vive la France!

Ad for Foca PF 3

Toronto. The title of this post is a French patriotic expression. When Charlie De Gaulle visited Quebec in 1967, He used a similar expression on the Montreal City Hall balcony (the slogan of the Quebec independence movement) irritating the hell out of the Canadian population and resulting in the cancellation of his visit.

Before WW2, the French company OPL (Optique et Precision de Lavallois S A), decided  to compete with Germany’s Leica and Contax cameras with high quality 35mm cameras of its own design. OPL chose the name “Foca” for the cameras. Their goal was cut short for a time by the war. Ironically the invasion by Germany prompted their return to designing the camera line and it was ready by late 1945, a few months after the war ended.

Details of the Foca line have been published in French and are listed on this site. The definitive book on the line was published in 1997. It is called the “Foca Historica“. An ad appeared on page 9 in the June, 1950 issue of Popular Photography, placed there by Dowling’s of Fifth Avenue. The company modestly proclaimed the Foca as “THE WORLD’S FINEST 35mm CAMERA …” The camera appears to be a Foca PF3, Mod 3. made from 1947-1959 according to data collected by McKeowns’ 11th edition dated 2001/2.

Thanks is due to my fellow PHSC member and good friend, George Dunbar, for sharing this wonderful bit of history with us (it is noted in the Wikipedia article that OPL later merged with SOM, who made the SOM-Berthiot wide angle lens I use on my Leica). Small world!

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