The Bikor-Flex (ビコーフレックス) is a Japanese 6×6cm TLR made in the late 1940s. The camera was produced by Mori Seisakusho and distributed by Bikōdō (hence the name), though it was also sold by Maruzen. It was a postwar continuation of the Rollekonter.
The Bikor-Flex is patterned after the Rolleicord, but has two knobs at the front as on the Rolleiflex Automat. The main body casting is apparently the same as on the previous Rollekonter made by the same company.
The camera is focused by moving the front plate back and forth. The all chrome focus knob is on the photographer's right. The film advance knob is on the same side; the advance is semi-automatic and there is a round window for an exposure counter above the focus knob. The mechanism is certainly unlocked after each exposure by pressing the middle part of the advance knob.
The camera reportedly has a large self-timer mechanism attached to the left-hand side, probably a continuation of the self-timer mounted on the Rollekonter A. It seems that the main shutter release is placed on the left-hand side too.
The viewing hood is made of two parts, and has no built-in sports finder. A lever is visible on the right, certainly releasing a mirror for eye-level focusing — same system as the Rollekonter. The name BIKOR–FLEX is inscribed in relief on a nameplate in front of the viewing hood.
The back is hinged to the top for film loading; it probably has a red window at the bottom, to set the position of the first exposure, but this is unconfirmed. The back latch and strap lugs are not styled the same as on the Rollekonter.
The two lenses are contained in a casing with a window at the top, displaying the aperture and speed settings, selected by turning the knobs placed on both sides. The shutter is a Bikor-Rapid (T, B, 1–500), wound by a lever at the bottom of the lens casing. The name BIKOR–RAPID is inscribed under the taking lens, and BIKODO between the two lenses.
The taking lens is reported as a Bikor 75mm f/3.5, whereas the viewing lens is a Bikor Anastigmat f/3.5, with no indication of the focal length. There is a bayonet filter attachment on the taking lens only. It is said that some cameras were equipped with a Hexar f/3.8, perhaps the Hexar Ser.II 7.5cm f/3.8 found on some examples of the Semi Pearl, but nothing is known for sure.
Commercial life and surviving examples
It seems that the Bikor-Flex was one of the first Japanese TLR cameras on the market after World War II, perhaps c.1946–7. The camera is mentioned in an article on Japanese TLR cameras by Kitano Kunio in Kohga Gekkan June 1949. In this document, the Bikor-Flex, Elmoflex, Luminaflex and Mamiyaflex Junior are listed — in that order — as the only Japanese TLR made after 1945. The author was unfavourably impressed by the Rollekonter and is not very confident in the camera, but has not tried it.
It seems that only very few examples of the camera were made. The only picture found so far appears in an article by Takasaki Akio; it shows a camera with taking lens no.3326.
- Kitano, p.49 of Kohga Gekkan June 1949: 東京では丸善などでも扱っている ('also handled by Maruzen in Tokyo').
- Takasaki, p.65 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.49.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.359.
- Picture in Takasaki, p.65 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.49.
- Takasaki, p.65 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.49, says that it was the first Japanese TLR camera released after 1945, quoting the book Kokusan kamera no erabikata by Sakurai Minoru, published by Ars in 1949 (wrongly dated 1959 in the article by Takasaki).
- Kitano, p.49 of Kohga Gekkan June 1949.
- Kitano, p.49 of Kohga Gekkan June 1949: ロールコンターの改称されたものと言えば、このカメラがどの程度の信用あるカメラであるかは最も簡明であろう。先づ一応写りはする。
- 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 701.
- Kitano Kunio (北野邦雄). "Mittsu no kokusan ōtomāto" (三つの国産オートマート, Three Japanese Automat). In Kohga Gekkan vol.8 no.6, June 1949. Pp.48–53.
- Takasaki Akio (高崎晶夫). "Kokusan 6×6cm-han nigan-refu A to Z" (国産6×6cm判二眼レフA to Z, Japanese 6×6cm TLR A to Z). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.49, December 1998. ISBN 4-257-13022-9. Amerika-sei 35mm renzu-shattā kamera (アメリカ製35mmレンズシャッターカメラ, issue about American 35mm lens-shutter cameras). Pp.64–73.
The camera is not listed in Sugiyama.