August 2003 - Miscellany
We used to get a lot of enquiries about
various cameras, and I started trying to save my replies in case they
came in useful. Unfortunately, the volume of enquiries got so large
that we could no longer cope and we had to stop answering any and
all questions unless they are associated with items we have for sale.
These are some of the replies I saved.
The Contarex Special was produced, mainly,
as a professional camera. The light meter which is a feature of the
Contarex Bullseye is omitted from the Special, and instead the camera
offers an interchangeable viewfinder system, with a choice of eye-level
pentaprism or waist-level finders, and ground glass or fresnel lens
with split-image rangefinder screens. It was made from about 1961-1963,
and one contemporary catalogue states "Designed for professional
and technical work". In the UK, in 1961, it cost over 194 pounds,
with a Tessar f/2.8 50 mm. lens and a waist-level finder. The Contarex
Bullseye, with light meter, was nearly 250 pounds.
The Bolsey B22
camera dates from about 1953. The camera was designed by Jacques Bolsey
(known as Bogopolsky before he moved to America in about 1938). He
had the cameras made by Obex Corp. of Long Island, NY, while he handled
distribution himself through his Bolsey Corp. until about 1956 when
Obex also distributed the cameras.
Bogopolsky designed the Bol cine camera for 16 mm. film; he then did
a deal with Paillard and worked for Paillard for a time (hence "Bolex").
His Bol cine camera was the direct ancestor of the famous H-16 series
of cine cameras, still made in Switzerland, and used professionally
all over the world.
Bogopolsky worked for Alpa on the famous Alpa reflex camera. The Bolsey
Reflex A, dating from the early 1940's, is identical to the Alpa I.
What little I know about Bolsey's work in the USA, other than his
cameras, comes from his obituary which I've seen in the Society of
Television Engineer's magazine for somewhere about February 1962.
This says he was involved in work for the US military during the war
and that Bolsey acted as a technical consultant to a range of companies.
Bolsey's final camera was the Bolsey 8 Uniset from about 1961. This
was designed to take still and cine pictures, but was only about the
size of a cigarette packet. An earlier model had variable shutter
was made in the early 1960s - our first reference seems to indicate
it was first brought into the UK in 1962, so production should have
started about then, or just before.
The camera was made in what were Zeiss factories in East Germany.
The company was part of VEB Kamera and Kinowerke Dresden from 1959.
In 1964 VEB DEFA was added to the company to form VEB Pentacon, which
was subject to a later merger but stuck with the Pentacon name. Pentacon
also made the Praktica cameras, and a series of Contax cameras, before
they were compelled to relinquish the Contax name.
Co of Tokyo started life as Kuribayashi Camera Works, founded in 1907.
The name Petri is apparantly derived from Peter the First; it was
supposed to make the cameras more acceptable in overseas markets.
The company changed its name to Petri in 1962 and went bankrupt in
The Petri 35 was the first Petri rangefinder camera. There
are several variants, most of them common in the US, slightly less
so here in the UK. The 35 dates from about 1954, the 35 with f/2 lens
from about 1957, and the f/2.8 and f/1.9 versions from about 1958.
There is also a Petri Color 35, with a built-in meter, dating from
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