Peace Baby Flex
The Peace Baby Flex is a Japanese subminiature pseudo TLR made in the late 1940s or early 1950s, using 17.5mm paper backed rollfilm. The Peace Small Lef and Sholy-Flex are name variants of the same camera.
The Peace Baby Flex has the shape of a regular twin-lens reflex, but in a miniature form. The lens actually has fixed focus and aperture, and the camera is thus a pseudo TLR. Unlike most other cameras using 17.5mm film, it reportedly takes 12×14mm rectangular pictures (instead of 14×14mm).
The film is advanced by a knob on the photographer's right. The L-shaped back is hinged to the top, and retained by a simple latch at the bottom. It contains an uncovered red window surrounded by a diamond-shaped metal frame. The viewing hood has three ribs, and is very similar to that of the Baby Flex. The camera's entire front part is covered by a bright metal plate, giving a shiny aspect. The viewing lens has no marking; the taking lens is unnamed, and is only engraved 20mm on the rim, together with a serial number. The everset shutter gives B and I settings. The shutter plate is plain silver with black engravings.
The camera exists in a number of versions, only differing by the engravings on the shutter plate. The name appears above the lens, either as PEACE BABY FLEX, PEACE SMALL LEF or SHOLY–FLEX, and various initials are found under the lens, either N.D.N, S.R.N, M.S.N or S.P.S. The known combinations are the following, listed in ascending lens order:
- Sholy-Flex, N.D.N;
- Sholy-Flex, S.R.N;
- Peace Baby Flex, M.S.N;
- Peace Small Lef, S.P.S;
- Peace Baby Flex, S.P.S.
The Peace Baby Flex is certainly related to the Peace and Micky, and to the Baby Flex subminiature pseudo TLR. All these cameras were probably made by the same manufacturer. The lens number found on the Peace Baby Flex perhaps belongs to the same range as that of the Micky. The meaning of the various initials found on the shutter plates is completely unknown.
- Frame size: Sugiyama, item 5106.
- "Lef" is probably a misspelling of "Ref", an abbreviation for "Reflex" commonly used in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. ("Lef" and "Ref" would be pronounced the same by a Japanese speaker.)
- Examples pictured in this page at Submin.com (lens no.220) and as lot no.210 of the May 6, 2005 Christies sale (lens no.318).
- Example pictured in Pritchard, p.59 (lens no.661).
- Example pictured in McKeown, p.773 (lens no.893).
- Example pictured in this page at Submin.com (lens no.1136).
- Examples pictured in Pritchard, p.59 (lens no.1609), sold as lot no.735 of Westlicht Photographica Auction no.9 (lens no.2483; see links below), and as lot no.192 of the May 6, 2005 Christies sale (lens no.2557).
- 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.773.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. Pp.58–9.
- 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 5106.
The Peace Baby Flex is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.