Meopta camera list

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Meopta camera list


In London of 1807, Andrew Pears, a chemist, compounded an all-natural, translucent soap. All-natural soap at the time was not a big deal; neither was being translucent. Yet, the Pears soap gained fame by being the first cosmetic sold via a marketing campaign promoted by street signs, newspaper ads and celebrity endorsements. The brand still exists and has been owned by Lever Brothers / Unilever since 1914. Today, it is made in India and exported the world over. I use it, very gentle on the skin.

Part of the marketing campaign was an annual, one-volume Pears Cyclopaedia, a tome of about 1,000 pages, first published in 1897. With the absence of the internet, it contained all Joe Public should know. There was a lexicon, an office compendium, a gazetteer and maps of the world, a dictionary, a general information section, classical mythology, health, beauty, medical dictionary, gardening and sports sections, and more. Further, it contained a ready reckoner, in case you need to multiply £4 3S 6-1/2d by 5. I am not making this up. Also, there was a good section about how to open a letter addressed to the Queen, Victoria at the first edition, or letters to dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, etcetera. A handy book, printed in 7-point font to contain all this information within a mere 1,000 pages. Also, in the 1941 edition on my desk, there is a 23-page photography section.

Distribution declined over the years; it sold about four million annual copies at its height, whereas the last edition of 2016 sold less than 25,000 copies. I would suggest the last edition was bought just for its sentimental value.

My father had the 1941 copy. It is well worn out and patched together several times. As a child, I leafed through it back to front, as a Hebrew-speaking boy would. The most interesting section was the world atlas in full colour, which I remember to this day, 70 years later. Some countries once existed, vanished, renamed, split, or reborn. Such was Yugoslavia, under occupation when the book was published, to be re-amalgamated post-war and given to Tito by Stalin to keep him busy and devoid of silly ideas. The maps of Africa and Asia bear little resemblance to today’s geography, as if they are on alien land.

What I want to get to is the absence of Czechia.

On that 1941 map, Slovakia, half of Czechoslovakia, is wedged between Germany, Hungary and Poland, with no sign of Czechia. Germany, however, is oversized. This is how Europe looked just before the Great War had ended.

Czechia, situated smack in the centre of Europe, is a small country, both in land and population, about  11,000,000 today. Not big enough to make a splash, but due to its location, it could not be left alone in the world’s turbulent affairs. In 1918, it was kicked out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire just by the end of WWI, even before the Treaty of Versailles, where the world’s borders were redrawn. Czechia was twined together in a shotgun wedding with Slovakia to form Czechoslovakia.

The industrial Czechs and the rural Slovaks liked each other as much as the Walloons and the Flemish or as the Bosnian and the Croats or the Ibo and Yoruba, all living in shared countries. This union had little chance to last. Further, the Czech population was an assembly of ethnicities barely held together, with Bohemians and Moravians making up about half of the population, Ethnic Germans about a third, and the rest a mix of local cultures and offshoots of the neighbouring countries.

The unhappy coalition lasted until a small man with an odd mustache came to power in Germany. Just as Putin used the ethnic Russians in Ukraine as a cause de la guerre, Hitler looked at neighbouring Czechoslovakia as lebensraum, an expansion room, with the ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland as an excuse. The reality was that the Ethnic Germans were all over the country, so not only the western regions but almost a third of Czechia were at risk.

After Germany’s show of force in annexing Austria, the 1938 infamous Munich Agreement, attended by Deladier, Mussolini, and Chamberlain, forced the weak Yugoslavian government to surrender to Hitler’s demands within twelve days. The Czechoslovak army was well-equipped and large enough to resist, but history had a different opinion.

Yugoslavia fell without a single shot, followed in short order by Slovakia declaring an independent pro-German state, just to have Hungary invade its south and Poland bite into its north. I would think that the real reason for Hitler praying over Czechoslovakia was to rid the only meaningful army between Germany and Russia as an prologue for Operation Barbarossa.

The Great War was not eliminated. Fast forward to the end.

After the German defeat, Czechoslovakia came under Soviet watch. Till the 1992 break up, it was the least communist / socialist country under the Sovied wing. Yet, in 1968, Prague woke up with Soviet tanks in the streets, demonstrating that Moscow was serious about stepping off line. It still took 24 years for the workers’ paradise mother state to collapse, and the Czech Republic was born.

For a small country, the Czechs have a lot to show. Masaryk, father and son, Dvorak and Mahler, Freud and Mendel, Kafka and Brod, to name just a few.

And lest we forget the Good Soldier Svejk. And beer from Pilsen, and Spartak Brno.

Meopta Cameras

The optical industry was modest; some two dozen camera makers operated in the early to middle 20th century. Most made just a few models. Birnbaum, the largest of the pioneers, made cameras from the early 1900s until the war, with Druopta and Meopta taking the lead after that. To make it interesting, I find quite a few models marked under two or more manufacturers. It could be production sharing, rebranding or just research errors. For example, the Etareta appears to be made by Meopta, Druopta, and Eta. A similar fate has the Pionyr, having multiple families.

