Special Pearlette

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The Special Pearlette is a Japanese folding camera taking 4×6.5cm exposures on 127 film, made by Konishiroku (predecessor of Konica) in 1929.


Despite its name, the Special Pearlette has nothing in common with the strut-folding Pearlette. It is a copy of the Rollfilm Tenax by Goerz. The folding bed is not self-erecting, and the front standard needs to be manually pulled out. The camera has double extension bellows, focused by a worm-gear placed on the folding bed, on the photographer's right. (The same arrangement is found on the Nifcarette A by Nichidoku, another copy of the Roll Tenax issued the same year.) There is a brilliant finder attached to the lens standard. The back is hinged to the bottom and the advance key is at the top right, as seen by the photographer holding the camera vertically. The name SPECIAL PEARLETTE is embossed in the front leather.

Commercial life

The Special Pearlette was briefly announced in 1929.[1] One author has suggested that the camera bodies were actually obtained from Goerz, and that Konishiroku only made the final assembly of the lens and shutter units, a theory which seems quite dubious.[2]

An advertisement for the Special Pearlette dated 1929, in the magazine Shashin no shumi issued by the Konishiroku company, lists the following lens and shutter combinations (all the lenses were made by Rodenstock):[3]

The Special Pearlette was certainly made in very small quantities. The only surviving examples observed so far are one pictured in Sugiyama.[4] Its shutter is a dial-set Compur, said to give T, B, 1–250 speeds, and its lens is reported as a Trinar Anastigmat 75/4.5 and another shown in the top photo of this article which has a dial-set Gauthier Pronto shutter (T, B, 25-100 speeds) and the same Rodenstock lens.


  1. Date: Lewis, p.49, Sugiyama, item 1143, Fujishima, p.53 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, Kameari, pp.2 and 7 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, and chronology of the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  2. Fujishima, p.53 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. The author says that he has no knowledge of any surviving example, whereas Sugiyama's book had been published a few years earlier, with a picture of a Special Pearlette. One of the main arguments for the theory is that the camera's technical level was too high for the Japanese industry of the time, but the existence of the contemporary Nifcarette A proves this wrong. (Nichidoku met some technical difficulties with the Nifcarette, and few examples of the model A were made, but the firm was arguably less experienced than Konishiroku.)
  3. Advertisement reproduced in Fujishima, p.53 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. The same combinations are listed in Kameari, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.11. Lewis, p.49, mentions a Prontor shutter, surely a confusion with the Pronto.
  4. Sugiyama, item 1143.


Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite) Sakura-flex