Camera Speed Dating – Kowa Komaflex-S 127 SLR

Those that know Nicole and I, know that we have what appears to be an on going camera acquisition problem. To remedy this but continue to try out ALL of the cameras we have decided to start borrowing cameras from our fellow camera enthusiasts instead of trying to purchase or hoard them all to ourselves. Not all are winners though and some are just easier or more fun to use but you have to shoot with them first to find out! Thus, we decided if we run a roll through every camera we are interested in, not unlike going on a 5 minute date with a bunch of strangers at a singles night, we can quickly see which are worthy of being added to our collection (or put on our list of “must haves.”) Camera speed dating!

Here is most recent camera I had the pleasure of a quick date with…the Kowa Komaflex-S 127 SLR.


A couple quick facts about the Komaflex-S….manufactured in Japan from 1960 by Kowa, this funky little 127 SLR camera is not like any other camera I’ve owned or shot with. It seems it was made for export only, and only around 11,000 of them were made. (Only? I’m not sure if that’s a small or large number in this context, to be honest!) It’s name also seems like it may have actually been a typo, and was likely supposed to be a Kowaflex, but someone couldn’t read the previous persons writing when submitting the copyright information.

It certainly has it’s quirks and I was probably drawn to it as it is much like a TLR, with it’s waist level viewfinder, however it is an SLR of course. It’s quirkiness comes with the advance and shutter cocking mechanism, which is precarious at best in my particular model, and from what I’ve read of the camera online it seems like that is true for the camera in general. There is a particular order for which you must toggle the shutter release switch and crank the advance lever and sometimes it doesn’t really work….or it is easy to forget what order you have to do the steps in.

That being said, I did love shooting with this little guy and wished it was a bit more reliable. I suspected just by the noises its shutter was making that the shutter speeds may not be entirely correct, but taking this particular camera apart for servicing is apparently not an easy feat and it would require ruining one side of the leatherette to take the side off. So I decided to just try a roll in it regardless, as it did seem to be functioning to some extent, and see what I got. Then I would decide if I wanted to get it fixed and worry about the beauty marks that would leave. It turned out that it looks like the shutter is likely a bit slow, as most of the photos were not entirely sharp. I was still impressed over all with how the photos turned out however and really it was far more than I had expected given the odd nature of the camera in general. I think for now my curiosity has been satisfied in seeing how this camera performed, but I think in the long run I would like to get it fixed and it’s shutter speeds corrected if possible, as it is an interesting and unique little camera. I only wish 127 film was more readily available at a lower price point! Some of my favourite cameras take 127 film and it makes me sad I can’t shoot them more often.

Here are a few of the images I got from this camera, shot on Bluefire Murano 127 film….which seems to be prone to light leaks…

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Beau Photo Supplies Inc.
Beau Photo Supplies Inc.