Werra

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Werra, a twist apart


The Werra is a series of 35mm viewfinder or rangefinder cameras manufactured by the Carl Zeiss Jena factory which was primarily a lens-making plant. The Werra is named after a small German river.

The cameras offer a high degree of control with a minimum number of levers, knobs or rings. In their simplest incarnations, the Werras featured only a shutter release button on the top plate. With its streamlined styling, one could call the Werras a design camera. Nearly all other controls were incorporated into the lens barrel.

Twist that lens !

The most unique feature of the Werra is the covered ring around the lens barrel. Twisting the ring cocks the shutter and advanced the film in one motion. In addition, the lens cap doubles as a shade (compare the pictures below).

The Werra uses a central shutter. It has flash sync at all speeds (B, 1 to 1/750s). It has an X and M setting and a self-timer V.

Markings on this camera

The lens, a 50/2.8 Tessar, is often marked T instead of Tessar and Jena instead of Carl Zeiss Jena because of a conflict between the East- and West-German division of the firm -- though examples of export Werras with both disputed marks do exist.

On the lower left part of the barrel or shutter speed dial, there is a logo, "Q1," meaning "Erste Qualität" or first quality. This was a designation for East-German exports to the West. Models meant for the home market lacked this logo.

The lower right side featured the Ernemann tower logo derived from a tower found at Ernemann's camera factory in Dresden.

Variations and later models

Several variations were made.[1] In keeping with the clean lines and minimalist aesthetic of the camera, the different models are not distinguished by different names on the camera bodies. There is an olive green version of the Werra 1. The Werra 2 and Werramatic models have selenium cell lightmeters. The models Werra III, Werra IV, Werra V and Werramatic have a coupled rangefinder together with interchangeable lenses, allowing tele- and wide-angle lenses.


Notes

  1. Alfred Klomp lists five versions of the Werra, three versions of the Werra E, Werramat and Werramatic variations, and some sub-variations.

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