CAMERAS > BALDA
Balda was a German maker based in Dresden. It was founded in 1908 and took the name Balda-Werk Max Baldeweg in 1913. It made a quantity of medium-priced folders before World War II, and its camera production was quite comparable to Welta or Certo, though Baldas as a rule sold for lower prices than either of those cameras.
The firm began producing glass negative plate and roll-film cameras in the 1920s. The Nr.1 Balda-Kamera of 1925 was a folding bellows camera for 9X12cm format. It was followed by a model for 10X15cm and two more 9X12cm models with rack and pinion focus and double extension bellows. In the 1930s, Balda also produced a wide range of small format folding cameras with names like Jubilette, Lisette and Super Baldina.
One originality of Balda was to sell cameras to many other companies for resale under their own brand (today this would be called OEM). Perhaps as part of this strategy, Balda cameras were fitted with a very wide range lenses, from the low cost self-branded triplets through Meyers and Ludwigs, to the high end Schneider Xenars and Xenons, and Zeiss Tessars and Biotars.
After the war, the Dresden factory business was absorbed into VEB Pentacon. In 1946 its founder Max Baldeweg fled to West Germany to start Balda-Werk in Bűnde. The East German plant began to make own Ovus shutters which were no Compur clones but had all the functions of the West-German Compur shutter. The Cludor and Vebur shutters were derived from the Ovus. In 1950 Zeiss Ikon took over the production of the shutters. After trademark litigation similar to that involving the Carl Zeiss companies and Zeiss Ikon companies the name of the East German company was changed to Belca-Werk in 1951. It continued for some time to produce folders like the little 35mm Beltica, and was absorbed into VEB Kamera-Werke Niedersedlitz in 1956.
Max Baldeweg set up a new company called Balda (Balda Kamera-Werk), this time based in Bünde, West Germany. This company produced a series of 35mm and medium-format rollfilm cameras, some of them being sold by Porst under the Hapo brand. Balda later produced cameras for both 126 and 110 film cartridge format.
Balda cameras are well made and many are collectible. The 120 medium format 6x9 Super Pontura from before WW2, or the 6x6cm roll film Super Baldax of the 1950s, is however, still a very usable model for film photography enthusiasts when it can be found for sale in good condition. This camera was made between 1954 and 1957 and features a coupled rangefinder and semi-automatic film wind and shutter arming mechanism. The Baldix is a "reduced" version, with uncoupled rangefinder and manual shutter cocking.