Braun Paxette IIM

Braun Paxette II M

lens: Steinheil Munchen Cassarit
focal length:  45 mm
apertures: 2.8 to 16
focus range: 1 m to infinity
lens fitting: 39 mm (non-Leica)
shutter: Prontor SVS
speeds: 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300
flash: m, x, v  PC connector
film size: 35 mm

Braun made collecting their camera tedious.  They didn’t bother putting model names on their cameras.  OK, this says “Paxette” but that is a range of cameras not a specific Braun camera.  My other Braun camera also says ‘Paxette’ and they are clearly different models.
The basic body of the design is the same but this current model has no extinction meter (no great loss) but does have a rangefinder (no great gain) and an exchangeable lens.
The film advance is a lever advance but it really is just a lever stuck on a knob winder.  It requires two full strokes to advance the film one frame – a bit awkward and not really any better than a simple knob would be.  I suspect the main advantage of adding the lever was a marketing one rather than a practical one.  The second travel of the film advance cocks the shutter and reduces the film counter by one (this camera counts down from the length of the film to zero).
Film rewind is still a knob and I prefer this to the small cranks that became popular through the 1960-s, 70s and 80s.  If a maker fits a rewind crank then it should be a sizeable one as on a Zeiss Ikon Contessa LKE.
This camera does not have the extinction meter that my other Paxette has.  In its place is an uncoupled rangefinder.  This is adjusted by a small vertical wheel which works well enough but is a bit on the small side for my fingers.  As the rangefinder is uncoupled it is necessary to read the distance from a small window by the adjustment wheel and then transfer this reading to the focussing ring on the lens.  Guessing the distance is easier with a bit of practice and just as accurate with the lens stopped down to f8 or so.  The rangefinder and focus ring are both marked in meters which is unusual in an official import from Germany – the back of the camera is clearly marked “Made in Germany” so it is an official import.  My other Paxette has the focus ring marked in feet, so it is not a case of Braun not having the resources to produce market dependant versions.
The shutter is a Prontor SVS which was very much the standard shutter with serious cameras at this time. (1953 or so).  Compur shutters have something of a better name but I have never had a Prontor shutter of fifty or sixty years age be anything but excellent.
Shutter speeds seem to be about right.  I have no way of testing them but the manufacturers were happy with +/- 20% of the marked speed.  Half a stop out is not a problem  – half a stop is when the 1/300 speed is actually 1/225 or 1/450 seconds.  Your negative will be well exposed with that much error.
The shutter also has a PC (for Prontor Compur) flash connector with M or X flash synchronisation and V (V= Vorlaufwerk) for delayed exposure settings.  It is general wisdom not to try the V setting on old cameras as this can fail and prevent the shutter working at all.  Sure enough, when I tried ‘V’ it failed.  It took a bit of coaxing to get the shutter to fire.  In fact, I had to manually move the shutter blades (something else you should never do) while depressing the shutter release.  Not recommended and in future I shall heed accepted wisdom and leave the ‘V’ setting alone.
The iris diaphragm has (I think) twelve blades giving what is very close to a circular aperture – good for those concerned with bokeh.  The lens itself is a Cassarit 45 mm lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8  The Cassarit lens has three elements.  I can see no evidence of any coating (usually visible as a blueish sheen) but coatings were normal by 1953 and I suspect the lens has at least some coating.
The shutter release is the same as on my other Paxette – a bit of a hair trigger – but is rendered safer by being stationed between two of the stanchions which hold the shutter housing in place on the front of the camera.
Camera with back/base removed
Loading the camera is simple.  You release the back by turning the wheel around the tripod boss on the base (it takes quite a few turns).  The back and base come off as one piece making access to then inside easy.  There is a hinged bracket which must be moved to one side to put the new cassette in place – one the bracket is returned to its place, the cassette is held securely.  The pressure plate is attached to the camera body, not the back, and this must be raise to put the film between the guide rails (see picture).  If you forget, your film will not be exposed!  The leader of the film goes into a slot on the take-up spool – there is nothing to hold the film in place but it works well enough.
Bracket holding cassette moved to open position
Pressure plate in raised position
There is an accessory shoe on the top plate (cold shoe in flash terms) in front of which is the frame counter.  The frame counter is set by a toothed wheel behind the accessory shoe.  You need to set this to the length of the film when loading a new roll as the counter counts down to zero at the end of the film.
Rewinding the film is quite awkward.  With your right hand you have to press a small button on the top plate while with your left hand you need to partially raise the rewind knob and then turn it to wind the film into the cassette.  With such a small camera it is difficult to do this two handed.  I found the rewind knob kept putting itself back in the rest position – in this position, the knob will rotate freely and the film is not rewound.  Also, it was not clear when the film had been rewound so I found it necessary to keep winding long after I thought the film must be rewound in case I opened the back and fogged a length of exposed film.  Normally, there is a significant resistance from the film when rewinding and when the film leaves the take-up spool, this resistance is significantly reduced.  With the Paxette IIM, the awkwardness of rewinding masks this change in resistance.
I now have some sample pictures available from this camera.  These were taken on Agfa Vista+ negative film (made by Fuji, if you are interested).  They show up the susceptibility of this lens for flare and there is significant vignetting in the first picture but once you avoid light sources, the lens is quite sharp and gives good contrast.

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