Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. Now I haven't had a really positive experience with Kowa cameras. The various Kowaflexes that I have owned have been very fragile to say the least, although I do have one that works on occasion! You could be tempted to think that Kowa products are not all that good, although they are respected as an optical manufacturer.
    The Kalloflex changed my opinion. This is a very solid and nicely constructed TLR, and while the world was flooded with Rollei clones in the fifties and sixties, I do believe that this is up there with the better ones.
    All appears like other TLR's but there is one difference. The focus and winding knobs are together, a bit odd till you get used to it. The fit and finish are excellent and the viewfinder is bright and crisp. I was sure that the Prominar lens would be good, and it is, probably a Tessar clone.
    As a little aside, Kowa Optical Company changed the name from Kallo to Kowa in 1960, so and camera that sports the name Kallo pre-dates 1960. The Kalloflex Automat 1 that I have here is from around 1956.
    Anyway, here is the amera and a few pics.
  2. Whoops..no.6
  3. Last one.
  4. That's it...thanks folks!
  5. Very fine work Tony!
  6. Tony, thanks for sharing these. I'm very much a Rollei TLR devotee with a few examples of both Flex and Cord, and frankly, don't have any desire to increase my experience of most of their cheaper competitors such as the Yashicas and Minoltas (although I have C220 which I regard in a different light). However a Kalloflex is one other TLR I would quite like to have. Images I've seen from them have a certain something I can't put my finger on but like very much. Your own photos above only confirm this. A couple of years ago there was a thread over at RFF about the Kalloflex featuring some images made with them and, like yours, they impressed me. One day, perhaps, an example will come my way.
  7. Tony,
    Interesting camera and a fine set of pictures. I had heard of Kowa but never knew of Kalloflex. I remember as a teenager looking at the Kowa ads. They had about the cheapest priced SLR available. The horror stories concerning reliability make me glad I didn't get one.
    I found an ad in the Dec. 1956 issue of Popular Photography. The listed price looks close to that of the Rolleicord V.
  8. Thanks Donnie, Brett...I don't consider the Kalloflex to be a substitute for a Rollei, there isn't one, but some TLR's like the Yashica, Minolta and Kallo come close.
    Marc, quite right about the Kowas, and thanks again for one of your amazing collections of period brochures!
  9. That's a really tidy example, Tony, and you do it justice with your photographs. The Kalloflexes a rare beasts in my part of the world, and they don't seem to crop up on the international auctions, very often. Kowa products were usually solid and well-built, and it was only the leaf-shutter SLR's that gained a well-deserved reputaion for un-reliability. I have only one in full working trim, and three that aren't... One of the big sellers was the Kowa Six medium format camera, and prices for these remain high. I trialed a Super 66 on behalf of the local distributors back in the 70's, and it was an ingenious and attractive little camera, but not quite able to foot it with the big names. Sometimes I'm tempted to try one again...
    That combined focus and wind knob is similar to the Bronica S, a combination I always found unwieldy. Still, Kowa optics were up there with the best, and the Prominars I have are great performers. Thanks for an interesting post.
  10. A delightful series of photos, Tony. Lucky for you to find a Kalloflex in such nice shape. These were the first cameras made by the Kowa Co. They focused on tough build quality with the body milled from a block of solid aluminum. I've heard that, in the late 1950, these we very popular with Japanese press photographers.The lenses are amazingly sharp. I have an older version HERE.
    Of all the classic cameras I've tried and passed on, the Kalloflex is one I've kept.
  11. Thanks for the info on Kowa products, I have wondered why the reflexes seem low price at camera fairs.The Kalloflex with its 4 element lens seems altogether a better quality product.
    "Stormy beach" and " More stormy stuff" IMO are excellent examples of seascape photography, well done for braving the weather.
  12. Thanks Rick, I had always just assumed that all Kowas were blessed with unreliability, but the Kalloflex proves that they did make some fine cameras. I would also like to try a Super 66, but it's been a long time since I've seen one!
  13. Fine results. I suspect that's Kowa's reputation was hurt by it's leaf shutter 35 mm SLRs.
  14. I really like the driftwood shot!
  15. Nice looking camera, and wonderful results with it.
    I have never dipped into the Kowa well, but have been tempted by the SLRs, and put off by the reputation.
  16. Louis, thanks for the link to your Kalloflex post, one that I hadn't seen. The camera is very solid and I particularly like the locking wheel for the back, nicely made and very secure.
  17. Very nice results and very nice camera. I seem to have fallen in love with TLRs.
  18. I found a product report in the June 1956 issue of Modern Photography. It is more of product introduction than a test report but it does say the taking lens compares favorably to other 4 element lenses on TLRs.
  19. I keep coming here for inspiration and I get it. Well done T.L.
  20. If I aspired to a fixed-lens TLR,the Kalloflex would be the one. All said and done,when the negs have been admired on the lightbox, one could turn and look at the camera,and think-that's one handsome hunk of design.
    That is it,really -like a classic car,it just looks so good,even parked.
    Mind,an old friend just returned from a trip to Europe,and a visit to the Schlumph Bugatti Museum,and a run on the Nurburgring.
  21. Very nice Tony. They are quite rare, even more so in that condition. Mine is nowhere near as nice. I would hesistate ro
    compare them to Rolleiflexes however. Though extremely well built, they feel rougher. May of course be down to my
    example being not of the better kept. But fit and finish is not quite on par. But what is, really? What I really like is the
    cocentric wind and focusing arrangement. No need to swap hands to wind and then focus. And of course the Prominar
    lens, a Tessar formula, is not half bad. Kowa optics were (and still are - look up their scopes) very good, the one
    redeeming quality of my Kowa Super 66 system, where all else seems to be going bust.
  22. My Kallo by the way [​IMG]

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