Franka 125L (aka Boots Pacemaker 35LM)

This camera is a rebadged Franka 125L 35 mm camera sold by Boots the Chemists in the UK. At least, it was sold to me as a Boots Pacemaker 35LM. The name badge (13 x 18 mm) on the lower left of the front has fallen off and what remains could be the Pacemaker 35LM, Franka 125L or one of the many other own brands that Franka made cameras for. It is a simple camera – a bit more than a point and shoot but well within the capabilities of the average person.

Front view

The camera dates from 1964 and the overall styling of the camera reflects this (and its German origins). The top plate, which appears to be made from anodised aluminium, is very uncluttered. Just right of centre is the light meter dial. This has settings for film speed in DIN and ASA and for shutter speed. The aperture is then read off against the meter needle. The meter works well on this camera (no battery needed – it is a selenium meter) which is far from a given with old cameras. The meter needle – which is white – is quite a long way from the surface of the meter window which makes it harder to use than need be. A user with younger eyes might find it easier, mind.

To the left of the light meter dial is the accessory shoe. there are no electrical contacts here so it is a cold shoe. Right at the lefty hand end of the top plate is the rewind knob. This also serves as a film speed reminder.

Rear view

The back of the top plate sports the viewfinder eye-piece. This is nice and large – 13 x 18 mm. There are bright lines in the viewfinder for framing the picture. These are in very poor condition in my camera and are barely visible. Below the viewfinder eye-piece is the frame counter. Just below the numbers is a small thumb-wheel – you use this to set the length of the film. The thumb-wheel can only be turned to the right which reduces the numbers. The highest number is 36. In use, the counter counts down from the set number to zero. It will happily go past zero to 36 and on if the film maker has been generous.

Light meter display – set to 1/125 and f/5.6

To the right of the viewfinder eye-piece is the film advice lever. This is mostly recessed between the top plate and the camera body, only enough projecting for the user’s thumb to latch on to. This lever moves through about 270 degrees to wind one frame.

The front of the top plate has the viewfinder to the right and the meter sensor to the left of centre. These both are surrounded by a black plastic bezel.

Lens and shutter

The front of the camera has the shutter/lens assembly. The shutter is a Prontor 125 offering the three speeds of 1/30, 1/60 and 1/125 seconds as well as B. There is a PC (Prontor-Compur) connector for a flash gun. I expect (but do not know) that this will be X synch for an electronic flash. The apertures available are from f/2.8 to f/22

The lens is from Isco-Gottingen and is a Color-Iscoar, focal length 45 mm. I am led to believe that this is a triplet (made from three pieces of glass). The bluish tint of the glass says that the lens is coated – to be expected by the 1960s even on cheap lenses. These lenses have quite a good reputation but I have yet to use one.

The main focus scale consists of three icons – head-and-shoulder, group and landscape. For more accuracy, there is a metre scale below the lens ranging from one metre to infinity. The shutter release is a large, semi-circular button. This is easy to find by feel, even with gloves on. On the underside of the button is a small threaded hole for a standard cable release.

Icon focus scale
Metre focus scale

The underside of the the camera has a central tripod boss and a large red button for rewinding the film. The base also tells me that the camera was made in West Germany (young readers, please Google it) and has the serial number 278000


Inside the camera has the standard layout. The fresh cassette of film goes on the left and the large take-up spool is on the right. There are no DX contacts at this age nor automatic feeding of the film.


Author: John Margetts

I am a keen photographer who also collects cameras. I am retired with about 50 years photography experience.

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