Rare! 1936 Balda Baldaxette, 6x4.5 Coupled Rangefinder camera, Freshly Serviced!, CLA'd
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a very rare, prewar German camera. It’s a 6x4.5 coupled rangefinder folding camera that used 120 film and was produced by the Balda Kamera-Werk in Dresden Germany in 1936. This version with the attractive chrome plated trim and black leather in 6x4.5 was only produced for a single year. The low production numbers and low survival rate, which makes this a very difficult to find camera, especially in this condition.
Despite being virtually unknown to today’s camera collectors, the Baldaxette was very popular in its era and had a host of high spec features that allowed it to compete successfully against its competition. So why don’t we see more of them today. I think it’s a combination of Balda’s smaller production run and very faithful owners that more often than not, simply used these cameras over many years until they eventually wore out.
The Baldaxette features a parallax compensating finder. Simply stated this improves viewfinder accuracy and insures you don’t cut off heads when working in close. How? Well the viewfinder is linked to the rangefinder via a surprisingly effective mechanism. When the camera is focused to infinity the viewfinder is aimed normally but as focus is set closer the viewfinder is progressively and automatically swings downwards and to the right. This provides a much more accurate image of what the lens will record. This is a very rare feature in prewar camera design and I can’t think of another 6x4.5 rangefinder camera that has it.
Another nice feature is 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. In addition to that the rangefinder makes focusing quick and easy with its colored guides built into it that helps the user line things up quickly and accurately.
Want more? How about a unique ratcheting winder? It also has a very strong die cast door to protect the lens and shutter. And the body mounted shutter release automatically retracts when the lens door is closed… this creates a smooth top deck and a camera that’s easy to slide into a pocket.
These features still make this camera very popular with users and collectors. Few are willing to sell them. Because of this and the relatively low production numbers the prewar Balda Baldaxette will always be very desirable and hard to find cameras.
The camera has been cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The quality Compur shutter fires smoothly and all speeds (T,B & 1 sec to 1/250th) are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along nicely and the fast speeds are clean and snappy. The coupled rangefinder works well and makes focusing quick and easy. The bellows are supple and light tight.
Balda offered several lenses for this camera, but the lens on this example was their best and most expensive option. It offered a very fine rendition. It’s a sharp, fast Schneider f2.8/7,5cm (75mm) Xenar. Normally the Xenar lens is a four element design (and very similar to the Tessar). However the prewar & wartime Xenar is the exception to this. The prewar 2.8 5cm and 7,5cm Xenar lenses had five elements in four groups and closely resembles the Voigtlander Heliar.
The lens is in exceptionally fine condition and looks virtually like new. There are no scratches, no cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all a very lovely collectable classic camera. Load it with your favorite film and keep it with you for that perfect shot you’ve been looking for. You know the one... the one with the perfect Ansel Adams light breaking through the dark storm clouds that leaves you wishing that you had a classic camera with you.