The Perle is a series of folding cameras made by Welta in the 1930s. They were Welta's first self-erecting folders. They were made in various formats: 4.5×6cm, 6×6cm and 6×9cm for 120 film, 5×8cm for 129 film and 6.5×11cm for 116 film.
According to McKeown, the first Perle cameras were introduced in about 1930. These were the 5x8cm size, with brown leather and bellows, and the 6x9 and 6.5x11cm sizes with black. The 4.5x6cm model followed in 1932, when the 6x9 model was updated with an improved design of struts. The 6x6cm model was not introduced until 1933. The 4.5x6cm model was updated (McKeown dates this to c1935; however, the catalogue picture from 1936 still shows the old pattern), being given a film winding knob instead of a key, and a shutter release on the body.
The smaller format cameras have a folding optical viewfinder, with cross-hairs in the front lens, as shown in the catalogue pictures, right. The larger cameras have a simple frame finder on the body (i.e. without lenses), and a brilliant finder on the lens standard, which rotates for landscape and portrait use. Very late examples of the smaller cameras have a fixed telescopic finder on the body, with a parallax-correction device, as pictured below. McKeown states that this was introduced in 1938.
As often with 1930s folders, a very large range of lens and shutter combinations was made available, from several different triplet lenses, including a 'Weltar', to a Tessar or Xenar (McKeown lists an Elmar as an option for the 6x9 model). The choice of shutters was from a three-speed everset shutter to a Prontor, Compur or Compur Rapid. As the table in the 1936 catalogue shows, this choice made a huge difference in the price of the camera.
The cameras for smaller formats have front-element focusing, or helical focusing with the very best lenses. The larger cameras have radial focusing, moving the whole lens standard forward, with the lever at the front of the bed. McKeown shows two cameras with this arrangement; both have only a three-speed shutter, so radial focusing was not a de luxe feature.
None of the Perle models was made after the Second World War. The Weltax was introduced alongside the 6x6cm Perle as a superior alternative to it before the War, and replaced it altogether afterwards.
Some Perle models were also sold by other companies under their own names: the Rodenstock Citonette is a 6x6cm Perle, and the 4.5x6cm Perle was also sold as the Schaja 100.
image by Gerry Wiseman (Image rights)
|image by Gerry Wiseman (Image rights)|
Specifications of the 6×9cm model
(an example only: other lenses and shutters were available)
- Type: folding camera
- Manufacturer: Welta Kamerawerk
- Years of production: 1932-1936
- Film: 120 film rolls
- Lens: Weltar 1:6.3/105mm
- Shutter: Gauthier Vario with speeds 1/25 – 1/100 sec.
- Diaphragm: 1:6.3–1:32
- Viewfinder: brilliant viewfinder
another version, differences:
- Lens: Schneider Xenar 1:2.9/105mm (4 elements)
- Shutter: Compur with speeds 1/10 – 1/250 sec.
- Diaphragm: 1:2.9–1:32
|High-specification (Tessar and Compur-Rapid), late example|
of a 4.5x6cm Perle, with telescopic finder
image by Dawn Anthony (Image rights)
- 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). p988-9.