Description of the Ofunaflex
The Ofunaflex is a copy of the Rolleicord III. The front standard moves back and forth for focusing, and is driven by a knob on the photographer's right, with depth-of-field indications. The film is advanced by a knob on the same side, with an auto-stop device unlocked by pressing the central part of the knob. The position of the first exposure is set by aligning a start mark, and the camera has no red window at all. The round exposure counter window is at the top of the right-hand side.
The viewing hood displays the OFUNA logo and has a built-in sportsfinder and a magnifying lens hinged at the front. It is said that the camera has a manual parallax correction device inside the viewfinder. The name OFUNAFLEX is inscribed on a nameplate above the front plate, with the body serial number sometimes written in small characters below.
The four-element Ofunar 7.5cm f/3.5 F.C. taking lens was designed by Kunitomo Kenji (国友健司) within Ōfuna and made by the company itself. The viewing lens is a View Ofunar 7.5cm f/3.2, and both lenses have bayonet filter attachments. The shutter is a Seikosha-Rapid (B, 1–500), enclosed in a casing with a silver face inscribed SEIKOSHA–RAPID at the top and OFUNA OPT. CO. at the bottom. The shutter cocking lever protrudes under the casing, and the speed and aperture levers are on either side. The selected values are displayed in small windows placed immediately above the control levers: the speed on the photographer's right and the aperture on the left. The release button is at the bottom of the front plate, to the photographer's left, and has double exposure prevention. The position of the PC synch socket varied with time.
The Ofunaflex was advertised in Japanese magazines from June 1953, and was featured in various magazines in July and August. It is said that the company had some difficulty to manufacture the camera, and that the Ofunaflex was not ready for production when it was presented to the press.
The advertisements in Asahi Camera June and November 1953 give the price of ¥30,000. The pictured camera has the synch socket at the bottom of the front plate, on the photographer's right, has no cable release thread in the shutter button and no body serial number in the nameplate. These features are said to be typical of the early cameras; these are called "Ofunaflex I" in some sources, but this designation was not used in the original documents. None of the surviving examples observed so far has these early features, and the only other picture showing them is a photograph of an early Ofunaflex (with lens no.1954x) published in Hagiya, from the album of Kano Masayuki (狩野正之), who was responsible for the assembly and quality control of the Ofunaflex and Ofuna Six from 1954. These pictures possibly show preseries cameras only, and the Ofunaflex was perhaps never sold in this configuration.
The next version is called "Ofunaflex II" in some sources, but this name does not appear in the original documents seen so far. It has the synch socket at the top of the front plate, on the photographer's left, has a cable release thread in the shutter button and the body serial number written in small characters under the OFUNAFLEX name. The earliest advertisement to show these features is that in the December 1953 issue of Asahi Camera, which gives the unchanged price of ¥30,000. The last reported advertisement for the Ofunaflex is dated October 1954.
Some sources give the price of ¥27,000 for the "Ofunaflex II" and mention an "Ofunaflex Automat" with self-cocking shutter, sold at ¥30,000 in October 1953, but this is unconfirmed.
All the known surviving examples have the late features. The only confirmed body number is 28410, where the two digits possibly correspond to Showa year 28, i.e. 1953. Lens numbers are known in the 18xxx, 19xxx and perhaps 20xxx range. Kano Masayuki, interviewed by Hagiya, says that about 500 examples of the Ofunaflex were made.
- Note the change of pronunciation from that of Ōfuna (大船), the manufacturer.
- Copy of the Rolleicord III: Sakurai, p.35, and Hagiya, p.155 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Start mark: advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.124–5, and in Hagiya, p.157 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Manual parallax correction: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.358. A parallax correction device (パララックス修整装置) is mentioned with no further details in the advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.124–5, and in Hagiya, p.157 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Lens designed by Kunitomo Kenji (国友健司) and made by Ōfuna: Hagiya, p.155 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Double exposure prevention: Hagiya, p.155 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.348, Hagiya, p.159 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari. The date of September 1952 given in this page at Japan Family Camera for the "Ofunaflex I" is probably a mistake.
- Hagiya, p.159 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.124–5.
- "Ofunaflex I": Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.348, and this page at Japan Family Camera.
- Picture in Hagiya, p.157 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari. Kano Masayuki: p.162 of the same source.
- "Ofunaflex II": Sugiyama, item 2201, McKeown, p.743, Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.348, this page at Japan Family Camera and this page at tlr66.com.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.125, which is the earliest listed for the "Ofunaflex II" on p.348 of the same source. See also the advertisement dated 1954 reproduced in this page at Shashin-Bako. The date of May 1953 given in Lewis, p.82 and in this page at Japan Family Camera for the "Ofunaflex II" is probably a mistake, and the advertisement reproduced in Hagiya, p.157 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari, is probably dated 1954, despite what is said in the caption ("around 1953").
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.348.
- "Ofunaflex II" at ¥27,000: Lewis, p.82, this page at Japan Family Camera and this page at tlr66.com. "Ofunaflex Automat": Lewis, p.82 (does not mention the price), and this page at Japan Family Camera.
- Body no.28410: example pictured in Hagiya, pp.156–7 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari.
- Lens no.18909: example pictured in Takasaki, p.69 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.49. Lens no.1954x: example with early features pictured in Hagiya, p.157 of Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari. Body no.28410, lens no.1985x: example pictured in Hagiya, pp.156–7. Lens no.2x011 (perhaps 20011): example observed in an online auction. Pictures of other examples are known, but none has legible serial numbers.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi Items 434–5. (See also the advertisement for item 436.)
- Hagiya Takeshi (萩谷剛). "Ōfuna Kōgaku no kamera: Kamera kara kōgaku heiki e" (大船光学のカメラ：カメラから光学兵器へ, The cameras of Ōfuna Kōgaku: From cameras to military optics). Chapter 8 of Zunō kamera tanjō: Sengo kokusan kamera jū monogatari (ズノーカメラ誕生：戦後国産カメラ10物語, The birth of the Zunow camera: Ten stories of postwar Japanese camera makers). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1999. ISBN 4-257-12023-1. Originally published in 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.39, September 1996. ISBN 4-257-13007-5. Modan kurashikku renzu-hen (特集：モダンクラシックレンズ編, Modern classic lenses)..
- 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.82.
- 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.743.
- Sakurai Minoru. "Kokusan supuringu kamera benran" (国産スプリングカメラ便覽, Guide to Japanese folding cameras.) In Shashin zasshi Camera zōkan shirīzu: Supuringu kamera (写真雑誌Camera増刊シリーズ・スプリングカメラ). Tokyo: Ars, February 1954. Pp.31–56.
- 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 2201.
- 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.
- Ofunaflex among other cameras in a post at Kaze ni fukarete
- Ofunaflex specifications (archive.org) at Japan Family Camera
- Ofunaflex in a list of TLR prices at tlr66.com
- Advertisement for the Ofunaflex and Ofuna Six dated 1954, reproduced in Shashin-Bako
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