Certo SL 110
|image by Chemnitzer (Image rights)|
Certo SL 110 compact camera was produced by the East German maker Certo of Dresden from around 1974-75. Approximately 1 million pieces were made. The camera - as far as its general shape and method of exposure control are concerned - is clearly inspired by certain Kodak Instamatic cameras, e.g. the Kodak Instamatic 255X.
SL 110 is a very small, simple and cheap viewfinder compact camera of light weight and somewhat crude plastic construction, intended for inexperienced amateur photographers. The camera uses 50-100 ASA 35mm film loaded in SL type cassette. The frame size is 24x24 mm and 16 pictures can be taken on a standard SL film.
The camera is equipped with a 45 mm f/8 two element achromatic lens. Focusing is done manually from 1.5 m to infinity, according to a distance scale in meters or simple symbols corresponding to given photographed subjects (for distances of approximately 1.5 m, 2 m, 3 m and 10 m). The lens produces surprisingly good pictures; while they are obviously not razor sharp, the sharpness is relatively even throughout the whole frame in most cases, there is little vignetting, while color and contrast are really good.
A simple leaf shutter offers two speeds only, 1/30 s and 1/125 s, the diaphragm has a square opening and the aperture can be set to 8, 11 and 16. The camera is equipped with a hot shoe for mounting a flash; electronic flashes can be used at both shutter speeds, while flash bulbs at 1/30 s only. Film is advanced by turning a small wheel at camera’s back, coupled with shutter cocking, the frame counter is reset automatically when the cassette is removed from the camera.
SL 110, as simple as it is, offers however a couple of pretty unique features. First of all, and what’s completely unusual for a SL system camera, SL 110 uses one cassette only and the exposed film has to be wound back. This solution, however, allowed reduction of camera’s width by some 1 cm as compared to an usual SL body with two cassettes. After taking the last picture, the film advance wheel reverses its rotation for quick rewinding the film to the cassette, what is done similarly to an usual camera for a 135 type film.
Another interesting feature is the way exposure parameters are set – in spite of having both the aperture and shutter speed variable, the camera has only one setting ring common for both parameters. Shutter speed/aperture pairs are permanently coupled together, appropriately to five conditions illustrated by symbols placed on the ring: 1/125 s & 16 for bright sun/beach, 1/125 s & 11 for average sunny conditions, 1/30 s & 16 for light clouds, 1/30 s & 11 for medium clouds and 1/30 s & 8 for heavy clouds or rain. This covers exposure values from 11 to 15 EV.
A test film shot with the Certo SL 110 by the Camerapedia editor Grzesio revealed a fatal design fault of the camera.
The shutter leaves are apparently made of black painted plastic instead of metal. This makes them not opaque enough to stop direct sunlight in some examples of the camera (what could be probably caused by ageing materials). If such a loaded Certo SL 110 is pointed towards the sun (e.g. accidentally during handling or carrying), the sun will expose the film even through the closed shutter.
|Example picture taken with the Certo SL 110|
image by Chemnitzer (Image rights)
- Film type: SL
- Frame size: 24x24 mm
- Lens: achromatic, 45 mm f/8
- Angle of view: 42.5 deg.
- Shutter speeds: 1/30 s and 1/125 s
- Apertures: 8 – 16
- Minimal focusing distance: 1.5 m
- Flash sync: full for electronic flashes, 1/30 s for flash bulbs
- Film advance: manual
- Filter size: 32 mm, w/o thread
- Dimensions: 105x68x62 mm
- Weight: 170 g
- Some web sites state the SL 110 was made from 1980 – but the camera is already described in second edition of Büttner's book published in 1975, while it is not present in the first edition from 1974.
- Other SL system cameras can even take 18 pictures of this size, however the smaller number in case of the SL 110 is apparently caused by the reversible film transport.
- Some web sites give different and incorrect information about lens speed and construction, aperture range, shutter speeds, minimal focusing distance etc. Values given in this description are taken from an original camera manual and/or examination of the actual camera.
- Büttner G.: SL-System; VEB Fotokinoverlag, Leipzig, 1974.
- Büttner G.: SL-System; VEB Fotokinoverlag, Leipzig, 1975.
- Certo SL 110 camera manual; 1976?.
- Jemlich G.: Der VEB Pentacon Dresden; Sandstein Verlag, Dresden, 2009.
- Wurst W.: Fotobuch für alle; VEB Fotokinoverlag, Leipzig, 1979.
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