Embracing the Edixa Prismaflex LTL

You are looking for a sturdy vintage SLR with a sexy look, then with the Edixa Prismaflex you have a hit. The 1968 German quality camera combines stylish design with useful features. Edixa is the camera brand with the most models in German history. The LTL was their final camera before the Japanese brands took over the business on the market.

Interesting is that the Wirgin brothers (company) in Wiesbaden started in 1924 and were sold in 1938 to Adox and after WWII returned as Wirgin, took over the Franka Werke in 1961 and got their final brandname Edixa in 1968, just 3 years before they ended production. The Wirgin / Edixa company from Wiesbaden brought various 35mm SLR cameras to the market and played well among the German producers of SLR cameras until 1971. Insiders estimate the models with their variants to be well over 150 types (!), a unprecedented amount of high-quality 35 mm SLR cameras (source: www.blende-und-zeit.forum.de).

So, what is this 1968 camera all about? The Prismaflex series includes six distinct models, the original 1961 Prismaflex, an SLR camera with the popular M42 mount for which by far the most lenses were available. The first model was followed by the ‘750’ with a fast 1/1000 shutter speed (while the model name was actually intended for the fastest time 1/750s, but by the time of release they already engaged an even faster speed). A little later, then, the almost identical ‘1000’ model was released. The CDS version that followed was the first to feature a simple light meter, while the last two models could measure light through the lens.

The final Edixa Prismaflex LTL as shown in the pictures has an aperture release pin, represented a lower budget alternative within Wirgin’s line of single lens reflex camera bodies featuring through-the-lens (TTL) metering. While the overall design of these camera bodies remained similar to the earlier Reflex series, they finished the interchangeable viewfinders in favor of metering through the lens. Consequently, these newer models were equipped with a fixed pentaprism viewfinder. One special feature of this camera type is the semi-circular exposure control lever located near the lens mount. Moving it downward briefly activates the meter and the aperture release on the lens mount. During this moment, we can assess whether we have an appropriate combination of shutter speed and aperture. This is facilitated by the meter’s needle visible through the viewfinder. When the needle aligns with the gap between two control marks, the correct exposure values have been determined. On the left side of the body we can use a dial to check how different shutter speeds change the exposure values with the chosen aperture. However, this does not actually change the values (!), prior to taking the photograph, the chosen shutter speed, as indicated by the meter’s film and shutter-speed selector, must be manually set on the camera’s original mechanical speed selector.

What specs we have more on this really cool looking camera? Yes, a fast 1/1000s shutter speed within a somewhat limited range of B, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/125s, 1/250s and 1/500s. Interesting is the cool black-red dial on the top left that gives us the chance to check live wether we have correct exposures through the TTL lightmeter. Also the ASA/DIN settings can help us to see how the filmspeed actually influence the values. On the left side we have a big framenumber counter above the windlever. On the front we have the M42 mount, the big half moon lever that changes from full aperture (for focussing) to switching to the actual chosen aperture (for exposure checking). M42 lenses have screw mount, so no need for a (un)lock button. You will find nothing there, just anti clockwise screw the lens off. On the left next to the lensmount we have the pc sync (cable) connections for flash, both electronic as bulbs. We have a simple release button which you have to push towards you and a battery (originally Mallory PX13 but these days to be replaced by the still available WeinCell MRB625) switch on/off for the lightmeter. A red dot indicates the metering is on.

The back contains a solid to be opened and closed lid that takes up the 35 films from left to right. On the bottom plate, again a very solid tripod connection, the film rewind unlock button and the battery chamber that can be opened with a coin.

What about the Schneider Kreuznach Edixa Xenon 50mm F1.9 lens? It is a fast Double-Gauss lens in M42 mount, which is rare. A double Gauss lens is a compound lens that reduces optical aberrations over a large focal plane. Some of the most famous lenses are double Gauss lenses, like the Planar, Sonnar, Biotar and Xenon. The Xenon, invented and produced by Dr. Tronnier who worked at Schneider-Kreuznach, and from 1925 up to the present day it is still considered one of the best cine lenses in the world (source: Cheyenne Morrison, 2019). Like the Biotar it is not only fast and very sharp, from wide open, but has also distinct features like the (busy) bokeh, which is a matter of taste. In M42 it can easy be adapted to modern digital cameras. And for film it is really one of the most solid high quality lenses.

It is both the housing, the red dials and the zebra lens that give the Edixa its special look. The viewfinder image is large and clear and has a nice prism in the image center for good focusing. The light meter works somewhat unusually because it is not directly linked to the camera, with the “sample settings” of combined ISO and shutter speeds. So you still have to transfer these to the real shutter speed dial if exposure is correct! But then again, that gives the camera its charm. The top camera from bygone days at the end of the successful German camera industry.

Searching for a manual for the Edixa, you can find it of course with Mike Butkus.

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