Werra

Your camera’s got a Carl Zeiss lens? Meet the only Carl Zeiss camera.


This post is more for the Camera aficionado’s that may be reading, but a few months ago whilst in Budapest, in a dusty little old camera store, I was lucky enough to stumble across a Werra.

The Werra

Named after a river near the factory it was produced, in a nutshell, the Werra’s history is that it was the only actual camera to ever be produced by Carl Zeiss Jena, which until then, and still to this day, remains a household name to camera enthusiasts, renowned for their supreme and elegant lens’s.

The uniqueness of the Werra wasn’t only limited to its manufacturer, but also to its film advanced mechanism which was engaged by twisting the ring around the lens!

To quote camerapedia; “The cameras offer a high degree of control with a minimum number of levers, knobs or rings. In their simplest incarnations, the Werras featured only a shutter release button on the top plate. With it’s streamlined styling, one could call the Werras a design camera. Nearly all other controls were incorporated into the lens barrel”…

This camera is just soo kool, I sat there looking at it for a couple of days before I even put a roll through.
The design was just way ahead of its time, for mid 1950’s, I cant think of another camera that is as streamlined or stylish as the Werra.
Even now, 60 years later on, it still holds its own.

Over its short production life, there were a number of variations including Werra’s with selenium light meters, range-finder versions, and interchangeable lenses – mine (pictured) however was the first, and absent of all these additions.

mini Review:
In general I found the Werra a bit fiddly to use.
As stated above (no light-meter / non range-finder version), focusing is limited to guessing against the inscriptions on the lens, and composition is constantly off due the whole common parallax/viewpoint displacement thing.
No light-meter means you will need to carry one separately, or embrace the Sunny 16 rule.

As the shutter speed and aperture controls are both located on the lens barrel too, along with the focus, all 3 tend to move when you try to change only one, which add’s to its fiddly-ness.

My film advance ring also felt a bit ‘stiff’ (acceptable after 60 years life), it worked well enough but I was a bit worried the next turn was going to snap the film.

Camera: Werra – by Carl Zeiss Jena
Film: Agfa Vista 400 (expired 2003)
Location: Budapest, Hungary. April 2010.
Photoshop: None.

This was composed alot better through the viewfinder, honest.

This was the first, and probably the only roll I’ll ever put through my Werra.

Overall, the Werra is a beautiful camera, and I love it, but more to look at than to use.
Kind of like your Mum’s crystal vase’s, know what I mean.

If the Werra interests you this site and this one have some more good info, and if your lucky, you might still be able to find one on a dusty camera store shelf near you.

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69 Responses to “Werra”


  1. 1 Slamdunk June 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Looks like a useful camera. Nice shots.

  2. 2 Laughing Hard Crying Harder June 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I have a broken one of these in my loft! I like Hayley Paramore’s jacket.

    Are you in Egypt now or what?

    • 3 leavemehere June 12, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      haha. You’ll have to bring all these broken cams back to M-Town ’11.
      I was soo close to getting a Polaroid Land 360 the other day in Athens, it was just too expensive though.
      Yep, in Egypt, been down in Luxor, pushing 50 deg Celcius during the day, I slept on the roof every night :P
      ‘ryd photos coming soooon ;)

  3. 4 kopiruzaimi June 11, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    it looks classic..i like it! :)

  4. 5 Todd Pack June 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Nice pictures, very moody, and a neat little camera. I love how it looks.

  5. 6 Raul June 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    That is a great looking camera and definitely a collector’s item. I am very surprised at how well the pictures came out, especially since it is such an old camera. Congrats on such a nice find!

    http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

  6. 7 Tri June 12, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Congrats on the camera. Nice photos you’ve / the Werra has taken. !

  7. 8 Veronica Twizzler June 12, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Wow, that little camera took those pictures? Not bad.

  8. 9 Veronica Twizzler June 12, 2010 at 12:44 am

    And also I have to add, the camera gives your pictures a 70’s feel.

  9. 10 neildenny June 12, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Love the optical illusion on shots 2-4. The wood grain on the table makes the picture appear to taper slightly on the right hand side.

    I thought you had found a way to shape the photo you had inserted in the blog.

    Lovely article as well expressing your fondness for the design and camera while also clearly communicating a degree of frustration.

  10. 11 Ezüstfarkas June 12, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Budapest pics!
    really fantastic ^^

  11. 12 cityoflu June 12, 2010 at 1:59 am

    I was in Budapest just last week and it looked just like your shots (but a few degrees warmer).

