Franka Franka

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Franka Franka

Franka Kamerawerk was one of the early German camera makers, established in 1909. The first models were drop bed folders, then graduated into smaller Klapp-style cameras. It is odd, but the company did not have box cameras on its lineup, as was common with most camera makers’ evolution. In the post-war years, they added monoblock cameras under Bonafix, Rollfix, Franka, Frankarette, and Solida model names. As with other camera makers, they repeatedly used the same model name, with or without suffixes, and mixed in different film formats. A prolific manufacturer, they sold over 100 models under their brand while supplying other distributors. Known rebrands are Birnbaum, Obergassner, Photo Plait, Boots, Foto Quelle, Porst and Sears, and I am sure there were more.

During the mid-1950s, Franka cooperated with Wirgin, having several models under both companies’ names. In 1962, they merged with Wirgin, yet offered several models under Franka’s name. In the 1980s, a slew of cheap point-and-shoot cameras were made by a third party, as was done with other deceased brands.

The Franka on my desk is an odd product. Made in 1956, it was the second model of many Franka, Frankarette and Super Frankarette namesakes. The first Franka was a 1948 short-lived viewfinder.

The camera has two viewer windows, so I assumed it is a rangefinder. It is not. A sister model, the Franka E, is a rangefinder; here, the second window is just for window dressing. The same design was carried over also to the Super Frankarette E and the Super Frankarette RI.

The camera is typical of the post-war models, sharing a style with many other models having a bulbous lens assembly that looks oversized compared to the body.

The top has just what is required, with no additional complexities. The frame counter is embedded within the winding lever, and the rewind knob has a memo film speed dial. A relatively fast 2.8 lens, with shutter speeds heavy on slow speeds, useful with the slow films available at the time and the self-timer.

An uncommon feature is a lever that locks the shutter speed dial together with the aperture dial so both stay at a specific EV value. The EV marks in red are under the lens barrel. This way, the selected EV remains constant with the change of one of the parameters. Once the lever unlocks, both dials can be set individually.

Like other German cameras, a lever selects between M and X flash sync and activates the self-timer marked as V.

My camera is in working order, a rare condition with the 1950s mass-produced German cameras. The body and skin are well preserved, but the winder lever is badly pitted.

For the collector, this camera model is an oddity and not an essential addition to the Shelf. Having said that, this model is rarely offered for sale, either only a few were made or sellers anticipate little interest.

Good to know

It looks like a rangefinder, but the patch window is blocked.

Camdex list number 13509
Brand Franka
Model Franka
Manual
Value At camdex.ca
Format 35mm
Introduced 1956
AKA
Country Germany
Qty made
Initial price
Currency
Type Viewfinder, mock rangefinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 600 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 460 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range Memo only
Kit lens 2,8/45
Lens make Isconar
Filter size 40.5mm
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Aperture
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make Prontor SVS
Light meter None
Winder Lever
Lock No
Speeds B, 1-300
Mirror N/A
Viewer Viewfinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync X/M
Sync speed
Timer Yes, mechanical
Battery, original N/A
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Other
Service / repair links See camerlog.com
More

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