The Sonne cameras are a series of Leica copies made by Antonio Gatto in Pordenone, Italy from about 1948. Gatto had been an employee of Officine Galileo, and used factory facilities disused by Galileo after the War. The cameras have a standard 39 mm lens mount.
Despite the name, the Sonne IV is the first camera made by Gatto. It has a body broadly similar to a Leica, but with a hinged back, not a removeable base. The coupled rangefinder is in a small superstructure fastened to a flat top plate. The rangefinder and viewfinder have separate eyepieces, and the viewfinder is small. The camera has shutter speeds 1/20 - 1/1000 second, plus 'B', all on a single speed control arranged around the shutter release button. There is an accessory shoe on top of the rangefinder unit, but the shutter is not synchronised for flash. Film advance is by a winding knob, with a mechanical frame counter around the knob. The lens is a 5 cm f/3.5 Adlenar, or Anastigmat 'T' Elionar, made for Gatto by Galileo. This is similar to the collapsible Elmar. The camera has a ⅜-inch tripod bush in the base. Dario Mondonico states that a small number of cameras identical to the Sonne IV were made for Giorgio Moretti (a wholesaler in Venice) and branded for FAF (makers of the Acies).
The Sonne V was introduced in about 1950. It is similar to the IV, but has shutter speeds to 1 second, with a slow speed control behind the main speed dial, and the shutter is now synchronised. One example sold at Westlicht has a PC socket on the front of the body; another has two sockets, apparently of the Vacublitz type, presumably offering different synchronisation delays; and one shown at the 'Mistermondo.com' site has a single Vacublitz socket, and a synchronisation-delay selector. The rangefinder unit is profiled, its sloped ends surrounding the shutter release and the short rewind knob. In addition to the camera name, and 'Patent', the rangefinder unit is engraved Germany (this may have been intended to assert that the design had been granted a patent in Germany, and thus was not breaking (for example) Leitz' patents; on the other hand, it may have been intended to suggest that the camera was made in Germany; a straightforward lie). In addition to the Elionar, the camera was offered with Schneider f/3.5 Xenar or f/2 Xenon standard lenses.
In the Sonne C, introduced in 1953, the main rangefinder window is much larger, and both the RF windows and the eyepieces are rectangular. The viewfinder, still with a separate eyepiece from the rangefinder, is not changed. Again, it is engraved 'Germany' on the rangefinder.
The Sonne C4, introduced in 1954, has its rangefinder built into a one-piece top housing,with several steps in height. The controls are somewhat restyled. The viewfinder and rangefinder are now combined in one eyepiece. All the examples seen have a PC socket and a small dial to adjust the synchronisation delay. One of the cited examples at Westlicht is still engraved 'Germany'; the other two are engraved 'Made in Italy'. The camera was advertised in Italy until 1956.
Rather few of any of the Sonne cameras were made. Dario Mondonico estimates 400-500 of the Sonne IV, 300-400 of the Sonne V, 400-500 of the Sonne C and 600-700 of the C4.
- Danilo Cecchi (2002) L'Industria Fotografica Italiana: Terza Parte: Le 35mm dal dopoguerra ai giorni nostri (The Italian Photographic Industry: Part 3: 35 mm from the Second World War to the Present Day). Article hosted at Nadir magazine; text in Italian.
- 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). p338.
- Sonne IV serial no. 343, sold at the eleventh Westlicht Photographica Auction, in May 2007.
- Sonne cameras (Sonne IV, Sonne V with Vaccublitz flash synchronisation, Sonne C and C4) at Dario Mondonico's Mistermondo.com site.
- Sonne V serial no. 60164, with PC socket for synchronisation, sold at the fifth Westlicht auction, in April 2004.
- Sonne V serial no. 0800 with two Vacublitz sockets, sold at the fifteenth Westlicht auction, in May 2009.
- Sonne C serial no. C531, sold at the fourteenth Westlicht auction, in November 2008.
- Sonne C4 serial no. C4 010, with the name and 'Sun' engraving on the front of the top housing, with 'Made in Italy' on top, and with an f/2.8 Xenar, sold at the first Westlicht auction, in November 2002.
- Sonne C4 serial no. C4 154 with Elionar lens and engraved 'Made in Italy', sold at the seventh Westlicht auction, in May 2005.
- Sonne C4 serial no. 431C, with collapsible f/2 Sonnar and engraved 'Germany', sold at the ninth Westlicht auction, in May 2006.