120folder.com          Plaubel Makina III

The Plaubel Makina III is a strut-folding rangefinder camera, for 6 x 9 and smaller formats on 120 film, but also for single sheet film 6.5 x 9.5. The model III was released in 1949 by Plaubel & Co, Frankfurt. There was a choice of lenses from wide-angle to tele.

The Plaubel Makina III shown is an early model, it has a shutter up to 1/200. It has a coupled rangefinder with parallax correction by the eyepiece, the viewfinder is separate and the shutter is behind the lens. It has a quick-change thread (half a turn) for the lens. So changing lenses is easy.

Size (mm): 148 x 103 x 92 with lens and rollfilm back, body only: 144 x 103 x 44
Weight: 1270 g, 800 g
Standard lens: Anticomar 2.9/100, closest focus 1.5 m, F 2.9 - 22
Wide lens: Rapid WW Orthar 6.8/73, closest focus 1 m, F 6.8 - 25
Tele lens: Tele Makinar 4.8/190, closest focus ~1.6 m, F 4.8 - 25
Shutter: Compur, B, 1 - 1/200, aperture in lens
Finder: coupled rangefinder
Film advance: automatic

Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.

Camera front, folded. Top: shutter release button, viewfinder (folded), rangefinder window, viewing window of rangefinder.
Top and bottom of lens board: closing buttons. Around the lens: Speed selector. To the right of the lens: stopper and synchro selector. On the right of the lens board: shutter cocking lever, fucusing knob. Near the bottom: flash socket with adapter  for modern plugs. Folded onto lensboard: framefinder.

Seen from the back. Top: eyepiece for framefinder, viewer for rangefinder, and eyepiece for viewfinder with parallax compension. No red window on this film back.

Seen from the top.

Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket, film advance and counter on roll film back.

Left side.
Viewfinder set up.

Right side. From front: focusing knob, tripod socket and film back locking device.

Camera extended.

Without lens and flash socket adapter.

Camera back side without film back. Framefinder eyepiece set up.

Handling a
Plaubel Makina III is not so easy, it's not like the normal folding cameras, but you will get the habits quickly. Loading film is not easy as well unless you are used to film backs with inserts. Putting a film has to be done in deep shade or better inside with not too much light. Open the camera back. Retract the film advance knob and take out the insert. Put the take-up spool into place, then the film roll and unroll some 15 cm (6") of the backing paper, the black side should show towards you. Put the backing paper all around the insert until it reaches the take-up spool. Put the insert back into the holder and the advance knob into the end of the take-up spool. Insert the film paper backing into the spool and advance it using the knob until the engages firmly.

Now it depends, whether you have a back with or without red window. If you have a red window, close the back. Check, whether the dark slide is put. Open the red window and advance fim until the number "2" shows in the window, yes, it's "2". Lift the counter wheel and put it to "1", the mark is on the axis of the advance lock lever. The back is ready now for the first shot.

If you don't have a red window, advance the film cautiously and look at the film spool. Stop when you see the first mm of the tape fixing the film itself. Close the back.
Check, whether the dark slide is put. Lift the counter wheel and put it to "0", the mark is on the axis of the advance lock lever. Advance the film via the advance knob until the film counter will show "1", it should stop then. The back is ready now for the first shot.

The following instructions are for the standard lens. Put the film back on the camera. Don't forget to retract the dark slide. Extend the struts by pulling the lens board fully out, there is a first stop which is only for the wide angle lens, you must extend further. Cock the shutter. Set speed/aperture
. Look through the rangefinder and set the focus. Look through the viewfinder and frame your picture. If it's o.k. press the shutter button. That's it. Action the advance lock lever and advance the film to the next picture. Put the dark slide back. Press the 2 buttons at the top and the bottom of the lensboard and collapse the struts.

Plaubel Makina III is a nice, a bit heavy camera, not so easy to use. It fits into two large coat pockets if you detach the film back. Once you are used to it, handling is fluid and logic. The lenses give very good results. It's the only folding rangefinder with interchangeable lenses. It's a nice old professional folder and I like it well.

Plaubel Makina III
body only
148 x 103 x 92
144 x 103 x 44
CAutoRapid WW Orthar 6.8/73 | 1
Anticomar 2.9/100 | 1,5
Tele Makinar 4.8/190
| ~1,6
B T 1-1/200 | 22/256x9 Format, 6x6, 24x36, single sheet available

I have two more plaubel lenses for this camera. Here they are and some description about focusing:

A Tele-Makinar. It has its own diaphragm, F 4.8 - 25, closest focus ~ 1.6 m.

Focusing is done via the rangefinder, as with the standard lens. When it's done, read the distance from the scale on the camera and 
transfer the value to the focusing unit of the lens. It has its own helcoid. Focus should be perfect then.

The wide angle lens, Rapid WW Orthar 6.8/73, closest focus 1 m. It has its own diaphragm, F 6.8 - 25.

Focusing is a slightly more complicated, but if you do it right, it's still perfect without a ground glass. Extend the bellows fully, to the second stop. Do your focussing. Slide the bellows back to the first stop. Read and memorize the distance on the scale under the viewfinder and transfer the value to the wide angle scale
by turnig the focusing knob. The wide angle scale is marked "Ww.", it's further to the left if you look from behind the camera. Take your photo, focus should be fine.

There is a ground glass of course and there are single sheet holders.

There are two close-up lenses available, the R 0.1 and the T 1.5, the first for life-size magnification (focus 0.24m), the second reduces min. focus to 0.76m with the Anticomar. Please have a look at the Makina II page.