France 1949 – Compact – 35 mm – Infrequent.
At a time when the first 35mm single lens reflex were beginning to appear, the most renowned cameras were the Leicas, with their high quality mechanics and lenses.
But France had something to say with the appreciated Foca Universel.
In 1938, the French government had limited the importation of German cameras, pushing French scientist and aristocrat Armand de Gramont to initiate the design of a french 35 mm equivalent with the specific objective to compete with Leica. He had founded a precision optics company (OPL) in 1919 and started working on the Foca rangefinder design in 1938. The first compact cameras came out right after the war in 1945 and Foca cameras were produced in various versions until the mid 60s.
The Foca Universel is a beautifully built camera with a reputation of quality and stability. The name Foca comes from one of the main features of the camera, the focal-plane shutter.