  12. 13 hearttypat June 12, 2010 at 2:48 am

    does it come in other colour? hohoho

  13. 14 Abad Vibes June 12, 2010 at 3:21 am

    I can see how the Werra is more of a collector’s item but I really love the r050s002.jpg shot. Amazing!

  14. 15 sannekurz June 12, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Funny, he, how often things not meant to be a certain way produce quite poetic results…like expired films… I found just let things happen sometimes to be a great way to make stuff…thanks for your post!

  15. 16 mel June 12, 2010 at 4:02 am

    great place!

  16. 18 blackwatertown June 12, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Good post. Interesting artefact.

  17. 19 peelingtheorange June 12, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Wonderful Wonderful pictures. Taking pictures is like food to me. LOVE it!!! Traveling and keeping smiles in my pocket, the best of times. This location, Hungary, I had not idea it was that beautiful. Thanks for sharing your adventure!
    ~Great Post and pictures,
    ~Great Love to you,
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

    Cheese!!!!!! “)

  18. 20 Susan June 12, 2010 at 6:22 am

    fabulous photography.
    especially love the shot at the top.

  19. 21 dannystaechs June 12, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Beautiful! I would love to get my hands on one of these!

    • 22 Yolly July 26, 2010 at 6:10 am

      Hi I just fond this on the internet. I have a Werra. One of the first ones.
      Not sure I want to sell it but if I do would you be interrested?

  20. 23 Tara Aarness June 12, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Great find! I’m surprised at how well the shots came out considering the age of the camera and film; very well done!!

  21. 24 Songbird June 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Snazzy!

  22. 25 jasmandii June 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Great post I find it very interesting and entertaining!

  23. 26 Terry June 12, 2010 at 8:51 am

    There is something special about these cameras, their lenses and of course the photos they take… they seem to have more depth and character than digital…? The top photo really shows the potential of the lens… great feel to the photos and something 50s and 60s about them…?

  24. 27 shyboy09 June 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    nice work,Welcome return visit!

  25. 28 karenolio June 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    these photos give off a nostalgic kind of feeling. it’s as if they were taken years back, it’s amazing!

  26. 29 Lulu June 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    oh yes indeed pretty!
    and great shots too!!

  27. 30 Andrew June 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Love it! Great pics!

    I have an old Ricoh that I use sometimes that still runs on film. I mostly use my DSLR now. Also, the other day, I astoundingly found an extremely old camera (looks like this: http://s1.hubimg.com/u/1253152_f260.jpg in my basement! It’s amazing how far technology has come.

  28. 31 amirafimisr June 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    the shots are from an artistic eye…..

  29. 32 Emily Gooch June 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    For an old camera, it took great pictures. Your photos make me want to visit the city. As much as I like my Nikon DSLR, sometimes, I miss shooting using film.

  30. 33 asrhaf June 13, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Great! I was always wanted to go to Budapest and this post further ignited my desire. I always read your posts whenever I get an email of your new post. IT IS BEcoming a footprint for me when I’ll leave for my journey! I wanted to ask you tis: how do you manage to travel so much! does it cost a lot? I’ve seen your post of Lahore! that is dirt cheap. Even a local won’t be able to stay for that cheap. So I am wondering you get or manage that kind of deals everywhere? Did you try finding old cameras in Lahore?

    I love how you keep your posts so simple and short! :)

  31. 34 wellcraftedtoo June 13, 2010 at 2:04 am

    I own a Zeiss, circa l955, and just love it. Have not used it in some time, but it’s the camera I learned to shoot on, and I miss it! Digitals are fun, fast, and easy–but miss actually working with light, manipulating exposures, etc.

    Have never seen the model you bought. Very impressive!

    Thanks!

  32. 35 pobpullit June 13, 2010 at 2:09 am

    I’d say your camera’s lens is pretty hazy, but really that just adds to the character of your shots! good one!

  33. 36 adahazman June 13, 2010 at 3:29 am

    wow!! nice camera…. and beautiful pictures…..

  34. 37 Jaime Arana Gorlero June 13, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Estoy viendo las maravillas de camara,que vista tan linda fuero tomadas
    Para el futuro tomare fotos naturales de Nicaragua Centro America,
    Saludos a todos los aportadores de tan lindas fotos …

  35. 38 ofsoundandfury8 June 13, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Amazing pictures! Oh how I wish I were in your place right now. That looks like a place to just…. escape and be forgotten for a while.

  36. 39 rubiescorner June 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Nice pictures from an old style camera.

  37. 40 sinbalas June 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Un très bon appareil est un reqiquia, nous l’espérons de ségrégation est une belle
    belle machine, comme votre amie, je l’espère, vous ne vendez pas cet héritage, nous présente un Chilenito.

