Welta Reflekta I (1949)

 Welta Reflekta I

    The Welta Reflekta is an East German twin-lens reflex camera produced from 1949-1951 in Freital, Saxony, German Democratic Republic. It takes 12 6x6cm photos on a roll of No.120 film and is a semi-reintroduction of the prewar Tharandt Reflecta (with a 'C' not a 'K') and a predecessor to the Welta Reflekta II.

    It appears that the entire camera is made of steel with steel and brass fittings. Over the majority of the outside of the camera is a leatherette covering. Although it doesn't feel as solidly built as models from, say, Franke & Heidecke (Rollei), the Reflekta is a robust camera; mine is a bit rusty due to the steel construction, but is in fully working order.

    As with the vast majority of TLR cameras, the Reflekta does not have an interchangeable lens. There were two lenses that could be present on the Reflekta: the ROW Pololyt 75mm f/3.5 and the E. Ludwig Meritar 75mm f/3.5, which my example is equipped with; the Meritar is a relatively high quality lens and is very sharp. It is wholly unclear which lens is the better of the two. Both the taking lens and the viewing lens are identical (either the Meritar or the Pololyt). The lens can focus using the lever located beneath the shutter can down to 4 feet (notice feet and not meters).

    All Reflekta I cameras came with a Gebrüder Werner Blitz I shutter. This is an everset design with speeds from 1/25 to 1/100s plus Bulb. It is very similar to other GW designs. The shutter is tripped with the little silver lever on the user's right side of the shutter can. Note: despite having a blub setting, there is no cable release socket. Despite its simplicity, there is what I assume to be an X flash sync-- the manual states that the flash fires when the shutter is fully open, meaning that it is indeed X sync. There are only two shutter leaves on the Blitz I shutter, but this has no effect on its use. Shutter speeds are selected with the silver rim. On the bottom of the shutter is the aperture selector lever with apertures of f/3.5 to f/16, meaning that the camera can only be used sunny 16 with up to 100 ASA film.

    The viewfinder is about as simple as they come-- just a square of ground glass. This is used to focus and compose the image. To reveal it, the silver catch on the back of the hood is slid to the left; the hood then springs up. To collapse the hood, the front is pushed back down and the rear part automatically folds in.as aforementioned, focusing is accomplished with the use of the lever below the shutter. There is no loupe for focusing aid nor a sports finder like on other models of TLR. On the back of the camera is a chart for depth-of-field numbers for the various focusing distances: it is curious how the chart extends to f/22, even when it is not an option on the Reflekta I nor the Reflekta II.

    To open the Reflekta, the small silver catch on the bottom of the camera is flicked open and the back swung out. The film is loaded thus far and the door closed again. Winding is achieved with the plastic knob on the side of the body and spacing determined with a ruby window on the back. To cover this window, a 'pan protection' shutter is located on the back, which can be opened to view and closed to protect the film.

    This camera was given to me free-of-charge in exchange for fixing a few cameras (Thanks Gabe!). I am the fourth owner of this camera, and am very proud to be so! It was originally purchased in about 1950 in East Berlin by a U.S. soldier; having travelled through Checkpoint Charlie, it made its way to America. Most of the functions of the camera were not working when I received it, but I have since mended it so that it now works good-as-new (save for the flash sync). I'd definitely recommend the Reflekta for a general-purpose TLR; it punches well above its weight and with its good lens, can take marvelous photos.

Viewfinder Hood, Distance Scale, and Ruby Window

Sample Images (Compressed, pardon quality)


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