Walz / Lafayette Electrick
The Walz camera brand shows little in an online search. It is mentioned on the fly as both a manufacturer and distributor with no hard evidence to either. From my two decades of dealing with Japanese corporations, I can vouch that they excel in record keeping, so the lack of information here is odd. I inclined to believe that Walz was a distributor, as the company is known for photography accessories and trinkets, such as filters, light meters, hoods, lens covers, timers, and alike. A manufacturer would have concentrated on the main line, cameras, rather than spread thinly on accessories.
The camera Walz line shows a few early folders as at 1952, thereafter TLR and rangefinders till 1960. A total of 26 models, all look like siblings of the same flock. Most carry the Walz brand, where the Walz Envoy is most known, while others such as the Lafayette Electrick differ. The Lafayette moniker could be a brand dedicated to a specific US distributor.
The Electrick is an epitome of a rangefinder of the 60s. It is about the size of the Yashica Electro line, but heavier. Much heavier. It weighs some 200 gr (app 7 oz.) over the average of this class. Introduced in 1960, together with its’ twin and the Automat 44 TLR, it was the last of the Walz line.
It was offered with two lenses, a 1.8 / 45 and a 2.8 / 45, which is the model I have.
The camera falls nicely in the hand, should you ignore the unexpected weight. The viewer is on the left, making it easy for shooters like me, using the right eye. It is a minor issue but can be annoying if the window is in the middle or at the right. An easy-to-reach winding lever, complemented with a self-setting exposure counter clicks to zero upon closing the back.
A wide and bright viewer with a parallax frame, together with an easy-to-read meter display within the viewer. A second meter display is on the middle top cover. The prominent selenium light meter lens is nicely positioned at the front, in line with the finder windows, giving it a well-balanced look. All it takes is to set the shutter speed and thereafter set the aperture so the meter needle, at the internal or external display, to meet the red mark there. But not so fast.
The said setting dials are mounted towards the end of the lens assembly. Designers had in mind thin and gentle fingers. I found it difficult to move one ring without the other following suit. Guess it takes getting used to it.
Distance dial is at the by the body, operated by the left hand. The travel is on the scant side, a bit longer travel could make focusing easier. Markings are both in feet and meters, with the depth of field marked by it. The self-timer lever hides underneath the lens barrel.
Rewind release and crank are at the bottom, where the crank folds into the bottom plate. This leaves the top uncluttered. The back opens via a latch on the side, revealing a typical film track with a permanent take-off spool.
Back to weight, it looks as if the makers planned this camera to be impact-resistant. Else I see no reason for the weight. The back cover is made of steel while the rest probably aluminum alloy, but a lot of it.
|Shutter priority, manual
|810 gr, Body with lens
|Class average weight
|670 gr, Body with lens
|Lafayette / Cominar