The Edelweiss Camera: A Bulgarian Holga

A mention of an Edelweiss camera today would make people think of the newly released Diana+ Edelweiss. Ironically, an edelweiss is a small, white, sturdy, very rare alpine flower (see left). And the new Diana+  edition is just a reproduction of the original Diana+ ; the only difference is the look and the only connection to its name is the color.

But actually, the original Edelweiss camera was a Bulgarian medium format camera, produced by the ZKM factory between 1950 and 1960. Made out of bakelite, with a simple one-element meniscus glass lens, pop-out front, fixed focus, 1/30 fixed speed and two aperture options (f/8 and f/11), it truly is a rare curiosity today.

Funny enough, even though called Edelweiss, the camera was black. The maker probably assumed a natural relationship between the flower as a symbol of Bulgarian scenic beauty and a camera that would capture it.

I wish I owned one to try it out. Even though its build is very similar to Holga, the lense is glass, the body, technically more sophisticated and probably with no light leaks. I just wonder how it behaves. In the meantime, here is a photograph of a Sofia cityscape by Pavel Belchev, taken with an Edelweiss. The irony is that it pictures a monument  from the socialist era that’s now crumbling and there is a huge debate going on about whether it should be demolished or preserved.

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