Sunday, September 12, 2010

WERRA the design that came from east

WERRA Triplets

The WERRA cameras were made in Eastern Germany, GDR, from 1954 to 1968 by Carl Zeiss Jena, at the Eisfeld factory.
Werra it's the name of a small river close to the factory.

These cameras are completely original.

In a exhibition at Leipzig they were called the Volkskamera, the peoples camera.

They manufactured over half million of these cameras, including all models and variations.

The design is minimalist, the lens cap, in the models with fixed lens or when using the 50mm lens in the models with interchangeable lens, doubles as lens wood and can be used also as a blocking of the controls, turning it to a point and shoot camera.

The film advance and shutter cocking is made by turning a ring around the lens.
All the controls are located in rings around the lens, leaving only the shutter release on the top plate.

The shutter is of the central leaf type. The Prestor RVS 750, with a top speed of 1/750", is one of the faster shutters of this kind.
This top speed is possible due to the double set of leafs one for capping the film when the film is advanced and the shutter cocked. The second set instead of opening, stopping and reversing to close, simply rotate.
So when one press the shutter, the capping leafs open then the real shutter leafs rotate, giving the chosen exposure and the capping leafs close again.   

The original lens in all WERRA cameras is a Tessar 50mm 1:2.8, marked as Carl Zeiss Jena, only Jena or T depending of the period they were made or the target markets.
This was due also to the dispute between the east and west Zeiss companies.
Anyway the quality of the lens is independent of the markings and market disputes and always magnificent.
The same aplies to the Cardinar and Flektogon.

In my collection I have three examples:


Werra 1E

WERRA 1e ~1965
Tessar 50/2,8
Prestor RVS shutter 1''-1/750 and B

Some pictures taken with it:

Me & Werra1E
Me and WERRA 1e by RaúlM.

Young lady mooning City Hall
Young girl mooning City Hall by RaúlM.

My "new" car
My "new" car by RaúlM.



WERRAmat ~1961
Tessar 50/2,8
Prestor RVS shutter 1''-1/750 and B
Lens cap doubles as lens shade
The light meter displays a needle in the viewfinder to adjust the shutter speed/aperture.
The film advance and shutter cock is made by means of the outer ring of the lens.


Werra III

WERRA 3 ~1958
Coupled rangefinder and interchangeable lens.
Tessar 50mm, 1:2.8
Flektogon 35mm, 1:2.8
Cardinar 100mm, 1:4

The viewfinder displays markings for the 50mm and 100mm the 35mm lens fills the viewfinder.


as seen in this TTV shot taken with a Sony Ericsson K800i. I'm sorry for the mess on my desk.

This is just to show how bright and easy to focus the WERRA 3 is.

Just using the light of the desk lamp.
The focusing zone is on the film canister, so you can see it's out of focus.

Photo-montage, with Photoshop CS3 and 4 pictures, with the different lenses

Attack of the Clones

Some pictures taken with it:

Me and Werra IIIE in a window shop
Me and WERRA 3 by RaúlM.

Ding Dong
Ding Dong by RaúlM.

I got hooked by this camera on a photowalk we made, were one of the participants brought one with him.
It's simple design and the Tessar lens captivated me on the spot.

I'm very pleased with the quality and looks of these cameras.
I'm sorry I haven't been using them as much as they deserve.

Stay tuned (o;


  1. És uma enciclopédia sobre estas maravilhas, Raúl... o que estou a aprender!... estas não conhecia mesmo... ando a ver se compro uma 35mm, e esta parece uma boa opção... lentes Carl Zeiss... :)

  2. Obrigado, Raúl.
    São muito interessantes e, se realmente nunca viste nenhuma, diferentes de tudo que possas conhecer.

  3. Excelente resumen sobre la originak Werra. Un producto de una fábrica que no hacía cámaras directamente, salvo la Palmos a principios del siglo XX. Muy buenas fotos. Anoche justamente estaba teniendo en la mano una Werra I de un sobrino, comprada hace poco en Dresde y en perfecto estado. Saludos de un coleccionista de Argentina. Rogelio.

