The Primoflex is a series of TLR cameras for 6×6 cm exposures on 120 film, made by Tōkyō Kōgaku in about 1950, for the distributor Ōsawa to sell. There were several models between then and 1957. Some of the cameras were also sold under the name Laurelflex, and Tōkyō Kōgaku sold some models itself under name Topcoflex; however, the Primoflex cameras are more common.
The original Primoflex model from 1950 has Tōkō 75 mm f/3.5 lenses and an NKS shutter giving speeds from 1 to 1/200 second, plus 'B'. It has conventional film advance, with a red window, according to McKeown. There were several improvements of the camera between 1950 and '52. McKeown lists these:
- Primoflex (I), as described above.
- Primoflex I (without parentheses) with the addition of a flash synchronisation terminal.
- Primoflex IA (some of these have a Rectus shutter instead of the NKS, but with the same speed range as above).
- Primoflex IB (with a Rectus shutter, automatic frame spacing (i.e. the film is advanced to frame 1 using a red window, and the winding knob stops automatically for the rest of the roll), and a badge on the front of the focusing hood).
- Primoflex IBB (with the hood able to fold into a 'sports finder').
The scanned column from Photo Art (right) describes the Tōkō lenses as 'hard-coated'. It mentions both flash synchronisation and auto-stop winding, but describes the camera with an NKS shutter, and does not show the badge on the hood, so the scheme above may be an over-simplification. The column refers to the equivalent Topcoflex camera, saying this has an Orient III shutter with the same range of speeds. It compares both to 'the old Rolleicord II f/3.5'.
|Primoflex Automat L|
image by steveod2007 (Image rights)
The Primoflex II was introduced in 1952.  Same as the "Laurelflex" that was launched from the Seikosha. The camera still has a Tōkō viewing lens, but now has a Tessar-type 75 mm f/3.5 Simlar taking lens. Both are coated. The shutter is a Seikosha Rapid or a Konirapid, giving 1 to 1/500 second, plus 'B'; this is now cocked automatically by advancing the film.
- 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). p924-5.
- Tokyo Optical page at collector Barry Toogood's 'TLR-Cameras.com' site.]
- Primoflex II (simple pictures of the camera, and sample photographs; text in Japanese) at Puppy's Island.
- Coating is clearly visible in the pictures of the Primoflex II (in Japanese, with several pictures, including disassembly) at Motohiro Takasaki's camera pages: this seems to be the camera shown at Puppy's Island. The host site really is the Takasaki clinic, offering endoscopy!
- Primoflex cameras at TLR-Cameras.com: