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1953: Mecaflex

This tiny single lens reflex measures a mere 9x6.5x6.5cm, yet weighs a surprisingly heavy 700 grams. The top-plate hinges up to reveal the shutter release, film wind lever and rewind knob. At the same time a focusing hood unfolds and a large, square magnifier clicks into place above a small ground-glass focusing screen. The camera takes 35mm film, shooting 50-plus 24x24mm images to a roll.


The Mecaflex was designed by Heinz Kilfitt, best known for his high-precision lenses. He supplied the lenses and the body was initially made in Germany by Metz, a radio and television manufacturer. Later the bodies were made in France by Seroa. The camera is usually found with a 40mm f/3.5 Kilar lens, but sometimes with the rarer 40mm f/2.8 Kilar. Accessories include a 105mm f/4 Tele-Kilar lens, extension tubes and eye-level viewfinder.


The camera features an early – and complicated – form of automatic aperture stop-down. First the aperture is opened to its widest setting, when a quiet click indicates that a small lever beneath the lens has been moved to one side, allowing a pin to spring out from the body and block the lever’s return. Now, when the f-stop required for taking the picture is re-set on the control ring around the lens, the actual aperture remains wide open for easier focusing. First pressure on the shutter release then retracts the pin, allowing the lever to move back and causing the aperture to spring to its pre-set position, just before the mirror flips up and the shutter fires with speeds of 1-1/300sec.


Most Mecaflexes were made in satin chrome and black leather, but when production shifted to France, a limited number was made with an attractive light brown lizard skin covering.


Top to bottom:

The Mecaflex unfolded and ready to shoot.

View from the top, showing the magnifier over the focusing screen

The rare lizard skin version, produced in a very limited number

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