135compact.com       35mm cameras       (Bolta) Photavit V

The Photavit V is the seventh version of a series which was built from 1936 into the 1950s. In 1936 Bolta GmbH in Nuremberg launched a camera called Boltavit, a 25x25mm camera for special unperforated paper-backed 35mm film on special spools, called Bolta film. There were 2 Boltavit models. The name changed in 1938 to Photavit as the company changed its name to Photavit GmbH. Later the company changed to ordinary 35mm perforated film and reduced the picture size by 1mm, but kept the small cartridges. So the cameras are smaller than the others, but you need a film loader. A cartridge gives 25 photos, 24x24mm format. A 135-36 cartrige is good for 2 loads.

camera shown here is the last Photavit model V, launched in 1951. The camera's main features are:

Roeschlein Luxar 38mm F2,9 lens, F 2.9 - F16
Prontor-S shutter: B, 1s - 1/300,
Size:  94 x 61 x 54 mm, Weight : 344 g loaded
Double exposure prevention,
PC flash contact, T lever for shutter, self timer

Camera with cap in original box with instructions and film loader.

Full set with leather case, cartridges, loader, close-up lenses and shade.

Camera and original cap.

Front. Reknown Roeschlein Luxar 38mm F2.9 lens in Prontor-S shutter.

Back view. Finder.

Seen from above.  Wind knob, exposure counter, shutter release and cable release socket, counter reset.

Seen from below. Tripod mount. On the lens barrel: lever for self-timer.

On the housing: T lever, as the Prontor-S shutters do not have T setting, you
can block it open with the lever if the shutter is in B setting. On the lens: PC socket, shutter cocking lever, speed setting, aperture setting and distance setting with DoF scale.

Shutter cocked.

Film compartment open and cartridges. Be sure that the cartridges are included in your purchase. You have to pull the pin next to the wind knob to open the camera.

Camera back open open, film compartment.

With original leather case.

The case.

With the original shade.

Close-up lenses, push-on type. No. I for 75-38,7 cm, no. II for 40-26,8 cm, both together for 27-20,2 cm.

The instructions...

...both sides.

A most important accessory: the daylight film winder. It is designed to spool the right length of film into the cartridge.

Winder or spooler open. First turn the gear wheel in the direction of the white arrow until it stops. This is important! Open the Bolta cartridge and take the core out. Cut the film leader to a pointed V-shape, about 4 sprockets long. Introduce the V into the slit of the core and fold the film around the core. Wind one turn at least and put the core back into the cartridge. Close the Bolta cartridge and put cartridge and film canister into the spooler.

Canister and cartridge inserted. Then close the spooler, you may have to match the axis of the winding knob with the hole in the axis of the cartridge. Then wind until it stops. You now have wound the right length, wich is half a 36 exposure film.

Pull apart some cm and seperate. The Bolta cartridge leader has to be cut in V shape. Same procedure as above with the second Bolta cartridge for the take-up side.

Cartridges inserted.
Make sure that the sprocket wheel meets the sprockets. Put the little pointer of the take-up spool to the red point. So you will know that there is exposed film in the cartridge later. Close the back, push the counter reset. Wind, cock the shutter and release twice. The counter should show "1" and the camera is ready.

The Photavit V is very small. By the time of the model IV the company claimed that it was the world's smallest camera for 35mm film. The shutter can only be fired if the film is wound and the shutter cocked. This can not be simulated by turning the sprocket wheel. BTW: NEVER turn the sprocket wheel into the wrong direction!. I don't know why, but without film it just doesn't fire. So testing your future purchase on a flea market or a camera fair is difficult. With a toothpick or other small instrument you can at least release the shutter by inserting it between the trigger and the lever to the left of the lens barrel.

The Photavit V is much fun to use. The Luxar lens is very sharp. As it is small and quiet, you don't attract any attention in street photography. Handling is easy and logic, everything to set is on the lens barrel. Last, but not least, it's a mechanical beauty....