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Alpa is the brand name of successive generations of high-quality 35mm SLR cameras made by the Swiss manufacturer Pignons S.A. It was of an unusually solid construction, and featured a cast metal body with figured surfaces. Controls were very simple, consisting of only a film-advance lever, and a shutter-speed indicator. Lenses were labeled "Kern-Switar." Alpa also used lenses made by Angénieux. The standard lens for the Alpa 10d was a macro 50mm lens, unusual for its time.

The original design was called the Bolca Reflex and had been made by Jacques Bogopolsky, who had already designed the Bolex movie camera (see Bolsey). The rights were bought by Pignons in 1942, who named the camera the Alpa Reflex.

Alpas were very expensive hand-made cameras, made of carefully selected materials, with many variants that could be produced on special order. The company ceased camera production in 1990 and liquidation was initiated.


Pignons Era

There were five distinct generations of Alpa cameras produced by Pignons, the last of which was manufactured in Japan under license.

First Generation

Unlike later generations, all of these models offered a coupled rangefinder; the Alpa Standard, however, did not offer reflex viewing[1].

Second Generation (Alnea models)

Initially the second generation cameras were branded "Alnea," later replaced simply by "Reflex."

  • Alpa Alnea/Reflex model 4
  • Alpa Alnea/Reflex model 5
  • Alpa Alnea/Reflex model 6
  • Alpa Alnea/Reflex model 7
  • Alpa Alnea/Reflex model 8
Third Generation

The third generation of Alpa SLRs introduced built-in meters, both conventional (Model 6c) and TTL (Model 9d).

Fourth Generation
Fifth Generation

Based on Chinon models, these bear little relation to other cameras bearing the Alpa name, and cannot mount previous lenses.[3][4]

  • Alpa Si 2000
  • Alpa Si 3000

Capaul & Weber era

The Alpa trademark was purchased by new owners Capaul & Weber in 1996. Later that year, the Alpa name was revived for a prototype of a new, premium-level medium format camera, the Alpa 12. Production models of the 12WA, and 12/SWA (with built-in perspective control) followed in 1998. All of these cameras had a modular design that accepts a variety of superb wide-angle lenses from Rodenstock, Carl Zeiss, and Schneider. In 2007 the new enterprise became the ALPA Capaul & Weber AG.