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1950s compact interchangeable lens cameras
Old 09-29-2014   #1
NeeZee
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1950s compact interchangeable lens cameras

I really like cameras from the 1940s/1950s with a Leica IIIf being my main shooter. Lately I'm considering an even more compact (smaller than the IIIf that is) interchangeable lens camera from that era. Why? Just for fun

These would be my requirements:

- interchangeable lenses
- scale focus would be sufficient (I don't mind a rangefinder of course)
- a compact 35mm lens option (doesn't need to have an internal finder for this FL)
- good build quality
- did I mention it has to be small?

These are the cameras I already know about:

- Braun (Super) Paxette
- Diax
- Altix
- Akarette/Akarelle (maybe not so compact?)

I am aware that some models in these series are fixed-lens.

As you can see these are all German made, which isn't a must, but since I'm in Germany these are widely available here. The Paxette is the only one of them I've seen and handled in person. From my online researches the Diax Ia would be my favourite: Barnack-like styling and even a 35mm finder.

So my two questions are:

1. Does anyone own a Diax and can expand on their build quality and usability (please keep in mind that I'm using a IIIf on an almost daily basis, so I don't mind some quirks )?

2. Are there other options I'm missing?

Thanks,
Thomas
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Old 09-29-2014   #2
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Kodak Retina ? Peter
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Old 09-29-2014   #3
sevo
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Most notably, the Robots. Other than the ones you listed, these are more than a match for the Leica regarding build quality.
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Old 09-29-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevo View Post
Most notably, the Robots. Other than the ones you listed, these are more than a match for the Leica regarding build quality.
Good point. But as I really don't like to shoot in square format, it would have to be a Royal 36 and the going prices of that one are a bit to steep for me considering it's "just for fun".

I don't expect Leica build quality really...
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Old 09-29-2014   #5
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More like 1960s, but what about Werra III/IV/Werramatic?
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Old 09-29-2014   #6
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If you can find the lenses for them (and you won't) the Finetta is probably about as small as you're going to get for a 35mm VF cam with interchangeable lenses.

There's also the Arette, but I was not impressed by the one I got to see in person.
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Old 09-30-2014   #7
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For Japanese cameras, and interesting and not-to-expensive camera is the Olympus Ace. These were made in the 50's, and came with three lenses, a 35mm f/2.8, 45mm f/2.8, and a 80mm f/5.6.

The Olympus Ace is smaller than some other interchangeable lens cameras like the Leica M series, or the Canon 7, but is about the same size and the Nikon rangefinders. The Olympus is much simpler in execution though, and uses a simpler leaf shutter. The viewfinder on the Ace is quite good, it is large, and has frame lines for the three lenses.

A bigger and quite a bit more interesting camera is the Minolta Super A. With the 50mm f/2.8 lens is the most compact, but the camera also came with a 35mm f/3.5 lens, and two other 50mm lenses, an f/1.8, and an f/2. The Minolta Super A has enough levers, dials, and such to feel right at home next to a German camera.
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Old 09-30-2014   #8
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The Voss diax isn't bad at all I would get the IIB though as it has a build in RF.
The Leidolf Wetzlar Lordomat SLE is another option the lenses were made by Schacht so not bad and it has an RF the drawback it isn't all that common
A little larger the Voigtländer Vitessa
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Old 09-30-2014   #9
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2. Are there other options I'm missing?

Have you considered the Leica I(c)? The I(c) with 35 /3.5 Elmar easily slips into the front pocket of my Levi's.
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Old 10-01-2014   #10
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Thanks Everyone!

Looks like there are some alternatives, will do some research.

Re Leica I(c): I know the RF-less Leicas are very compact but I'm really interested in exploring the alternative systems of that era.
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Old 11-29-2016   #11
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Here's a few that I have and use.

Argus C3, C33, C44, and Geiss-modified C4
Ambi-Silette
Lordomat

I'm also looking into getting a Perfex, Paxette and King Regula, and Werra 4. There's a thread at one of the forums that has a list of all of these cameras though I can't find it at the moment.

Also don't forget the FSU rangefinders, like the Kiev, FED, Zorki.

