Praktica FX2: the underdog from Dresden

Praktica FX2 review

There is no German camera brand as undervalued as the East German Praktica. Now, strictly speaking, it is not a brand, but a long-running model name of KW (Kamera-Werkstaetten) and later Pentacon. Once started as Praktiflex in 1939 and ended as Praktica BX20S in 2001. More than 40 models and versions have never brought the brand what it actually deserves: recognition for high quality at affordable prices.

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A forgotten brand: Wirgin Edixa Reflex

Wirgin Edixa Reflex A

Did you know that the Edixa Reflex was world’s first camera with a film wind lever? Such a common thing in use, but where did it came from? Germany, or in this case from a company in Wiesbaden that started in 1920. Only a few people know that the Edixas were one of the first and the best of West-German cameras in technical terms, ending the leaf shutter and one of the first to present the Instant Return Mirror. And the most silent shutter as well, as if using a Leica.

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The day the world stood still: Nikon F

Marilyn Monroe Nikon F

Ever heard of Masahiko Fuketa? He was the main engineer at japanese Nippon Kogaku’s optics manufacturer Nikon. The company that became the biggest copycat player due to their many Leica and Zeiss rangefinder camera copies. Rebuilding Japan after WOII was an almost futile action without the help and knowledge of other countries, but the ambitions in the sixties grew to make Japan economically great again and with own, unique products that could be sold worldwide. A land of creativity and power. In 1959 they launched finally their own imagination with a camera that simply was named with the first letter of the engineer’s last name: F. It would change the world of photography forever.

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Extravagant: Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel

Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel

Something big can be stored in a modest small housing. In the early thirties the Super Nettel from Zeiss Ikon became the little sister of the Big Contax. Cheaper, a fixed lens, but in no means less beautiful, charming and even a little extravagant. Just the right qualities to fit in my personal top 5. What a Barnack is for Leica, is the Super Nettel the derivative for Zeiss-Ikon.

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Icarex 35: the marriage of Zeiss-Ikon and Voigtlander

Zeiss Ikon Voigtlander Icarex 35CS

By the end of the sixties the final battle of the German cameras began. The competition with Japan was killing World’s leading camera manufacturer. Too complicated camera’s, too expensive, far too less innovative. And all that the Japanese cameras offered, producing high tech and cheaper cameras in many brands and designs. Zeiss Ikon and Voigtlander tried one last approach: to combine their strengths with the famous Icares series, the ultimate SLR for 135 film.

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A world apart: Voigtlander Prominent

Voigtlander Prominent

It was in 1952 the first range finder camera with leaf shutter and interchangeable lenses. The Prominent offered expert picture quality, and was much cheaper than its counterparts, the Leica and the Contax. The camera never became very popular, it just gave users not the same feeling. Maybe now is the time to change that wrongful idea. The Voigtlander is an astonishing but stubborn design which is reflected by its “all is different” approach.

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Voigtlander: Better, Best, Bessa

Voigtlander Bessa RF

A little art deco, as seen by the black glossy top with three view windows. Oversized buttons with artful black and white circles. A leather bellows held firmly in place by a cleverly engineered and sturdy cover plate. On the front, an advanced Compur Rapid shutter containing a bright Helomar lens. We are talking about the legendary 1938 Voigtlander Bessa RF Rangefinder. One of the best medium format cameras ever made.

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German ambitions from Japan: Review Mamiya C3

Mamiya C3

Japan became the heir apparent to Germany in the 1970s in terms of innovation and quality of cameras. Not surprisingly, they spent decades learning and copying from the Germans. But production, innovation and quality could be cheaper and ultimately better in Japan. Mamiya has been one of the best students of the German class. The legendary C3 is a good example in this review.

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