Kristall (Chinaglia)

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The Kristall series of cameras are Leica II copies, made in the 1950s by Domenico Chinaglia of Belluno in north-west Italy. The earliest cameras were made for sale by Guido Nomini of Milan, and are engraved with GN.M in a triangle on the rangefinder superstructure,[1] as on the first example at Westlicht, cited below. Later cameras are engraved for Chinaglia, with CD in a rhombus.

Strangely, the first camera is the Kristall 2a.[1][2][3] It has a focal-plane shutter with speeds 1/20 to 1/1000 second, plus 'B', which is synchronised for flash (except on early examples[1]), with a PC socket on the front of the camera, and a cold shoe on the top plate. The viewfinder and rangefinder have separate eyepieces.

The lens is interchangeable, with a standard 39 mm thread mount. McKeown lists the camera with a collapsible f/3.5 Steinar (engraved Kristall, so Chinaglia's own-brand lens) or Schneider Xenon, or an f/2.8 SOM Berthiot lens.[4]

The Kristall 2s has a top shutter speed of 1/500 second, but is otherwise similar.

The Kristall 3s has slow speeds down to one second, on a separate dial, and the top speed of 1/1000 second. There are two types; the early one has a rangefinder supersturucture like previous cameras;[5] the later type has a shaped top housing.

The Kristall (or Kristall Standard, to differentiate it from the RF cameras) of about 1952, is a viewfinder camera. [6] McKeown states that it is Chinaglia's version of the Wega, made after he took over its maker AFIOM; however, Dario Mondonico states confidently that AFIOM was in operation until at least 1956.[7] McKeown notes that the camera body has the Wega's angular ends, whereas the preceding Kristall models are all round-ended.

The Kristall 53 (of 1953) has an enlarged viewfinder window, with selectable frames for six focal lengths from 28 to 105 mm.[8] [9] The rangefinder still has a separate eyepiece. It has the separate slow shutter speed dial.

The Kristall R of 1954 does not have the slow speed dial; it has speeds 1/20 to 1/1000 second, plus 'B', on a single dial. It has the RF combined with the viewfinder in the same eyepiece. It has a larger RF window, which is tinted, and a larger top housing to accommodate this.[10] The camera has both a PC socket and one for Vacublitz flash on the front.

Later examples of the Wega cameras may have been produced by Chinaglia. Dario Mondonico suggests that those engraved with Chinaglia's <CD> mark may simply have been what remained in AFIOM's inventory when Chinaglia took over the company.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 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). p201-2.
  2. Kristall 2a serial no. 00887, sold (with a KMZ Industar-22 lens) at the 24th Westlicht Photographica Auction, on 23 November 2013.
  3. Kristall 2a serial no. 976, with Steinar Anastigmat; lot 222 of the 30th Westlicht Auction, on 19 November 2016.
  4. Kristall 2a serial no. 01347, with SOM Berthiot 50 mm f/2.8 anastigmat, offered for sale but unsold at the 12th Photographica Auction (archived) by Rahn AG, on 9 May 2010. The auctioneer's notes state that this example of the camera has a stainless steel top housing, and is stamped with a K2 symbol, in commemoration of an Italian expedition to that mountain.
  5. Kristall 3s serial no. 11244, with Steinar 50 mm f/3.5; the earlier type, with the RF in a simple box superstructure. Offered for sale but unsold at the 12th Rahn Photographica auction (archived).
  6. Kristall serial no. 12490, with Adlenar 5 cm f/3.5, offered for sale but unsold at the 24th Westlicht auction.
  7. 7.0 7.1 AFIOM: notes on company history and pictures of a Wega and a IIa; and Chinaglia cameras, at Dario Mondonico's Mistermondo site.
  8. Kristall 53 serial no. 11999, with Steinar 50 mm f/3.5, sold at the 24th Westlicht auction.
  9. Kristall 53 serial no. 11728, also with Steinar 50 mm f/3.5, offered for sale but unsold at the 12th Rahn Photographica auction (archived).
  10. Kristall R serial no. 20166, with Krinar 50 mm f/3.5 (scaled in feet), sold at the 24th Westlicht auction.