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Halma and Prinz Cameras

McKeown lists five 120 TLRs and two 127s as Halma, but has no mention of either of the Prinz models. Sugiyama only mentions one 127 Halma TLR at all. My very expert fellow TLR collector, Terry Hardy, has provided a 1960 advert which says the Halmas were made by Tohko Co. Ltd. of Osaka (see page link below). I searched the web at length to see if such a company still existed, but without result, so I thought must have been taken over or closed at some time thereafter.

Then I received the following note from Koji Namikawa of Hiroshima, who has kindly provided further information (I have slightly edited his words for clarity):

I will inform that the name of the manufacturer was understood from having known the relation between Halma and Prinz. Manufacturer is Hara Factory Ltd. Address is 461 Shimootiai Yono, Saitama, Japan. President is Giiti Hara. This company is a company that made Lustre Flex. Tohko is like a distributor. The company name when Lustre Flex is made is Luster Optics. When Halma and Prinz were made, it seems to have changed the name to the Hara Factory. The address and the president of the Lustre Optics and Hara factory Ltd are the same. This thing has been understood from material that describes the camera manufacturer (as part of the) inspection for export. As for Lustre from 1956-58, Halma and Prinz from 1961-64 has received the inspection according to this material.

There was no doubt in my mind that these are all by the same maker (but Mr Namikawa has very helpfully confirmed this). All the basic parts are identical - knobs, viewfinder, cases, chrome/stainless bits, and all have the shoe in the same very unusual (and rather silly) place on the right side. The Halma and Prinz Flex have the same Halmar taking lens. The Halma and Prinz Auto are practically identical, although the Prinz Flex seems a little earlier.

What I had previously no knowledge of - and which does not appear in any of the reference texts - is that Halma developed out of Lustre Optics. Looking now at the Lustre models (see lower down this page), one can see that there are certain similarities - particularly in the style of the latch for the back. At some point, I shall aim to combine all the Halma and Lustre models under one entry. Any further information will be gratefully received! The Prinz models were definitely made for sale by Dixons Photographic in the UK. There is nothing on the cameras to indicate this, but I have been able to confirm from a seller on eBay that he had a Prinz Auto with the original packaging, on which was stated unequivocally "manufactured exclusively for Dixons". It is known that from early in his career, Stanley Kalms of Dixons used to travel to Japan to have models made for Dixons' range - for which I believe the Prinz name was always used. I contacted Dixons' corporate affairs people for more details, but unfortunately found them unhelpful and dismissive - "not corporate policy" to help!. Clearly too occupied with conning the public...

Below the 120 TLRs' there is a note on an unusual 127 TLR I have obtained, called the
PRINZ 44. I now know that this is another Halma-sourced model, but read the details for yourself!

There's a little more information on Halma on a linked page, including a picture of the Halma Auto (I don't have one, so if you want to sell one or know where it can be found
PLEASE LET ME KNOW) and a Halma advert from the fifties (courtesy of Terry Hardy, who is always generous with his fountain of knowledge on Japanese TLRs). To see the page, click here.

Halma Flex IIB

Quite solid, and apparently fairly well made. The spec matches the description of a IIB in McKeown. This particular one is in nice, clean condition.

Taking lens is Halmar 80mm f3.5
Shutter is Copal MXV 1 to 1/500

Prinz Flex (Dixons)

This feels several years older than the Halma, and has red window film counting. I'd guess it's very similar to the Halma Flex I listed in McKeown.

Taking lens is Halmar 80mm f3.5
Shutter unnamed 1 to 1/300

Prinz Auto (Dixons)

This is the one which seems very like the Halma Flex IIB (left). Lenses and one or two other differences, but overall it's hard to tell them apart.
Taking lens is Tri-Lausar 80mm f3.5
Shutter is Copal MXV 1 to 1/500

Prinz 44 (made by Halma)

At right is a thumbnail pic which links to the page for an unusual little camera - my Prinz 44 4x4 TLR for 127 film. As I've said elsewhere in this site, I don't usually buy 127 models, because space is already an issue for the large numbers of 6x6s I collect. However, this one intrigued me, for reasons explained in detail on the linked page.