Walz Automat 44
The Walz Automat 44 and Walz Automat M44 are Japanese 4×4 TLR, made by Walz in 1959–60. They were the most advanced Japanese 4×4 TLR, with crank advance and start mark film loading, plus an exposure meter on the M44.
The Walz Automat 44
The Walz Automat 44 has the classical TLR shape. The front standard moves back and forth for focusing; it is driven by a lever at the bottom, running on a distance scale engraved in metres, down to 0.7m.
The film is advanced by a crank on the photographer's right, and the shutter is wound at the same time. There is a round exposure counter window on the same side, near the strap lug. The position of the first exposure is set by aligning the start mark of the leader paper to a mark inside the body. There is a large feeler roller inside the camera, under the exposure frame, certainly driving the automatic advance mechanism. On the camera's left side, there are two film flanges, an accessory shoe near the top, and a PC synch socket in the middle.
The viewing hood contains a sportsfinder, and the viewing screen has a Fresnel lens. The nameplate only reads WALZ Automat, but the camera was advertised as "Walz Automat 44". The serial number is engraved above the nameplate; the only one confirmed so far is 55774, on the camera pictured below.
The speed and aperture are set by two wheels placed between the two lenses, and the settings are visible in a window above the viewing lens, the same as on the Rolleiflex. The shutter release in on the side of the front standard, and contains a thread for a cable release. There is a small knob next to it, certainly used as a release lock.
|Walz Automat 44 no.55774, Zunow 6cm f/2.8 lenses (taking lens no.61972).|
Pictures courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera. (Image rights)
The shutter is a Copal-SV (B, 1–500), completely hidden in an elaborate casing, and the name COPAL is inscribed below the taking lens. The M/X selector is on the photographer's left, it consists of a small lever directly protruding out of the shutter through a cut-out in the casing. The self-timer lever has a red dot and is on the same side at the bottom.
The lenses are Zunow 6cm f/2.8; the taking lens has four elements in three groups and a five-digit serial number, whereas the viewing lens has no number and is perhaps a triplet. Both have a bayonet attachment for filters or a hood. The lens numbers observed so far are all in the 6xxxx range; the lenses are the same as on the semi-automatic Halma 44 and Prinz 44 and certainly share the same number sequence.
The Walz Automat 44 was announced in Japanese camera magazines dated July and August 1959, and advertisements are reported from August 1959 to February 1960. The October 1959 advertisement in Asahi Camera presents the Automat 44 as the "camera for the mother" (お母さまのカメラ) whereas the Walz Envoy 35 was the "camera for the father" (お父さまのカメラ), with the catch-phrase "Envoy for Dad, 44 for Mum" (パパはエンボイ!ママヨニヨン!). More seriously, it also gives the price of ¥15,600 (case ¥1,200 extra). The camera is called "Walz Automat 44" (ワルツオートマット44) in the advertisement, despite the "Walz Automat" nameplate.
|Specific lens hood for the Walz Automat 44.|
Picture courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera. (Image rights)
Colour finish and accessories
The Automat 44 is most often found in two-tone gray finish, the same as the Rolleiflex Baby Grey. Some pictures show a blueish tint, and at least one seems to show a distinctly blue finish with gray leatherette and an assorted blue leather case; it is not known for sure if these photos have bad colour balance or if the colour is indeed different.
The lens hood is specific to the Automat 44, it is gray painted with a Walz logo at the top, and has an indent on the side, allowing to insert it on the bayonet attachment. The lens cap is hinged in the middle, and has a gray finish and a Walz logo at the top.
The case is of the same colour as the camera. It is inscribed Automat 44 at the top and has a Walz logo at the front, and a film reminder on the side, with indications in ASA and DIN.
The original box is dark blue with the name WALZ AUTOMAT 44, Walz logos and a prominent double-headed eagle on the front side.
|Walz Automat 44 in its gray leather case, and original box.|
Pictures courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera. (Image rights)
The Walz Automat M44
The Walz Automat M44 is a version of the Automat 44 with a black finish and an added exposure meter. The selenium cell is hidden under the nameplate, inscribed WALZ Automat M and hinged as a flap. The meter's galvanometer is contained inside a big knob on the photographer's left, with the needle running under a window at the top. The top part of the knob has two windows to set the sensitivity, in ASA or DIN. The synch socket has moved to a new location below the meter knob, to the rear. The rest of the features is the same as on the Automat 44.
One example of the Automat M44 has been observed with a brown case, inscribed Automat 44 at the top and having a Walz logo at the front. This brown case is probably the original case of the M44, whereas the Automat 44 has a gray or blue case.
No advertisement for the Automat M44 has yet been found, and the full name "Walz Automat M44", given by various sources, is unconfirmed.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.418.
- October 1959 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.331.
- Copal-SV: October 1959 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.331.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.331.
- Picture in this page at je2luz.
- "Walz Automat M44": Sugiyama, item 2283, McKeown, p.981, Watakushi no ni-gan-refu kamera-ten, p.32.
- Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Item 1846.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.98 (brief mention only).
- 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). P.981.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 2282–3.
- Watakushi no ni-gan-refu kamera-ten (私の二眼レフカメラ展, Exhibition of twin lens reflex cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.32.