Voigtländer Bessa-L: the resurrection of film

Voigtländer Bessa-L

In 1999, Japan’s Cosina decided to re-market the film camera or better re-brand the purchased Voigtländer name. In a time of emerging digital cameras a risky strategy. Yet in a short time Cosina managed to attract a loyal fan base and for seven years (!) one classic film camera after another appeared. It all started with the success of the simple Bessa-L.

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Design for the masses: Agfa Silette L

Agfa Silette L

Mass production of 35mm cameras really took a huge leap in the 1950s. The War was over, reconstruction, growing optimism in a better world led to great economic progress. Vacations became possible, with the whole family in tents or caravans and capture precious memories with affordable cameras. These were the prime years of photography, for everyone. This demand asked for numerous brands and models. In addition to the Agfa film roll, the German company also managed to deliver quality in its own cameras, the Silette being one of the most popular.

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Leica ‘s reflex to the East

Leicaflex SL

Germany is considered too late in its responding to the rapid popularity of the Japanese SLR in the sixties. And the German SLR in general also did not become the long-awaited success; in fact, it became the downfall of the camera industry. Only Leica managed to survive thanks to the unequalled Rangefinder series. It’s a pity that the Leica SLR always has been overshadowed by its big M brother, because there is a lot to be said for Leica’s SLR, especially the legendary Leicaflex. It is now on the rise, finally after sixty years of oblivion.

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Pentacon 135mm F2.8, a gem from the cold war

Pentacon Auto F2.8 135 mm

Vintage lenses are more popular than ever before. No wonder, with simple adapters, the gems of the past can be mounted on modern digital cameras. And the quality of those lenses really comes to life digitally. The beauty of it is that these vintage lenses cost a fraction of a modern, new lens while showing a similar quality. Do not expect autofocus or other electronic communication between lens and body, this is real manual photography. If you are looking for vintage lenses, you can’t avoid M42 threaded lenses and you will eventually among others, end up at Pentacon. A brand hidden behind the iron curtain in East Germany. Undeservedly so, because Pentacon has a lot to offer the discerning and creative photographer, including the 135 mm F2.8 lens, an underrated lens with enormous potential.

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Dreaming away with the Super Ikonta 6×6

Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 532/16

Zeiss Ikon has a special place in (German) camera history. The company was formed in 1926 by the ‘Great’ merger of the Contessa-Nettel, Goerz, Ernemann and ICA companies. In general, the products were superior to those of the competition, both in design and in quality. Market leader with the Super Ikontas as medium format rangefinder cameras. The most famous and popular is undoubtedly the 6×6 series “532/16” produced between 1937 and 1955. I am the proud owner of an excellent copy dating from 1938. An impression of its use 83 years after the first picture was taken with it.

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