Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Vario. Grandfather's Unmarked & unremarkable German import, c1925

Camera with Vario shutter of German origin, indicated by the 'Made in D.R.P' stamped inside. All I know of this folding 120 roll film camera is that it was bought in 1927 by my Grandfather and it was in regular use until 1958, when it was superseded by a certain Dacora. This is the camera mentioned in the introduction, it may be Huttig, but the quality is fairly low, so the jury's out. It's anonymity is part of its charm, part of me is quite happy for it to remain so, let's keep it that way. I have always referred to it as simply "The DRP" or "Grandad's DRP".

Main body construction is of pressed steel apparently soldered together, with gloss black enamel on the exterior and semi matt black internally. The covering is faux leather on a linen base. Opening the camera is by the usual press of a button, next to the film advance key, but the camera is not self erecting and the lensboard needs to be pulled forward on its rails. The lens bed is similarly constructed but finished in crackle paint and the lens panel is mounted on a cast unit, possibly zinc alloy, and attached to a pressed steel mount, all finished in gloss black enamel. The bellows follow conventional practice with a linen liner and card fold guides attached to the outer, which in this case is faux leather on a linen base. There are few bright parts, but where used they are nickle plated, betrayed by the yellow tint and tarnish, but they clean up readily enough. The shutter used is a self energizing Vario with a fastest shutter speed of 1/100th sec. Image composition was achieved using the small waist level finder, ubiquitous of the period. The tiny image made taking a picture with a straight horizon a real challenge, as countless images from this camera, and its ilk, attest. It was not a high quality camera in it's day and from new had issues, including a persistent light leak. These days the faux leather bellows are peppered with 'pinholes' at the corners, and the camera was finally retired in 2017, ninety years after it was bought.

So far as I'm aware it was bought through a catalogue or newspaper advert, possibly The Daily mail. It takes 8 pictures 6 x 9cm, the most common format of the era. Although kept in working order up until the end of 2017, most of the gallery examples are contemporary pictures from the 1930's. This camera was always the cause of much hilarity, as it tended to 'cut off people's heads'! The cause was a bent waist level finder - no one had cottoned on in twenty years! There are two main reasons for bent finders. Firstly with the waist level finder swung out to allow landscape viewing, there was always the risk that someone would attempt to close the camera without returning the waist level finder to the portrait position, with the result that it would get bent down. In this contition the camera will aim high. Secondly pushing the lens board back into the shell with the fingers pressing against the finder, bending it back. In this condition the camera will aim low, this is what happened to this one at some stage, the adopted solution for 25 years was to aim high... with varying degrees of success! It had the added complication that it was twisted too, so would aim to the left. When it came to me, I adopted a rather more direct approach and bent it back to the correct position.

Click on "this camera's gallery" button, below, to see sample images.

Huttig or Ica Camera c1927
Body No. unmarked
Shutter, Vario, speeds T, B, 25, 50 & 100th
Lens, Spezial Aplanat 105mm f/8
Condition, 6F
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