a marvel of Swiss engineering

ALPA 8b Camera (Photo courtesy of Foto-Hobby Rahn GmbH)

Toronto. In the early 1960s, my eye-sight in low light situations made my Exakta SLR harder and harder to focus. One of the cameras that caught my eye was the ALPA. Well made by a Swiss company, it has a 45 degree pentaprism and a rangefinder. It seemed like a great bridge from my Exakta to an easier to focus model. Ultimately I decided to go with a Leica M4 and never looked back.

The Alpa series was made by Pignons S A, a Swiss maker of tiny precision parts for watches. In the 1930s they invited Jacques Bolsky to design an SLR for them before he fled to America. Pignons never made lenses, but bought high quality optics for their cameras. Post war, the Alpa series was designed by AndrĂ© Cornut. In all, fewer than 50,000 Alpa’s were thought to have been made. Well built and small numbers made the camera very attractive to collectors.

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