Perfex Speed Candid 1938-39

Tomei Collection

In 1938, the Candid Camera Corporation of America was formed in Chicago by Carl and Joseph Price along with Benjamin Edelman. In 1945, the company changed its name to the Camera Corporation of America.  Having done well making and selling Radios, they leaped into the camera field with the intention of producing an all American 35mm camera with the features of the Leica and Contax cameras but at a low price.


Their first camera, the Perfex Speed Candid, is a great example of a small company that boldly moved forward with a camera design that incorporated laudable goals that larger companies would have avoided. As a result, they came up with a unique camera that can only be described as an early prototype that perhaps should not have been brought to market.  The Speed Candid was the first American 35mm camera to use a focal plane shutter.  Later models were drastically different and reflected the refinements that would be expected.  However, the Speed Candid was a bold and fearless product that helps us understand how camera designs emerged, were refined and products developed.

Above: Early version No. 1465


The Speed Candid went through a single evolutionary improvement during its year or so on the market. In 1939, the "p" was reduced to lower case and the company's logo was set for the remainder of its life. However, the Speed Candid had the distinction of being the first American 35mm camera to have a focal plane shutter.  While it was on the market, the Company was working on their "real" camera, the Forty-Four.

The extinction exposure meter was mounted beneath the body making the ergonomics even more awkward though not unusable.

Where the Leica and Contax cameras were selling for several hundred dollars, the Speed Candid was brought to the market for $25.