| Makina IIIR with roll and sheet-film holders|
image by Sally Turner (Image rights)
The Makina was a long-lived strut folding camera made by the German company Plaubel from around 1911 to around 1960; for the model made in the 1970s and 1980s by the same company after it became Japanese, see Makina 67.
The 6x4.5 viewfinder model
The original Makina model (sometimes called Baby Makina by today's collectors) was launched in 1911 or 1912 and was a strut folding press-type camera, taking 6x4.5cm film plates. The big rectangular front plate hosts the lens - which was a Plaubel Anticomar - with a focal length of 7.5cm and available with f/4.2, f/3 or f/2.8 as maximum aperture, mounted on a central Compur dial-set shutter. The diaphragm selector was on the side of this front plate, while the focusing is achieved by means of a small wheel on the other side of the front plate, as for all later Makinas.
Small variations are reported to exist in the viewfinder type:
- folding, simple one-lens, on the back
- folding, special two-lens, on the back
- folding, off-centre, one lens on the front plate and the eyepiece on the rear; and also folding frame finder (like later Makinas)
The 6.5×9 viewfinder models
The Makina I was introduced in 1920, a strut folding film plate camera with a Compur dial-set leaf shutter which goes up to 1/200, and is in fact very similar to the Baby Makina - except for its size and its capability to take interchangeable lenses
The very first model had a simple folding finder on the rear, and a fixed Plaubel Anticomar lens with a focal length of 10cm, and maximum aperture of f/4.2 or f/3.2.
Then it gained an off-center folding finder, with one lens on the front plate and the eyepiece on the rear, with the addition of a folding frame finder. Later the eyepiece became larger, with a blue-toned glass.
The lens of the later variations was an interchangeable Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/3.2 or f/2.9 (see "Makina lenses" below).
The next milestone in the production of the Makina was the introduction of the Compur rim-set shutter with speeds up to 1/200 on the Makina I. At about this time, the Anticomar lens was reformulated, switching from 3 to 4 elements.
Production of the viewfinder Makina I was stopped around 1935. All the viewfinder Makinas had the front plate in black finish.
The 6.5×9 rangefinder models
| Makina II, black|
image by willboy2010 (Image rights)
The Makina II, introduced as early as 1933, was similar to the rim-set Makina I with the addition of a coupled rangefinder which is separate from the viewfinder. It is the same rangefinder unit that Plaubel would mount on its folding Roll-Op II camera. A manual parallax corrector for the eyepiece was available as an option. This camera could take all the lenses available for the Makina I.
At some point, the diaphragm selector was moved from the side of the front plate to a new location around the lens, where would remain for the next models.
At some moment during the production run, but after the relocation of the diaphragm selector, the finish of the Makina II's front plate switched from black to chrome.
Although externally the camera does not present big differences, one functional enhancement was also introduced with the Makina IIS: a new range of interchangeable lenses. The previous lenses had to be installed in two parts, one in front of the shutter and the other at the rear. This was quite inconvenient - not to mention its effects if calibration was not absolutely precise-, and the new model had lenses interchangeable as single units.
One can tell a Makina IIS from a Makina II by the bulkier lens, and the two square rangefinder windows (the II had one square and one round window). After World War II, production of the Makina IIS was resumed, with flash synchro for a Plaubel magnesium flash unit, and availability of coated lenses.
In 1949, the Makina III replaced the Makina IIS, with the full flash synchro (electronic and magnesic), a shutter locking button, no self-timer and a holding plate with two tabs attached to the rigth side of the front plate, where in previous models the diaphragm selector was located.
1953 saw the introduction of the last German-made version of the Makina, known as the Makina IIIR. The Makina IIIR has a synchro contact on the bottom right corner of the front plate that was also present on late units of the Makina III (maybe production of Makina III and Makina IIIR co-existed) and, most notably, a Compur-Rapid shutter with speeds up to 1/400.
There were two uncommon variants with a rangefinder and a fixed lens, both made just after the war.
The Makina IIa (or Makina 2a as written on the facade) had a between-the-lens Compur-Rapid shutter to 1/400 and a fixed Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/4.2 or Schneider Xenar 10cm f/4.5, and a black finish.
The Makina IIb (or Makina 2b) is apparently a simpler version. Its front plate was black with an octagonal chrome motif around the Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/4.2 lens, a shutter to 1/200 or maybe 1/400 and no self-timer.
The stereo models
Two stereo models of the Makina existed. Both are very rare.
The Stereo Makina 45×107 was launched in 1911 or 1912, at the same time as the original Baby Makina. It took exposures on 45×107mm plates. It had a shutter to 1/150, and two Plaubel Orthar 6cm f/6 or Anticomar 7.5cm f/4.2 or f/3.9. The finder was first on the rear part, then the front lens was moved to the front plate while the eyepiece was on the rear.
