Being the very visual person I am, I’m generally drawn to cameras more by the visual appearance and quality of the camera than the technical aspects. The Brook-Plaubel Veriwide 100 was one of these cameras as I find it visually appealing and have always wanted to own one from the very beginnings of collecting cameras. Still, after shooting with it, it’s one of the best cameras I’ve shot.
I still remember the day my good friend and fantastic photographer, Michael Gray called me. He said he was at a camera store in Texas, and they had one for sale at a reasonable price and wanted to know if I was interested. I told him I was, and he paid for it and had it sent to me. I quickly sent him the funds and received one of my all-time favorite cameras.
The camera was a partnership between Burleigh Brooks of New York, and Plaubel of Germany. Plaubel is well known for 120 film cameras like the Makina press cameras, so the fit was great. Brooks-Plaubel Veriwide was made and distributed between 1959 to 1965, with a couple of minor modifications until it turned into the bulkier Brook Veriwide with smaller image size and, using Mamiya film backs.
The Brooks-Plaubel Veriwide 100 is a very compact, panoramic camera that gives you an approximate 100-degree angle of view, which is equivalent to using an 18mm lens on a 35mm camera. The good news is this camera uses 120 film and gives you seven exposures with an image area of 56 x 92mm per frame. The camera incorporates a fixed 47mm f/8 Schneider Super Angulon lens in a Synchro-Compur shutter with shutter speeds of “B” to 1/500. The aperture range is from f/8-f/32.
The Veriwide 100 I have is a bit newer version with 3 bubble levels to cover the vertical and horizontal movements when looking from the top, then another on the body when shooting vertically to check the level. I understand the older version only has one bubble level on the top of the camera. My camera is missing the helpful Leitz Veriwide 100 viewfinder, which sits on the accessory shoe on top of the camera.
The accessory viewfinder gives a better visualization of the image area than the pull-up finder and wireframe, which you can see in the photos. While the wireframe and pull up viewer are useful if the finder isn’t available. I’ll need to wait until I can buy a proper Veriwide 100 viewfinder, so if there are others out there with one for sale, please let me know. I understand you can use a 20mm viewfinder for 35mm cameras, but there is a bit of a crop. The Veriwide is equal horizontally to an 18mm on 35mm. The accessory shoe on the camera has parallax correction for 2.5′, 4.5″ and 10′.
The lens on this Veriwide 100 is extremely sharp edge to edge at all aperture settings, with excellent contrast. On the lens barrel of the camera is the focus ring with indents for focus distances of 4.5′ and 20′, which is excellent for hyperfocus capabilities. There is no rangefinder as it’s all guestimation on distance for focus. In front of the focus ring is the aperture settings on the right in red and flash sync setting for “M,” “X,” and “V,” which is the self-timer. The flash sync is below the flash sync settings. On the very bottom of the lens is the cocking lever for the shutter.
One other oddity of this camera is that it has a unique loading system. The rear door opens from left to right, but you load the film backward from all the other 120 cameras I’ve used. You load the unexposed film on the right side and pull the leader to the left, and the winding knob on the camera is on the left.
The Brooks-Plaubel Veriwide 100 small, compact, excellent optically, is panoramic, and uses 120 films for better clarity when enlarging. All of these features make this a camera that if you should seek one out, I’m confident you wouldn’t be disappointed!
I’d love to hear your input on this camera. If you have questions, concerns, or want to talk about this or other posts, please send me a message. If you have a spare Leitz Veriwide 100 viewfinder at a reasonable price, I’d like to know. Until next time, be safe and keep collecting.