135 Film

Carl Zeiss Jena Werra

Carl Zeiss Jena Werra

The Carl Zeiss Jena Werra is the very first model in a line of sleek 35mm viewfinder cameras produced by VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, Zeiss Ikon’s factory in the city of Jena where the company was originally founded in 1846. After the war, Zeiss Ikon’s assets were divided alongside Germany into east and west. While the company re-established itself as Zeiss Ikon AG in the western city of Stuttgart as the East German government took control and nationalized what remained in Dresden, the factory in Jena also split with much of the assembly line being transplanted to the town of Oberkochen.

Rollei Rolleimatic

Rollei Rolleimatic

The Rollei Rolleimatic was a compact 35mm viewfinder camera introduced by Rollei in 1980. It has the distinction of being the last Rollei model created by legendary designer Heinz Waaske (whose other works include the extraordinary Rollei 35 and the diminutive Edixa 16) and also, unfortunately, the very last camera that Rollei debuted before the ailing company finally declared bankruptcy. Because of this unfortunate timing, the Rolleimatic did not undergo the same amount of testing that benefitted its forebears and, as a result, is not quite as user-friendly or intuitive as it could have been.

Welta Penti II

Welta Penti II

The Welta Penti II is a flamboyantly styled 35mm half-frame camera originally manufactured by Welta in the German town of Freital and, after the company became part of Pentacon, in their factory in the nearby city of Dresden. Confusingly, the Penti II has a cheaper, near-identical twin called the Penti I (with the only difference being the absence of the II’s selenium light meter) and both of them are successors to the original Welta Penti (which, to avoid confusion, may also referred to as the “Penti 0”). Like its siblings, the Penti II is designed for Agfa‘s Karat film cartridge as opposed to conventional 35mm film and also comes in a variety of colors including cream, teal, and maroon. As its glitzy appearance may suggest, these cameras were marketed primarily towards women with promotional materials depicting the shimmering Penti II alongside a set of jewelry and a pocketbook.

Rollei 35

Rollei 35

The Rollei 35 was a revolutionary viewfinder camera debuted in 1966 by Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke and is still one of the smallest full-frame 35mm cameras ever made. Curiously, the story of this legendary camera begins not at Rollei, but at rival camera manufacturer Wirgin in the early 1960s. Wirgin’s chief designer Heinz Waaske had just finished developing the Edixa 16—a subminiature camera which parasitically made use of its competitor’s proprietary 16mm film cassette while offering itself as a more economical alternative to the Rollei 16.

Zeiss Ikon Ikonette (500/24)

Zeiss Ikon Ikonette

The Zeiss Ikon Ikonette (500/24) is an unusual, kidney-shaped 35mm viewfinder camera introduced in 1958 by Zeiss Ikon (not to be confused with Zeiss Ikon’s Ikonette (504/12) folding camera from 1929). Unlike anything Zeiss Ikon had produced either before or since, the plastic Ikonette’s primary selling points were its simplicity, price, and looks. It was also, as far as I can tell, the only Zeiss Ikon camera that was ever marketed specifically towards women, stating that their eyes will “light up” as the camera “instantly appeals to the feminine sense of beauty” and that “it’s so easy to operate, she’ll get fine pictures right from the start.”

Minox 35 GT

Minox 35 GT

The Minox 35 GT is a compact viewfinder camera introduced in 1981 as the third variant of the Minox 35 EL which is arguably the smallest full-frame 35mm camera ever made (other contenders include the Rollei 35, Olympus XA, and Minolta TC-1). With the exception of the Minox 35 ML and MB (which had a more rectangular body) as well as the 35 PE (which had a built-in flash on the side), the Minox 35 GT and its siblings are virtually identical with the only real differences between them being internal. In one form or another, the Minox 35 was manufactured from 1974 to 2004, giving it an impressive 30 year production run.

Leica IIf

Leica IIf

The Leica IIf is a high-end 35mm rangefinder debuted in 1951 by Ernst Leitz GmbH and produced in the German city of Wetzlar. This model is essentially identical to the Leica IIIf but without the capability of shutter speeds slower than 1/25 of a second. However, even the IIf model itself has several variants. This particular example has red flash sync numbers around the base of the shutter speed dial as opposed to black and a fastest shutter speed of 1/1000 as opposed to 1/500.

Taron Eye

Taron Eye

The Taron Eye is a premium 35mm rangefinder camera debuted in 1960 by Taron. The Eye is the predecessor to the very similar Taron Eyemax that was introduced shortly afterwards. However, unlike the Eyemax which came with a choice of two lenses with different maximum apertures, the Eye appears to have only been offered with the relatively high-end 45mm f/1.8 Taronar lens.

Wirgin Edixa Flex

Wirgin Edixa Flex

The Wirgin Edixa Flex is a 35mm single lens reflex camera designed by Heinz Waaske (who eventually went on to create the ground-breaking Rollei 35) and introduced in 1958 by the German manufacturer Wirgin. This camera is essentially a slightly simplified clone of the already established Wirgin Edixa Reflex with fewer shutter speed options and is one of many Wirgin cameras to utilize the Edixa name.

Agfa Isoflash-Rapid C

Agfa Isoflash-Rapid C

The Agfa Isoflash-Rapid C (also sold as the Iso-Rapid C outside of the United States) is a 35mm viewfinder camera introduced by Agfa AG in 1966. The Isoflash-Rapid C is just one of many models in the Iso-Rapid line of simple compact cameras that make 24x24mm images using Agfa’s own Rapid film cartridges.

Bolsey Model B

Bolsey Model B

The Bolsey Model B is a 35mm rangefinder introduced by Bolsey in 1947. The Model B is essentially the rangefinder variant of the Bolsey Model A—a camera which seems to have never made it to market apart from being rebranded for sale as the LaBelle Pal—and is also the camera upon which the Bolsey Model C TLR is based. Bolsey produced several variants of the Model B with incrementally advanced features such as a double exposure prevention mechanism and flash synchronization and even made models specifically for the US Army and US Air Force

Balda Baldessa Ia

Balda Baldessa Ia

The Balda Baldessa Ia (or Balda Baldessa 1a) is a 35mm rangefinder camera introduced by Balda Kamera-Werk in 1958, about ten years after founder Max Baldeweg fled Socialist Dresden to reestablish his company in the soon-to-be West German city of B ünde. The Baldessa Ia and its sister model the Ib are basically identical to the original Baldessa I with the addition of a coupled rangefinder. The Baldessa Ib then went a step further by also including a built-in light meter.

Kodak Retina II

Kodak Retina II

The Kodak Retina II is a high-end 35mm folding camera introduced in 1936 by Kodak AG, Eastman Kodak’s branch in what was then Nazi Germany. Like the original Retina, the Retina II was designed by Dr. August Nagel, founder of Nagel (which he sold to Kodak) and Contessa as well as co-founder of Zeiss Ikon. There are a number of different variants of the Retina II, the first three of which were manufactured before and during the early stages of World War II. In 1941, the Kodak AG factory in Stuttgart halted operations and began contributing to the war by making time-delay fuses for shells used by the much-feared 88mm Flak anti-aircraft gun. Then, shortly after Germany’s surrender in May 1945, camera production resumed and more versions followed. The exact Retina II pictured here is a type 142 (produced from 1937-1939) which is characterized by having separate viewfinder and rangefinder windows as well as a knurled knob for advancing the frame.

Petri Flex 7

Petri Flex 7

The Petri Flex 7 is a single lens reflex camera introduced by Petri in 1964 and is claimed to be the world’s first SLR with a fully integrated cadmium sulfide light meter. Known by many as “the poor man’s Contarex” for its superficial (and most likely intentional) resemblance to the Zeiss Ikon Contarex “Bullseye”, the Flex 7 was marketed as Petri’s flagship model and was supposedly meant to compete with the nigh untouchable Nikon F. Advertisements put special emphasis on the camera’s auto-indexing feature (meaning that the lens’s aperture setting would be automatically relayed to the body), the fact that its integrated light meter had an in-viewfinder indicator, and how Petri’s mastery of mass production meant high quality cameras at low prices.

Wirgin Edixa

Wirgin Edixa

The Wirgin Edixa (also known as the Wirgin Edixa I) is a 35mm viewfinder camera introduced by Wirgin in 1953. The Edixa was originally called the Wirgin Edina but the name change was forced by Eastman Kodak because “Edina” sounds too close to “Retina,” Kodak’s high-end line of German-made folding cameras. The Edixa was also rebadged by Munich-based camera dealer Obergassner and sold as the Obergassner Oga (confusingly, there were a variety of rebadged cameras—mostly manufactured by the German firms Franka and Regula—that bore the Obergassner Oga name). The Edixa is also the first model in a wide range of Edixa-branded cameras that include TLRs, subminiatures, and SLRs.

Olympus XA

Olympus XA

The Olympus XA is a sleek compact 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1979 by Olympus. After succeeding with a long line of compact 35mm half-frame “Pen” cameras, Rollei struck back with the amazing Rollei 35: a camera as small as any Pen but able to produce full-frame images. Olympus continued on with the newly outclassed Pen for over a decade before they finally came back with a real answer to Germany: the Olympus XA. When it was released, the XA was the smallest rangefinder ever made and is still one of the smallest today.

Ansco Anscomark M

The Ansco Anscomark M is an unusual 35mm interchangeable lens rangefinder manufactured for Ansco by Riken Optical Co., Ltd. (better known as Ricoh). A small percentage of the cameras produced were also sold as the Ricoh 999.

Taron Chic

Taron Chic

The Taron Chic is a vertically oriented 35mm half-frame camera introduced by Taron in 1961. The only other camera that I’m aware of that bears any resemblance to the Chic is the Yashica Rapide. However, since they were both introduced in 1961, it’s unclear as to who copied whose vertical design or if there was indeed any copying done at all.

KMZ Zenit ET

The KMZ Zenit ET is a single lens reflex camera introduced by KMZ in 1981 as part of a long line of SLRs that bear the Zenit name. The Zenit ET was produced by Vileiskiy Zavod Zenit, a factory just outside Minsk that came about as a joint-venture in 1969 between KMZ and MMZ (which later became BelOMO).

Kodak PH-324

The Kodak PH-324 was the military version of the Kodak 35 built by Eastman Kodak on behalf of the United States Army Signal Corps for service during World War II. Mechanically, it was identical to the 35 with the only major differences being an olive drab green and black finish.

Kodak 35

The Kodak 35 was the first 35mm camera manufactured by Kodak in the United States. The Kodak Retina series—earlier 35mm models—were being made in Germany starting in 1934 but as war loomed on the horizon, Kodak decided to develop a 35mm camera that wouldn’t have to rely on imported components. The other major motivation for Kodak to make the 35 was to compete directly with the Argus A and Argus C series of cameras, a battle it would eventually lose.

Graflex Graphic 35

The Graflex Graphic 35 is a 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1955 by Graflex as a replacement for the Graflex Ciro 35, the camera on which it was also heavily based. The Graphic 35 was designed in the US and earlier examples were made in Rochester although production shifted to Japan with Kowa later on. The lens and shutter were sourced from West Germany.

LaBelle Pal

The LaBelle Pal is a 35mm viewfinder camera designed by Bolsey and sold by LaBelle Industries of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The camera was actually meant to be the Bolsey Model A, which was supposed to slot in nicely as an entry model alongside the Model B (a rangefinder) and the Model C (a twin lens rangefinder). Unfortunately, the Model A never quite materialized for reasons unknown and so only exists as the Labelle Pal. As a result, this camera is fairly rare.

Agfa Parat-I

The Agfa Parat-I is a fixed-lens half-frame 35mm cameras introduced by Agfa in 1963. There are a total of three nearly visually identical cameras released in 1963 that use the Parat name with a few key differences: the Parat-I (no meter), the Paramat (fixed shutter speed, automatic aperture control), and the Optima-Parat (automatic exposure system, different lens options).

Tower 51

The Tower 51 is a conventional fixed lens rangefinder produced by Iloca Kamera-Werk in Hamburg, Germany as a direct variant of the Iloca Rapid-B and sold by Chicago-based department store and mail order giant Sears, Roebuck and Co. under their Tower brand. Over the years, Sears sold a wide variety of rebranded cameras produced by different manufacturers such as the Tower 39 Automatic (made by Mamiya) and the 2.8 / Easi-Load (produced by Ricoh).