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1960: Komaflex-S

Top left: The Komaflex-S, one of a very few SLRs made for 4x4cm images on 127 film.


Left: The camera from above with the viewfinder magnifier in position.


Right: The Komaflex fitted with its wide-angle auxiliary lens and with the telephoto adapter beside it.

Most roll film single lens reflexes were made for 120 size roll film – but not all. Manufactured by the Japanese Kowa Optical Works, and made with an attractive grey leatherette covering, the Komaflex shoots 4x4cm images, 12 to a roll of 127 film. A waist-level viewfinder screen under a fold-up hood incorporates a focusing magnifier, while an opening flap in the front of the hood lines up with a rear eyepiece for use at eye level.


The Kowa 65mm f/2.8 lens is fixed but telephoto and wide-angle adapters can be found that screw to the front. Shutter speeds run 1-1/500 second. Film wind is by a short, stubby knob with a hook at the top, making it easy to operate with the right thumb. It incorporates a film type reminder. Focus, shutter speeds and apertures are all set around the lens.


The shooting sequence involves first winding the film which also lowers the reflex mirror. This doubles as a shield to protect light from reaching the film as the shutter is now opened and tensioned by a radial lever to one side of the lens. That’s when the image first appears on the focusing screen. As the shutter button is pressed, the aperture closes from wide open to its preselected setting, the shutter closes, the mirror moves up, then the shutter opens and closes again for the exposure.


A word of warning: If testing a Komaflex-S without a loaded film, the shutter must not be tensioned without first pulling back a tiny lever beside the film wind knob to disengage the shutter interlock system. Failing to do that that can damage the intricate mechanism.

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