Rare! Near Mint 1938 Balda Baldaxette II, 6x6 Coupled Rangefinder camera, Tessar lens. Freshly Serviced!, CLA'd
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a rare 6x6 coupled rangefinder folding camera that was produced by the Balda Kamera-Werk in Dresden Germany in 1938. The Baldaxette II was a larger 6x6 version of the original 6x4.5 Baldaxette. The Baldaxette II was introduced in in 1938 and produced in a limited production run that ended abruptly in 1940 when the Balda factory was converted to produce equipment and armaments for the Nazi war effort. The factory was it was destroyed during the fire-bombing of Dresden in February of 1945. Needless to say, thelow production numbers and low survival rate of this model makes this a very difficult to find camera, especially in this condition.
Despite being unknown to most camera collectors, the Baldaxette had a host of high spec features that allowed it to compete successfully against its competition. So why don’t we hear more about them today? I think it’s a combination of Balda’s small production run and very faithful owners who more often than not, simply used these cameras until they eventually wore out decades later.
The Baldaxette uses 120 film and features a coupled rangefinder and a parallax compensating viewfinder. 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 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 6x6 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. Because of these features and the low production numbers the prewar Balda Baldaxette will always be very desirable and hard to find cameras.
This camera was the top-of-the-line model and has been cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. It’s in clean, collectable and usable condition, about a nine on a scale of one to ten. The leather is all original and intact. The chrome trim is lovely and considering it survived WWII I’d say you’d be hard pressed to find a finer fully function example.
The Compur-Rapid shutter was the best of its era and it works very well and all speeds (B & 1 sec to 1/400th are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along nicely and the fast speeds are clean and snappy. The rangefinder image is easy to see and use and never leave you guessing about distance or focus. The bellows are supple and light tight.
The lens is a top quality Carl Zeiss Tessar f2.8/80mm. It’s in exceptionally fine condition. It’s clean and clear. There are no scratches or polishing marks and it’s capable of producing beautiful 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.