Weltaflex medium format twin lens reflex
The Weltaflex is a German made, twin lens reflex camera which first came into the world around 1954 and was made by the Welta company, although I suspect the version I have is a bit later than that since it bears the Pentacon mark on the shutter.
These pictures can also be viewed full size here.
I found this camera on eBay described as a fully working, nice condition camera and I thought it was a reasonable price so I bought it. As it turned out the description would have been a reasonable entry for a prize for a fictional work because the camera was far from ‘fully working’.
The first issue was with the shutter which only worked on the fastest speeds. Anything below about 1/25th was very reluctant to complete and needed to be helped to close.
The taking lens had a fair amount of fungus growing on both the front and back elements.
The other major problem was the viewing / focus screen which is really very dark and difficult to see. To be fair to the seller it’s possible that isn’t a fault – it could be that the screen was quite dark when the camera was made.
The overall general condition of the camera was a bit tatty with the covers peeling in places and a slight amount of rust starting to show around the edges of the covers.
The shutter was relatively easy to repair. Once I got into the shutter by unscrewing the lens and removing the cover and speed setting plate, I found it is a remarkably simple unit. The problem seemed to be with the slow speed escapement unit which is fitted in the bottom of the shutter and could be removed after unscrewing the two screws which held it in place.
With the escapement out of the camera I flushed it through with some acetone and it seemed to work nicely again. Not knowing if it needed lubrication or not I added a drop of watch oil to the points which should need it but as soon as I got the unit back in the shutter is stopped working and had to be cleaned again. It looks like this unit works better running dry.
The viewfinder was a more difficult job and I could only make a marginal improvement by cleaning the viewing screen. I tried carefully cleaning the mirror but even the slightest touch seemed to be disturbing the silvering (the mirror is top silvered to reduce ghosting). Fortunately the place I tried to clean was well away from the area directly in eyesight, so it can’t be seen, but the only real improvement will be if I can cut a new mirror. I’m going to try a film through the camera first to see if it’s worth it.
Fortunately most of the fungus could be cleaned off the lenses by unscrewing them and giving them a thorough clean. The front lens was easy to remove because it just unscrewed – the back lens was more tricky, but I could just get in with a lens spanner and unscrew it.
The overall tatty-ness was addressed with a good clean and a bit of evostick contact adhesive.
At the moment I have a roll of film loaded in the Weltaflex and I’ll publish the results and my impressions of using the camera in a later post.
The Weltaflex is a medium format camera taking 12 negatives of 6cm square on a roll of 120 film. In common with all twin lens cameras there is a viewing lens at the top of the camera which is used to produce the picture in the viewfinder in the top of the camera, and a similar taking lens at the bottom. Because the viewing lens needs to be as bright as possible, the aperture is only fitted to the taking lens in the bottom.
The Weltaflex is a remarkably simple camera. There is no fancy film transport which makes sure the film is moved just the right amount between exposures, and nothing to stop you winding the film without taking a picture. The general construction seems to be of quite flimsy material, so I would guess that it was a lower spec unit aimed at the entry level enthusiast. Perhaps someone who had used a box camera and wanted something capable of slightly better results.
The Shutter is marked ‘Vebur’ and has the Pentacon 3 towers sign on the shutter speed dial as well. As I said above, it’s a simple unit which has speeds of 1 sec to 1/250 sec + B. There is no automatic shutter cocking as the film transport is wound – the shutter needs to be cocked independently before you take a shot.
I don’t know if my copy is faulty, but when B is selected it is a combination of Bulb and the 1 second speed! The shutter is cocked and the release pressed and the slow speed runs for about half a second and then stops with the shutter open. When the release button is raised, the slow speed runs for another half second and the shutter closes!
The lens is an E. Ludwig Meritar 75mm f/3.5 unit which should give reasonable results.
The viewfinder is pretty poor, but there are alternatives available. As well as the ground glass viewfinder, there is also a sports finder, which is formed by pushing down the panel in the middle of the viewfinder shade and using a small hole in the back of the shade which gives a simple frame to use. Obviously, if the sports finder is used the focus needs to be preset or depth of field used to make sure the picture will be in focus.
The focus dial on the side of the camera has an integral depth of field scale and is also calibrated in feet and inches – from infinity down to 3ft 3inches!
- Medium format twin lens film camera
- 12 6×6 exposures on a roll of 120 film
- Vebur shutter with 1 sec to 1/250sec + B
- E. Ludwig Meritar 75mm f/3.5 lens
- Aperture from f/3.5 to f/22
- Rear window for frame counting
- Focus 3ft 3inch to infinity
- Flash sync socket on side of camera body
- Cable release on top of focus rack
- Ground glass focusing screen + magnifier
- Sports finder
- Table top stand + tripod bush on base.
- Removable back for ease of loading.
- Handbook available here.