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Plastic Fantastic – The Gevaert Gevalux 144

with 3 comments

A couple of months ago I mentioned some cameras that I’d picked up on eBay for a grand total of £6 for 3. The main reason for my purchase was an intriguing plastic camera that I could find very little information about, a Gevaert Gevalux 144.

Well since then I’ve found a bit more, (although Google currently turns up my previous post as the first hit so that’s not much help.)

This page by a camera collector, Brian Rice, has more info and some great shots of the camera, plus the case and flash that came with it. Mine did come with a case but it was one of those hard leather cases in light tan, that are so 60s and 70s and allow you to expose the lens without removing the camera from the case. As can be seen on the top of the camera the flash would be the old style 2-pin flash. I have one of these that came with my Herbert George Imperial (a beautiful camera) but that takes old and probably blindingly dangerous flashbulbs. I’ve got one of the new lomography Diana F+ cameras on order (couldn’t resist, even if I have already got the Diana+) that comes with a modern battery operated flash that I’m hoping will work with the Gevalux and the Imperial. I didn’t know it was a rebadged Ansco Cadet II as seen in this shot over at Wikipedia submitted by Andrew Filer.

So not having any 127 film I ran a 35mm expired Kirkland film through it and the first shots are promising. I chose the Kirkland, as I believe it’s rebadged Agfa and Agfa bought Gevaert in the 60s so it seemed appropriate. Didn’t get many shots out of a film though as it wasn’t like winding on a 35mm loaded Holga or Diana where it’s just a matter of guestimating when you are at the next frame, you also need to have wound enough to cock the shutter. I tend to err on the side of caution and overwind anyway. I got a big box of film stock anyway.

I didn’t tape over the red counter window enough and so have light leaks on there but so what! I like light leaks and I also like sprockets! The lens is surprisingly sharp and doesn’t seem to suffer from too much fall off towards the edges like a lot of the plastics. I tried but failed to get any crazy flare out of it. It doesn’t seem to have any idiosyncratic traits. Nobody is going to look at a photo taken on this and identify the camera like they would with a Lomo or a Holga. So unfortunately I haven’t unearthed a lost gem of the plastic camera world, but equally it’s not a bad camera and I’d certainly use it again for 35mm sprocket stuff. Be nice to get some 127 film to try through it too.

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Written by ukenaut

April 8, 2008 at 8:52 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Funny once more to learn that Agfa bought Gevaert, This very common misconception derives from the fact that Agfa was widely more wellknown by the public than Gevaert.
    Up to the merger in 1964 the two companies were independent and ardent competitors, of nearly equal size and turnover. Before the merger Agfa had to aquire a substantial number of smaller German factories to make up for the difference in clout.
    Agfa was the photo company with i capital P whereas Gevaert was the phototechnical company doing extremely well in Graphic arts, X-ray, Photocopying, Cine-Film and Microfilm,
    The introduction of the Gevalux 144 was prepared over a span of years by Mr. Gaston Schwartz of the Photo Division of Gevaert Photo Producten NV in Antwerp. For that reason there was no chance of a sudden breaking of the relations with the producers of the camera in the USA,
    The camera is strangely enough the only camera ever made for lefthanded people.
    It is often said that someone mirrored drawings by fault.
    At the Photokina in 1964 Gevaert Photoproducten NV. had its last independent stall and introduced the Gevalux 144, unaware that this type of camera would be wiped away as Kodak introduced its Instamatic.
    I was personally responsable for the large photographic photos which adorned the walls of the Gevaert stall.
    They were all made on Gevacolor paper by the Danish master photographer Niels Bygholm,

    The fundamental difference beteen Agfa and Gevaert was one of the reasons for a merger.
    Up to the merger Gevaert was for some reason envious of Agfa’s success in the photograhic world and tried in many ways to make up for that. One of the lucky strokes were the cooperation with Pako Corp. of Minneapolis, which had tried previously and unsuccessfully to get a foothold in Europe. This dealership was also worked out under the auspices of Mr. Gaston Schwartz. Numerous stainless steel processing lines of Pakoroll types for b/w and colour paper were installed all over Europe. At the same time Pakomatic b/w and Pakotronic colour printers were set in motion.
    Agfa had its own line of similar machines and the merger set a stop to the Pako business. Gevaert nevertheless took advantage of the continous processing machines built by Pako for the Graphic arts and x-ray films.


    Up during the 80’ies and 90’ies Agfa management did not realize the effect of digital photography, and the complete coating facilities in Leverkusen (Cologne) were broken down and sold as scrap. All employees set free
    The Gevaert part in Antwerp lives happily on specializing in Graphic Arts and Health care. Strangely enough that part of the business has retained the name of Agfa being a brand name easy to pronounce in any language, where Gevaert always made people uncomfortable when the word had to be spoken.

    Hans Elfelt Bonnesen

    December 5, 2008 at 12:19 am

  2. Hello,
    My father died February 2009, and when I was removing and cleaning the house, I found a Gevalux 144 for 127 film. Now i want to sell it. Where can I find a site or collectors to buy my camara?
    If you,or someone have an opinine, you can answer on my mailadress.
    Greatings Leo (Belgium)
    leo.van.extergem@pandora.be

    Van Extergem Leo

    September 17, 2010 at 12:38 am

  3. Hello,

    Did you already test if the Diana F+ Flash works with the Gevalux 144? I’m also searching for a decent flash that fits on the Gevalux.

    Thank you,
    Wieter

    Wieter

    May 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm


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