The Shinkoflex and Flex Six are Japanese 6×6 SLR cameras made in the first half of the 1940s, and identical except for the name.
Date and original documents
Many sources say that the Shinkoflex appeared in 1940. It is said that the Shinkoflex was the first Japanese 6×6 SLR, the first Japanese rollfilm SLR with a focal plane shutter and the first Japanese camera to have an advance lever.
However neither the Shinkoflex nor the Flex Six are mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, which should list the whole Japanese camera production of the time. It seems that no advertisement for the camera was placed in the Japanese camera magazines.
A Shinkoflex or Flex Six body is nonetheless pictured in an advertisement dated March 1942 for the Kanko mirror lenses made by Kansai Kōgaku. The Shinkoflex also appears in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production.
Maker and distributor
The 1943 government inquiry says that the shutter and lens were made by Shinkō, the same company which made the Shinko Baby and probably the Shinko Super. The maker's name is unfortunately missing from the document, but it seems likely that the company which made the focal-plane shutter also made the rest of the body.
The Shinkoflex and Flex Six are strongly influenced by the Reflex-Korelle, with a focal plane shutter and a cube-like mirror box protruding from the body. The left half of the top plate has an advance lever and perhaps an exposure counter. The right half has the speed setting knob, with B, 10–500 speed settings. (Despite its probably common origin, the shutter of the Shinko Super only has 1/200 instead of 1/500 top speed.) It seems that the release button is on the right-hand side of the mirror box. The nameplate (Shinkoflex or Flex Six) is above the lens, in front of the viewing hood. The back is hinged to the right.
It is said that the lens is interchangeable. It is not known if it used the same mount as the Reflex-Korelle. The lens mentioned in the 1943 government inquiry is the same four-element Shinko 80/3.5 as on the Shinko Super.
Two actual examples of the Shinkoflex have been observed. One is pictured in Sugiyama and has a Radionar 7.5cm f/3.5 lens by Schneider, a lens that was perhaps originally made for the Reflex-Korelle. The other is pictured in Lewis and in this page of the JCII collection and has a different lens and a larger lens plate, almost covering all the front plate.
Kanko mirror lenses
The Kanko mirror lenses made by Kansai Kōgaku were available for the Flex Six or Shinkoflex body. (See the article about Kansai Kōgaku for the full range.) Surviving examples are known of the 450mm focal length Kanko 2600. One is pictured in Sugiyama and another in this page of the Old Telescope website.
- Date: Sugiyama, items 2008, 2027 and 6008; McKeown, pp.592 and 1020; this page of the JCII collection.
- See for example Sugiyama, item 2027, and McKeown, p.1020.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku".
- The camera is not mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, which makes a near exhaustive survey of advertisements.
- Advertisement] published in Hōdō Shashin, formerly reproduced in the Gochamaze website.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 127.
- Sugiyama, item 2027, and McKeown, p.1020, attribute the camera to "Yamashita Trading Co." This page of the JCII collection says "Yamashita Shōkai", but an advertisement for the Shinko Super reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.74, gives the name Yamashita Shōten. Lewis, p.57, says Yamashita Shōten too.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item F-5, lens item M3.
- Sugiyama, item 2008, McKeown, p.592.
- Speed range: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item F-5, Sugiyama, items 2008 and 2027, McKeown, pp.592 and 1020.
- Sugiyama, item 2027, McKeown, p.1020.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item M3.
- Sugiyama, item 2027.
- Lewis, p.57.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 2008.
- The camera is called "Flex Six (military version)" in Sugiyama, item 6008, but nothing indicates that it was made for the military.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Item 127.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in 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. Pp.108—9. The Shinkoflex and Flex Six do not appear in this list.
- 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.57.
- 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). Pp.592 and 1020.
- 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 2008, 2027 and 6008.
These cameras are not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.
- Shinkoflex in the Camera database of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology
- Documentation page of the Old Telescope website, with Kanko mirror lenses