Japan 1948 – Spy Camera – Custom film – Very rare.
The Petal is an incredible device. It was the smallest subminiature camera in the world, produced by Sakura Seiki in Japan in 1948.
It has a round (or octagonal) main body the size of a coin and was intended for inconspicuous photography as it can easily fit in a pocket.
The Petal takes 6 mm round pictures on a round film disc contained in a special circular cassette that can be inserted in daylight. Once the film is loaded, a very steady hand is needed to shoot a picture as the camera is extremely small and has a fixed shutter speed. Like many other spy cameras of the times that were designed for discreet usage, the size and and technical limitations of the Petal forced a cumbersome usage if you wanted to actually aim it correctly.
Nonetheless, the Petal became a hot item for Private Investigators in the United States in the late 1940s and the 1950s. Having a Petal, raised your profile as a successful investigator It was quite an expensive camera as it costed about a week’s pay.
Today, the Petal Camera is a very sought-after collectible, especially the early ones made in occupied Japan.