Near Mint! 1938 Welta Weltini, 35mm Rangefinder Camera, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use
This is a 1938 Welta Wetini 35mm rangefinder camera built in Germany by Welta Kamera-Werke and introduced just prior to WWII. This is one of the finest example of this camera that I’ve ever seen and it comes from my own personal collection, which I’m in the process of thinning down.
In its day the Welta Weltini was an expensive, high performance camera. It’s body was constructed of die cast alloy that was carefully machined, wrapped in real leather and fitted with a coupled rangefinder. The rangefinder made focusing quick and easy. It was also one of the first cameras to have the viewfinder/rangefinder is combined into a single window. Another advanced feature was that the lens and shutter moves together as a unit when focusing. This provides better lens performance (especially up close) than the more common “front cell focus” in which only the front element is turned in or out. The nice thing about this vintage camera is that you can still use it because it uses normal 35mm film.
This version of the Welta Weltini with its distinctive chrome plated, streamlined top cover was produced in a relatively small production run from 1938 to 1941. In an era in which cameras were simply painted black and chrome was considered a luxury material, it’s clear that Welta intended to signal that this camera was an expensive high end product.
Before the war, Welta was well respected for its quality products and it competed on equal footing with Zeiss-Ikon and Voigtlander. Along with Leica, Contax and Kodak, Welta helped spread the popularity of the then new 35mm format.
Popular with users as well as collectors, the Weltini ranks among the best prewar 35mm rangefinder cameras. Because of the small production numbers and low survival rate (many were lost, damaged or destroyed during WWII) the Weltini remains a desirable and relatively hard to find camera. This is especially true of exceptionally fine example.
This camera has been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The coupled rangefinder never leaves you guessing about distance or focus, it works smoothly and is easy to see. The bellows are supple and completely light tight. The quality Compur-Rapid shutter works smoothly and all speeds (B & 1 sec - 1/500th) are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along smoothly and the faster ones are clean and snappy.
The lens on this camera is a six element Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 2.0/5cm (50mm) lens. It’s serial number indicates it was produced in 1938. The glass is clean and clear. There are no scratches, just a few very light cleaning wisps (but you’ll need a magnifier to see them) and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
In the 1930’s, when the 35mm format was brand new and referred to as the “kleinbild” or miniature format, there were only a very limited number of fast 35mm lenses available to the public. The Xenon was one of these lenses. It was expensive and competed well against the Leitz Summar and the Zeiss Sonnar. (The general consensus among collectors is that the Schneider Xenon easily outperforms the Leitz Summar and almost equaled the Zeiss Sonnar.)
All in all, a superb, significant and very enjoyable classic camera for photographers with a historical interest.