What the heck is a Perfex?

c1938 Perfex camera made in Chicago from bakelite and metal. Courtesy of Richard Berbier, PHSNE

Toronto. In the most recent issue of snap shots (23-1), the newsletter of the Photographic Historical Society of New England (PHSNE), collector Richard Berbiar writes in the Vintage Camera Corner about his Perfex Speed Candid camera which was the first American made 35mm camera to boast a focal plane shutter.

He describes this odd looking bakelite and metal camera in some detail. This camera was the very first model made by ┬áCandid Camera Corp. of America. It was made from 1938-9 as a cheap alternative to the German Leica. While issue 23-1 of snap shots won’t be posted on the PHSNE site for a few months, many other sites offer details on this rather ugly ducking. Most detailed is Vanguard Real Estate’s site called web4homes.com. Marcy Merrill out in Washington State on the west coast runs a studio and collects cameras. Her site discusses a badly treated Perfex 55. And the Historic Camera site which links to us discusses the Perfex camera as well.

The struggling Candid Camera Corp. continued on past the end of WW2 to around 1950. It was then sold to Ciro. Ciro too was eventually sold to Graflex who discontinued US production of 35mm cameras in 1957 and began importing Japanese models made by Kowa.

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