At last, the Lordomat C35.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. Having decided about three years ago that I'd like one of these cameras, and having placed numerous unsuccessful bids on the big auction site, one has finally come home to roost. It's the Leidolf Lordomat C35.
  2. In a fairly recent CMC post I outlined the history of the Rudolf Leidolf Optical Company of Wetzlar, and the evolution of the Lordomat cameras, so I won't bore you all to death with a repeat performance.
    In that post I mentioned that I'd been lusting after the most complex of the Lordomats, the C35, with very little success, having to compete with international bidders considerably more affluent than myself. However, lo and behold, an example turned up down here in New Zealand and I was fortunate enough to acquire it for an affordable figure. It's in about as pristine a condition as one could hope for in a camera almost six decades of age, having obviously spent most of it's life in it's nice leather case.
    The C35 went into production on 1956, and was marketed in the US under the Unimark brand, but it was never very common. It has an uncoupled selenium meter, still lively and accurate on this copy, and dual viewfinders, one for the standard 50mm lens complete with the coupled rangefinder spot, and the other an Albada-style viewfinder with frame lines for the 35, 90 and 135mm lenses, complete with a parallax compensation adjustment controlled by a milled wheel on the front of the camera, below the viewfinder. Inevitably, it's easy to put one's eye to the wrong viewfinder, but familiarity with the camera lessens this occurrence.
  3. The attention to detail is admirable; here's a close-up of the front of the camera. The shutter release is beside the lens, very much after the style of the Braun Paxette cameras, and the parallax adjustment wheel is visible below the upper viewfinder. There's even a tiny knurled knob that must be depressed before the flash synchronization can be altered or the delayed shutter release selected, a nice touch. Dare I say it, but the overall standards of construction and finish are not far behind those of certain other famous products from Wetzlar...
  4. The shutter is the quiet and reliable Prontor SVS, with speeds from 1 to 1/300 plus B. The "rapid" wind requires two short throws to advance the film and cock the shutter, once again very much like the Super Paxettes. In common with all the Lordomats, the back/bottom is removed for film loading. The lens on this example is the same 50mm Lordonar f/2.8 lens that I reviewed earlier, a fine four-element unit from the Enna company. I was naturally curious to compare the lenses, and I was delighted to find that this particular lens is probably superior to the previous one; I shot some film during the week with a Voigtlander Vito BL with the excellent Color-Skopar lens, and in my opinion this Lordonar lens is every bit as good. Both lenses suffer somewhat from the lack of modern coatings, but there really is very little between them. I attach a few frames from the test film, Ilford FP4 developed in PMK Pyro, scans from the Epson V700; same boring old locations but I hope they show off the lens.
  5. Nice series of images Rick. The detail in the textures of the first two images shows the lens to be a very capable performer. Does the C35 share the same interchangeable lenses from your other Lordomat?
  6. Nice images, Rick. And beautiful example of the C35. Your processing of the FP4+ brings out the best in that film, BTW. Thanks for an informative post.
  7. Rick (and many others here), just a silly question. I enjoy these posts a lot, and you still have me wanting a Werra thanks to your report here.... but: how do you know about all these cameras? I mean, once you know name, model and which 'vintage' is most desirable, finding one is doable. But knowing all these gems from the past, where does all the information come from?
  8. Thanks, Mike, I find that combination of film and developer very much to my taste. Yes, Cory, the same set of lenses will fit, though the chance of my obtaining any of them are very slim, unless a win in the lottery comes my way! They are very sought-after... Wouter, it's really just a case of "one thing leads to another" and it's really only the internet and search engines like Google and Bing that makes it possible. I originally started out in a fit of nostalgia about 10 years buying an old Praktica the same as my first SLR on our local auction, and I thought I'd find out a little more about it's background. After about three hours on the computer I could have written a potted history of the East German camera industry!
    It's a matter of knowing how to use the search engines, and building up a sort of reference list of helpful sites, and following the most obscure links until the facts emerge... It's a kind of photographic detective work, and great fun if you find that sort of thing relaxing. Just try Googling your favourite camera, and click on the links, and on the links that appear with the links... It's like a paper chase and I'm sure you'll find many other cameras to interest you. Probably rather too many, (sigh...)
