Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bentzin X 2

Bentzin cameras were produced in Görlitz for over fifty years.  There were many models, but production runs were relatively small compared to the other major manufacturers like Zeiss and Voigtlander.  All of the Bentzin cameras featured innovative design and excellent materials and construction.  Because of their high quality and relative scarcity, most of the Bentzin models command high prices from collectors.  However, the company did devote some production to meeting the needs of average amateur photographers, and even the "economy" models from the company showed a lot of originality in design.  I was very impressed with the small size and sturdy construction of my Bentzin plate camera, so when I found a listing for a 6x9 roll film model from the company at less that $40 I grabbed it.

My Bentzin roll film folder looks like it hardly had any use; the exterior metal parts showed only a very little tarnish, and the bellows are perfect.  I did open the Compur shutter to clean it and the Meyer Gorlitz Trioplan lens.  I also adjusted the infinity focus on the lens, and that is a rather difficult hit-or-miss procedure.  Like the same lens mount on the Certo Dolly Super-Sport, the focus stop is on a ring underneath the front lens group and keeping it in position while tightening down the lens is a tricky affair.  Bentzin made a very similar model throughout the 1930s, but mine is clearly a post-war camera as evidenced by the self-erecting lens mount which clicks into position as the front is opened.  Once I had everything properly adjusted, I loaded some Tri-X and took the camera for a test drive to the Tingley Beach station of the little railroad that runs between Albuquerque's Botanic Garden and the Zoo.

I decided to process the Tri-X in hc-110 so that I could take advantage of the film's full box speed.  That let me shoot in bright sun at 1/250 and f-22.  The results were satisfyingly sharp, pretty much what I expected given my previous experience with the same lens on my Super-Sport Dolly.

My Bentzin 6x9 folder is superficially similar to a lot of other European and American cameras of the period, but there are many small details in the camera's construction which set it a step above the ordinary of its time.  There is no wasted space at all in the design and the result is a level of sleekness and reliability that was not often equaled.  The two ruby windows on the back indicate that there was a frame mask accessory for allowing 16 shots in 6x4.5 format rather than the full 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 negative size.

Both of my Bentzin cameras have "Bentzin Primar"  embossed on the backs.  Ads from the time refer to the plate camera as the Bentzin Plan-Primar. 


JR Smith said...

Ok...another camera you've made incredible photos with that I have never heard of!

Mike said...

I had a Bentzin Primarflex back in the 1960s. I didn't really appreciate the camera then and let it go for a song. The prices on the Primarflex have gone into the stratosphere since then, so I won't have another, but I was pleased to get a crack at a couple simpler models.