When the package arrived from Romania, curiosity forced me to open it right away… Usually I put the arrival date on the box and put it in the queue to await its turn… But this one would be special, so I opened it immediately!
What a nice surprise. In my hands I held a rather substantial camera, excellent heft and seemingly solid construction. This Demaria Lapierre mod TELKA III left a dramatic and excellent first impression. The camera is the basic design principle followed by most all folders of the period. Its folding struts are a bit beefier than the norm. Chrome plated parts tend to be a deeper chrome than most German folders, though I have seen a bunch that seem to have more brass showing through the top that one expect. The exterior leatherette has a wider and deeper pebble pattern than on most original coverings from the period, but seems to be the Demaria Lapierre style. Mechanically, it is an excellently designed and put together 6×9 folder. However, 50% of the ones I’ve seen ( maybe 10 ) needed new bellows!
As a photographic instrument it is just as worthy! The Tekla III sports an excellent rangefinder… However, they are rarely found today in fully usable condition. Like many such rangefinders, its mirrors and prisms need replacing… Luckily this is far easier to do than on Super Ikontas!
Focusing is via coupled-rangefinder. At the front above the shutter is a lever to focus the lens. Moving the lever moves the entire lens and shutter – just like a view camera, or just like a Bessa II. The lens fitted is an f3.5 / 95mm Sagittar. I know almost nothing about this lens except that “I’m told” ( and you know how that goes ) it is a four element Zeiss Tessar licensed design (???). Be that as it may, the reports of its capabilities on photo.net and the sample sent to me by Dan Pavi after he got his Tekla III back indicate that this lens is something special… At the very least, it can hold its own with the best of folder lenses of the classic age. Interesting is of course that this lens is a full 10mm shorter focal length than was standard for 6×9 cameras, making it just a tad more useful as a landscape shooter with its slightly wider angle of view.
Early Tekla III’s seem to all carry a French shutter with the company name… DEMARIA-LAPIERRE, shutter speeds from B to 1/200. Shutter and the method to attach the lens is a bit different than found on almost all other folders, but it works well. Later shutters fitted are the more common Prontor-S as found on German folders of the day, with speeds from B to 1/250.
As you can tell from my short description, I was quite pleased to find this really nice and wholly competent French folder… and so appreciative in Dan’s trust in me to send it all the way from Romania for its CLA! On the right are photos of this camera… some are of Dan’s camera… he insisted on having an accessory shoe mounted on his… and the other is my personal Tekla III… after all, I had to get one after playing with Dan’s !!!