The Mikono Flex (ミコノフレックス) are Japanese 6×6cm TLRs, made in 1952–3 by Kojima Kōgaku Seiki. Three models exist: the Mikono Flex S and P are true TLRs with externally geared lenses whereas the Mikono Flex C is a fixed-focus pseudo TLR.
|Mikono Flex P (Image rights)|
All the Mikono Flex models share the same side-loading bakelite body. The right-hand sideplate is removable together with the exposure chamber for film loading. It is locked by a key on the photographer's left, with O and L indications for Open and Lock. There are simple strap lugs on both sides, and a characteristic row of five parallel depressions running on the body sides and back. The name Mikono Flex is written in front of the viewing hood.
The Mikono Flex C
The Mikono Flex C is the cheapest model. It has a fixed-focus f/16 taking lens, whose rim is engraved MODEL–C and COATED B–1. The shutter reportedly gives B, 25, 50 speeds. The viewing hood consists of a simple flap and the advance knob is a small bakelite part.
The Mikono Flex P and S
The Mikono Flex P is a more advanced model. It has externally geared lenses attached to the front standard; these are three-element Mikono Anastigmat 80/3.5. The shutter is reportedly called Mikono-Rapid and gives B, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 speeds. The setting lever and release lever are directly placed on the shutter casing, the aperture scale is placed on the front plate, on one side of the lens, and the flash synch post is buried at the bottom of the front standard. The advance knob is a heavier metal part containing a film reminder. The red window in the middle of the back has a vertically sliding cover, and there is an accessory shoe on the photographer's left.
The Mikono Flex S is the same as the P with B, 1–200 speeds and a self-timer.
The three Mikono Flex models were announced in Japanese photographic magazines dated October and November 1952 and February 1953, but only the Mikono Flex P and C were advertised, in April and June 1953. The June advertisement in Shashin Salon gives the price of ¥8,300 for the P and ¥3,200 for the C, case included. The Mikono-6 and Mikono-35 were announced in the same advertisement.
Surviving examples and name variants
At least some examples of the focusing Mikono Flex were sold under the name Flex-O-Cord, probably for export only. One of these is pictured in McKeown, where the shutter name is reported as MRS. The same source mentions advertisements for a Flex-O-Cord II which does not seem to differ significantly.
- Three elements: advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.190. Mikono Anastigmat name: Sugiyama, item 2180.
- Mikono-Rapid name: Sugiyama, item 2180.
- Features of the Mikono Flex S: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.367.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.367.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.190.
- Mikono Flex P: example pictured in Sugiyama, item 2180, example pictured in Watakushi no ni-gan-refu kamera-ten, p.30, example pictured in this page of the AJCC, and example observed in an online auction.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4163.
- McKeown, p.536.
- 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 889–90.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.80 (brief mention only).
- 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.536.
- 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 2180 and 4163.
- 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 (brief text only).
- 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.30.