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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.[1] 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.[2]

Primoflex I

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.[1] 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).[3]
  • 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 II

The Primoflex II was introduced in 1952. [4] 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.[5] 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. Tokyo Optical page at collector Barry Toogood's '' site.]
  3. The IB and the II were offered for the US market in a May, 1953, Popular Photography advertisement (Vol. 32,. No. 5; pg. 162), without prices listed.
  4. Primoflex II (simple pictures of the camera, and sample photographs; text in Japanese) at Puppy's Island.
  5. 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!