|Weltini II with Tessar f/2.8|
image by Willi Nemski (Image rights)
The Weltini is a 35mm folding camera made by Welta from 1937 to 1941. It has a coupled rangefinder combined with the viewfinder, and was based on the body of the viewfinder Welti model. One interesting feature is that the focusing lever automatically returns to the infinity setting when you close the folding bed, so that lens and lever fit smoothly under the characteristic vaulted front-door when it is closed.
Two variants exist: The older one (1937-1938) has a squared top housing for the viewfinder and rangefinder; the later one (from 1938 to 1941) has a rounded top plate running from one end to the other, and sometimes small variations to the back closing mechanism. Today the two models are sometimes called "Weltini I" and "Weltini II", but at the time they were sold, they were simply called Weltini. Both types bear a depth-of-field table on the top. The Weltini was not offered with an accessory shoe — one can only surmise that the factory felt that this item was unnecessary on a camera that had a built-in rangefinder.
|Weltini I w/ Xenon f/2
image by Uwe Kulick (Image rights)
|Weltini II w/ Xenon f/2|
image by Jack Hufnagel (Image rights)
|Weltini II, Elmar 5cm f/3.5|
image by eBayer Yalluflex (Image rights)
The advance knob, rewind knob, and frame counter are located on the camera's bottom plate, and the lens cover is hinged on the left, whereas all other Welta 35mm folders are hinged on the right. The reason for this is quite simple: the Weltini is literally an upside-down Welti with a rangefinder grafted onto what would have been a Welti's bottom plate! This also explains why the shutter release is on the left, the camera back is hinged on the left, the film release button is on the right, and the film feeds 'backwards' — all the opposite as compared to the Welti, and in fact most other 35mm cameras. While admittedly a clever (the German word is 'kluge') piece of engineering that greatly reduced the development and production costs, it resulted in a camera that, for most people, is awkward to use. Nonetheless, the camera, like other pre-war Weltas, is well made, reliable, and capable of producing excellent images.
The shutter was the Compur-Rapid to 1/500, or a similar shutter with the Welta brand.
The choice of lenses included:
- Leitz Elmar 5cm f/3.5 — This version is quite rare, and demands high prices in the marketplace.
- Schneider Xenar 5cm f/2.8
- Schneider Xenon 5cm f/2
- Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 5cm f/2.8
The Weltini was by no means an inexpensive camera. In 1938, the Weltini II with the Schneider Xenon lens was selling in New York stores for $110 US, or over $1600 US in 2007 terms. This was slightly more than a Retina II with the same lens.