Rare! 1938 Balda Baldaxette, Coupled Rangefinder 6x4.5 folder, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is another rare, very difficult to find prewar German camera from the 1930’s. This is the Baldaxette I. It’s a 6x4.5 couple rangefinder produced by Balda in Dresden Germany. To the best of my knowledge, the chrome plated “Baldaxette I” model was only produced for a single year in 1938. After which is was followed by the Baldaxette II.
Despite being virtually unknown to todays camera collectors, the Baldaxette was very popular in its era and had a host of high spec features that allloowed it to match and some cases outperform 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 and over again until they 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. That and the very wide base rangefinder of about 57mm allowed the Balda to close focus accurately down to one meter. That’s 50cm closer than a Super Ikonta and that makes a difference when shooting portraits. In addition to that the rangefinder also has 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 Compur Rapid shutter was the very best shutter of the era . It fires smoothly and all speeds (T,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 accurate. The bellows are supple and light tight.
The lens a lovely 2.9/7,5cm (75mm) Meyer Gorlitz Trioplan (a classic design based on the Cooke triplet with three lens elements in three groups). The lens is exceptionally clean looks like new! It's free of scratches or polishing marks and is capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all a wonderful gem of a classic camera.