Julian Tanase Photography

My Minox journey continues…

Certo SL-110

Certo SL-110

This is a Certo camera, model SL-110, built around 1975 in the city of Dresden, eastern half of Germany, which was called at the time Democratic Republic of Germany. Certo is a known camera manufacturer, as you probably are aware already, with a long history. Now it does not exist anymore, it ended as part of the Pentacon group.

This camera looks cheap and feels cheap. Of a crude plastic (visually at least), a joke for viewfinder, zone focusing only, and the cherry on the cake is that it uses only SL film cassettes, in order to make our lives harder. Holding this camera in my hand I have the distinct feeling that even the Russian Smena is of better quality (and probably it is, to be honest). However, this camera is not what it seems to be, not at all.

Cheap it may look, but the plastic is resilient; it does not crack under duress, which is a good thing. I would of course prefer not to bend either, but with this camera, can’t have both. The flash shoe is sturdy, and it is a hot one, so no need for a sync socket for flash photography.

The lens (unmarked) is a 45/f8 two elements achromatic, with focusing on a symbol ring. The focusing ring is also numbered on the reverse of the symbol area, in meters: 1.5m, 2m, 3m and 10 meters to infinity. Apparently, the results with this lens are quite all right, although sharpness is not an attribute of the 2 elements combo.

Speed wise, the shutter offers only 1/30 and 1/125 of a second; the shutter and aperture are coupled in order to blast through the 5 symbols on the outer ring. That said, the shutter and aperture can be also set manually, but the results will follow anyway the 5 symbol settings, seeing that they are coupled.

What is really interesting about this camera is the film rewind: the SL cassettes are meant to work in twos, one loaded with film the other one acting as the take up spool, so no need to rewind the film. However, in order to lighten and shorten the camera, Certo came with an interesting solution: the film cassette is inserted on the right  side of the camera, and the leader is introduced in a skeleton cassette on the left side. This skeleton cassette is basically a wired frame to keep the film rolled.

Advancing the film is reversed: you thumb the wheel to the right, but the mechanism extracts the film from the cassette and sends it to the skeleton cassette on the left. Seeing tjat the SL cassettes are accepting only 12 or so frames, once the film is shot, the advancing wheel blocks and you have to thumb the wheel in reverse, which retracts the film from the left side into the film cassette on the right.

It does not look so cheap now, does it? I only used this camera once, and I do not recall what results I had with it. I guess it would be fun to load some film in that cassette and have a walk with this Certo someday.

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