The only scale focus interchangeable I can think of is the Argus 21 and the Mercury II though I'm sure there are others out there, most likely some models of the Regulas, Werras, or Paxettes.
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Old 11-29-2016   #12
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And how could I forget the Ansco Anscomark, or for that matter the Kodak Signet 80 (but it's delicate, and hardly fits your requirement for compactness).
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Old 11-29-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mich rassena View Post

The only scale focus interchangeable I can think of is the Argus 21 and the Mercury II though I'm sure there are others out there, most likely some models of the Regulas, Werras, or Paxettes.
Not scale focus, but there is the magnificent Olympus Pen F.
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Old 11-29-2016   #14
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Canon Demi C, interchangeable lens scale-focus half frame

http://toms-shots.weebly.com/1965-ca...me-camera.html
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Old 11-29-2016   #15
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The FED Zarya, a scale focus version of the FED 2.
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Old 11-29-2016   #16
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Also the Agilux Agimatic, a rather obscure British made camera. It has a proprietary bayonet mount for a 45mm and a (very scarce) 85mm lens.
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Old 11-29-2016   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
re the AkA cameras, I found something interesting here:

http://www.spuer-sinn.net/kamera-ges...-vom-bodensee/
http://www.spuer-sinn.net/kamera-ges.../#comment-3611


Has anyone ever seen a Leica M39 lens adapted to an Akarette — Akarelle, or other AkA/akw camera?
A few years ago I did see a akarette lot being sold on eBay with a rare akarette to Leica m39 adapter. I don't think you can go the other way, the film flange distance on an akarette is larger than on a Leica I think.

Nathan
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Old 11-29-2016   #18
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German Welti is a fixed lens scale focusing camera. But I think they took series V push on aux lens for the equivalent of 35mm and 70mm. Somebody already mentioned the Kodak Retinas. I think only the model with RF had interchangeable lenses, but I might be wrong. I never had or used one. They were well respected, and were German made if I recall correctly.
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Old 11-29-2016   #19
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I should make a better case for the Argus C3. You can put together a well-preserved camera, 35, 50, 100, and 135 for not much more than $100 if you shop carefully. All of the lenses and the camera would fit in a small camera bag and leave room for film. It won't win awards for looks or ergonomics, but it's a solid system, then lenses are pretty good, and best of all it's neither rare nor expensive.
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Old 11-29-2016   #20
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The Argus C3 is in no dimension smaller than the Leica IIIf, which is the very first thing that the OP mentioned as a requirement.
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Old 11-29-2016   #21
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The Akarelle is as big as a Barnack: it's small. Few millimeters deeper, few millimeters less wide, just as high and with a 50mm lens, it's just as big as a Barnack with its 50mm Elmar extended.

And it has a nice heft and feel to it, German precision engineering.

I'm a fan.
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Old 11-29-2016   #22
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The Braun Paxette is a nice little leaf shutter camera. Some models (the Super Paxettes) had interchangeable lenses and a rangefinder (but this was not coupled). I do not fancy the very last ("electromatic")models though, which in common with many German cameras of the late 1950s and early 1960s were electro mechanical, probably not reliable today and pretty "boxy" looking to boot. The earlier cameras though were very nice. The one with the "camel's hump" seems to be regarded as more reliable. The better lenses sold with this line of cameras seem to perform well but some research is needed as some of the cheaper ones apparently did not. I admit I have not looked into it in depth, though years back, I regularly drooled over one that had sat in an old camera store for years. While I was considering if to buy it it was sold to someone else. I do however have a turret finder for the Braun Paxette. It is built like a brick outhouse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEDpQWYDynY

http://retinarescue.com/paxettehistory.html

https://www.lomography.com/magazine/...-old-gentleman

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=93223

https://www.flickr.com/groups/braunpaxette/
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Old 11-30-2016   #23
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Why not the Leidolf Lordomat… ?
Lordonar 2.8/50
Schacht Travenar 4.0/135
Travenar 3.5/35

With the 135mm



and with the 50mm


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Old 11-30-2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyscale View Post
The Argus C3 is in no dimension smaller than the Leica IIIf, which is the very first thing that the OP mentioned as a requirement.
My eyes just skipped over that part of OP's post. Good luck to OP in finding a smaller interchangeable lens camera from the 1950s than a Leica IIIf.
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Old 11-30-2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mich rassena View Post
... Good luck to OP in finding a smaller interchangeable lens camera from the 1950s than a Leica IIIf.
Quite true, especially when limited to 1950s tech.

You can't get a 35mm FF camera with a focal plane shutter significantly smaller than a Barnack Leica or clone. The size of the cassette, necessary space for the takeup spool, space for the supply and takeup spindles for the shutter, and the film gate set hard limits, limits that the Barnack design approaches rather closely.

