Emil Birnbaum Fotozávody was a camera maker and distributor in Czechoslovakia. It was founded in 1903 by Emil Birnbaum, the heir of several patents that his family held on cameras. One patent was for an electro-mechanical shutter. The family had a cardboard box factory, so some of Birnbaum's first cameras were made of cardboard, others of wood, and the company also produced and traded accessories. In 1912 it had a catalogue of nearly 200 pages. In its first time the company was located in Dolni Maxov, later in Doksy, since 1917 in Rumburk, and during German occupation in Prague, where the company already had a renowned shop.
One example of Birnbaum's cardboard cameras is the Filmoskop II Reflex camera, Birnbaum's own patent, an SLR made of leather fabric-coated cardboard. It made 3x4 cm exposures on cine-film. Other cameras like the Fotola were all-metal. The product range was wide, from simple viewfinder cameras to valuable TLRs. Birnbaum made the Perforetta and Super Perforetta 35mm cameras and it also distributed a number of cameras under its own brand.
The company always produced small series of cameras. Sometimes it just assembled German camera parts which resulted in some camera types which resemble original German cameras like the Reflekta. Of course these cameras could not be badged with the original German brand name, so they were badged as Birnbaum cameras. But in the case of the Reflekta the company even assembled original Reflektas for a while. The badging with own brand names was also done with lenses that were assembled from German parts. After WWII the company abandoned further camera developments since private companies in Czechoslovakia were nationalized at that time.
Cameras made by Birnbaum
- Super Perforetta
Cameras distributed by Birnbaum
- Birelle (rebadged Beira)
- Filmax (rebadged Baldax)
- Embirflex, (rebadged Reflekta, later produced as Reflekta)
- Embirflex (rebadged Altiflex)
- Embirella (rebadged Piccochic)
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover).
- Jan Trunec, Václav Vait, Radomir Malý: Czech Cameras - Emil Birnbaum , Jakoube Publishing House 2007