Altissa Box

Slide 1
Altissa Box (three-quarter view)
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Altissa Box (three-quarter view)
Slide 3
Altissa Box (front view)
Slide 4
Altissa Box (rear view)
Slide 5
Altissa Box (top view)
Slide 6
Altissa Box (bottom view)
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Altissa Box (with 35mm cassette for scale)
Altissa Box (three-quarter view) Altissa Box (three-quarter view) Altissa Box (front view) Altissa Box (rear view) Altissa Box (top view) Altissa Box (bottom view) Altissa Box (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Altissa Box Specifications

Manufacturer: Altissa Camera Werk
Origin: East Germany
  (modern day Germany)
Made in: East Germany
  (modern day Germany)
Introduced: 1951
Type: Box, Viewfinder
Format: 120 Film
Dimensions: 7.4 x 12 x 7.9 cm

Altissa Box Overview

The Altissa Box is a simple but elegantly styled box camera introduced in 1951 by Altissa Camera Werk. One year after the launch of the Box, Altissa’s owner Berthold Altmann fled to West Germany leaving his company behind to be taken over by the East German government and turned into the state owned “VEB Altissa Camera Werk” with “VEB” being short for Volkseigener Betrieb or “people-owned enterprise.”

The first thing that grabs my attention about the Box is the unique pentaprism shaped housing for its viewfinder which somehow makes it seem much more technologically advanced than it really is. The viewfinder itself is pleasantly large and, as a result, very bright. Embedded into the vaguely architectural front fascia is a fixed-focus Altissar Periskop with a maximum aperture of f/8. The Box features two aperture settings (f/8 and f/16) and two shutter speeds (1/25 of a second and Bulb) which can be selected via the two black dials on the bottom of the front plate. To trigger the rotary shutter, there is a white shutter button with threaded cable release socket located next to the lens. To advance the film between exposures, there is a winding lever (which is missing on mine) on the side of the camera just above the back-release switch. On the back of the camera is a red window (which is actually closer to orange on this camera) with a metal sliding cover. On the bottom is a 3/8″ tripod socket.

I bought this handsome Altissa Box from a dealer in Germany via eBay auction. Unfortunately, the dealer made no mention of the missing winding lever in her listing and none of the photos showed that side of the camera so I didn’t know about the missing part until after it arrived in the post. After calling out the dealer on her misinformation, she refunded over half the total price to me which meant that I got the Box for a mere $10. Besides the missing winder, the Box works flawlessly which means that full functionality is only one replacement winding lever away.


McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, WI, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), p 184.