A Really Super Paxette

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Now this is a little gem that should sit on every photographers desk, even if only as a paperweight. To me, it typifies the Great Age of medium-market German rangefinders. It's the Braun Paxette Super II BL.
  2. Despite it's handsome appearance , this Paxette is now an old camera, this model being manufactured in the Carl Braun Camerawerk in 1953-54. In Braun shorthand, "Super" indicates that the camera has a coupled rangefinder, "II " indicates interchangeable lenses, and "L" tells us that the film advance and shutter-cocking is by means of a lever rather than a knob. The lever wind on Paxettes is a little obnoxious on two counts; in the first place it takes almost two throws to advance the film and cock the shutter, a procedure which one gets used to surprisingly quickly, and in the second, if anything goes amiss with the winder, one is tempted to unscrew the lever to investigate, and then all hell breaks loose. I suspect that I'm one of the very few people on this planet to have reassembled a Braun winder, having spent the best part of an afternoon crawling around the floor to retrieve the assortment of tiny springs, washers and levers that erupted as soon as the top cover was removed from the assembly. The "B" stands for "Belichtungsmesse", or lightmeter. Of course.

    While being somewhat smaller than I like a rangefinder to be, this camera is very tight and well-assembled and functions smoothly, and has obviously been kept in it's nicely-tailored leather case with very little use. Film loading is accomplished by removing the entire back and base of the camera in traditional European fashion, not the quickest way of loading film but certainly one of the most secure and light-tight designs, with the usual swing-out casette mount and hinged pressure plate. I'll post a detail of this below. The film numbering is re-set by means of a beautifully-machined thumbwheel and counter hidden beneath the accessory shoe. Since Braun fitted a neat little Bewi lightmeter where the film rewind would normally be, a separate rewind assembly was fitted into the rear of the camera. The lightmeter is not coupled, but it's a delightul piece of design and construction, still functioning accurately. The camera features an amazingly quiet Prontor-SVS shutter with speeds from 1 through 1/300th plus B, and just about the only front-mounted shutter release I've ever felt at home with. A gentle stroking action is all that's required to trip the mechanism.

