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November 10, 2013 / Gregory Williams

An Instruction ‘Book’ Like None I’ve Seen

I’m sure that among camera nerds Petris are, at least in part, admired for their unique nature against all Japanese cameras of their day.

I once responded to a comment on this blog with something like “The Petri Flex V is the best film SLR I have ever used.” I meant it. I’m planning to use it again soon.

It was for that same camera that I recently purchased one of the strangest ebay items I’ve ever seen, but more on that in a later post, except to say that under the velvet and behind the foam I found an instruction manual for a Petri FT that didn’t work.

That is the problem with vintage Petris in my experience. They don’t work, or they don’t work for very long.

Of the seven that I’ve aquired over the years three have worked, and one not for very long. Compared with any other film camera of any brand that I’ve ever obtained, those are terrible stats.

Maybe it’s because I had one when the Teenager was a baby or because Petri went belly up in 1977 and I love history, or maybe just because I’ve always dreamt of spending some time in Japan? Whatever the reason, I’m fascinated by any Petri camera I come across.

I’m no less fascinated by the images in the gallery. These are the reverse pages of the instructions. They are so different from what Canon was doing in 1970 for example. I can’t help but wonder if this sort of thing had anything to do Petri’s demise.

The instruction book that I found really isn’t a book at all. It’s actually a sequential series of cards with instructions on one side, and photos on the reverse. The photos attempt to demonstrate the use of various Petri lenses. The cards are rather large, about two to three times the size of a normal camara manual, and oriented portrait rather than landscape. There is no binding; just a paper sleeve.

Petri FT Instruction Book



Leave a Comment
  1. alex / Nov 10 2013 9:41 am

    very interesting!
    i read somewhere that says petri’s somehow used brass for gears and other parts… which are not very durable…
    o well :\

    • Gregory Williams / Nov 10 2013 6:49 pm


      I’ve taken a few apart and they do have a mix of materials on the inside, and terrible terrible seals.


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