Two almost similar (read nearly identical) cameras, from the end of 60's / beginning of the 70's. Unrelated, as far as I know, but I could be wrong on this. One made in the (then) Western Germany, the other built in Romania, which was one of the countries behind the Iron Curtain at the time. Both with different names, with different lenses of course, but very similar in all other aspects nonetheless. One was a low entry camera, directed mainly at marketing some other product, the other one part of the single and small photographic equipment industry of a socialist country.

Of course there are zillions of such examples in the story of the becoming of film cameras, things copied, loaned, stolen, and so forth. Mind, I am not saying the Romanian-made Orizont Amator camera is a knock-off of the Germany's Revue 300C one, all I am saying is that it is disturbingly close in almost every detail. Why, no idea. I know when, but i do not see the links between these two. Anyways, this here story and images are my interpretation of what I believe brought these two cameras together. So, bid your time, and if I got it wrong or distorted, please let me know.


West Germany, cca 1970

The Revue 300 C is a Foto Quelle’s own brand, a Nuremberg-established company from Western Germany (at the time). This company was responsible for the distribution of this model in the 70;s, produced in the King KG facilities from Bad Liebenzell, Germany.

Completely mechanical camera, no batteries needed. It comes with a fixed lens, a Color-Isconar 40mm f/2.8, focal length 40 mm, the largest aperture is f/2.8. The lens has to be focused manually. There is no sensor to check the distance.

The camera has a built-in selenium light meter. Next to the viewfinder is the exposure window. Uses regular 35mm films, sensitivity from ISO 25 to ISO 400, as per ASA settings. There is a bulb mode, usable only with a cable trigger. A threaded bush is fitted on the bottom plate, for tripod use. An external flash can be used with the Hot Shoe.

Also nearly identical to another cheap, low level camera, Picca CB, produced by King as well, in the early 70's.


Romania, cca 1968/72

The Orizont Amator is one of the few film cameras produced by IOR, the only factory producing photographic and optical equipment in Romania. This model was on of the 6 produced here, the other models being Optior, Orizont, Orizont 3, Orizont Amator D, Orizont Optim-A and AFS, manufactured between 1954 and 1990. The factory ceased its camera production in 1990.

A completely mechanical camera, designed for 35mm photography. It sports a fake light meter, simple direct viewfinder, non-parallax. The lens is a Fotoclar 300, 1:2,8 with a focal of 40mm, coated 3-element glass, leaf shutter, ranging from B (with cable only) to 1/300, 2,8 to 16.

ASA settings not existent, instead a symbol ring (clouds, portrait, landscape, etc) sets the sensitivity of the film for every shot. Distance ring sets from 1m to infinity. There is a hot shoe for flash photography, no sync cable socket.

Mass produced, it was never a very popular camera, due to its design and operational faults.

The finish of the body is some sort of pearled black plastic, with top and bottom plates of a sturdy grey-ish plastic.

Almost same finish on the camera body, but top and bottom plates are anodized aluminium, prone to scratch and oxidation.

So, was this Romanian camera a copy, franchised or not, off the German-made one? No idea. However, from my experience with Romania's writing instruments history (I am researching this subject as part of my new book), I have encountered many examples of unauthorized copies made from various writing instruments, copyrighted in Europe or elsewhere.

I am of the opinion that, probably, the Iron Curtain protected Romania (and other countries within) from breach of copyright law suits. I have seen it many times over during my researches. On the other hand, I know that Romania had commercial and industrial agreements and solid cooperation with the socialist half of Germany, the German Democratic Republic. It was via this link that the Revue 300C came to be copied here? Could be.

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