Unitas

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The Unitas[1] is a metal-bodied camera for exposures 24x30mm on 35mm film loaded in a special cassette, made just after the Second World War by Alexander Zsigmond in Vienna.[2] The body of the camera is a simple metal box, rectangular with rounded corners, and with a hinged door at the back. It is covered with a black crackle-finish, with a chromium- (or nickel-) plated edge around the door. 'Unitas' is embossed in the metal of the door, and there is a round 'AZ' logo painted on the lens-plate. It has a 4.2 cm f/8 'Unitar' lens, with front-element focusing down to 0.5 metre, and no aperture adjustment. It has a two-bladed shutter with speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and 'Z' (presumably 'B' shutter). The shutter button is a plunger on the left side of the camera. On the example cited, this is black, but is bright plated metal on other examples.

There is a folding metal frame-finder on the top, and a winding knob with a frame-number window next to it. Some examples also have a knurled knob next to this, which might be an adjuster for the frame-counter.

The Unitas is the only still camera Zsigmond is known to have made. He also made a wooden-bodied cine camera, the Zenit,[3] and wrote and directed a film, 'Madame Blaubart' (Madame Bluebeard).[4][5]


Notes

  1. The camera is referred to in many places as the Vienna Unitas, but only 'Unitas' appears on the camera,
  2. Unitas camera offered for sale at the 32nd Westlicht Photographica Camera Auction in March 2018. Good pictures of several views of the camera, including inside, showing a film cassette and the rear of the shutter.
  3. blog post, Neue Kooperation mit dem Österreichischen Filmmuseum (new collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum), at Medientheorie, a blog of the Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien (University of Applied Arts, Vienna): one photo of the cine camera.
  4. Madame Blaubart listing at IMDB.
  5. Poster for the Hungarian release of Madame Blaubart, in the collection of Central St Martins School of Art & Design.