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Tanyflex

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Japanese medium-format SLR (edit)
6×9 Rittreck (6×9)
6×8 Fujifilm GX680
Japanese TLR and pseudo TLR ->
Other Japanese 6×6, 4.5×6, 3×4 and 4×4 ->

The Tanyflex (タニーフレックス) is a Japanese 6×6 SLR using 120 film, briefly made in 1950–1 by Taniyama Camera Kōgyō.

General description Edit

The Tanyflex has a large wooden body with a roughly cubic shape.[1] It is noticeably bigger than other 6×6 SLRs, and the concept is close to the later 6×9cm Rittreck. The choice of 6×6cm format instead of 6×9cm seems unfortunate, given the overall size and the lenses' focal length (105mm to 210mm), though 6×9cm format would have required a larger focal-plane shutter and a revolving back and would have rendered the camera more complex.

The front standard is mounted on rack-and-pinion structure with bellows, and it moves back and forth for focusing. On the early models, it is driven by a knob on the photographer's left and locked in position by a small knob at the bottom of the right-hand side plate;[2] on later models it is driven by two knobs placed on each side of the body at the bottom. The camera can take lenses from 105mm to 210mm focal length;[3] they are mounted on a removable lens board, recessed for the short focal lengths and protruding for the longer lenses. The body was not sold with a particular lens, and the owner had to provide their own.[4]

The non-interchangeable viewing hood is above the body, surrounded by two strap lugs. To the photographer's right is a control panel with various knobs and buttons: the shutter winding knob, the speed selector and the main release, slid to the bottom to trip the shutter. The film runs vertically, certainly from bottom to top, and is advanced by a knob placed at the top right. There is a lever for the mirror on the photographer's left, probably used to wind the mirror mechanism.[5]

The camera has a built-in flash plug, placed at the top of the left-hand side plate. It takes a small flash bulb holder, and a reflector can be attached to the side of the camera, behind the bulb. These accessories are pictured in the advertisements for the Tanyflex and were supplied with the camera.[6] The flash batteries (6× AA) are contained in the camera body itself, at the bottom.[7] This peculiarity partly accounts for the bulky size, it is shared with very few other cameras, among which is the Dawe Nelrod Liteflash.

The camera was also supplied with a shoulder strap and a lens board for 150mm lenses, in addition to the flash bulb holder and reflector; and a carrying case and a hood were available as accessories.[8]

Evolution Edit

The Tanyflex was probably made on a small, artisanal scale, and there were a number of changes during the short time it was produced.

Advertisements Edit

The original Tanyflex was advertised in Japanese magazines from October 1950, but some sources say that it was released in July of the same year.[9] In the November 1950 advertisement in Asahi Camera,[10] the shutter speeds are given as T, B, 10, 20, 40, 60, 100, 200, 300, and a very small picture is provided.

The picture is larger in the January 1951 advertisement in the same magazine.[11] There might be an exposure counter below the film advance knob.[12] The centre part of the viewing hood has a logo, probably the TANY logo of Taniyama, and is retractable to leave room for a sportsfinder. The focusing controls are of the earlier type, with a small locking knob on the right. The pictured camera has a recessed lens board, and a protruding lens board is pictured as an accessory. The document says that the camera was supplied with a shoulder strap, a lensboard for a 150mm lens, a flash reflector, and a "barrel box" for long focal lenses (certainly the protruding lens board visible on the picture). It also mentions a carrying case and a specific lens hood, sold separately.

The July 1951 advertisement presents the camera as the Tanyflex New (タニーフレックス新型), with double exposure prevention and an improved shutter, though the advertising picture is the same as in January.[13]

The September 1951 advertisement shows a new picture and calls the camera Tanyflex II (タニーフレックスⅡ型).[14] The control panels on the right-hand side are modified and the knob at the bottom right is larger, perhaps because it is used for focusing instead of locking the rack-and-pinion movement. The list of shutter speeds do not mention the B and 1/300 settings any more. The description mentions an ordinary film advance (普通巻取), probably by way of a red window. The picture also shows a flush lens board instead of the recessed and protruding lens boards of the previous pictures.

Surviving examples Edit

Three surviving examples of the Tanyflex are known so far. One nearly corresponds to the September 1951 picture of the Tanyflex II and is shown in this page of the JCII. Two round parts are visible above the body, in front of the viewing hood; one is large, the other is small, and their function is unknown.

The other two cameras have nameplates reading Tanyflex MODEL IIC in front of the viewing hood.[15] They have no sportsfinder and no logo on the hood. The controls of the right present minor differences on all three examples.

Notes Edit

  1. Wooden body: description of the January 1951 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  2. Details of the controls: description of the January 1951 advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  3. Focal lengths: description of the November 1950 and January 1951 advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  4. The November 1950 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146, says that the company "sold the body only" (ボデーのみの販売に応す).
  5. Details of the controls: description of the January 1951 advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  6. Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  7. Description of the January 1951 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  8. Description of the January 1951 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  9. Earliest advertisement: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.354. July 1950: see this page of the JCII collection.
  10. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  11. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  12. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.354, says that the original Tanyflex has automatic film advance, unlike the Tanyflex II, but this is unconfirmed.
  13. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  14. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.146.
  15. Example pictured in Lewis, p.71, and example pictured in Sugiyama, item 2262.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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