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Art Deco Cameras

Balda Rollbox


Balda Rollbox
Balda Rollbox II
Manufacturer: Balda
Produced: 1935
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Box
Film Type:120
Film Width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼ in
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Length:100mm
Focus Range:8ft to inf.
Aperture Type :Fixed
Aperture :f/14
Shutter Type:Rotary
Shutter Speeds:B,I*(1/40 sec)
Size (w x h x d):80 x 115 x 127 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

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Noteworthy: Worth giving special attention


The Balda Rollbox II was the successor of the 1932 Rollbox which was a very plain camera with very little adornment. However, the Rollbox II has a chrome plated decal on the front with the name "Balda ROLLBOX" on it. The covering on the front is embossed with a 'sunburst' pattern. Each side of the box has a rectangular pattern embossed into the leatherette. Each side of the camera has the name 'Balda' embossed in the leatherette. The box is made of pressed metal which is lined and lacquered in black. A tripod socket is provided. It has a real leather handle with parallel grooves on it. The chrome finishing touches to the front of the camera make this a very handsome piece.

It has two bright viewfinders, one for portrait and one for landscape images. The lens is a simple meniscus with an aperture of f/14. The shutter is a double acting rotary, so the shutter button returns to its resting position (upwards) once released, without causing double exposure. It has a connection socket for cable release. A lever above the shutter release enables you to select Instantaneous or Timed(bulb) mode. The speed of the shutter on this camera was measured as 1/40 sec. It has an s-shaped knob to wind the film and the film is advanced from frame to frame using the red window.

How to Use

This camera takes 120 film which is easily available.

As the shutter speed is only 1/40s, it is advisable to use a tripod to get clear shake free images. However, holding it against a wall or other solid object would work as well. For quick snapshots, hold it firmly against your body.

If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when overexposed by 2 or 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop.

The tables assume that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summers day (May - August) in the UK.

Remember that the exposure guide in the manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/40s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/14+2 Stops
SunnyDistinctf/14+1 Stops
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/14Good
OvercastBarely visiblef/14-1 Stop
Heavy OvercastNonef/14-2 Stops
Not Acceptable
Open Shade
Nonef/14-3 Stops
Not Acceptable