Balda Baldix
Medium Format

Balda Baldix – A mini-review of 1950’s Folder – By Dave Donnelly

November 13, 2019

I forget how I acquired this Balda Baldix camera but I love the compact nature of it, and how it “pops” out at the touch of button on top which never fails to amuse me. This is a very compact camera for a 120 film camera, it has a f/3.5 75mm lens and is all manual with no light meter. In fact taking a shot is even more complicated than normal.

You have to rewind the film advance knob fully before winding onto the next frame (I lost a few frames with the first film due to this) then cock the shutter, select the aperture and then guess the distance on the scale. There are a couple of red marks on the aperture and distance scale and I guess these are for a “snap” focus setting Β to help grab shots.

I have been meaning to put a film through this camera for a while, so compact in it’s leather case, it went with us to Tuscany in Italy this year with two rolls of expired Porta 400. I normally shoot black and white (digitally and analogue) so this would be interesting using a camera almost as old as me.

The Balda Baldix was produced around 1955-57 Β in Germany and I love the design and construction, apart that is from the viewfinder. The viewfinder is amazingly small, and even worse for spectacle users. You could fit a viewfinder on the top but that’s another step in the already long process that makes taking close shots even harder through trying to guess any parallax adjustments.

The lighting in Tuscany was fairly harsh as the images weren’t taken in the golden and blue hours. Given how bright it was, and that I was shooting a 400 iso film, the Balda Baldix maximum 1/300th second shutter speed and f16 and f22 were order of the day. But given the depth of field of medium format cameras, and though the lens might not be in its sweet spot, I hoped this would help with any landscapes images.

I had the film processed at Ag photo labs in Birmingham for the negatives only and then scanned lower resolution jpeg’s at home on an Epson V500. The scanning was challenging as the frames were not the usual set distance apart, and some over lapped due to the rewind/wind process. Though I should add, the second film was much better as I had got into the right sequence for advancing the next frame .

I finished the second roll in the UK so the apertures are round f5.6 and f8.0 . I’m quite pleased with the results and had only done a basic edit in On1 software .

Due to the viewfinder, I won’t be putting another film through it any time soon.
I’ve also just finished my first film in my Yashica 124g (again expired Porta 400) and want to put more film through that instead – expect a report soon…

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Terry B
    November 13, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Dave, Really impressive pics from the old folder. You’re fortunate that the lens focusing is spot on, as evidenced by the third image, and hasn’t been “messed with” at some time in its life. Also, your scanner has done an excellent job with these MF negatives, something I’ve found with my Canon 9000F and 9950F scanners and which are far better with MF/LF than 35mm. I really like images 2 and 3. (I don’t know how many readers know, but if you right click an image and select “open image in a new tab” this allows the image to be displayed in its original resolution, but allows a “+” click to enlarge it.)
    The film loading and wind on is somewhat unusual and is something that one would never work out without the instruction manual. Fortunately, my rangefinder (uncoupled) Baldix came with one!

    • Reply
      Dave Donnelly
      November 13, 2019 at 5:29 pm

      Terry- Thanks for the comments, I think the high shutter speed and large aperture helped. Only having 12 shots (if you wind on correctly!) really slows you down. I got the online manual from Buktus. Cheers Dave

  • Reply
    Martin South of France
    November 13, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Inspired to get out my old Balda and put a roll through it. The results are excellent….thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Dave Donnelly
      November 13, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks- go for it , it’s quite an experience πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    Gil Aegerter
    November 13, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Another interesting camera I’d never heard of! I recently found an old Zenobia in great condition at a Goodwill, and your post inspires me to try it out!

    • Reply
      Dave Donnelly
      November 14, 2019 at 7:50 am

      Thanks- I look forward to your 5 images πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    Recommended reading : Down the Road
    March 5, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    […] πŸ“· So many old folding cameras, so little time. Dave Donnelly came upon one called the Balta Baldix and gave it a quick review. Read A 1950s Balda Baldix mini-review […]

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