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A FEW WORDS ABOUT

THE FIRST-PRODUCED ROMANIAN CAMERAS


The Romanian photographic industry has started later than others similar in the Central and Eastern Europe, lasted only for 3 decades (or so), and ceased to exist earlier than it should have. Although the machinery was there, a pretty good optical devices and lens manufacturing capabilities, and a rather small but suitable environment for building decent enough cameras did exist, no cameras were designed and built until the early 50's.

As late as 1954, the IOR (Interprinderea Optica Romana - The Romanian Optical Factory) has entered the market with the first camera of its own, apparently entirely designed and manufactured in Romania, and the only ones as well.

The name of the camera was OPTIOR, later renamed as ORIZONT AMATOR. The camera was a simple one; I do not have one handy at the moment, but from what I learned it was a single lens, 2 shutter speeds (B and 1/10), took 120 film negative (6x4.5 format), simple viewfinder. Basically that was it. As said, later on the camera was renamed Orizont Amator (which is pretty much self-translating into English as "Horizon Amateur").

There were 3 or 4 models of cameras made in this factory, and these are really scarce on the used cameras market in Romania, not that there is a high number of collectors who acquire them, or a niche market for these cameras.


THE "ORIZONT-3" CAMERA

This model of camera was produced in the IOR factory in Bucharest, during the late 50's - early 60's, although the records are relatively scarce, and not much factual data can be had for this camera model. From what I've gathered so far, this model is actually the third in the production series, and the second of the classic Orizont line, the first camera model produced by the IOR factory being the OPTIOR. Visibly a step ahead, although it had its shortcomings, and they're quite a few.

The lens named TRIOCLAR is a 3-element glass, uncoated, prone to nasty flaring, at times. Shutter speeds from B, 30, 60 and 125. Simple, but not necessarily lacking; I have taken good photographs with this setup, and if used careful, gives good results. F stops starting at 3,2 and up to 16. That said, there is another position further up after 16, which yields a f stop of 22. Have tested it, and it looks like the blades do close at 22. Why no engraving for this position? No idea.

The distance is approximated via a turning bezel around the lens mount, distances reading from 0.85m to 12m and infinity.Interesting is this short focal, 0,85m, because many other lenses at the time started their distance readings at 1m, on average. The viewfinder is a simple glass one, no frame lines, but one should do with this, as it's clear and quite suitable for the field view.The viewfinder scope section runs on the entire width of the top plate, and it is engraved "Orizont".

Release button is a knurled one, and it has an threaded inner core,for connecting a release cable. The flash shoe is a cold one, and it is synced by means of a flash cable plug, installed under the lens mount. This is a strange choice of design, because it scratches your hand when you tend to use the distance bezel, or the other rings of the lens.

The advancing of the film is made via a spring-loaded knurled knob, but this is also strangely designed, as it advances the film counterclockwise. Frame lock is via a simple mechanical pin, underneath the advancing know, easy to repair if need be. A frame counter is right near the firing button, and it can be reset manually, via a ridged base around the button. Rewinding is also a spring-loaded knob, where one can also set the ASA or/and the type of the film. However, this knob is not coupled, so it is more of a reminder than a functional, camera - integrated mechanism.

The camera has a potential killer issue: the back door is fastened to the body by means of a small metal lever, which is in no way offering peace of mind. The lever is supposedly engaging a double ridge on the closing margin of the back door, as in the photos here. However, this is not working at all, because the lever is a simple piece of U-shape bent metal, which enter the slot of the door, but barely secures it. The door itself is fastened to the camera by friction, and it gives way when you accidentally push on the door. Not much, but the space of 1.2mm is enough to ruin the film inside, especially because the camera does not have any light trap, foam or otherwise.

Anyways, this is a decent camera, I will post some results soon. It is not as worse as it could have been, given the circumstances. Oh, a few words about its case: it is made from leather (front and strap), and of some very very good leatherette which remained in pristine condition after all these years. The front of the case is marked IOR. The camera comes with a lens cap, marked IOR, the marking barely visible (white on white). One thing I would add, to make this a perfectly amateur camera: the self timer. It doesn't have one.

And of course, what film would be suitable for this camera? An expired roll of Azopan 100/PS21, produced at the Photographic Equipment and Chemical factory of Azopan Targu Mures, Romania, around the 80's . Alas, as with most of the Romanian really interesting and promising industries, this one completely disappeared (as such) immediately after 1989. I mean it still exist, but instead of photographic and cine film and processing chemicals, fertilizers are now the object of its activity. I find this sad.

20210206_114749
20210206_115439

A few words about the condition of this vintage Romania camera: I bought it in a rather poor condition, all speeds inaccurate, B speed stuck, release button stuck, advancing mechanism blocked (the sprocket disk too), lens hazy with dirt, front plate dirty, etc). The camera has been since cleaned, lubricated, all speeds corrected, it advances and fires, lens has been cleaned in/out. I cannot wait to put it to good use,

Right. The above is all I know and all I can say with regards to this camera and its inception/short production life. I have deiced to attach a few images of old quality control certificates (and warranty cards?), together with a couple of adverts from a long gone age, when this camera was still produced and therefore advertised to the large Romanian market.

Reclama-1959-GF-016
Reclama-1967-GF-005

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