The Nōman Flex is a copy of the Rolleicord. The whole front plate moves back and forth for focusing, and is driven by a knob on the photographer's right, surrounded by a plate with depth-of-field indications. The film is advanced by a knob on the right, with an auto-stop mechanism which is perhaps unlocked by pressing a button in the middle of the knob. There is a round window for an exposure counter at the top of the right-hand side, whose mechanism is certainly engaged by the small sliding button visible next to the advance knob. The back has a single red window towards the bottom, protected by a horizontally sliding cover and used to set the position of the first exposure.
The viewing hood is two-fold and contains a magnifying lens hinged to the front. The nameplate has a stepped frame and reads Nōman Flex (with a macron). The company name Ihara Kogaku is written below.
The lens is a K.O.L. 75mm f/3.5, perhaps inscribed K.O.L. Nōman Trion. The shutter is a Nōman Model I (B, 1–300) made by Ihara itself. The shutter plate is black with silver stripes and has the name Nōman Model I inscribed on the left (as seen from the front). The shutter casing is surrounded by a silver disc with the aperture scale, graduated from 3.5 to 25. There are two release levers, both on the photographer's right: one is sliding under the front standard and the other is on the side. This configuration was advertised as completely suppressing motion blur. Next to the release levers is a black part, shaped as a mushroom, whose use is unknown. The cocking lever is on the other side of the front standard.
The camera has an internal synchronization device and a U-shaped support for a flash gun on the left-hand side. The flash connection is presumably cordless: one of the advertising pictures shows the camera with a flash unit attached and no visible synch cord.
Advertisements and other documents
The Nōman Flex was advertised in Japanese magazines from April 1942 to January 1943. Advertisements dated May and October 1942 present the camera as a new model and give the price of ¥290 (a high price, the same as the Auto Semi Minolta). The lens is mentioned as a K.O.L. f/3.5. The May advertisement says that the camera was the result of many years of research by the company Ihara Kōgaku (井原光学が多年研究の結果).
The camera also appears in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production. The lens is given as a three-element "K.O.L. Nōman Trio" 75/3.5 made by Gojō (the successor of Kajiro Kōgaku) and the shutter as a Nōman I (B, 1–300) made by Ihara.
|Nōman Flex. Pictures courtesy of Angela Cummings. (Image rights)|
- The spelling "Norman Flex" found in Sugiyama, item 2018, and in this page (archive.org) at Japan Family Camera is a mistake.
- Dates: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
- The lens is reported as a "K.O.L. Norman Trion" in Sugiyama, item 2018, where the camera is wrongly called "Norman Flex". The word "Trion" is faintly legible on the picture published in Takasaki, p.69 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.49.
- Shutter made by Ihara: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-U-9.
- This is described in Noma, p.93 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22.
- Advertisement reproduced in Inoue, p.132 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14 (シャッター独創的レバーに依り震動絶無).
- Advertisement reproduced in Inoue, p.132 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
- May 1942: advertisement reproduced in Inoue, p.132 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14. (The advertisement's reproduction has a handwritten note reading SB 1942.5, certainly indicating that the advertisement was found in the May 1942 issue of Shashin Bunka.) October 1942: advertisement published in Shashin Bunka, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.81.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 123.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Lb30.
- Sugiyama, item 2018, Noma, p.93 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22, Takasaki, p.69 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.49.
- 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 166.
- Inoue, Mitsuo (井上光朗). "Shashin renzu no yoake. Renzu-ya Funsenki" (写真レンズの夜明け・レンズ屋奮戦記, Dawn of the photographic lens – Fierce war tales between lens shops). 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.14, October 1989. No ISBN number. Rikō kamera no subete (リコーカメラのすべて, special issue on Ricoh). Pp.128–132.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Item 123.
- Noma Toshio (野間俊夫). "Shattā botan no utsuri-kawari" (シャッターボタンの移り変わり, Various locations of the shutter button). 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.22, September 1992. No ISBN number. Airesu no subete (アイレスのすべて, special issue on Aires). Pp.92–9.
- 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 2018.
- 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.