Sunday, November 21, 2010

Franka Solida

Franka Solida I
Franka Solida I by RaúlM.

Franka Solida IIE (3)
Franka Solida IIE by RaúlM.

Franka Solida III E
Franka Solida IIIE by RaúlM.

I love medium format folding cameras. They allow me to always carry a medium format on my pocket.

The Franka Solida range is amazing in manufacture quality, reliability and as practical shooters.

These cameras were made in Bayreuth, in the Black Forest, by Franka-Kamerawerk.

Franka Solida I
Solida I back by RaúlM.
Franka Solida III E
Solida IIIE back by RaúlM.
These are post war cameras marked "Made in Germany US Zone".
They were manufactured around 1954.

They all use 120 film giving me twelve exposures per roll of film.

The Solida I is the least sophisticated of the three I own.

Franka Solida I & Watameter rangefinder

It lacks range finder, that's why this one came with a Watameter, when I bought it.
I bought it from an English gentleman, who told me that this camera was his seventeenth birthday present, from his brother, who was stationed in Germany at that time.

Franka Solida I & Watameter rangefinder

The lens is a Frankar - Anastigmat 75mm, 1:4.5 on a four speed Pronto shutter, 1/25-1/200 and B, with self timer.

Even being the least sophisticated is a sharp shooter, as you can see in the following pictures:

Medieval by RaúlM.

Bell Tower
Bell Tower by RaúlM.

The Solida IIE, is a more sophisticated model, with a built-in, uncoupled, range finder, a better lens and shutter.

Franka Solida IIE (4)
Solida IIE top view by RaúlM:

In the picture above you can see the distance indication of the range finder, the red dot warning that the film is advanced and the camera ready to shoot, the shutter release and the advance knob, that includes a film reminder.

Franka Solida IIE (1)
Solida IIE front view by RaúlM.

This was one of the first folding cameras I bought. The range finder was non-operational. I send it to repair, it was a loose mirror. Later when I gained more confidence in my mechanical skills I made a complete CLA to the range finder, that was quite misaligned vertically. Now it's great.

On this one the lens is an Ennagon 75mm, 1:3,5, from Enna Werk, München, on a eight speed Prontor-SVS shutter, 1"-1/300 and B,  with self timer, V, and two flash synchro positions  X and M.

I have an anecdote about this camera:
The other folding cameras I had, when I bought this one, in order to fold I had only to force down the struts.
When this one arrived I opened it and was incapable of closing it. I turned it upside down, looked everywhere but to no avail.
I handed it to my wife, not telling her about my difficulties, and asked her to close it. What she did, to my complete surprise, immediately.
As she picked the camera, she saw at once the silver button, under the lens, that must be pressed  to unlock the struts.
It was a good laugh afterwards.

Once again this is a sharp shooter:

Franka - Douro
Douro by RaúlM.

Peaceful morning
Peaceful morning by RaúlM.

The Solida IIIE is the top notch on the scale.

Franka Solida III E with case and filters
Franka Solida IIE with leather case and filters by RaúlM.

I bought this one with the leather case and a set of filters, in a leather case also.

Franka Solida III E
Solida IIIE front view by RaúlM.

The Solida IIIE has a 80mm 1:2.9, Sheneider-Kreuznach Radionar lens on a eight speed Synchro-Compur shutter, 1"-1/500 and B, once again no self timer, M and X flash synchro. Edit - Thanks to the info provided by Malcolm Grant Purvis, I found that this shutter as a self timer:
On the Synchro-Compur the little conical button on top of the lens is the self-timer. Cock the shutter, then pull back the button and push the cocking lever some more, about 5mm. This sets the self-timer.
The built-in range finder is uncoupled, it has double exposure prevention and a film reminder on the film advance knob.

One distinguishable feature in this camera is that the bellows bed swings to the right, while in the other models it drops to the front.  

This lens is a beauty and what can I say? Another sharp shooter:

Sabugal by RaúlM.

Sabugal by RaúlM.

These folders are among my most cherished cameras.

Edit - For a very comprehensive information about these and other Franka Models visit:

Stay tuned (o;


  1. Também adoro estas folders... então essa IIIE tem uma definição soberba...

    Precisamente este fim de semana estive a fotografar com a minha Moskva 5!


  2. Obrigado por mais um simpático comentário.

    Realmente dá para contar as pedras da torre (o:

    A Moskva 5 é muito boa. Depois mostra aí qualquer coisa.

  3. Very nice cameras, Raúl, and stunningly photographed as alway

  4. Thanks, Dirk.
    It's a labour of passion (o;

  5. Very interesting and most extending info I found for Franka.Besides very nice pictures of the cameras and the ones you made with it.
    regards Carel L.

  6. May I contact you by email?

  7. Of course, Carel.
    I'm going to email you.

  8. Bom dia,

    Acabei de "herdar" uma Solida IIIe igualzinha à sua que me parece plenamente funcional, mesmo o temporizador.

    No entanto precisa de uma limpeza pois a lente apresenta alguma humidade no interior e o dial do rangefinder, apesar de rodar, está um pouco "duro".

    Estou ansioso para poder testar a máquina mas confesso estar um pouco "perdido" neste mundo da folding de médio formato.

    Já aprendi hoje que a alavanca verdade que dá para comutar para X e M serve apenas para o sincronismo do Flash e isso era algo que me estava a confundir pois não sabia para que servia a alavanca.

    Alguns conselhos sobre como / onde limpar esta beleza?


