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Japanese Vest (4×5 and 4×6.5) (edit)
4×4.5 Orient
4×5 Minion
4×6.5 Clover Vest | Dianette | Eagle | Friend | Kooa | National | New Vest | Nifcarette | Pearlette | B Pearlette | Special Pearlette | Pionette | Pocket Prince | Sirius Bebe | Speed Pocket | Tsubasa Spring | Victory
rigid or collapsible
4×5 Alfax | Olympus Standard | Sakura (bakelite) | Well Standard
4×6.5 Vest Adler | Vest Alex | Kowa Kid | Light | Light Super | Baby Minolta | Minolta Vest | Regal Olympic | Vest Olympic | Tsubasa Chrome | Zen-99
4×6.5 Baby Clover | Sakura (box) | Spirit
4×5 Vesten
4×6.5 Victor Vest
unknown Meiro
Japanese 3×4 and 4×4, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Alfax (アルファックス) is a Japanese camera taking 4×5cm exposures on 127 film.[1] It was advertised in 1942, and it is normally attributed to Kimura Kōgaku.[2]


The Alfax has a die-cast body and a metal telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly. There is an eye-level finder contained in a chrome finished top housing and a waist-level finder partly contained in the body. The top housing is recessed between the two finders, forming an accessory shoe. The front of the body supports a rectangular metal plate attached by four screws and the waist-level finder window.

There is a big knob on each side of the top housing, meant to look like the advance and rewind knob of 35mm cameras. The right knob is a fake and the actual advance knob is at the left end. It has an arrow engraved on the top to indicate the winding direction and numbers from 1 to 10 engraved on the base to control film advance. This pretends to be an exposure counter but there is no auto-stop feature and the advance is manually controlled: you have to stop turning when the correct number is facing the T-shaped index engraved on the top housing.

The back is hinged to the right and locked by a latch on the left. It contains a single red window, protected by a horizontally sliding cover, to set the position of the first exposure. The front leather is embossed with a diamond-shaped logo marked Alfa. The name ALFAX is engraved on the top housing above the eye-level finder, together with the model number, either MODEL I or MODEL II. The serial number is engraved at the bottom of the rectangular front plate.

Original documents

The Alfax is not mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, presumably because it was not yet in production.[3] The camera was advertised in Japanese photography magazines dated February to October 1942.[4] The March advertisement in Hōdō Shashin lists the camera for ¥128 with a Recta Anastigmat f/3.5 lens and a New Alfa shutter to 1/300.[5] No indication of the model number is given. The advertisement does not mention Kimura, but gives the name of the two distributors Nihon Shōkai and Honjō Shōkai.

Actual examples

The difference between the Alfax Model I and Alfax Model II is not clearly understood. Examples of both models are pictured in this page, but they look exactly similar. They have a front-cell focusing Recta Anastigmat 60mm f/3.5 lens and a New Alfa shutter giving 300–1, B, T speeds. The aperture scale is above the shutter housing and the shutter plate is marked NEW ALFA at the bottom.


  1. The exposure format has been described as 4×4.5cm, which perhaps corresponds to the actual picture size, but the nominal format given in the advertisements was 4×5cm. The format is mistakenly reported as 4×6.5cm in Sugiyama, item 3001, and in McKeown, p.465.
  2. Attribution to Kimura: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.334, Sugiyama, item 3001, McKeown, p.465.
  3. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku".
  4. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.334.
  5. Advertisement formerly reproduced at Gochamaze (archived) and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.58.


  • Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Item 11.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in Shōwa 10—40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10〜40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935—1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Pp.108—9. (The Alfax does not appear in this list.)
  • McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P.465.
  • Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Item 3001.


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