camera May 1929, p.A31: 於御大礼記念東京博覧会第一位優良国産賞受領. The same sentence is found in an undated advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22. Exhibition held in 1928 in the Ueno Park: see this page. Baird, p.13, mentions "the Peace Exposition held at Ueno Tokyo" from an unknown source.
  12. Advertisements in Asahi Camera May 1929, p.A30, and July 1929, p.A28: 東京博覧会ニ於テ最高賞優良国産賞受賞シ日本カメラ界ノ面目ヲ施セリ.
  13. Advertisement in Asahi Camera May 1929, p.A31: シャッター一五分ヨリ一〇〇〇〇迄.
  14. Baird, p.42, reports that five surviving examples were known to exist at the time he was writing his book on Kuribayashi cameras.
  15. Sugiyama, item 2028–9; McKeown, p.575. One of these is pictured in Baird, p.39.
  16. Format: Sugiyama, items 2028–9.
  17. Speeds: Sugiyama, item 2028.
  18. Lens: Sugiyama, item 2028.
  19. Sugiyama, item 2029.
  20. Example observed in an online auction.

Bibliography Edit


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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