Keppler’s Vault 27: The German Camera Industry Part 1

Last May, I posted a three part series covering articles about the Japanese Photo Industry in the 1950s, and then again in October I re-branded the site for “Red October” where I posted a series of Soviet related articles.  Now, it’s Germany’s turn.

The May 1956 issue of Pop Photo.

This will be the first in a three part series of articles covering the entire German Camera Industry.  The first two are from a special section in the May 1956 issue of Popular Photography, and the third is from the October 1958 issue of Modern Photography and focuses specifically on West Germany.  Each post is made up of a variety of smaller stories covering various German companies and products that were available at the time, along with a large number of glorious advertisements.  Whether or not you actually read the stories contained within these posts, or just browse the ads, there’s bound to be something interesting for you to check out!

A technician collimating focus on a Rolleiflex camera.

In this first part, there are articles previewing the 1957 Photokina show, short bios about Leitz and how the first Leica was created, Deckel and their Compur shutters, and many other behind the scenes articles covering Franke & Heidecke, Adox, and AGFA.  And of course, all the ads!

What I would give to have an Angulon f/8!

In the Franke & Heidecke article, there is mention of a “goat-like creature that lives in the far-off slopes of the Himalayas”.  The Deckel article credits work by Ernst Abbe in the late 1800s for Deckel’s first shutters, and even suggests that a literal German to English translation of the word “Deckel” actually means “lens cap”!  The section on AGFA briefly recants the fall of the company during the war and what is being done to revive their color film and camera production post war.

None of these articles are particularly long and only offer brief glimpses into each company, but when taken as a whole, I find these types of country-wide summaries to be a fascinating read!

All scans used with permission by Marc Bergman, 2019.

8 Comments

  1. I think one of the most beautiful and functional German cameras is the Exakta Viia. However, finding the camera repair shop that can replace the shutters (often holey) and do a good CLA is difficult. There are far more shops that work on the old Leicas.

    1. I love the looks and design of the Exaktas as well. I have 4 of them in my collection because I like them so much. I wish there was a better (and cheaper) way to replace the curtains though.

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