Now here is a strange looking camera!
The unusually shaped Alfa cameras were produced by WZFO (Warszawskie Zaklady Optyczne) group of Poland from 1962 to 1965, with some 15,000 being made.
WZFO was established by the state in 1951 and later merged into the older Poloskie ZO around 1968. It mass produced a number of 6×6 and 35mm camera series including the ‘Start’, the ‘Ami’, the ‘Fenix’ and the ‘Druh’, as well as the Alpha discussed herein.
The first version of the Alpha (as shown) was metal bodied sporting a Euktar f4.5 45mm lens and used 35mm film cassettes. By 1964 the model was modified somewhat and marketed as the Alfa 2, the main differences being an Emitar f4.5 lens; parallax lines added to the viewfinder and a redesigned shutter release with a separate cable release socket.
The Alpha was issued in a range of rather attractive colours as an inspired marketing ploy, which has also now made it a very desirable camera to collectors. The colours were light blue, dark blue, red, pink, pale green, grey, cream and brown, all with a cream plastic controls and an aluminium faceplate.
The leaf shutter mechanism was fairly crude but effective with shutter speeds of B, 1/30th, 1/60th and 1/125th of a second. A cold shoe was fitted on the side and it was synchronised for flash with a PC socket at the top of the lens assembly. A further unusual feature was the portrait oriented viewfinder.
All in all this was a very compact, attractive and sturdy camera, measuring just 5” x 2 ½” x 2 ½”. It even had a tripod mount and came with a rather natty leather case.
(author: Julian Jackson; photographs Jim Matthew Camera Collection Trust/Dave Smith)