Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Periflex 35mm film cameras and lenses made a unique contribution to British photographic manufacturing history.

They were invented, designed and built by Kenneth (later, Sir.) Corfield, who established K.G.Corfield Ltd in the late 1940s to produce his darkroom enlarging exposure meter, the Corfield Lumimeter.
In the late nineteen forties, the British camera industry had outdated designs, lack of investment, and it failed to recognise the market needs. The devastations during World War Two, and the austerity that followed made the situation even worse. However, the government implemented import restrictions on luxury goods at the time brought about opportunities and opened for creativity. The prime of the British camera industry had long since fallen apart. - Kenneth Corfield, born in 1924, was a creative man in his early twenties who saw these opportunities. He had particular interests in chemistry and physics, as well as in photography. Lacking money for equipment, he made some of it himself. Soon he began manufacture for sale, and within a few years, in 1950, he and his younger brother John, established the K. G. Corfield Ltd. in Wolverhampton. The main products were the Lumimeter and the Telemeter. However, he was fascinated by the miniature 35mm format, and there were a healthy demand for affordable 39mm screw-mount cameras. He began developing a 35mm camera, and the presentation of it coincided with the event of the Queen's coronation in 1953. This was the Periflex.

Corfield launched the first Periflex I camera in 1953. It was fitted with an interchangeable 50mm f/3.5 Lumar lens using the L39 Leica screw mount, so could also mount Leitz Leica lenses of the era. Unusually, the Periflex was fitted with a miniature periscope which, when pushed down, enabled the user to focus on a segment of the motif image. A spring mechanism allowed the periscope to be easily retracted from the light path prior to a photograph being taken.

The body and removable back are metal castings, while the top and base plates are of stamped black anodised aluminium with delicate engravings. The shutter crate is a separate casting with a built-in rangefinder, arranged as an inverted periscope manually lowered into the light pass behind the lens for focusing on a fraction of the image area. At the top-plate, four bright aluminium knobs make up the controls, complemented by a circular accessory-shoe mounted optical viewfinder.

The functions

The first Periflex was finished in black enamel but a silver chrome version followed. The camera appealed to a wide variety of photography enthusiasts in the U.K. and the Commonwealth because it could mount Leica lenses and was less expensive than the German Leica camera. Apart from early versions of the Lumar lens, Corfield produced a wide focal length range of Lumax lenses from 28mm to 400mm using glass elements supplied by the well known Enna Werk GmbH of Munich.

In due course, the Periflex 2 model appeared with a slightly taller body and more refined design. Other companies such as Ross and Dallmeyer also produced compatible lenses, increasing the appeal of the Corfield Periflex camera.

The Periflex 3 appeared in 1957 and was followed, after the company had moved from Wolverhampton to Northern Ireland, by the newly designed 3a and 3b models. By 1960, Corfield's best selling camera was its Periflex Gold Star fitted with a 50mm f/1.9 Lumax lens. Other models include the Interplan - A, B and C which could mount Exakta and Asahi Pentax Takumar lenses.

Japanese camera imports forced Corfield to cease Periflex manufacture by the early 1960s.

In my opinion, this a true Dieselpunk camera, although it appeared in the Jet Age.

Periflex Camera History

More images in the Periflex album

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