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Nitto(or Toyo?) - Elegaflex and Larkflex

Nitto Photo Supply seems to have had at least two guises.  Sugiyama and McKeown both document three Elegaflexes attributed to the firm, the one not shown here being the Elegaflex ISIS. The best information I have on Nitto was gleaned from a useful Japanese website. This is chiefly concerned with the 35mm Leica copies made by the firm, but the quote which follows tells the general story:

"Both the Look and the Elega 35 were made by Nitto Seiko co. in Ayabe, a small city north of Kyoto. The Look was designed by Mr. Chatani, the inventor of a lateral movement metal focal plane shutter which later became the Copal Square shutter. The Look camera was sold through Mr. Chatani's Look Camera Corp. but it did not sell well and the manufacturing was difficult for Nitto Seiko and the camera didn't benefit them.  One year after, Nitto Seiko made the Elega 35, removing the rangefinder from the Look. This time Mr. Chatani was not involved. The Elega was sold through Doi Trading in Osaka. They also sold Elegaflex TLRs. It seems that they renamed themselves Nitto Photo Equipment Corp. and moved to Tokyo".

Gordon Lewis' The History of the Japanese Camera identifies "Toyo" as the manufacturer of the Elegaflex, as well as the contemporary Larkflex. Neither Sugiyama nor McKeown mention a Larkflex anywhere, but have a Toyo Seiki and a Toyo Kogaku separately listed, the former as maker of the Rolex TLR of 1952, which looks nothing like any Elegaflex. 

There seems to be no further detail available anywhere to check or substantiate this differing attribution.  The Larkflex (below) does have some common features with the later Elegaflex, but none sufficient to confirm a clear relationship.  There is also a picture on the linked Larkflex page of a rather different Larkflex model (not in my collection).

Elegaflex IB

This is the earliest model shown in Sugiyama, dating from 1950.  Relatively basic, but with a high-speed shutter - interestingly, sourced from Luster (q.v.).  This one came in good working order from Japan, with a few cosmetic paintwork scrapes.

Taking lens Eleger Anastigmat 80mm f3.5
Shutter Lustre-Rapid 1 to 1/500

Elegaflex II

This particular model II camera is in generally good condition, but a little scruffy round the edges. Unfortunately, its shutter, whilst working, appears not to differentiate speeds at all, approximating one second on all settings.

Taking lens Eleger Anastigmat 80mm f3.5
Shutter Chihaya 1 to 1/200


This camera was bought from Japan and is in poor mechanical shape at present.  It shows no very clear signs of being related to the Elegaflexes, but I put it here on the strength of Lewis' linkage in his section on 1953 TLR releases.

Taking lens Very Anastigmat 80mm f3.5

Shutter unnamed 1 1/200