Nedinsco Primo

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Nedinsco Primo

The little camera production in the Netherlands goes back to the late 19th century, with Lonan and Schaap making large wooden format boxes and reflex models. A few other manufacturers existed in the early 1900s, with modern camera makers Tahbes, Neotaf, Vena and Nedinsco joining post-WWII. Further, Fodor made or rebranded several models from different Japanese and German manufacturers. Cambo was, and still is, a major professional equipment manufacturer.

Nedinsco, short for Nederland Instrument Company, was founded in the Netherlands in 1921 as a Carl Zeiss subsidiary. The location selected, Venlo, is a stone’s throw from the Geman border, across Germany from Jena, Carl Zeiss headquarters. It seems that Zeiss was looking to have a foothold outside Germany for some reason, perhaps to bypass the sanctions imposed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. Making military optical hardware, the company was nationalized after the war and privatized in 1953. The company still exists, manufacturing similar equipment. It had a short flirtation with consumer cameras, with the Argus and the Primo models.

The first camera made by Nedinsco was the Argus, a short-lived camera made in 1957 under license from Gerlach, based on the Gerlach Ideal Colour. This was the first 35mm camera made in the Nederlands; only a few hundred were made. Gerlach called production off due to quality concerns. With the tooling left, Nedinsco turned to Steiner and bought the rights for an almost identical camera, the Steinette. Both cameras were designed by Willy Uhrig, who probably sold it on the double. A flirt with Futura for production under license or taking over after Futura closed down did not mature.  The rationale for making cameras in the Nederlands was to evade the post-war customs duty imposed on imports, assuming that Benelux was a sufficient market for local production. The Primo was affordable, selling at 50 Guilders, about USD30 then. Production lasted till 1963, with Japanese competition offering much more, probably at the same price.

At first glance, the Primo resembles the Argus, but besides the overall shape, they are different cameras. The Primo has much more in common with the Steinette and the Hunter 35. The same camera was also rebranded as the Brelland, Tanette and Tornette, of which I have no knowledge. All are the same model, destined for different markets.

There were two Primo models; the early model had the cold shoe centred, and the later it was offset towards the rewind knob. Both models had black or gray skin. The very early cameras had Steiner lenses, which were later replaced with homemade Nedinsco lenses.

The camera is petit and nicely designed, with flowing lines towards the front. Lightweight, it sits nicely in the hand and is equally comfortable on a straight surface. That’s more than I could say about other era cameras.

The top carries the winder, a short throw lever with an adjustable frame counter within it, and the tiny viewer. The back has a rewind release fin and a large, shiny plate. I think it should have an exposure title printed on it. The bottom comes off with an easy-to-use thumbnut. It takes dropping the cartridge into the cavity and using an offtake spool.

The prominent square nose is softened with diagonal cuts, culminating around the aperture settings dial. Next is the shutter speed dial, offering a scant selection, typical in budget cameras at the time. Shutter speeds are marked at the front, so it takes turning the camera up for setting. The front focusing ring turns almost 360⁰, marked metric. The lens is 3.5/45, common in that era.

The model I have is fully operational and well-preserved. It is a nice model on the shelf for the collector, as one of the few models made in the Nederlands.

Camdex list number 16762
Brand Nedinsco
Model Primo
Value At
Format 35mm
Introduced 1958
Country Holland
Qty made 12000
Initial price 60
Currency NLG
Type Viewfinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 360 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 475 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range N/A
Kit lens 3.5/45
Lens make Nedinsco
Filter size N/A
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make
Light meter None
Winder Lever
Lock No
Speeds B, 25-200
Mirror N/A
Viewer Viewfinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync M
Sync speed 50
Timer No
Battery, original N/A
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See
More Nederlandse Camera
CJ’s Classic Cameras
Fred’s Fotografica

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