I like this camera more than I expected. Although I usually see
3-element Schneider Radionar lenses on Solidas, mine has a
4-element Xenar lens. This lens is very fine and easily holds its
own against, and is probably sharper than, the Voigtlander
Color-Skopar, which I thought was pretty much unbeatable for a
folder lens that focused by moving the front element. That
assumption was based on my having owned Agfa Isolettes with
the front element focusing Solinar, which to my eyes never
matched the performance of the Skopar. This little Xenar has
been quite a surprise; it's very sharp and contrasty. It also covers
the whole frame nicely, while I find that the Skopar on the Perkeo
II has quite noticeable fall-off at larger apertures.
Although I have seen Franka Solida cameras with an uncoupled
rangefinder utilizing a window separate from the viewfinder, on
my Solida II the RF is integrated with the viewfinder, which is a
much better arrangement, although it is still an uncoupled RF.
The Solida rangefinder reads distances down to 3 feet,
accurately, and the lens is still a fine performer at this closest
focusing distance, despite what you always read about
front-element-focusing lenses being poor at closer distances. Of
course, parallax becomes a problem, but you really can get the
knack of compensating for it by just moving the camera a bit. It is,
however, easy to forget to do that... such is life with these very
basic, manual-everything cameras.
The film advance uses the red window method, which is okay, but
if this camera had a few more 'mod-cons' it would really be
outstanding, although it would also cost more and be larger and
heavier. As it is, it's a great camera that with careful use will
produce high quality photos.
Franka Solida II
Schneider Xenar  80mm f3.5
Market, O-Miya Street, Kyoto
Utility pole and temple wall, Kyoto
Political poster, Kyoto
Sidewalk, Kitaoji Street, Kyoto
Train station, ??, Japan
Folding Cameras
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