The only significantly smaller 35mm FF cameras, new or old, use a leaf shutter and usually a fixed lens. Leaf shutter + interchangeable lenses = problems. You either need to have a body mounted shutter (e.g. Argus C3), which makes the body thicker, or one in each lens, which add linkage complexity (read: body bulk) and adds size and weight to each lens.

There's no point in having a smaller body if the lenses are larger. If you need interchangeable lenses you need to consider the bulk of the complete kit.

You can beat the linkage bulk and lens bulk with 1990s tech (only shutter blades in the lens and all electronic linkage), but you can't do it with the purely mechanical tech of 60 years ago.
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Old 02-22-2017   #26
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How about a King Regula IIId / IIId Automatic or a Super / Super Automatic?

The IIId is a very beautiful and well-made camera; the Super is a bit less nice in design, but has the advantage of having frame lines for 90 and 135mm selectable in the viewfinder.

These Regulas have a very similar lens mount to the bayonet versions of Braun Paxette and Bolta Photavit 36, but lenses are not interchangeable between Braun, King and Bolta cameras. Pins and levers for rangefinder and aperture are in different locations for each system.

Regula interchangeable lenses, particularly the good ones, are not common and difficult to obtain. Patience required...
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Old 02-26-2017   #27
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I've always dreamed of having a Ducati Sogno camera. I saw one at the Ducati factory museum in Italy, and it was just really small and cute, and exquisitely made. Unfortunately for me, their prices are way too high for me to ever afford one.

Scott
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Old 02-27-2017   #28
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How about those cameras with two focal lengths but without taking the lens off? Like the "twins" of long ago or the Ricoh R1, which is really slim and small.

Regards, David
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Old 02-27-2017   #29
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Futura is another option but it is likely larger than your Leica.


Frieburg Futura-S Rangefinder + Evar 50mm f/2.0 by Anthony Gross, on Flickr
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Old 02-27-2017   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Dear David,

I'm surprised to see how many different models of them were made:

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Category...length_cameras
Hi,

No Pentax? That seems odd to me.

Regards, David
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Old 02-27-2017   #31
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Quote:
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No Pentax? That seems odd to me.
I never heard of Pentax making anything like a scale focus or a RF camera. AFAIK they started with some SLR models in the 1950s and grew from there.
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Old 02-27-2017   #32
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Quote:
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Futura is another option but it is likely larger than your Leica.
There's a Futura S + three lens set on eBay at the moment
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Old 02-27-2017   #33
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What about a Corfield Periflex
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Old 02-27-2017   #34
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Quote:
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I never heard of Pentax making anything like a scale focus or a RF camera. AFAIK they started with some SLR models in the 1950s and grew from there.
Asahi (Pentax) actually are one of the oldest companies in Japanese optics, a telescope (and gun/bomb sights) maker. After the war they supplied lenses to Konica and Minolta. The Pentax SLRs were the first cameras in their corporate history.
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Old 02-28-2017   #35
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The Futura S has a similar footprint as the Leica III, but comes with combined rangefinder/viewfinder (thus is taller) and is a tad heavier. The most common Ever is a fine, Ultron type f/2 standard lens. It's a beautiful kit.

I'd say the system compares favorably (in usability, at least) to the marginally better finished but vastly more quirky Voigtlander Prominent cameras.
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Old 02-28-2017   #36
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Hi,

I mentioned Pentax as they made P&S's with and without zoom lenses and so I thought they might have made one of those twin versions; no other reason.

Regards, David

PS Do the Carl Zeiss Werra models count? They had a 35, 50 and (?)100mm lens range.
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Old 02-28-2017   #37
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David, that image does not show, at least for me.
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Old 02-28-2017   #38
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The Pentax 110 SLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, and while cute as a button, they are still 110. So not so much on enlargements if that is a requirement. At some point you get into the constraints of physics, and small camera = small film = small photos.

If you don't mind smaller than 110, this one looks about as small as you can get, and it's priced right at $2.99. Comes w/ a long lens too (for stalking the neighbor's cat, or the neighbor).

http://factorydirectcraft.com/catalo...with_film.html

This camera looks really small, AND comes w/ a transistor radio

http://www.subclub.org/subjpegs/ramera.jpg

This 16mm shooter is way smaller than the Pentax cameras, and even has interchangeable lenses and motorized film advance (no radio though, which is just inexcusable)

http://www.subclub.org/shop/gami.htm

And finally, my favorite, the 16mm Narciss which was a SLR w/ interchangeable lenses and a shutter that ran to 1/500.

http://www.subclub.org/subjpegs/narciss.jpg
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