  4. seems like we have a common interest to talk, that is collecting old vintage cameras. it's a new developing passion in me about 2 months ago and it just can't stop :)

    my blog:

  5. @ Rogelio N. Rozas:
    Gracias Rogelio.
    Me enamore de estas cámaras así que cogí la primera.

    @ Che Mat:
    This can became an obsession or as some people calls it GAS (Gear Syndrome Acquisition) (o;

  6. Hello!

    I want to buy a Werra 3, but I was wondering if they have a light meter?


  7. Hello!

    Does the Werra 3 have a light meter?

  8. @Mimi and anonymous:
    The Werra 3 is a rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses.
    The one with light meter is the Werra Mat.

  9. Thank you for this information. I still have my old Werra, which I bought second hand in 1967 when I was working for Kodak in Melbourne.

  10. Hey RaúlM, werramatic is a great piece of art, it´s everytime good to see there are still people who can enjoy the classic art of photography :)
    good light

  11. Great camera collection Raul!!!

  12. Your pics of your Werra are amazing! I have a Werra 2 but lower shutter speeds are slow. Can you advise any books or forums on Werra repair?


  13. @ Christian:
    Luckily all my Werras are working flawlessly, so I didn't had the need to look for that kind of info.

  14. Raul:

    Werra 3 was my first camera. I had a darkroom at my parent´s place, so I used to shoot a lot in Black 'n White. It was in the final of '60, in Brazil. My camera had no exposure built in meter, so I had to use Sunny 16 tables. Got nice pics on that time. Your Werras look mint! As brande news! Congrats!!!
    Enio Leite, form Brazil, South America

  15. Dear RauM

    I have a recently purchased Werra 1e and have not been able to determine if the lens can be removed for cleaning. Can you advise me?

    Many thanks.

  16. I learned photografy with this camera, my father had one and when I showed interest in photografy he let me use it and later gave it to me. Unfortunately I sold it because of problems with the filmtransport, but if I see one on sale I will surely try to buy one, if only for sentimental reasons, but if in working condition I'm sure I will start using it again.

  17. I like Werra cameras (I have a Werra 1 Green and a Werra 1 Black. And also I like Rnault 4 very much.Thank you !

  18. Richard Kingston (Oxford/England)
    I had a green Werra during the '60's,'70's and '80's.It's speeds went down to
    500th of a sec.I Took some wonderful pictures with it but positioning of close
    subjects was a bit hit & miss owing to viewfinder limitations.However I loved
    the ring film transport which only went wrong in the late '80's.But got it
    fixed ! Big tragedy in my photographic life was when my bag was stolen near
    Naaples in 1994 including green Werra.Nearly cried - no -did cry !R.K.

  19. I owned a Werra 1 in the 1970s, which I had bought in a photography shop in Dublin second-hand for 12 old Irish pounds. It served me well for many years. Only recently I scanned some BW negatives from it. The quality is still there after all those years. An amazing camera which I underestimated at the time. I love the Bauhaus design aesthetic of this little gem.

  20. Desde 1960 que possuo uma WERRA III que sempre me fascina pelo seu desenho. Com ela fiz centenas de fotos e a qualidade da imagem obtida com a Carl Zeiss Tessar era muito boa.Gostava de a completar com a grande angular e a tele-objectiva. Como as poderei adqurir?
    Antero Leite

  21. I have just bougt a Werra 4 and look forward to using it as well as admiring its great design.

  22. I have a werra1 ,which I bought from my fafher in law in the mid 70s, takes really good photos, thought has to be used when using, but well worth it, I din't think anyone else had one of these cameras, nice to see I am not the only one.

  23. budworthe@gmail.comNovember 6, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Hi Raul,
    I have a collection of these little cameras 18 in total. one of which is fitted with a Synchro-Compur shutter. It's a green model 1 Serial No.301469. Unusaul to have a West German shutter in an East German camera!