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The German Makina was a unique strut folding roll film camera with inter-changeable film holder backs, interchangeable lenses and double extension bed.

The Plaubel Makina story goes a long way back.

The "Baby Makina" was born at in 1911, a year after the Plaubel company, founded by Hugo Schrader, started the camera production.

A couple of words about the strut cameras (known also by their German name, Klappakamera; though in German it means also a classic folding camera). Historically, they were defeated by much more user-friendly 'folders' and rigid-bodied devices. But they were compact when folded (two boards connected with bellows and struts), rather versatile and very much alike their big brethren - the field cameras. Someone called them 'the photographic biplanes'. Amusing, isn't it. It's believed that Helmut Newton used a Makina at some point of his long career.

The Model I was released in 1931, It was the first model with the shutter speed ring placed around the lens like all later models. In 1932, the Roll film holder for 120 film ("Spule II film") for 6x9 cm, 6x6cm, 4,5x6 cm were released.

The Model II Makina was released in 1933. It had a body with coupled rangefinder, otherwise it was similar to the 1931 type.(option:change to chrome lens board). A manual parallax corrector for the eyepiece was available as an option. This camera could take all the lenses available for the Makina I.

At some point, the diaphragm selector was moved from the side of the front plate to a more usual location around the lens. The camera was copied abroad: here's the Japanese Minolta Autopress (1937), a mirror-like Makina copy:

The Model IIs was introduced in 1936, with a lens board in chrome, with a behind-the-lens Compur shutter to 1/200. With it came a new range of lenses.

The previous lenses had to be interchanged in two parts, one in front of the shutter and the other at the rear. This was quite inconvenient, and the new model had lenses interchangeable as single units.

One can tell a Makina IIS from a Makina II by the bulkier lens, and the two square rangefinder windows (the II had one square and one round window). The Plaubel Makina II has an optical finder, a sports finder with a hinged open frame-finder and a focusing ground-glass with hood. If you focus by using the range-finder, you can check the adjustment by reading the figures on the front (in meters) underneath the pop-up Galilee finder.
After World War II, production of the Makina IIS was resumed, with flash synchro for a Plaubel magnesium flash unit, and coated lenses.

The Makina Model III, with the full flash synchro (electronic and magnesic), a shutter locking button, no self-timer and two holding plates attached to the front plate, replaced the IIs in 1949.

In 1953 was launched the last version, Makina IIIR, with a synchro contact on the bottom right corner of the front plate, and a Compur-Rapid shutter to 1/400.

High speed Anticomar 10cm F2.9 lens was first offered with Model I in 1924. It was one of the highest quality speed lenses for the medium format camera at the time. It underwent several improvements and remained the standard with the III & IIIR models.
All the Makina interchangeable lenses were made by Plaubel. Only the standard lenses (10cm focal length) were fully coupled to the rangefinder. With the tele lenses, you could focus with the rangefinder and then set the given distance on the lens helical. With the wide angle lens, you could focus with the rangefinder with the bellows fully extended, then set the bellows to the wide-angle position and set the distance on the helical, a slow procedure to say the least.

The line-up included a 77mm wide-angle Orthar (above), two standard lenses (F4.9 & F2.9), two portrait 190mm Tele-Makinars (F6.3 & F4.8, shown below) and Tele Peconar 3S (different focal lengths). Before the war, these lenses were marked "S" to distinguish them from the older Makina lenses. They were sold in a coated version after the war. There was some sort of mark indicating it, maybe a colored circle.

In the middle of 1970's, the unique strut camera was succeeded by a Japanese New Makina 6x7 with Nikkor lens, first shown on an exhibition 1977, released in 1978.

The wide-angle "sister", Makina W67 came 1982. Later the type changed to 670.

Sources:
Camerapedia, Leicashop Wien, Jo Lommen, Cosmonet
Title photo: Armand Wagner
More images in the Cameras album (pp.5-6)

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