Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:
Kuribayashi Petri 35 2.8 MX

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The Kuribayashi Petri 35 2.8 MX is a coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera that was built from 1955-58 (McKeown 2002: 402) by Kuribayashia Camera Industry.

I purchased mine in excellent condition from an antique dealer in Red Wing, MN (Al's) for $19 in October of 2002. It came with the box, manual, everready case, and warrantee card stamped 1956. Interestingly the camera cost $25 in 1956 so the depreciation hit wasn't too bad (ignoring inflation for a sec').Taking inflation into account with the AIER calculator, the camera costed about $164 in 2002 dollars. This was the beginning of the onslaught of inexpensive, high-quality Japanese cameras that would decimate the German and American camera manufacturers in the 1960s.

The 35MX differentiates itself from the original 1954 model by having a M-X flash selector switch on the lens body. The Carperu leaf shutter goes to a 1/300. The lens is a Orikkor f/2.8.

There's nothing that unique about the Petri 35MX. The rangefinder is dim and hard to focus. I bought it mainly for its historical interest as one of the first post-occupation, general distribution cameras. It represented the turning point for Japanese manufacturers from cheap toys to quality equipment.


Interesting quirks

I also own three later modesl, the 2.8 Color Super which has a much improved viewfinder, the Petri 7s which adds selenium metering (pictured below), and the Petri Color 35 which is a compact scale-focus camera.

Technical Details

Camera Name
Petri 35 2.8 MX
Place of Manufacture


Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Fully coupled rangefinder.


Orikkor f/2.8 (4 elements in 3 groups; Tessar-type)


Carperu leaf (in-lens) shutter

1 - 1/300

Metering System



f/2.8 ~


"Cold" flash shoe

PC external flash connection

Flash type selector: M - X

Film type / speeds

Standard 135 (35mm) film

Battery type
Dimensions and weight

Retail price
$25 (1956)
¥17,000 (1955)


About Kuribayashi

The company name means "Acorn Grove" and they are actually one of the older Japanese camera manufacturers. They started up in 1907 making accessories and went bankrupt in 1977. They made a bunch of plate cameras, folding roll film cameras, rangefinders, and finally SLRs. Like the Miranda Camera Company, they couldn't make the step up to mass production and electronization and competition from Nikon and Canon.

The mid-fifties seems to have been a good time for Japanese camera manufacturers. The occupation had ended in 1952. One of the side-effects of Germany's defeat was that all of their camera patents and innovations were put in the public domain. Things like lens coating and specialized lens designs pioneered by Zeiss could now be used by everyone. Furthermore, the German camera industry was in disarray as the Zeiss factories in Jena were taken by the East Germans but the engineers and opticians had fled to West Germany. In the brief period from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, there were many small Japanese camera companies producing quality equipment.

Unfortunately in 1955, Leica came out with the M3 and changed the scene for rangefinder cameras. The M3 set such a high bar that most of the leading Japanese manufacturers (Canon and Nikon) abandoned their rangefinder lines and decided to compete with SLRs instead. Kuribayashi was actually the first Japanese companyu to come out with an SLR, but the smaller Japanese companies couldn't keep up with the rapid pace of innovation in the 1960s by the larger corporations like Asahi, Canon, and Minolta and died out. Kuribayashi filed for final bankruptcy in 1977.


On the Net

  • A later descendant: CameraQuest's Petri 35


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