The Sakura-flex is a 6×6 TLR. Its level of finish has been praised by the few people who have held it.
Focusing is done by moving the front plate back and forth. The focusing knob is on the photographer's left and is surrounded by a fixed distance scale; depth-of-field indications are inscribed on the rotating knob itself. The left side of the camera also has two film flanges, as on most other TLR cameras. The L-shaped back is hinged at the bottom, and the film is guided by rails and rollers.
The film advance is semi-automatic, with a red window under the camera, only used to set the position of the first exposure. The film advance knob is on the photographer's right, and there is a round exposure counter window on the same side, near the strap lug. There are two sliding buttons near the advance knob; the one at the front is used to reset the exposure counter; the one at the bottom is used to unlock the advance mechanism between each exposure.
The nameplate is screwed above the front standard and is inscribed Sakura–flex. The viewing hood is two-fold, and its front part has the shape of a truncated pyramid, as on the 1937 Minoltaflex. A small loupe is hinged to the rear. Inside the front part is the combination of a fixed mirror and a mobile one, hinged at the top and released by a button placed outside. When unfolded, these mirrors provide eye-level viewing through an eyepiece formed by the folded loupe and a concave lens. As with regular waist-level viewing, the image is right-left inverted but not upside down.
Both the taking and viewing lenses are four-element Hexar Ser.II 75mm f/3.5, engraved Hexar Ser.II 1:3.5 f=75m.m Rokuoh–sha Tokyo N°xxxx. It seems that they were only mounted on the Sakura-flex. The shutter is a Durax, giving T, B, 150–1 speeds selected by turning the rim. The shutter plate is marked Rokuoh-sha at the bottom and has three metal stripes on each side of the lens. Small plates are screwed to the main shutter plate, the one at the top has the name Durax and the one at the bottom is the aperture scale. The shutter is cocked by a lever to the right of the lens (as seen from the front) and distinctively shaped as a scythe. The release lever is on the other side of the lens and is tripped by the photographer's right hand. There is also a cable release thread at the top left.
The Durax shutter is in #0 size, an unusual choice for a TLR camera. This large diameter is not justified by the lens aperture (f/3.5) and it is not known if plans were drawn to release the camera with a brighter lens. The 1/150 top shutter speed is quite low and the release lever looks quite primitive compared with other contemporary TLRs, some of them equipped with double exposure prevention systems.
It is said that the Sakura-flex was designed by Hasegawa Zenkyō (長谷川全享). It was probably developed in 1939: according to Tanimura, it was announced in a 1939 advertisement, as available for ¥260 from September. The camera appears in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, for ¥252, the same price as all the other listed TLRs. However it seems that the camera was never commercially sold.
It is said that a few dozen were built before the model was abandoned. The reasons for this are not known for sure: shortage of materials, priority to the production of war ordnance or excessive construction cost are possible candidates.
At least two surviving examples are known. One has taking lens no.2277 and viewing lens no.2266, the other has taking lens no.2382 and viewing lens no.2534. The available pictures show no difference between them.
- The name is written Sakurafurekkusu (さくらフレックス) with Sakura in hiragana and furekkusu in katakana in the two original documents observed so far, namely the January 1941 official price and the advertisement extract reproduced in Tanimura, p.124 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27. Sakura means "cherry blossom" (famously celebrated in Japan as a symbol of spring) and had been used by Konishiroku and its predecessors as a camera model name since 1907.
- See for example Tanimura in Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27.
- Details and scheme in Tanimura, pp.122–3 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27.
- Tanimura, p.124 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27.
- Tanimura, p.122 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27.
- Tanimura, p.122 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 7, section 1.
- Hishida, p.81 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
- Lenses no.2277 and 2266: example pictured in Hishida, p.81 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Lenses no.2382 and 2534: example pictured in Tanimura, pp.122–4 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.27.
- Hishida Kōshirō (菱田耕四郎). "Konica History 11: Maboroshi no kamera to tokushu kamera" (幻のカメラと特殊カメラ, Phantom cameras and special cameras). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.10, September 1987. No ISBN number. Konishiroku kamera no rekishi (小西六カメラの歴史, special issue on Konishiroku). Pp.81–2.
- Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.10, September 1987. No ISBN number. Konishiroku kamera no rekishi (小西六カメラの歴史, special issue on Konishiroku). Table of postwar Konishiroku and Konica cameras, pp.76–80.
- "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. Type 7, section 1.
- 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). P.537.
- 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. Item 2026.
- Tanimura Yoshihiko (谷村吉彦). "Senzen umare no maboroshi no kokusan nigan-refu: 6×6-han no Sakurafurekkusu" (戦前生まれの幻の国産二眼レフ6×6判のサクラフレックス, A Japanese phantom TLR born before the war: the 6×6 Sakura-flex). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.27, December 1993. No ISBN number. Stereo World (ステレオワールド). Pp.122–4.
The Sakura-flex is not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.
|Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras ( )|
|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|