The windows ("red lenses") on the back of some cameras are there because they allow you to read the frame numbers on the backing paper for the film. You use those numbers to ensure that you wind the film the correct amount between shots, and to keep track of how many shots you have taken or have left. Some cameras have sliding covers for those windows, while others just rely on the darkness of the glass in the windows and the other light seals in the camera.
Originally Posted by cparrish
120 film is designed to permit a variety of different sizes of negatives. It is 6 cm wide, but various cameras are designed to shoot negatives that are different lengths - 6cm x 4.5cm, 6cm x 6cm and 6cm x 9cm being three popular formats. To accommodate this, there are three sets of numbers printed on most backing paper - each set of numbers is a different distance from the edge of the backing paper. The red lenses are designed to reveal the set of numbers that coincides with the size of negative produced by the camera.
A few cameras allow multiple formats. For example, some cameras have masks and other features that allow you, for each roll, to choose between exposing 8 negatives that are 6cm x 9cm each, or 15 or 16 negatives that are 6cm x 4.5cm each. Those multiple format cameras need separate windows for each format. If your camera only has one window, it was designed to produce just one size of negative.
It is not unusual for there to have been several models of a particular camera made over a period of time, with only small differences in features distinguishing each model. Websites that collect information on the various models of older cameras rarely show pictures of all the different models.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Ok cool. I think that mostly makes sense. So the earlier Fixfocus models, and my particular Belfoca are only set up for 6x9, and no other formats, right? So then what I probably have is just an early production Belfoca. Nothing too special, just still carrying over a few of the parts from the previous Fixfocus model, and not yet set up for multiple formats? The altered instruction booklet is kind of ridiculous because it gives instructions for shooting with the fixfocus lens and shutter. Not terribly helpful with the Belfoca. Well, the question now is what are we going to do with it? We have no use for it. I suppose we'll sell it. Obviously there are differing opinions on its value. Anybody have any thoughts having seen the pictures and heard the tale?
Originally Posted by MattKing
I'll probably put it up in the classified section in a while, after I've decided how much to ask. If anyone is interested in actually buying the thing, shoot me a message.
That is one nice-looking folder! I agree that it's probably an early-production Belfoca. The history is confusing---VEB was a conglomerate that absorbed Belca sometime in the mid-1950s in Dresden, but by that time they would have been using the name "Belca-Werk" rather than "Balda-Werk". (The Prontor-S was introduced in 1951 and I think it was the usual higher-grade shutter on these cameras.) It might have been a transitional body of some sort, and maybe that back door with the single red window was cannibalized from something else entirely---I can't find any Belfocae or Fixfoci with that spiffy sliding cover.
One caution---sometimes the reason an old camera looks brand-spanking-new is that it didn't work well! I've got an absolutely lovely 1920s Voigtlaender that clearly was unusable from the factory---the lens is misaligned in a way that makes it impossible to get anything in focus and that would require precision metalworking to fix. Hopefully you don't have that situation, but it would be good to run a roll through (I know we have members in Boise; step up, y'all) and check basic functionality.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
Nice camera. It looks like they used a picture from before the war on the front cover of the manual. The camera body is of the pre-war style, and for a couple of years after the war many east german cameras used vest german shutters, and later they used east german made shutters like Vebur and Tempor.
VEB stands for Volkseigener Betrieb (Operation owned by the people), a legal form of enterprise owned by the state in East Germany. Balda-Werk in Dresden was nationalised after the war. The previous owner and founder, Max Baldeweg, lived in Vest Germany after the war and started a new company, Balda Kamera-Werk, in Bünde. It must have been around that time that the East German company had to change the name for legal reasons.
Originally Posted by ntenny
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