I have two friends obsessed with vintage cars, namely American 1940. A Subaro owner teased them, saying he would keep his car for 60 years to have a collectible model. My friend said no, it isn’t classic to begin with. This classification puzzled me then, and it comes up when I try to decipher why a specific camera model is in demand, and another is ignored. Germany was blessed with many camera makers, far more than the rest of Europe combined. Of that lot, some makers get the cold shoulder from collectors, such as Dacora, Adox, Durst, and Franka. These manufacturers made many cameras throughout the type spectrum. Once, I visited a thrift store with a fellow collector and spotted a nice Dacora. He said he wouldn’t touch it; a waste of shelf space. A perfectly good camera, with zero collector’s value, yet a camera.
Franka was Established in 1910 and made basic models till before the war. They sold most cameras under other brands/distributors, with some at their brand. Early models were klapp style, then progressed to viewfinders/rangefinders, adding metering as they evolved. The new incarnation of Wirgin took over the company in 1962 when the brand was closed down. The Franka name still pops up in cheap China-made cameras, which have nothing to do with the original brand.
For the collector, Franka cameras are none existent. A random eBay search returns about 80 Franka models for sale, most aging klapp models, mainly Rollfiox and early Solida. Looking at eBay sales in the last six months, there are only 36 units, most Solida models. There is no demand, so hardly any offering.
The Frankamatic of 1958 is an automatic camera with a coupled selenium meter, also sold as Super F0rankarette. Franka made six models under this name, all of which share a similar distinct body, with few specifications changes, whereas the unit described here is the Francamatic I. My database shows only one sale, on Catawiki, for 1 Euro. So much for its popularity.
I found no manual for it, and my unit (thrift store crop) is dead. It winds and clicks, but I have no idea what it does. The only control is a large dial on the lens barrel that is marked Auto on top and B followed by F stops on the bottom. Also, there are flash marks, electronic and bulb, and that’s it. Distance dial is marked by icons rather than feet or meters.
|Value||No credible source.|
|AKA||OGA Frankamatic Lux|
|Weight||560 gr, Body with lens|
|Class average weight||480 gr, Body with lens|
|Kit lens||2.8/45 Color Isconar, Ennit, or Ennagon.|
|Lens mount||Fixed lens|
|Shutter make||Prontor Lux, Pronto LK, Prontor SLK|
|Light meter||Selenium, external coupled|
|Speeds||B and auto|
|External sync||X, M|
|Service / repair links||See camerlog.com|