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Konishiroku Photo Industry (Konica) Koniflex, etc.

Konica traces its history to 1873 and the opening of a photographic import and sales business called Konishi-ya in Tokyo. It became Konishi Honten in 1876, and a recognised major supplier of photographic material and imported cameras during the last part of the nineteenth century. In the early 1900s, Konishi set up a manufacturing subsidiary, Rokuosha, to produce cameras, including the 1903 "Cherry", the first Japanese camera to have a brand name. In 1907 it marketed the first Japanese SLR, the Sakura Reflex Prano with a Tessar f/6.3 lens. These early models were all direct copies of Western cameras.

Konishi Honten became Konishiroku Honten in 1921, and K.K. Konishiroku in 1936. At this point, cameras were still made by Rokuosha as a separate group business. In 1931, Konishiroku Honten moved into quality lens production, making a f/4.5, 4-element H-type lens with Jena glass, named "Hexar" and based on the Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. The "Hexar" label continued on Konishiroku's top-quality lenses to 1959, when they were renamed "Hexanon".

Konishiroku moved into aerial cameras and X-ray equipment around 1937, changing name again in 1943 to Konishiroku Photo Industry Co. 1948 saw the launch of the first Konica brand 35-mm camera and 1960 the introduction of the Konica F, the world's first single-lens reflex camera with a built-in exposure meter. In 2003, Konica merged with Minolta, and Konica Minolta, finally ceased production of cameras in 2006.

The first Koniflex (later known as the Koniflex I) arrived in 1952, when the company was producing a series of folding medium-format "Pearl" cameras alongside its 35mm "Konica" series, and variants of it seem to have sold until around 1955/6. The TLR route was never a major one for Konishiroku, and even this more common Koniflex is rare now. This early model morphed into a later one with interchangeable front lenses - the standard 85mm fitted to mine (below) and a Tele-Koniflex front lens of 135mm.

From the literature and details on specialist Japanese sites (one of the useful ones is translated
HERE), I have found it very difficult to pin down the boundary between the Koniflex I and II models. Further commentary on this is on the linked Koniflex page (click thumbnail pic below). In 1957, the extraordinary Koniflex IIB model was launched with interchangeable lens sets of 85mm and 135mm and autostop winding. I do not have one of these, so if you have one to sell LET ME KNOW.

The final twin-lens product in this family is the monster Koni-Omegaflex, which had its origins in Konica's taking over the Omega 6x7 format professional press camera series from Simmon Bros of the US, developing it into the Koni-Omega Rapid and finally adding a second focusing lens. For a page on these predecessors, look

The base design of the Koni-Omegaflex is NOT a reflex, as it uses the focusing lens directly at eye level onto a ground glass screen. However, the standard reflex attachment available modifies it to this.

Koniflex (Probably Model II)

This is my Koniflex, which I believe to be a model II - see my deductions on this on the linked page by clicking the thumbnail pic. It has the removable standard taking lens elements, which unscrew on a fine thread. The viewing lens has a very long thread, and I wonder whether this is designed to double for both normal and telephoto use? I'd very much like a Tele-Hexanon 135mm front set for this, so if any one has one available, LET ME KNOW.
Taking lens is Konishiroku Hexanon 85mm f3.5
Shutter is Seikosha Rapid 1 to 1/400



Monster 6x7 offspring of Omega (US) and Konica (Japan). Not a true TLR, but the optional reflex finder fits to rear and makes it behave like one. This is also shown in my "Japanese" pages, since it was actually manufactured by Konishiroku in Japan.

Taking lens Konica Hexanon 90mm f3.5
Shutter Seiko B 1 to 1/500