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Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex Speed Candid
France Version française
Photos by Jacques Bratières text by Jacques Bratières. From the collection of Jacques Bratières. Last update 2024-02-22 par Sylvain Halgand.

Manufactured or assembled in USA from (Circa) 1938 to (Circa) 1939.
Index of rarity in France: Infrequent (among non-specialized garage sales)
Inventory number: 15406

See the complete technical specifications

Chronology of cameras Candid Camera Corp of America 

The cameras manufactured by Candid Camera Corporation of America are mostly called Perfex, and there is often confusion between the model name and the brand.

With the exception of the premier and last models, Perfex cameras all look alike.
They all use 135 film.
The lower part of their body is black. The metal cover is usually metallic in color. It incorporates the viewfinder and rangefinder. Depending on the model, there may also be a extinction light meter.
Some models have interchangeable lenses.
The difference from one model to another often lies in the lens and its maximum aperture.

  Year Lens Lightmeter Shutter

Perfex Speed Candid
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex Speed Candid c. 1938 Graf
3.5/50 mm
Yes Focal plzn
Perfex Forty Four
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex Forty Four c. 1939 Scienar
2.8/50 mm
Perfex Thirty Three
  c. 1940 Graf
3.5/50 mm
Perfex Fifty Five
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex Fifty Five 1940 Wollensak Velostigmat
2.8/50 mm
Perfex Fifty Five
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex Fifty Five 1940 Scienar
3.5/50 mm
Perfex Twenty Two
  1941 Scienar
3.5/50 mm
Perfex One-O-One
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex One-O-One 1947 Wollensak
4.5/50 mm
No Central
Perfex One-O-Two
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex One-O-Two 1948 Wollensak
4.5/50 mm
Perfex de Luxe
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex de luxe 1947 Wollensak Velostigmat
2.8/50 mm
Focal plan
Perfex de Luxe
Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex de luxe 1947 Wollensak Velostigmat
2.8/50 mm
Cee-ay 35
Candid Camera Corp of America Cee-ay 35 1948 Wollensak
4.5/50 mm

Perfex cameras were manufactured for about a decade. They are often criticized for their lack of reliability.


The Perfex Speed Candid was the first camera produced by the Candid Camera Corporation of America. It was intended to compete with the Argus A and Leica cameras (!).

It was the first American 35mm camera with a focal-plane shutter.

It has interchangeable lenses, but it seems that only a 4/150 mm lens was available in addition to the standard 3.5/50 mm, and the mount is not compatible with Leica. There is a extinction light meter under the camera body, but unfortunately, it has been lost on this particular specimen. The film is advanced by lifting the speed dial.

Despite its technical advancements, the Speed Candid has many weaknesses, including its weight of 1600 g without any attachment point for a strap and especially a catastrophic ergonomics.

Thus, for a shot, you must first advance the film, then arm the camera with the speed button raised. It is NOT the same button that advances the film and arms the camera. For calculating the distance from subject to focus point, there is a rangefinder, but its eyepiece is not at all next to the viewfinder. Since it is not coupled to the lens, you have to transfer the distance measured by the rangefinder to the lens (in feet of course).

The extinction light meter gives an approximate measurement of brightness. A set of rotating discs on the back of the camera allows you to calculate the shutter speed and/or aperture based on the film sensitivity. You need to set the aperture on the lens, then adjust the shutter speed on the top of the camera by pulling up the arming button and turning it.

All that's left is to release the shutter using the button on the front... but with your left hand!

Let's add the delightful subtlety of the speed and arming dial:

on a classic camera of that time, the speed setting is often done in the same way, i.e., by positioning a marker on the arming button opposite the desired speed. Hence a difficulty: after taking the shot, the button has turned and no longer indicates the chosen speed, so you have to arm AND then set the speed. The Perfex Speed definitively solves this problem as there are two markers (red and black dots) to use depending on whether the camera is armed or not.

Its successor, in 1939, the Perfex Forty Four corrected many flaws.

The Perfex Speed Candid is sometimes classified as the ugliest camera in the world.

Candid Camera Corp of America Perfex Speed Candid
On this version, the 'P' in Perfex is capitalized.

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