Meopta, Czechia’s most prolific camera maker, was established as Optikotechna in 1933 in Prerov, Moravia, far from Prague. Early production was portable optical equipment such as binoculars and rifle sights. With the photographic industry turning from a specialized niche to a popular hobby, they added enlargers and darkroom equipment, for which they gained a worldwide reputation; in 1963, I used a Meopta enlarger at the school’s darkroom.

WWII came, and the invading regime took over the company as vital for the war efforts, so production had diverted into military accessories, still within the optical industry. In 1946, at the war’s end, the company was taken over by the socialist government, this time for the benefit of the people, or at least for the ruling elite. The name has changed to Meopta. Henceforth, the backbone was cine cameras and projectors, mainly for export. Still film camera production continued till the late 1960s, when it was dropped altogether, and the company continued with military and sports scopes and other optics. In 1993, the company was back in private ownership with the newly independent Czech Republic. It has since changed hands several times, and per its current website, it continues with high-tech, whatever it is.

Meopta’s still cameras portfolio can be divided into TLRs, miniatures and viewfinders.

  • The popular Flexaret and variants TLR models were made as early as 1936 and resumed post-war in 1948. They had a good run till 1966.
  • The miniature Mikroma camera line, using 16mm film, began with the Mikronette in 1944, and continued for 15 years with various models and a colourful palette.
  • Several 35mm viewfinders, exceptionally well made, appeared throughout the years. Amongst these is the Etareta, which, as described above, has many fathers.
  • Some deviations of those categories were a few stereo cameras, a press camera, medical/scientific use conversions, a panorama model, some cheap point-and-shoot, and the subcompact 12mm Milox.

Meopta camera list

Cola 193235mm
Focaflex 1950TLR120
Iskra 1950TLR120
Sator 1939Niche35mm
Admira 16 CineN/A
Admira 16 D CineN/A
Coloreta Preprint35mm
Mikroma II Brown 1959Miniature16mm
MG-camera S-13
Mikroma II 'World Expo' 1958Miniature16mm
Mikroma II grey 1959Miniature16mm
Admira 8D CineN/A
Admira 8B Cine8mm
Optiflex 1938TLR120
Pankopta Panorama 1965Panoramic120
Admira 8 II CineN/A
Axoma AF 96 1996Point and shoot35mm
Camerad I 1936TLR120
Flexaret Astro 1961tlr120
Meopta A8G CineN/A
Meopta A8G2 CineN/A
Admira A 8 II a CineN/A
Adastra I CineN/A
Adastra II CineN/A
Adastra III CineN/A
Admira A 8F Cine16mm
Autoflex Meopta TLR120
Camerad II 1936TLR120
Druoflex 1 1950TLR120
Flexaret IIIb TLR120
Flexaret I 1939TLR120
Flexaret Standard 1964TLR120
Flexaret V 1958TLR120
Kusovnik DFP 50 1950Aerial
Mikroma Endoscopy 1949Niche16mm
Mikroma II Luxus-Gold 1959Miniature16mm
Mikroma Microscope Miniature16mm
Mikronette 1944Miniature16mm
Opema Microscope Camera 1965Niche120
Pionyr I 1950Viewfinder120
Pionyr II 1950Viewfinder120
Rix 1960TLR120
Secret service camera Niche16mm
Admira A 8G CineN/A
Mikroma II black 1959Miniature16mm
Admira 8G Supra CineN/A
Etareta 1946Viewfinder35mm
Copying Camera Repro Niche35mm
Stereo-Mikroma II 1964Stereo16mm
Somet 1956Cine8mm
Flexaret VIIa Automat 1966TLR120
Kola 1932Viewfinder
Mikroma II Red 1959Miniature16mm
Mikroma 1949Miniature16mm
Admira 8 II A CineN/A
Optineta 1959Viewfinder35mm
Mikroma II beige 1959Miniature16mm
Admira 8F CineN/A
Flexaret VIa Automat 1960TLR120
Stereo-Mikroma I 1961Stereo16mm
Flexette 1938TLR120
Flexaret III 1950TLR120
Flexaret VII Automat 1960TLR120
Flexaret IV 1956TLR120
Opema 1950Viewfinder35mm
Mikroma II Green 1959Miniature16mm
Milona II 1952Klapp120
Stereo 35 1970Stereo35mm
Magnola 1949Press13x18
Admira 8C 1947Cine16mm
Flexaret IIIa 1951TLR120
Milona I 1949Klapp120
Milox TI-246 1968Submini11.5mm
Flexaret IVa 1956TLR120
Flexaret VI Automat 1960TLR120
Flexaret IIa 1948TLR120
Meopta A8 Iia CineN/A
Flexaret II 1950TLR120
Mikroma Coloured 1949Miniature16mm
Admira 8E CineN/A
Autoflex 1939TLR120
Admira 16 A CineN/A
Spectareta CineN/A
Flexaret Va 1958TLR120
Mikroma II Black Police 1949Miniature16mm
Opema II1950Viewfinder35mm
Admira 16 Electric A1 CineN/A
Meopta A8G1 CineN/A


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