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Tessina cameras are a range of subminiature cameras made in Switzerland by Sigrist, and distributed by Concava S. A, from c.1960 for around four decades[1]. It has three unusual features for a subminiature camera: it is a true twin-lens reflex; it uses 35mm film, in special cassettes, running across the bottom of the camera - at a right-angle to the lens axis; and it has spring motor film advance. There are three very similar models, the Tessina 35, the Tessina Automatic 35 and the Tessina L.

The image size is 14×21mm - smaller than a standard half-frame camera, but larger than many subminiatures. A daylight loader was available to load the cassettes with 14-20 inches of standard 35mm film, giving between 20 and 30 exposures per cassette.[2][3]

The camera body is metal, with rounded ends, and measures 69×56×27mm (2½×2¼×1 inch). The camera has a coated Tessinon 25mm f/2.8 lens, and a flash-synchronised shutter with speeds 1/2-1/500 second, plus 'B'. The lenses have a sliding cover for protection.

On the top is the ground-glass focusing screen, with a mounting for interchangeable viewfinders. The standard finder is a folding eye-level Albada finder which also acts as a hood for waist-level focusing using the ground glass. A vertical magnifying finder,[4] and a prism finder were available as alternatives; these both have dioptric correction (for the user's eyesight).[3][5]

Also on the top are the focus and aperture dials. The aperture dial has the frame counter fitted on top, while there is a depth-of-field indicator on the focus dial. There is also an accessory shoe, which normally holds an exposure table. An accessory lightmeter exists, which mounts in place of this table.[5]

The shutter speed is set on a dial at the back. The shutter release button is on the front, and is threaded for a cable release.

The camera has automatic clockwork film advance: the advance mechanism can be wound in advance for 5-8 exposures.[3] The winding knob is on the back, as is the rewind knob, rewind release, and the PC socket.

The bottom of the camera has several studs to hold a tripod adapter plate, to avoid making room for a tripod bush in the body.[2] The camera can also be mounted on a leather wrist-strap.

Because a mirror is used to direct the image to the film, the negatives are reversed left-right relative to those from a normal camera; this is corrected during printing (by mounting the negative upside-down in the enlarger).


  1. 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). Page 210. Wikipedia quotes a date range of 1957-96, but this is unreferenced.
  2. 2.0 2.1 1963 Tessina 35 Automatic in red finish, with the prism finder, tripod plate, daylight film loader and other accessories, sold at the seventeenth Westlicht Photographica Auction, in May 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 User's manual for the Tessina Automatic 35 at Orphan Cameras.
  4. Tessina 35 with the prism and magnifying finders, sold at the ninth Westlicht auction, in May 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tessina 35 with the prism finder and shoe-mounting lightmeter, sold at the 20th Westlicht auction, in November 2011.