  9. Rick, another nicely done post. I had seen the lordomats before, but I had always thought they were one of the many Japanese offerings. As usual, u have shared a wealth of information and some great images to go with them. I especially like #8 with the bench and the bicycle.
  10. Good performer in the hands of a master, but I wouldn't give it high marks In terms of esthetic appeal. The last thing I
    need is another camera, but if someone spots an ex++ Nikon SP...
  11. Nice one Rick, the Lordomat is a fine looking camera for sure, and you have made the best of the winter light, especially black and white...a classic.
    I bought a Lordomat some two years ago but unfortunately it seized up after two shots....bugger! Never got around to getting it repaired so it's nice to see one in action.
    The weather here in Adelaide is a bit wintry and the only classic camera I packed was an old Rollei Automat...not allowed to pack anymore!
  12. Thanks Tony, I'd been wondering where you'd got to; I've been trying to hold the fort in your absence. Let's hope you can get some pics with the Rollei. You're right, Straw Man, the Lordomat is definitely in the ugly/beautiful catergory! Good luck with the SP... Thanks Darin, you chose my favourite image, too.
  13. I had wondered about the lenses as well. I saw an ad for a Lordomat in a 1955 Popular Photography and remembered seeing 35mm and 90mm lenses listed. The lenses might be rare, but if there's any chance of anyone finding them, I wouldn't be surprised if you found them. When one thinks of what mid 1950's money is adjusted for today it's understandable why the Lordomat and others were viable alternatives to the Leica, Contax, and Nikon rangefinders offered at the time. The average American wage back then would have necessitated careful saving or monthly payments for even a fixed lens camera. For example, I saw a Minolta A (with 45mm f 3.5) going for $49.95. Again, thanks for an informative post.
  14. Yes, Mike, the lenses crop up but they are a fetching far more than I'm prepared to pay, just for the sake of collecting; I see a standard Lordonar lens such as the one on this camera was listed today at $149, and one can probably double that for the other lenses in the range, possibly more for the rarer Schacht lenses. Scarcity value, I suppose.
  15. Beautiful camera and beautiful shots as always, Rick. Naturally I started looking for one of these as I frequently do after reading your posts...
  16. Thank you Andy, I thought of you when I was putting together the recent post on the Minolta Autowide as I seemed to recall you had one, being a Minolta fan, but I could have been thinking of the Minolta A.
  17. Rick,
    Con congratulations on your new acquisition. I remember your last post on the Lordomat. I finally had some time to look through my Wards Photographic catalogs. Here is some stuff I found.
    1953 Wards catalog - Lists the Lordox.
    1954 Wards catalog - Lists Lordox, Lordox Jr, and Lordomat.
    1955 Wards catalog - Lists Lordox, Lordox Jr, and Lordomat.
    1956 Wards catalog - Lists Lordox and Lordomat.
    1957 Wards catalog - Lists Lordox, Lordomat, and Lordomat f/1.9.
    1958 Wards catalog - Lists Lordomat and Lordomat C-35. They also list an Adams 35I and an Adams 352 which is a dead ringer for the Lordomat.
    1959 Wards catalog - Lists Lordomat f/2.8 and Lordomat f/1.9. No Adams listed.
    1960 Wards catalog - Lists Lordomat f/1.9.
    1961 Wards catalog - Nothing listed.
    1961 Popular Photography Equipment Directory lists the Unimark I, Unimark II, Unimark II R, and the Unimark III. By 1962 there was no longer a listing.
    Here is a scan fro a 1957 Wards catalog.
  18. Here is page 2.
  19. Here is page 3.
  20. Here is a page from the Wards 1958 catalog.
  21. Thanks, Marc, that's an impressive and informative assemblage. It's interesting that the C35 seems to be offered with the Lordon f/1.9 lens as standard, while all the copies I've seen come up for sale have the Lordonar f/2.8, like the one I have. Perhaps the cameras with the Lordon lens are in the hands of people who have no wish to dispose of them!

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