    João Nuno Cruz

  9. Olá João,

    Como limpar uma máquina desse género, é como tudo, para quem tem alguma experiência é fácil.
    Basicamente, o exterior deve ser limpo com um pincel e um pano de microfibras, para alguma sujidade mais entranhada limpa-vidros misturado com água, meio/meio, limpa tudo, tendo o cuidado de ser cuidadoso na quantidade a aplicar e limpar imediatamente com toalhas de papel de cozinha.
    O disco do rangefinder, depois de retirada a tampa superior, deve estar a precisar de ser limpo, o melhor para isso é gasolina de isqueiro.
    Quanto à limpeza do interior das lentes, se é novato nestas andanças, aconselho a ajuda de um profissional.

  10. Your Solida III's S-K lens 4668746 is April 1956.

    You say it has no self-timer. Strange: I can see it in the photo! So, I presume you don't know that on the Synchro-Compur the little conical button on top of the lens is the self-timer. Cock the shutter, then pull back the button and push the cocking lever some more, about 5mm. This sets the self-timer.

    Frustratingly their seems to be no list of serial numbers for the Enna lenses. However -SVS shutter was introduced in 1954 - see advert here: (my website).

    The change to square viewfinder windows may also have been that year (confirmation required, although I'm sure I've seen one on ebay). Your Ennagon lens has writing on the outside, later models have it on an inside ring. So, let's say it dates to 1954-57, although that's no more than an educated aguess.

    To your correspondent asking about lens cleaning: with three element lenses like the Radionar, the rear element will unscrew but you need a lens spanner (try ebay - I got mine from India). Be sure to cover the glass with tape in case the spanner slips! Early cameras only need the focus limiter screw removed and the front element will unscrew. However, later cameras will need to have the bezel removed first. (Two screws beside the '22's' clearly seen here This lens has been serviced before it came to me and the lower screw is burred from being removed.). I haven't yet done that for myself so can't comment whether there's any problem, although I doubt it.

    I hope that's all of interest.

    Malcolm Grant Purvis

  11. @Malcolm Grant Purvis:
    Thank you for the quite interesting informations and corrections, I've edited the article accordingly.

    I also thank you for the mention of this article on your very nice site.

  12. Bom dia,
    Comprei uma Franka/Solida II, mesmo igual à sua.
    Agora só não sei onde comprar os rolos. Poderia dar-me algumas informação ?
    Agradecia muito. Eu também adoro máquinas, mas esta é a minha primeira deste género.


    Sara Luís

  13. @Sara Luís:

    Não sei onde te encontras mas, qualquer boa loja de fotografia vende estes rolos.
    São rolos 120.

  14. Hi,
    I have a Franka III that is cocked but that is not releasing the shutter. Must the camera be first loaded with film for the shutter to relase or does my camera need repair?



  15. @Raid Amin:
    You don't need to have film in it but, you have to operate the film advance knob, as if the film was loaded, to release the double exposure prevention, then the shutter release should work.

  16. I own a Solida 1 Franka,not perfectly ok anymore,as the back does not shut anymore,but I would like ot know if that camera is worth something ?? Does anyone know this ?? Thanks

  17. I own a Franka Solida 1,unfortunately I cant close the front for some reason.However is that camera worth something ?? I am thinking abot Ebay or something !! Could someone give me some Information about this ?? Thanks,Sabine from Germany

  18. lovely work here, thanks for sharing

  19. Hi there! I just got a Franka Solida III today and am wondering if it's still possible to get the film for it, and if yes, is it terribly expensive?

    Do email me please!

    Thanks a million!!

    1. This camera uses 120 film that is readily available at any good photo shop.

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. Raul, Wonderful blog magnificent photographs. Out of interests sake how much would a good example cost ? GBP Thank you

  22. Thank you, Kenneth.
    You can get a fine example from 20/40 GBP, for a Solida I, to more than 100 for very good Solida III.

  23. Thank you so much for this great post! I recently sold a Franka Solida 1 camera on eBay and was unable to close it. I was worried about shipping it safely til I thought, "Surely someone else must have had this problem, maybe there are instructions online..." Thanks again from myself and persumably the person who bought this old camera from me as it will ship much safer and is more likely to arrive to the buyer in great condition now that I can ship it closed! : )

  24. Thank you very much for this excellent display of this camera and your discussion and photos.. I found one on E Bay and after reading what you shared here fought to win the camera to add to my kit.. It's amazing really.. I recently started with photography with Nikon D5100 then went for manual lenses and 35mm camera, longed to replace an old beautiful 127 bellows camera I used to use years ago and now eager to use medium format ! What next ? Perhaps the ancient massive box type with exploding flash like you see in the westerns ? Thanks again Raúl..

    1. I thank you Stephen.
      You can't imagine how happy I am beeing the inspiration to someone go "hard-core"analogue.
      All the best

  25. Hi Raul, my Father used in his "youngtime" a "Franka Solida...Now hie give me the Camera, because he
    wanted to make me a Gift...I think to learn it to make Pictures... In the Modern time everybody make with a "Klick" a Picture with his Handy or Smartphone, what a Pitty... :-( Analog forever...Greetz from Germany Teo

  26. Hi Raul,

    I bought the IIIe and I love this camera. I'm shooting B&W at the moment but I'm planning to shoot some Velvia 50.

    A few examples:

    BTW. Thanks so much for pointing the self timer! had no idea bout that.