The Koniflex is slightly unusual in its 85mm lenses (rather than the customary 75–80mm). The View Hexar viewing lens is f/3.0 (and, thanks to a condenser, the screen is fairly bright); the taking lens is a Hexanon f/3.5 with five elements in three groups, said to be similar in design and characteristics to Voigtländer's Heliar. The entire lens assembly moves in order to focus. One can focus "beyond infinity" in order to retract the lens assembly further within the body; this not only saves some space but also locks the shutter. (When focusing, there is a tangible "click" as one passes the infinity setting, so there is little or no danger of accidentally misfocusing.)
The shutter is a Seikosha-Rapid (B, 1–400).
The Koniflex uses semi-automatic film advance (unusually, for either 120 or 620 film); you align the start mark against two red dots, close the back, and use a knob on the right to wind until winding stops as "1" appears in a small window on the left; after cocking and firing the shutter (below and to below and to the left of the taking lens respectively), you press the button within the wind knob, release it, and wind on till stopped as "2" appears in the window — and so forth.
An accessory shoe is on the left. The finder hood contains a large magnifying glass and the front of the hood can be flipped out of the way to create a sports finder.
|image by SoundOptics (Image rights)|
The original Koniflex (sometimes referred to as Koniflex I) was released at the end of 1952. It has a Kodak-style flash terminal. Its dimensions when closed are 145(H)×98(W)×104(D) mm., and it weighs 960g; it takes 39.5mm screw or 40.5mm push-on filters. It was priced at ¥47,000, unusually high for a TLR.
Minor improvements were made in mid-1955: baffles to cut internal reflections, a double exposure lock (with override at the front centre of the left-hand side), and an improved catch to hold the back closed. The flash terminal is now PC. (This camera is now often referred to as the Koniflex II; Konishiroku did not call it this at the time, and the nameplates of both versions simply say KONIFLEX.) With the release of the improved version, the price of the original was dropped to ¥41,500. Later examples of this improved version had further refinements to the finder.
|"Tele-Koniflex II" from July, 1957|
Popular Photography (Image rights)
Around 1956 and 1957 a small number of the late Koniflex models were exported to north America and sold as the Tele-Koniflex, in a set including replacement lens elements converting the taking lens to a Tele-Hexanon 135/4.5; and the viewing lens to a View Tele-Hexar 135/3.5. A high USD $289.50 list price, plus limited distribution, make this a rare version. The lens set has the same serial number as the body for which it was intended. (The attachment lenses were first displayed in October 1954 in an exhibition of future products held by the company in three department stores in Tokyo.)
The Koniflex was the only 6×6 TLR that Konishiroku ever sold. (It had created a prototype Sakura-flex in 1939.) Stock of the Koniflex ran out in 1958, by which time its price had sunk to ¥32,000. Total production was less than 13,000.
|Koniflex and Tele Koniflex side-by-side|
image by yalluflex (Image rights)
|Konishiroku (Konica) Japan Tele-Koniflex 6x6cm, |
Tele-Hexanon f4.5/135mm lens, View Tele-Hexar f3.5/135mm viewer lens
Images by yalluflex. (Image rights)
- Heliar comparison: Nakajima.
- "Left" and "right" in this discussion are from the point of view of the photographer taking a photograph.
- Hagiya, p.128 of Miryoku saihakken: Nigan refu.
- Miyazaki, p.134.
- The cut-out in the front of the finder hood — the front when erected; the top of the hood when closed — is slightly smaller, and the area outside the cut-out is also covered with leather. Miyazaki, pp.134–5.
- "How to Choose a 2¼×2¼ Reflex," April 1956 Modern Photography (Vol. 20, No. 4), pages 54–55. Model is listed as "Super Koniflex." The interchangeable elements are described thus: "Front element of taking lens exchanged and supplementary optics added to upper lens to convert 85mm lens to 135mm."
- "Twin-Lens Reflex Roundup," July 1957 Popular Photography (Vol. 41, No. 1) page 69. Model is listed as "Tele-Koniflex II."
- Miyazaki, p.135.
- Hagiya, p.130 of Sekai no Raika renzu. He says that "two types of interchangeable lenses for the Koniflex" were exhibited, presumably corresponding to the taking and viewing attachments.
- Miyazaki, p.135.
- Konika-Minoruta-ten, p.25.
Sources / further reading
- 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 516–7. (See also the advertisement for item 514.)
- Hagiya Takeshi (萩谷剛). "Koniflex I" (コニフレックスI). In Miryoku saihakken: Nigan refu: Firumu kamera ha e no messēji (魅力再発見・二眼レフ：フィルムカメラ派へのメッセージ, Fascination rediscovery: TLRs: A message to film cameras). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppansha, 2006. Pp.128–9.
- Hagiya Takeshi (萩谷剛). "Hexanon 50mm F1.9". In Sekai no Raika renzu (世界のライカレンズ, Leica lenses of the world) Part 1. Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2003. ISBN 4-87956-061-8. Pp.130–1.
- Konika-Minoruta-ten (コニカミノルタ展, Konica Minolta exhibition). Exhibition catalogue. Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 2005.
- Miyazaki Shigemoto (宮崎繁幹). Konika kamera no 50nen: Konika I-gata kara Hekisā RF e (コニカカメラの50年：コニカI型からヘキサーRFへ, Fifty years of Konica cameras: From the Konica I to the Hexar RF). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 2003. ISBN 4-257-12038-X
- Nakajima Akitoshi (中島章年). "Koniflex" (コニフレックス). 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.35, November 1995. Nihon no kamera 50nen (日本のカメラ50年, special issue on 50 years of Japanese cameras). P.107.
- Ozaki Sankichi (尾崎三吉). Konifurekkusu no tsukaikata (コニフレックスの使い方, How to use the Koniflex). Tokyo: Amico, 1953.
- Watakushi no ni-gan-refu kamera-ten (私の二眼レフカメラ展, Exhibition of twin lens reflex cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.29.
- JJ's page on the Koniflex
- Koniflex and Koniflex II in the Camera database of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology
- Koniflex restoration in Kan's Room
- Koniflex II CLA at Takasaki Motohiro's Shiroto shashinki shūri kōbō
- Koniflex (archived) and Koniflex II (archived) from Kitamura
- Koniflex II at TLR Milestone
- Koniflex I and Koniflex II at Konica Minolta's camera history
- Koniflex at Classic Camera Beginners' Club
- Koniflex at Shashin wo tanoshimu