Switzerland 1942 – Compact – 35 mm – Very Rare.
Like most Swiss high-quality cameras, the Alpa Reflex has common roots with the watchmaking industry. It was designed by Pignons SA, a Swiss precision mechanical manufacturer that decided to diversify their product range in the late 1930s.
Prototype production began in 1939 with test series of a few cameras until 1942. Actual production officially started in 1944 under the brand Alpa and the Reflex was made under various versions until 1951. (One of the cameras displayed here belongs to a very rare confidential batch of 1942 called batch B).
The Alpa Reflex is one of the first 35 mm SLR cameras, predated only by the Exakta, the Gomz Sport, and the Praktiflex. Its design and construction are absolutely amazing, offering a SLR with waist level finder, and separate rangefinders and viewfinders arranged in the traditional horizontal layout. The shutter is a cloth focal plane shutter with speeds from 1-1000 and since the objective is retractable, a small lever lifts-up the mirror to allow the objective through.
The Alpa Reflex is the early brainchild of Jacques Bolsky who later invented the renowned Bolsey and Bolex cine cameras. The camera was eventually named the Alpa because it was light, pocketable, and might easily be brought along travelling in the Alps.
Early Alpas Reflex are gorgeous collectibles both for quality and rarity.