Germany 1934 – Folding – 120 film – Very Rare.
The Perfekta TLR (twin lens reflex) was produced by Welta in Germany from 1934 to 1940. It was the successor of the Superfekta and remains one of the most fascinating cameras ever built.
Welta wanted to create a 6×6 TLR camera that would fold and fit in a vest pocket.
The resulting design is just an amazing (German) engineering trick. With a simple button, the body of the camera splits vertically following a broken line to give space to a bellow chamber. In the same movement, the waist level viewfinder unfolds and slides horizontally to position itself behind the secondary lens. The viewfinder chamber remains suspended above the bellow, held in place by the front face of the camera. The resulting shape forces the upper film reel to work in the opposite direction from the lower one.
A simple push on the front side reverses the motion, smoothly collapsing the camera so it can fit in a vest pocket (Note that it does require a pretty large vest pocket).
The resulting shape is bizarre to say the least but makes the Perfekta the closest thing to a steampunk transformer you can imagine. Holding it is probably one of the most intriguing experiences in camera collection.
Folding TLRs were great technical innovations on paper and required huge amounts of creativity. Nonetheless they proved to be a dead end in camera development because they were complex and expensive to produce and the bulky viewfinders could not fold with the rest of the camera.