Japan 1955 – Compact – 35 mm – Rare.
The Asahiflex (exported under the name Tower by Sears) was a 35 mm SLR camera built by the Asahi Optical Corporation in 1952.
It is widely regarded as the first SLR camera built in Japan and brought up quite a few innovations
Unlike the majority of Japanese camera manufacturers of the time, Asahi decided not to produce a Leica copy but to inspire itself from another German camera, the Praktiflex, one of the earliest SLR ever built. Asahi’s designers were convinced of the inherent superiority of the SLR approach over classic rangefinders like Leica. Nonetheless the cameras included both waist-level and horizontal viewfinders.
Like the Praktiflex, the Asahiflex did not have a returning mirror (the mirror will only be back to its initial position after the film was wound) which made it impractical to use. The Asahiflex II, released in 1954, corrected this by introducing the first practical quick-return mirror, a vital innovation which was quickly adopted by other manufacturers.
The Asahiflex II (Tower 22) will give way to the Pentax in 1959 which will become one of the most popular cameras ever.