|Voigtländer Brillant, 120 roll film, reflex camera c1932|
The Voigtländer Brillant is a simple pressed steel camera with light
crackle paint finish that originates from the early 1930s. These cameras were also known as the Brilliant in many markets. The camera
was an early adopter of 12 exposures in 6 x 6cm format on 120 roll film, made possible by improvements in film and processing improving clarity on small negatives. Earliest examples
feature a cheap self energizing shutter, but for a cheap camera it is
quite refined, sporting a frame counter, waterhouse stops and a firm closure.
The frame counter was essential as not all film manufacturers had adopted the second printed scale on the paper backing roll for 12 exposures. Styled as a Twin Lens Reflex, though the
top lens is for view only, being unable to focus independently. As the appearance is so similar to later TLRs it's tempting to treat the pretty little Brillant kindly, but in essence it's a box camera with focus, aperture and speed controls. The real
advantage of this camera over its competition of the time was the extremely
bright - in fact "brilliant", viewfinder when compared to the
tiny waist level finders then in common use. This somewhat battered example
joined the collection in July 2009, being donated by Mr. S. Hedley. This
one was built for the Italian market and is marked accordingly. It was
given a deep clean and returned to working order and cosmetically tidied
up, so far as was feasible. Later and better models had a genuine TLR
function with the view lens geared to the taking lens and the view being
inspected on a ground glass screen as well as Compur shutters.
Voigtländer is decidedly unusual in that the company predates the invention of photography by some 90 years, scientific instruments being its business initially in Vienna then Germany from the mid 1800s. Following the year after the first commercially available photographic processes were announced the company developed the first mathematically computed lens, the f/3.7 Petzval, named after the mathematician who did the tricky bit. With such heritage, Voigtländer cameras have tended to exhibit quality in both build and optics. Although it might be stretching it a bit to say that this basic Brillant is one such case.
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Body No. None
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