I was at a flea market when I found a wonderful, rare pre-war folding camera from the 1930s. It was a good buy. Me finding the camera was a stroke of luck.
The camera is a Zeca Bettax, a medium-format folding camera of the Dresden (Paul-) Zeh Kamerawerken, Zaka, or “Zeh Camera Factory” (Zeca, for its foreign name.) It was introduced in 1931.
The Bettax shoots 8 pictures in 6×9 or 16 half-frame images in 6×4 format on 120 film. The fact that you can fold the camera makes it relatively handy for a medium-format camera. The folding feature makes carrying easy as it also comes with a handle.
The Pronto lens has five aperture settings: f/4.5, f6.3, f/9, f/18 and f/25. As shutter speeds goes, the lens shoots with 1/125s, 1/100s, 1/50s and 1/25s speeds. It also has B and T settings.
The T setting is especially useful for long exposures. After clicking the shutter, the lens captures light until you click the shutter again.In addition to the manual control of the shutter button, right next to the lens is a wired remote or self-timer. Unfortunately, I can’t give you information about this since my self-timer is a bit rusty.
The focus ranges from 0.8m to ∞. The levels of 0.8, 1.5, 2, 3, 5, 10 meters and ∞ are marked and etched on the focus ring. Spontaneous “quick firing” is of course done only out of pure luck. I forget to focus from time to time. To “target” your subjects, you can use the swiveling mirror viewfinder that’s attached to the lens. Or if you must shoot quickly, you can try the hinged “sports finder.”
Pictures are worth a thousand words so I’ll let you guys be the judge of some of my sample shots with the Bettax:
In my opinion, all of this camera’s features make it a fine travel companion for anyone who’s lucky enough to get his hands on a Bettax. You can argue about the quality of the lens or the photos, but hey, we are all Lomographers here. You can surely attract lots of attention with this relic from a time long past. You can find these Bettax cameras or one of its 1934 successors for under $50 on eBay. You may want to try eBay country sites like that of Russia, UK or France to get the best chance of getting one for yourself.