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The Baldessa is a range of modestly priced 35mm viewfinder and rangefinder cameras produced by Balda in Germany from c.1957 to the late 1960s[1].

Baldessas have an unusual folding film advance key in the base - requiring a 180° turn, along with a spring-out rewind crank. On the simpler models, this along with the front-mounted shutter release and the frame counter to the left of the viewfinder ocular leaves the top plate empty except for the accessory shoe. Early models have a removable back; later examples are hinged.

Baldessa I

The Baldessa I was introduced in 1957 with a Westanar 45/2.8 lens in a Prontor-SVS shuttter. It was updated in 1958 to have a bright-line finder, with a second window to illuminate the frame. This model has a Baldanar, Color-Isconar or Westanar 45mm/f2.8 lens in a 3-speed Vario, Pronto, Prontor 125 or Prontor-SVS shutter. The base has a film reminder fitted around the tripod bush, and the rewind release is angled out to form a foot for standing on a horizontal surface.

Baldessa 1a

The Baldessa 1a was introduced in 1958, and adds a coupled rangefinder to the Baldessa I design. It was available with a Color-Westanar or Baldanar 45/2.8 lens in a Prontor-SVS shutter.

Baldessa 1b

The Baldessa 1B has an added uncoupled selenium light meter and coupled rangefinder. Design was by Karl-Heinz Lange.

Baldessa F

The Baldessa F models have a flashbulb holder built-in to the top plate.

Baldessa LK, LF, F-LK, RF, R-LK & RF-LK

The 'L' models include a light meter; the LK's is coupled, the F means that there is AG-1 bulb flash-holder; the 'R' models have a rangefinder. The RF-LK has a rangefinder, a flash-holder and a coupled lightmeter.


  1. McKeown, pp.96-7