The Reex is a Japanese folding camera taking both 6×9cm and 4.5×6cm pictures on 120 film, released in 1937 and sold by Bikōdō. The camera was perhaps made by Mori Seisakusho, a company that was surely related to Bikōdō, and that perhaps also made the Semi Dymos, which has some features in common with the Reex.
The camera is a plain copy of the Ikonta 6×9. There is a folding frame finder on one side and a brilliant finder attached to the lens standard, but none seems to indicate the framing for 4.5×6 exposures. There is no body release, and the folding bed release button is to the right of the frame finder, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally.
The film is advanced by a key placed opposite the frame finder, at the bottom right. The back is hinged to the left, and the latch is covered by a handle. There are two red windows to control the film advance, protected by covers retracted by turning a thumbwheel; the word PAT is sometimes engraved on the metal casing surrounding the windows, certainly indicating that the mechanism was patented. The exact same mechanism is found on the original Semi Dymos, which was perhaps related. The name REEX is embossed on the front leather, and no other marking is visible on the camera body.
|Reex leaflet. Click on the image for a translation. (Image rights)|
The Reex appears in a leaflet published around 1937, where the name is spelled リークス (rīkusu, pronounced "leaks") in Japanese characters. The document gives no indication of the company that made or sold this camera. It does mention the ability to take 6×9cm and 4.5×6cm pictures. The lens is described as a Prominar Anastigmat (プロミナーアナスチグマット) f/4.5, and the shutter as a Pladon (プラドン) giving T, B, 1–200 speeds. The price is given as ¥75, with ¥7 extra for the case. In the picture, the shutter plate is presumably marked Patents–Pending at the top and PLADON at the bottom, and has a PL logo in a circle on the right. The aperture scale is attached to the bottom, and there is a rather long release lever on the side.
|Announcement of the Reex in Asahi Camera September 1937. (Image rights)|
The new products column of the September 1937 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced on the right, features a camera called レックス (rekkusu, pronounced "lex"), taking 6×9cm and 4.5×6cm pictures and distributed by Bikōdō. This camera certainly corresponds to the Reex — the difference in the Japanese spelling is unexplained. The column mentions a choice of two f/4.5 lenses: ラインクスナー (rainkusunā, Roman spelling unknown) and ヒーデル (hīderu, perhaps Heedle), both made in Japan, mounted on Rulex or Pladon shutters (Pladon is actually spelt プラトン, puraton, perhaps a misprint). The price is quoted as ¥63 to ¥68.
At least two surviving examples of the Reex are known. They are similar to the camera pictured in the leaflet, except that the shutter face looks more modern with metal stripes on both sides of the lens. The Patents–Pending marking and the PL logo are similar, but the name displayed under the lens is Lex instead of Pladon. On at least one camera, the aperture scale attached to the bottom is reportedly covering another, directly inscribed on the shutter plate itself. The name of the Lex shutter and of the Reex camera may be pronounced the same by a Japanese speaker, and this is perhaps not a coincidence. The Lex shutters found on other cameras have a different range of speeds and slightly different markings, without the PL logo and with the company name Mars Tokyo; this Mars company was maybe the successor of the company using the PL logo.
The two cameras have 10.5cm f/4.5 lenses. On one of them, the lens name is confirmed as Prominar Anastigmat and the serial number is 3416. On the other, the number begins with the same two digits. After the war, the name "Prominar" was used by Kowa, a company founded in 1946; it is not known if there is a distant relationship between this lens and the later Kowa lenses.
- Column in Asahi Camera September 1937, p.524.
- Example pictured in Yokogawa, pp.74–5 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53. The marking seems absent from the example pictured here and here at the AJCC.
- Undated leaflet presenting various cameras including the Reex.
- Sugiyama, item 1176, reports a "Heedle" lens on the Masnette plate folder. Lewis, p.48, mentions a "Heeder" lens, but this source is less reliable for Roman spellings.
- Example pictured in Yokogawa, pp.74–5 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53, and example pictured here and here at the AJCC. These are two different examples, as evidenced by the different wear spots.
- Yokogawa, p.74 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53.
- Example pictured in Yokogawa, pp.74–5 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.53.
- Anonymous company. Leaflet for the Victory, Semi Dymos, Reex, Baby Ref, Union Ref and Baby Chrome. Date not indicated. Document reproduced in this Flickr album by Rebollo_fr.
- Asahi Camera September 1937. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and machinery). P.524.
- 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 320.
- Yokogawa Takashi (横川孝). "Nazo no kokusan supuringu-kamera 'Reex'" (謎の国産スプリングカメラ「Reex」, The Reex: a mysterious Japanese self-erecting camera). 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.53, December 1999. ISBN 4-257-13026-1. Tokushū: 50-nin no korekutā ni kiku watakushi no ichi-dai (特集:50人のコレクターに聞く私の1題, 50 stories told by camera collectors). Pp.74–5.
The Reex is not listed in Sugiyama.