    The viewfinder is bright-lined for 50, 90 and 135mm lenses, full frame being the 35mm area, but more of the lenses in a future post. This copy is fitted with the 50mm Steinheil Munchen Cassarit f/2.8, a 3 element lens which I feel has had much undeserved bad press over the years. Sure, it's a medium-quality lens, but in my experience it performs on about a par with the commonly-used Xenar of this era, and certainly better than the Reomar or the Agfa Apotars. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed running a Fuji Superia 200 through the little camera, and encountered on my travels an elderly gentleman trying out a "new" Fed 4; we compared cameras and agreed that the Paxette is rather like a junior version of that fine camera. I hope you're interested in a few pictures.
  3. You seem to get all your old cameras in brand new condition. Looks very neat. Love the picture on misty crossing. Thanks for the post. sp.
  4. Rick,
    You got me with the Memorial Limes.... my jaw dropped open. It is a winner.
  5. Old, but pretty minty looking....and shooting. Neat looking shots. Memorial Limes and Twins are a delight. So, you fix cameras too, eh. Impressive.
  6. Rick,
    marvelous pictures. I have never seen Braun cameras. Just amazing how you can assemble it back after its rewinding mechanism eruption. When you compare that camera to FED-4 what criteria did you use? Who is the winner?
  7. Rick -
    Very nice; as usual :) , I liked #3 & #4.
  8. Another triumph for the old RFs.
    It's amazing what they can do in the right hands.
  9. What a gorgeous camera and yes, "Memorial Limes" is a stunning shot, one that I could look at all day! I also really like "Twins" a lot. I really look forward to all of your posts Rick, as they are always informative and very interesting, not to mention the outstanding photos that accompany the text. Plus, they're also a bit like window shopping; they always give me something to find to add to my collection! Thanks for another excellent post.
  10. Another incredible post..camera and results are impeccable. Looking forward to another post on the "lenses" I saw this kit complete about 7 years ago.. they wanted 300€! I didn't have the money but it was interesting! The kit looked a bit "mouldy"
    but complete. Didn'T examine it too carefully. You often find variations of the Paxette for reasonable money. All of your photos are so cool. I really like Twins and Limes but the view of the signals in the mist and Skeleton are great too! You seem to have an incredible array of new additions and the Prontor shutters of this era (found on the Voigtlaneders too) does have a really nice solid feel! Very Envious of your cameras and photos! Just amazingly Super Great!!
  11. Rick -
    You are a real camera hero, saving so many and continuing their useful lives. The texts and photo's you send are always so well done and very interesting. These are all great, I particularly admired "twins," I grew up on a farm in North Dakota and it recalls that rural appearance quite vividly for me.
    Very well done as usual, thanks so much.
  12. Thanks for all your nice comments. Recounting my experience with the exploding winder was in no way an attempt to extol my virtues as a camera restorer, but merely as a cautionary tale; unless you know exactly how to handle the operation, don't touch that big tempting screw! I'm just a compulsive tinkerer with a very low success rate when it comes to major surgery, but I enjoy the cleaning, freeing-up, lubricating and polishing processes.
    Specifically, SP, I wish I had your skills in camera restoration; I'll have to admit that I no longer buy cameras that are too battered or seriously impaired, unless they are particularly rare or desirable. Cameras have to be of use or ornament, and preferably both. Thanks Louis, Mike, Jack and JDM, it's always a pleasure to read your comments. Andy, my aplolgies for presenting another temptation, but you have to take some of the blame for my current addiction.
    Kozma, the comparison between the Fed-4 and this camera was based mainly on appearance and function; they're both mid-range European rangefinders with interchangeable lenses and uncoupled selenium meters and an unmistakeably European appearance, both heavy and not particularly user-friendly but certainly competent performers. The Fed has a focal-plane shutter as opposed to the leaf shutter in the Paxette, and the lenses are probably better. For a comparative picture and description of the Fed-4 see my post http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00VVQf. Of the two, I'd plump for the Fed if I had to choose; it's a little bigger and I find it easier to handle.
    Chuck, the complete outfits fetch good money these day, but for some reason they usually seem to be "mouldy" down here, literally, probably after years of residing in damp cupboards. I've had more luck picking up the odd piece in "collection" type auctions, often when the seller just wanted to be rid of a box of odds and ends. Patrick, "you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy", as they used to say; I returned to the country after a city life and have never regretted it. And Les, the camera is about two-thirds the dimensions of the Electro, but much the same weight, which makes it quite a little handful. There's not a lot of plastic in this baby! I'll see what I can do about a print...
  13. Excellent stuff, Rick! Most of the time we see these cameras in pretty beat-up or at least leass than stellar condition. That one's a keeper. Some 1950's vintage RF cameras were pretty mediocre at best, and one I regret not buying a a Futura-S. That one was something. The Paxettes and their ilk occupied middle ground in the market at the time, and it's really nice to the rsults from your example.
  14. Beautiful little camera Rick. Enjoy using it.
  15. Dear Rick,
    the pics are superb, but let us all remember it is NOT the camera (nor the typewriter for poets ...), it is the photog, his/her eye and expertise with the technical and compositional stuff.
    Congrats, Rick on being a superb photog! For these scenes you could have used any other camera, I am sure ...
  16. Wow Rick, what a fantastic post, as a matter of fact all of yours are, but this one, my my.... The memorial limes evoked such strong emotions for me, it was unbelievable, as if I am looking and reflecting on my years on this earth. It is one of my favorite photos and I would like a print!!!. Can you arrange something with me off this post via email? You should have my email address.
  17. Thanks Rod; and Mark, I agree about the Futura S; I saw one at a camera show a few years back with the Frilon f/1.5 lens, and the price was far beyond my pocket, even then. Frank, you're way too kind, but thanks for the compliment, and Ralf, that post of yours is crammed with interesting information on the Paxettes and some fine pics. Extraordinary results from a fairly basic lens. I'll be in touch...
  18. Are you sure about the manufacturing dates you gave (early 1950s)? I bought mine in 1961/62 in W. Germany. It was brand-new stock. The plastic on top of the light meter is a bit too modern for the early 1950s.
  19. Hi Rick,
    I bought a Braun Paxette with my first pay (well, actually several bits of my first pays). It was my first 'proper' camera after a group of plastic Kodaks. I love the camera -- the weight and the quality machining. It has had a good life and is now retired to my display cabinet, still in beautiful condition. It gave me a real appreciation of the quality workmanship that came out of Germany after the war -- I was in the graphic arts trade and you should have seen the quality in some of the little add-on bits the printing machine makers made for the trade. Little numbering machines made of stainless steel for example. Although I'm retired now, and the industry has changed beyond me, it still fascinates me today.

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