Gemflex from Showa Optical Works, Japan

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The Showa Optical Works is better known for 35mm range finder cameras in the 1950s. The Gemflex, produced in 1949 is a real subminiature making 14x14mm frames on specially spooled 17.5mm film.  With a folding hood over its reflex finder the Gemflex is tiny twin lens reflex.

The version differ cosmetically (see manufacture's label on the back) and having a cable release socket on the earlier sample, not seen on the later sample or the GemFlex I. The cameras have fixed focus f3.5 25mm lenses and a Swallow brand leaf shutter with speeds of B, 1/25, 1/50,1/100 second. The aperture adjustment is situated on the right side of the camera body rather than the front. The base has a tripod stand but only the earlier sample has provision for a cable release. A gold tone with dark brown leatherette was also sold.

Gemflex cameras are well made, but most samples now have the leatherette peeling off or missing. The reflex finder doubles as a sports finder as the centre drops down allowing direct viewing on the later versions. A button on the side releases the spring to pop up the viewfinder. The lever on the right, facing the camera primes the shutter which is on the left.

Several accessories were available including lens hoods, filters and carrying straps.

Gemflex cameras are labelled "Made in Occupied Japan" suggesting that production stopped before 1953.

Gemflex gold tone and chrome versions compared

photograph supplied by Alan Corb

Last Updated on 11th February 2007