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Pajtás: A Hungarian Box Camera – by Zsuzsa Szabó

October 9, 2021

A few years ago I became interested in photography. I was mostly attracted to the old twin-lens reflex cameras, but soon I had to face the fact that my weak eyes cannot focus well enough (my contact lenses are not able to fully correct my vision).

I found it frustrating that in order to take a sharp photograph, one would actually have to see what they are photographing – and see it sharply. I did not enjoy guessing the distance; it made photography a stressful experience. That’s when I turned my gaze to the box cameras, and eventually got a Pajtás 6×6 box camera in my hands.

This very light Bakelite machine was manufactured in Hungary between 1955 and 1962. An improved version, named Superbox, was patented in 1956, but it did not reach mass-production. The Pajtás has a focus-free 80mm achromat lens with a maximum aperture of f/8. It has only one shutter speed: 1/30 sec (plus a Bulb mode). But there are three aperture options: f/8, f/11 and f/16.

The Pajtás I used was a borrowed camera which I’ve now returned. To show you what it looks like, I’ve used an image from this review by George Pauka (with his kind permission).

Photo credit: George Pauka

I took some multi-exposure pictures with the Pajtás Camera, this being one of my areas of interest in photography. Due to the 80mm focal length, in smaller indoor spaces and rooms, it can be difficult to find the right composition and fit everything into the frame (one of the photos I’ve shared is a portrait, where you can sense the small size of the room).

I feel that a camera like Pajtás has its place in the photography community. For example, those who don’t crave extremely sharp images and are attracted to the Lomography style, those who are happy to be on the road with a light, simple camera – they will love the Pajtás. I would say that Pajtás photos have a similar aesthetic to photos taken with the Holga 120N. Some people informed me that that the Pajtás is just a toy camera. But I did not let this discourage me. I love to play, and I think a lot can be brought out of this little camera.

The inexpensive camera was very popular in Hungary in the 1950s and ’60s, with almost 200,000 units produced. So now, it often pops up in used-goods stores and flea markets in and around Hungary. Current prices vary, usually between 15-30 euros. I would love to recommend the camera to Lomography enthusiasts and those who have the desire or defiance to take photographs with an analogue camera, even in the absence of sharp vision.

Morning contemplative: Margit Nagygábor, poet (Veszprém, Hungary)

Pony (Baden bei Wien, Austria)

Shake (: Multi-exposures.


Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy my pictures taken with the Pajtás box camera. Finally, I would also like to thank Röckné Tüske Krisztina for helping with the translation from Hungarian into English.

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  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    October 9, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Rarely have I seen a better example of how a talented eye can create great photographs with quite basic equipment. The camera may have just two speeds, three apertures and a fixed focus lens, but it combines well with imagination…
    You are an inspiration! I’m not prone to use exclamation marks but you have dragged two out of me.

    • Reply
      Zsuzsa Szabó
      October 12, 2021 at 9:39 pm

      thank you very much. I write with google translation and I hope I don’t write anything stupid. i’m glad i like the photos. thanks for these too: !!


  • Reply
    October 9, 2021 at 11:40 am

    An interesting article and some creative photos, thank you.

    • Reply
      Zsuzsa Szabó
      October 12, 2021 at 9:41 pm

      Thank you very much. (: (:

  • Reply
    October 9, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    That is a sweet little camera, and you made some very nice pictures with it Zsuzsa!

    • Reply
      Zsuzsa Szabó
      October 12, 2021 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you very much. (: (:
      yes, it’s a really interesting camera. I really loved taking pictures with him.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Fantastic, evocative photos!!! The camera is a bit rare in the U.S., but we have the Beacon 625. Built like a Bakelite tank with a similar lens/shutter setup. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      Zsuzsa Szabó
      October 12, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      thank you very much, i am very glad you are inspired by the photos.

      (: (:

  • Reply
    Peter Roberts
    October 9, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    I have looked at the first and last images several times now. They are superb. Such uncluttered composition yet so poignant.
    Thank you for sharing them Zsuzsa.

    • Reply
      Zsuzsa Szabó
      October 12, 2021 at 9:50 pm

      thank you very much! (: (:

  • Reply
    Michael J
    October 10, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    Beautiful photos- you clearly have a very fine eye for composition, regardless of equipment.
    Have you found a twin-lens reflex with a built-in magnifier that pops out? I know the later Rolleiflex all have them. My eyesight is terrible and getting steadily worse but that little gadget saves the focus!

  • Reply
    Zsuzsa Szabó
    October 12, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    very kindly and thank you very much.

    It is an honor to have my photos and articles published.i answer with google compiler, so the answers are very simple. Sorry. it’s time to learn english

    (: (:

  • Reply
    sonny rosenberg
    January 30, 2022 at 7:43 am

    Wonderful photos! Thank you for showing us your work!

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