The Stereo Makina 6×13 was launched in 1926. It took exposures on 6×13cm plates. From the outset it had the more modern type of viewfinder, with a variation in the eyepiece, first simple, then enclosed in a square plate. The shutter was a Compur stereo dial-set to 1/100. The lenses were Plaubel Orthar 9cm f/6 or Anticomar 9cm f/2.9.
All the Makina interchangeable lenses were made by Plaubel. All have the focal length marked in centimeters, even those made in the 1950s.
RF coupling of Makina lenses
Only the standard lenses (10cm focal length) were fully coupled to the rangefinder.
With the tele lenses the rangefinder virtually acts as an uncoupled RF: set the struts on the normal position, focus with the rangefinder and then set the given distance on the lens helical.
With the wide angle lens, you could focus with the rangefinder with the bellows extended and struts locked on the normal position, then set the bellows to the first, wide-angle position and then re-focus to the distance previously read; a slow procedure to say the least.
These lenses could be mounted on the Makina I designed for interchangeable lenses, and on the Makina II. All were made by Plaubel. Only the standard lenses (10cm focal length) were coupled to the rangefinder. Here is a list:
- Plaubel Rapid Weitwinkel Orthar (marked Rap. Weitw. Orthar) 7.3cm f/6.8
- Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/4.2 (from about 1936)
- Plaubel Supracomar 10cm f/3.9
- Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/3.2 (rare, available with the first Makina I)
- Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/2.9 (triplet formulation, made until about 1932)
- Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/2.9 (reformulated to four elements, from about 1932)
- Plaubel Tele Makinar 21cm f/6.3
- Plaubel Tele Makinar 21cm f/5.4
- Tele Peconar 3 (variable focal length)
These lenses could be mounted on the Makina IIS, III and IIIR. Here is a list:
- Plaubel Rapid Weitwinkel Orthar (marked Rap. Weitw. Orthar) 7.3cm f/6.8
- Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/2.9
- Plaubel Anticomar 10cm f/4.2 (reported to be sharper than the f/2.9 lens)
- Plaubel Tele Makinar 19cm f/6.3
- Plaubel Tele Makinar 19cm f/4.8
- Tele Peconar 3S (variable focal length)
These lenses were sold coated and color-corrected after the war, although it may have been an option.
A Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 10.5cm/4.5 has been sold with Makina mount at a Christies auction (23/4/2004). It is unknown if it was original or adapted.
Original Plaubel accessories:
- ground glass focusing back
- blank back (when nothing else is mounted) with DOF scales for each lens stamped
- depth of field scale plate
- plate film holder for 6.5×9cm, #113
- pack film holder for 6.5×9cm, #112
- 6×9cm rollfilm back for 120 film, #111/1
- 6×6cm rollfilm back for 120 film, #111/3
- viewfinder mask for 6×6cm, #158/3
- film reducing mask for 4.5×6cm
- 24×36mm film back for 35mm film, #111/7
- viewfinder mask for 24×36mm
- tripod plate
- focal plane shutter unit (with range of speeds: 1/100, 1/200, 1/300, 1/600, 1/1000 plus T)
- flashgun, with battery/capacitor inset
- metal front caps
- lens hood with filter insert
- filter and close-up lenses (first # for Makina I and II, second # for Makina IIS, III, IIIR)
- close-up lens T 1,5, fits all lenses, distance of 65cm with standard lens, #125/1, #483
- close-up lens DIN, fits all lenses, distance of 45cm with standard lens, #485
- close-up lens R 0,1, fits only wide angle and standard lenses, for lifesize reproduction, #125, #484
- yellow, light, #118, #505
- yellow, medium, #118/1, #505/1
- yellow, strong, #118/2, #505/2
- orange, #118/3, #505/3
- green, #120, #506
- red, #120/1, #506/1
- blue, #120/2, #506/2
- ultra-violet, #120/3, #506/3
- ↑ The 'S' in the model denomination stands for Schnellwechsel-Optik, or roughly translated "quick change lens mount".
- ↑ 6×13cm Stereo Makinar with Anticomar lenses, sold in an auction in November 2002 by Westlicht Photographica Auction in Vienna.
- ↑ Traditionally, pre-war lenses were marked in centimeters and post-war lenses in milimeters.
- ↑ In fact, an original Plaubel Makina IIIR brochure states that the Anticomar f/2.9 is "a lens with a very fine, soft definition [...]. When stopped down, this sofness is replaced by a hard, needle sharp definition."; while the Anticomar f/4.2 is "the complimentary lens to the Anticomar 1:2.9. It yields the highest possible definition and contrast and is working decidedly hard even at full aperture."
- Makina at the Cosmonet Classic Camera site
- Makina II and Roll Film Back at Jo Lommen's website
- Plaubel Makina page at Retrography.com by Simon Simonsen