My journey over the German viewfinders shelf nears an end with the Zeiss and Robot models, which would require lengthy research. Meanwhile, I hovered about an odd-looking camera, hesitant to explore it, assuming that such an esoteric style would yield no information. Again, I was wrong. The little Radix has quite a following online as well in my library. Oddly, this is the only Bilora-made model I have.
Messrs. Kürbi & Niggeloh made the Radix under the Bilora brand. The company began trading in Bremen in 1909 as a machine shop and moved south to Radevormwald a decade later. While Bremen was and still is a commercial and industrial center, I see no reason for moving south to the rural city of Radevormwald other than a half-hour drive from my favourite Wuppertal.
The company delved into making cameras, paused production during the war years, and was lucky enough to find itself in the British Occupied Zone after the war. Post war, they could continue production without the heavenly socialist guidance as their brethren at the DDR.
Bilora brand cameras began with basic box models, including the well-known Bilora Boy, a shameless copy of the East German Altissa Box model. A Chile plant made several models with little success. Following the box generation, their mainstay was a long line of simple viewfinder cameras under the Bella name, which morphed into high-aspiration Bellaluxa and Bellina, two short-lived legacy models. One supposedly advanced model, the Bonita 35, was a Bella 35 with a light meter. The last cameras offered by Bilora were the Instamatic type, 126 format models under the Bilomatic banner.
Within the above models, in 1948, Bilora presented an odd-looking camera under the Radix name. The ‘ix’ suffix seems to have been popular at the time. At large, there were two models, one having two speeds, B and about 50, and the other having five speeds controlled by a front dial placed where the slow speeds dial is on high-end cameras, and a cold shoe. All models of these cameras were sold simultaneously. The pundits define the models according to the lens; see a detailed list below. The first model’s lens had just a 4.0 marking on the lens, estimated to be 38mm. The rest have lens sizes traditionally marked.
The Radix line lasted for four short years, assumingly called off when the Kodak 135 format beat the Karat format. The surviving units are pretty collectible.
The Radix is different from other compact viewfinder cameras.
- My camera seems to be an early Radix 56. Later models have a civilized aperture setting dial and markings.
- It has a lever winder, amongst the earliest adopted.
- A serrated fin on top that slides to the right triggers the shutter.
- There are two speeds, T for time, actually B, and M for moment. Later models had five modest speeds, B, 2-30. Speed setting is by a slider at the bottom, under the lens
- The aperture setting is by a fin above the lens. It is a perforated disk with a matching F-value aperture. The value shows through a tiny window above the lens.
- I might be missing something, but I cannot find distance settings. The lens assembly winds on a thread, and there are two red dots, one on the mount and one on the lens assembly; no distance markings or icons. I am not sure what to set.
- The viewer is small.
- The frame counter cannot be reset; it is what it is.
- Being in karat format, there is no rewind; it takes a 2nd, empty Karat cartridge to take off.
- The shutter is a rotating disk, borrowed from the old box models, resembling the Mercury models.
- Opening the back takes turning the large disk at the back by the protruding tams and removing it entirely.
|Format||Rapid, 24x24mm frame|
|Weight||440 gr, Body with lens|
|Class average weight||450 gr, Body with lens|
|Lens mount||Fixed lens|
|Aperture||5.6-16, perforated disk.|
Camaras Sin Fronteras
CJ’s classic cameras
|Service / repair links||See camerlog.com|
Bilora Radix Models
|Radix 35||1949||B, 50||Radionar
|Radix S||1950||B, 50||Radionar||3.5/35||78|
|Radix 35 B||1950||B, 50||Biloxar||3.5/38||64|
|radix 35 BH||1950||B, 2-30||Biloxar||3.5/38||Shoe||95|
|Radix SH||1950||B, 2-30||Radionar||3.5/35||Shoe||114|
|Radix 56||1949||B, 50||Biloxar
|Radix 56 A||1949||B, 50||Biloxar||5.6/38||Shoe||48|