Crown Flex and Veri Flex
The Crown Flex (クラウンフレックス) and Veri Flex (ベリーフレックス) are Japanese 6×6 TLRs made in the first half of the 1950s. The Crown Flex was distributed by Kōyō Shōji in 1953, and the similar Veri Flex was advertised by its manufacturer Kobayashi Seikō in 1954. It is not known if the Crown Flex is related to the Crown 6×6 folder.
Crown Flex and Veri Flex I
The Crown Flex and the Veri Flex I have a protruding front standard shaped as on the Rolleicord but have externally coupled geared lenses driven by a focusing tab. The film is advanced by a knob on the photographer's right, and it is certainly controlled by a red window. The viewing hood has a built-in sportsfinder, and the nameplate reads Crown flex. There is an accessory shoe on the photographer's left. The release lever is attached to the front standard at the bottom and is actuated by the photographer's right fingers.
The Crown Flex
The lenses of the Crown Flex are Kōyō Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5, reportedly made by Tomioka, probably rebadged versions of the Tri-Lausar. The taking lens is engraved KŌYŌ Anastigmat 1:3.5 f=80mm. No.xxxx and the viewing lens has K.S.K. KŌYŌ Anastigmat 1:3.5 f=80mm. and no serial number. The meaning of K.S.K. in this context is unknown.
The shutter reportedly gives B, 1–200 speeds and has a self-timer and flash synchronization. It was probably mentioned as an NKS in the 1953 articles, but it is reported as an "HKS" in some sources, perhaps by mistake.
The Crown Flex has a brown leather case embossed Crown flex at the front. Three surviving examples of the camera have been observed or reported so far.
The Veri Flex I
The Veri Flex I (ベリーフレックスⅠ型) was featured in May 1954 issues of Japanese magazines, and it was advertised in the May and August 1954 issues of Sankei Camera. The August advertisement shows the maker's name Kobayashi Seikō and the price of ¥12,000. It also says that the shutter is an NKS and that the synch socket is placed on the left-hand side plate.
The only surviving example observed so far is pictured in Sugiyama. The camera is exactly similar to the Crown Flex but for the lens markings K.S.K. VERI Anastigmat on the viewing lens and VERI Anastigmat on the taking lens.
Other Veri Flex model
Sugiyama shows a picture of another Veri Flex model. The general shape, strap lugs and advance knob are similar to the Veri Flex I. The front standard has a different rectangular shape. The viewing hood has no sportsfinder; the nameplate is rectangular and has VERI FLEX in capital letters. The back latch is different too. The lenses are reported as Doimer Anastigmat 8cm f/3.5 and the shutter is reported as an NKS (B, 1–200). The aperture scale is engraved on a thin metal casing surrounding the shutter, and the release lever directly protrudes from the same casing on the other side.
A picture of a similar camera has been observed, showing the buried synch post of the left-hand side plate, a lever on the left of the viewing hood whose function is unknown, a large magnifying lens and perhaps minor differences with the example pictured in Sugiyama: it seems that the lens rims are black instead of silver and the metal casing surrounding the shutter is not visible.
The name Crownflex was used again a few years later for a name variant of the Toyocaflex (see this page).
- Kōyō Shōji, date: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.351. Kobayashi: advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.180.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.351.
- Lenses made by Tomioka: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.351.
- Shutter features: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.351.
- NKS: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.351. HKS: Sugiyama, item 2079; McKeown, p.468.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 2079, example observed for sale at a dealer and example reported here in the Yahoo Japan classic camera forum.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.364.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.180.
- Sugiyama, item 2274.
- Sugiyama, item 2275.
- Lenses and shutter: Sugiyama, item 2275.
- Example pictured in this page at tlr-cameras.com.
- 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. Items 492 and 813.
- 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.468.
- 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. Items 2079 and 2274–5.