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My quest for finding the best and most beautiful cameras from the former east german republic, let me discover a very special and unusual camera named "belmira" produced by the Welta. The cameras is known also under the name of "Belca Belmira". In fact the camera was first produced by the" VEB Belca Werk" from 1953 to 1958 and then, after the integration in a new industrial structure, was continued by the "Welta Kamera-Werk Freital". Both entreprises came from Dresden, and were founded before the 1st world war and were re-organized after the 2nd war by the new DDR socialist régime. Welta itself was integrated in the VEB Pentacon after 1964...

Like many of the DDR cameras, the Belmira has this fantastic “Carl Zeiss Iena” Tessar lens (2,8/50mm) well known for her great optical qualities. Openig from 2,8 to 16, the shutter speeds are set from 1/250s to 1s and “B”. The sound of the mechanism is really limited, allowing discreet shooting. It was surely this aspect who decided me to buy this camera, but not only…

Another point shared with many DDR cameras is the design, a very futuristic and unusual one and with some very cool aspects that simplify the shooting.
First surprising thing is that the viewfinder is completely on the right of the camera (perfect for left-eyed photographers) and the reloading of the film on the opposite left side. A clever “push-button” system gives you the possibility to reload for the next shot with your thumb very easily and very quickly! And the shutter has also an unusual position as he his on the camera body under the viewfinder, but it’s a very natural position for your finger and makes the camera easy to hold.

Then, it’s a rangefinder, that means that when you’re focusing you can see by a “double image system” the focus on what you’re shooting. The little window above the lens has a small coupled mirror, reflecting on the inside of the viewfinder and giving you an image of what the lens and your eye can see. Even if the viewfinder isn’t very clear (yellow tinted window that became a bit dark with the time…) the size is big enough to have an idea of what you’re shooting.

And finally, what I really appreciate on this camera is the overall view of the commands and the very smooth use of the rings. The focusing ring has little crancks for your fingers to find the good position (from 0,8 to infinity) and the aperture ring has clear positions and even “mid-positions”. Only the shutter speed ring is on the front of the lens, perhaps a bit less easy to use while shooting…

All these things made that I really liked this camera at the first sight and the first roll I made was a real pleasure to shoot!

A few links:
http://www.lyndrup.dk/ken/Engelsk/Welta%20E/Welta%20Belmira%20E.htm

http://www.lippisches-kameramuseum.de/Belca/Belca_Belmira.htm

http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Welta

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14302756@N00/276034284

written by vicuna

3 comments

  1. neanderthalis

    neanderthalis

    Nice design, but I am very right-eyed and so with a camera like the Smena 8M, I stopped looking threw the view finder all together. I would not do so hot as a range finder. Nice review.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  2. vicuna

    vicuna

    well, I'm right-eyed too but I don't mind to shoot with the left eye (which in fact is seeing "better" than the right one) sometimes. And the design of this cam is really great :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. vicuna

    vicuna

    over 1 year ago · report as spam