it ain’t no Leica

Post WW2 Clarus Camera

Toronto. Like many 1940s, and ’50s 35mm cameras in contemporary ads, Clarus touted quality comparing the camera indirectly to a Leica, but far less costly.

Like the famous little camera manufactured in Germany by Leitz, Clarus was small, compact, chose simple solutions, used a cloth focal plane shutter (1/25th to 1/1000 second), and Wollensak lenses (Leitz NY used Wollensak lenses when war stopped German exports).

But unlike the Leica, the American-made Clarus was bigger, heavier, had poor materials selection, crude tolerances, and was not at all an ergonomic design. As one wit put it, cleaned and synchronized, it was still a Clarus.

My thanks to Les Jones, sports photographer, writer, past president of the PHSC, phenomenal programme director, etc. for the idea and the images of the ill-fated Clarus camera. Les writes, “Just came across a Clarus camera, an almost Leica lookalike. It was the first one I had seen although they were apparently common in the US in the late 40s and early 50s.

“It had so many initial defects that by the time adjustments were made to make it an excellent camera its reputation caused the company’s demise. It was the only model they manufactured before going out of business.”

Les suggests this site for a more balanced discussion of the Clarus. Visit our upcoming auction and fall fair to see if there is a Clarus there for your collection.

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