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The Reflex Beauty (レフレックス・ビューティ) is a Japanese 6×6 SLR made by Taiyōdō in the mid-1950s.
See also the Beautyflex 6×6 TLR.
The Reflex Beauty (I)
The original model was released in 1954. It is recognized by the separate film advance and shutter winding, the silver nameplate and other details.
The design of the Reflex Beauty was strongly influenced by the Reflex-Korelle, but it is not a dead-copy.
The main body has a prismatic shape and the cubic mirror box protrudes at the front. On the original model, the film runs horizontally from right to left; it is advanced by a knob placed at the top left and containing a film reminder disc. The serial number is engraved on a small plate screwed to the top plate next to the advance knob. The back is hinged to the right and contains a red window in the middle, protected by a horizontally sliding cover, for manual control of the film advance. The leather is embossed TAIYŌDŌ KŌKI CO. under the red window.
The focal-plane shutter has horizontally travelling curtains; it is wound by a lever at the top right and the speed is selected by a knob placed immediately to the left. The available speeds are B, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500. The release button and a cable release thread are attached to the right of the mirror box — as seen by the photographer. There is an accessory shoe and a sunken PC synch socket on the left, and there are strap lugs on each side. The tripod thread is placed under the mirror box and there are two film flanges under the bottom plate, allowing the camera to stand on a table.
The nameplate is in front of the viewing hood; it is silver-coloured and engraved Reflex Beauty in cursive script on the original model. The center part of the hood is retractable, giving place to a sports finder, and has a shape reminding the Hasselblad viewing hoods. There is also a loupe hinged at the back of the hood. The mirror is moved upwards when the release button is tripped and only comes back when the shutter is wound again.
The lens mount is the same screw thread as on the Reflex-Korelle. The standard lens is a TKK Canter 75mm f/3.5 in all-chrome finish, made by Taiyōdō — the initials TKK were used by Taiyōdō Kōki. It has a slightly knurled focusing ring with depth-of-field indications, and has an aperture ring at the front going from 3.5 to 22.
|Reflex Beauty no.11568, TKK Canter 75mm f/3.5 lens no.11712.|
Pictures courtesy of George Cronk. (Image rights)
Advertisements and other documents
The Reflex Beauty was announced in many Japanese magazines in October 1954. It was offered for ¥18,800 in an advertisement in Asahi Camera dated the same month. This advertisement also mentions a 150mm lens as "under production" (製作中), presumably meaning "available soon". This lens has not been observed yet and it is not known if it was actually sold.
The Reflex Beauty II
The Reflex Beauty II was released in 1956. It was featured in various Japanese magazines throughout the year 1956 but no advertisement is known.
The model II has a bayonet mount, locked by a lever at the bottom. The other main difference with the previous model is the coupling of the film advance to the shutter winding: both are operated by a black and chrome lever at the top right, slightly different from the lever of the original model. As a consequence, the film now runs from left to right and the advance knob has disappeared from the top left corner; the film reminder disc is directly mounted on the top plate. The model II presents other minor changes in the shape of the shutter release and in the black nameplate engraved Reflex Beauty in typewriter script.
The standard lens of the Reflex Beauty II is the same as on the original model, supplied with an adapter converting the screw mount to the bayonet mount. The only other known lens is the TKK Canter 135mm f/4, a short tele lens apparently using the bayonet mount directly. Only two examples of this lens have been observed so far, with serial numbers in the 35xxx range.
The examples of the Reflex Beauty observed so far have a body number in the 11xxx or 12xxx range and a lens number in the 10xxx, 11xxx or 12xxx range. The serial number sequence probably began at 10000 and we can roughly estimate the total production at less than 3,000.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.361.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.169. See also the advertisement published in Photo Art October 1954, reproduced on p.168 of the same book.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.396.
- Lens no.35003 sold in lot 42 of Rahn Photographica Auction 4, and lens no.35135 sold in lot 666 of Westlicht auction 10 (see the links below). The lens no.35003 might be the third example produced.
- 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. Items 744 and 1469. (See also the advertisement for item 738.)
- Camera Collectors' News no.219. Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha.
- 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.86 (brief mention only).
- 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.114.
- 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. Items 2068–9.
- Reflex Beauty II: lot no.666 of auction no.10 (November 18, 2006) by Westlicht Photographica Auction (now Leitz Photographica Auction)
- Past auctions by LP Foto: