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.

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.

Bencini Comet III

Bencini Comet III

The Bencini Comet III is an unconventional viewfinder camera built for the 127 film format introduced in 1953 by Italian manufacturer Bencini as the latest model to bear the Comet name. This camera was sold as the Bencini Akrom I in the South American market and also has another clone called, confusingly, the Comet 3 (using Arabic numerals instead of Roman) which features a white pinstriped faceplate along with an unfocusable lens. Unlike its predecessors such as the original Comet and Comet II which feature a more traditional design, the Comet III is vertically oriented which helps set it apart from other Bencinis as well as the overwhelming majority of other cameras from its day.

Dacora Digna

Dacora Digna

The Dacora Digna is a medium format fixed-lens viewfinder camera introduced by Dacora-Kamerawerk in 1954. There are several variants of the Digna with different lenses ranging from the relatively high-end Enna Correlar 80mm f/2.9 to more basic offerings like my example’s Dacora 80mm f/7.7 Achromat. The Digna was also sold as the Ilford Sporti in the British market.

Ferrania Ibis 34

The Ferrania Ibis 34 is a viewfinder camera introduced in 1959 by Ferrania, an Italian camera manufacturer based in the village of the same name. The Ibis 34 is basically a slightly more compact version of its predecessor, the Ibis 44 which took 4x4cm exposures on 127 film as opposed to the Ibis 34’s 3x4cm images.

Ansco Memo

The Ansco Memo is an unusual 35mm half-frame box camera introduced in 1927 by Ansco. The “Memo” name has been used by Ansco and Agfa Ansco on several different 35mm models (for example the Memo II Automatic) over the years which can sometimes lead to confusion. To combat this, collectors will usually differentiate these models by including the year of introduction to avoid confusion. This particular model—which was the very first camera to bear the name—can also be referred to as the “Ansco Memo (1927 Type).”

Spartus 35

The Spartus 35 is the direct successor to the original Spartus 35F. After Herold bought out Spartus in 1951, it decided to update the 35 (which was modeled after the Argus A), creating the design you see above which was probably based loosely on the Kodak Pony.

Welta Penti

Yashica Rapide (three-quarter view)

The Welta Penti is a stylish compact 35mm half-frame camera introduced by VEB Welta Kamera-Werke in the Dresden suburb of Freital, East Germany for use with Agfa‘s Karat film cartridge. Sometimes referred to as the Penti 0, this particular camera is the first of several Penti models made by Welta and—after Welta merged with other manufacturers like Zeiss Ikon and Altissa to form it—Pentacon. Like the vast majority of camera manufacturers based in Dresden, Welta became a state-run company after World War II as Germany split apart.

Voigtländer Bessy AK

The Voigtländer Bessy AK is a viewfinder camera manufactured by Balda on behalf of fellow German optics company Voigtländer which introduced the camera in 1965. So called to imply a (in reality, very faint) connection with the legendary Bessa name, the Bessy was a cutting edge camera designed for Kodak’s now obsolete 126 film cartridge, a format overwhelmingly popular at the time among amateur photographers who didn’t want to deal with the hassle of loading traditional roll films.

Spartus 35F

The Spartus 35F and its twin, the Spartus 35 are simple 35mm cameras made of Bakelite, an early plastic. Modeled after the highly successful and massively influential Argus A, the 35F features a classic shape very common to 35mm cameras of its era. The 35F was manufactured in Chicago by the aptly named Spartus Corp. before it became the Herold Manufacturing Co. which is why the lens of this particular specimen bears the Herold name. Spartus Corp. and its incarnations produced a great multitude of Bakelite cameras (many of which are practically identical to each other) under a wide variety of different brand names such as Utility, Falcon, Monarch and, of course, Spartus.

Argus C3

Quite simply, the Argus C3 is one of the best-selling 35mm cameras in history. Aptly nicknamed “The Brick” for its size, shape, and weight, the C3 was wildly popular for much of its 27 year production run due to its simplicity, rugged dependability, and relatively low price. The C3 is the third C-series camera from Argus and the three of them are very similar. Argus’s original C features an uncoupled lens while the C2 and C3 are identical apart from the newer model having two holes on the side for the bespoke external flash unit.