  38. 41 Mbah Jiwo June 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    this is one of my dream, good camera…

  39. 42 goldenpast June 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    wow.
    i love its look.
    Awesome.

  40. 43 NiceArtLife June 13, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    This camera can compete the modern ones for sure, is of great quality although form many years ago. Nice photos too!

  41. 44 Nelson González Leal June 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Since I was about to buy a Werra. I ended up buying an Olympus Trip 35 and a Petri FT500. Great camera too. Now, the photos of this Werra are exceptional sharpness.

  42. 45 afnuttall June 13, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    looks great.
    especially with expired film.

  43. 46 melanirae June 13, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    I LOVE Budapest. Great shots, esp of you two.

  44. 47 justaphotog June 13, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    He he he…
    I thought I’m the only guy left in the world with one of these Werras. Mine does not advance the film reliably anymore, a trait it unfortunately shares with my old Zenith.
    Your post makes me want to load up some of my expired stock film rolls (which I still keep in my fridge to my wife’s dismay and disbelief) in my old FE2 Nikon and head out there.
    Loved your post.

    Cheers!

    Bogdan

  45. 48 alicelovisa June 14, 2010 at 2:07 am

    I agree with most guys above, nice pictures! I had no idea Budapest’s such a beautiful city, even when raining :)

  46. 49 angedelamour June 14, 2010 at 3:07 am

    adored all of the photos <3

  47. 50 cloverspace electronic cigarettes June 14, 2010 at 8:36 am

    The camera is a form factor I have not seen before. Your girlfriend is a cute.

  48. 51 optimisticallychallenged June 14, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I thought I recognized Budapest in the first photo. I spent seven years living in that amazing country and I miss it everyday. Beautiful pics – sweet memories for me. Thanks

  49. 52 marlandphotos June 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I loved this blog. Thanks!

  50. 54 Oscar Belmont June 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    This kind of camera reminds me when my dad was taking family pictures whenever everywhere. I have had always Japanese cameras myself but what I have realized always is that more lens matters than camera itself. Certain Japanese camera manufacturers use Carl Zeiss lens as well. I recall photos taken with Japanese lens is fine but somehow there is some humanly kind of aura comes more from photos taken by Carl Zeiss or Leica lenses.

  51. 55 dennisfinocchiaro June 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Wow…BEAUTIFUL shots. What a great find!

  52. 56 Verspatikus June 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Wonderful face of Budapest…

  53. 57 savvy4u June 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I kinda want one. I love vintage things because of their style, history and their modest capabilities.

  54. 58 aaastern June 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    nice pictures. lovely.

  55. 59 maryeugene7 June 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    i never had a camera eversince hope i can have one..
    what a nice camera!!

  56. 60 hotelsinkasauli June 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Really it’s great place……you too look cool

  57. 61 modernsalt June 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I have been to Budapest once and fell in love with the place. Your photos are a wonderful reminder! As for the camera… now I feel bad about missing the antiques fair here in Vancouver.

  58. 62 Dane June 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Epic! Love what you are doing, love the photos!

  59. 63 fotoautomat June 22, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    great info to know! hope egypt is treating you kindly…. x

  60. 64 Phillip Birch June 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Matt,

    Must say you’ve taken some awesome photos :) Just looking through blog and can’t wait to start my travelling again! What a great experience travelling through Pakistan, loved the hiking photos in the snow & was very interesting to see Chernobyl.
    You may not have heard but I’m going on the Trans Mongolian/Siberian Railway in July then onto Estonia, Latvia and across to Sweden for a couple of years. So might run into you over in Europe if your still backpacking around.
    Keep up the good work & stories.

    Cheers Phillip

    PS how good is the band In Flames!

  61. 65 njmaguire June 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks for the info and the great pics Matt. I inherited a black Werra 1, with the leather casing, from my german/russian grandfather. I can’t believe how kool it looks for its time and its intriguing history! With the info and links you’ve given I’ve finally worked out how to load the film in! Can’t wait to give it a try…thanks for your help and hope my pics turn out as beautifully as yours. :) Nicole

  62. 66 peixesloucos June 22, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Two weeks ago been to the flea market in Budapest and got a Werra IV.

  63. 69 twiggs October 22, 2012 at 4:54 am

    hello! i just stumbled upon your blog, because my in-laws just gave me one of these cameras they had in their old home for years. i can’t figure out the way to load a roll in it! i know that the silver bottom must come out to load it, but how to i make it come out? do you have any info to help me? i can’t wait to try a roll on it, as well!


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