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Welcome to the Petrakla Classic Camera Site.

The site for people who enjoy using prewar cameras.

There are times when camera collecting and photography is incredibly difficult. It comes as moments when you’re asked simple questions like “What’s the best camera…?” or “What is the most significant photo of all time?” The brain starts working, the heart beats nicely and the mouth moves but if an answer appears at all… it’s a long and complicated one, full of design details, historical moments and personal rationalizations.

Fortunately answers come quicker when we are asked to feel more and think less…. Matters of the heart are easier to answer and to agree on. The eye and the heart have a directness and honesty that the brain lacks as it struggles to retain, comprehend and balance all the many details.  

So here’s a simple question for your heart. What’s your most enjoyable camera? I don’t know about you, but I see the answer almost immediately. I can also feel it between my hands. It’s a prewar camera. It’s honest, it’s significant and above all it’s great fun to be with. It’s like the perfect partner that some of us search our entire lives for. It has that unique mix of something for the heart, something for the eye and something for the head. It’s that perplexing mix that insures we never tire of being close.

More importantly I enjoy the images my prewar camera produces. The images from vintage lenses have a distinct look and feel to them that has nothing to do with modern clinical sharpness, MTF charts and static testing. The vintage lenses I use have a “lived in” feel to them and an emotional impact that I find lacking in some modern optics. The photos have an odd intimacy in their imperfections, and they often look at the world and see the light in the same way we do.

If you know what I’m talking about, then this site is intended for you and your prewar camera. An aid to your own search for that perfect picture, that perfect moment, when you discover that perfection isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being comfortable about yourself, your choices and following your heart…   
This website is dedicated to the use of vintage 120 roll film cameras from the beginning of the 20th century and 35mm cameras and lenses from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

Although our site is primarily geared towards artists and photographers who love cameras with uncoated lenses, many early lens formulas were of course later produced in a simple coated version. Our articles also cover these early coated lenses and the cameras that supported them.  However we maintain a general cut off point of the mid 1950’s which was a transitional period in which many folding cameras, prewar designs and many prewar optics were finally phased out of production.

Just some of our cameras waiting for adoption....