Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2005/03/18

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Subject: [Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?
From: sethrosner at (Seth Rosner)
Date: Fri Mar 18 06:12:57 2005
References: <BAY19-DAV5E65B456B8D781D188C9DED570@phx.gbl> <02ba01c529e1$09001d30$8ee34142@D1S9FY41> <00c801c52ba1$30d4ab20$aa00a8c0@ic7max3>


You are well-informed: because the flange-to-film distance of the Alpa 35mm 
camera is the shorteset of any SLR camera, lenses made for virtually any 
other SLR can be adapted to the Alpa. Some adapters are very rare and 
therefore very expensive when you can find them. I have one of the 
Leicaflex-to-Alpa adapters that I was lucky enough to find some years ago, 
virtually LNIB.

Before that on-line auction place became so prolific, Karl Heitz and his 
company, Heitz Service Corporation, who had been the sole importers of Alpa 
cameras, lenses and accessories from 1949, was a good source for used Alpas, 
since he was so well-known in the small Alpa world. Anyone wishing to sell 
would sell to him.

eB** caused his supply to dry up and became the principal source for Alpa 
gear. Since total production of these hand-made, precision cameras during 
the entire almost half-century history of 35mm Alpa was around 64,000 
cameras (phenomenal, eh? 1,400 cameras a year?), there are not very many out 


Sad to say, Karl Heitz died three months ago in his mid-90's !! after a six 
month illness. He had been active running his company until his death. The 
company is now in liquidation but alas, there are no Alpa cameras or lenses 
in inventory.

One caution: if you find an Alpa you want to buy on that site, ask for a 
clear description of its condition, i.e. meter, shutter, mirror, lens focus 
and diaphragm rings all functioning properly, and mirror, prism, viewfinder 
and lens glass all clear and free from scratches, fungus, dust, haze, 
separation etc., and insist that seller assure you in writing of your right 
to inspect, have tested and return for full refund if it is not as 

During the last four or five years, I have bought seven Alpas on that site 
and have had to return four of them for refund after having done just what I 
suggest above. And one of the three I retained required a $450. service of 
which the seller agreed to pay half in lieu of giving me a refund.

Good luck.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael J Herring" <>
To: "Leica Users Group" <>
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 4:59 AM
Subject: Re: [Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?

> Seth,
> Do you know of any place where you can find these late model Alpa 35mm SLR
> cameras? I have been told it is rather easy to adapt other optics to them.
> I live in New Jersey.
> Thanks,
> Mike
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Seth Rosner" <>
> To: "Leica Users Group" <>
> Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 11:31 PM
> Subject: Re: [Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?
>> Aha!
>> Eric, this very high quality MF camera is the successor to a line of
> very
>> high quality Swiss 35mm cameras whose prodution started in the 1940's by
> a
>> company called Pignons, S.A. in Ballaigues, Suisse, that also
> manufactured
>> parts, gears, levers etc. for the top-line Swiss watch manufacturers.
> They
>> were very quirky; early models were rangefinders, next lines featured
> both
>> rangefinder and reflex focusing in the same camera (!!!)and the final
>> models were strictly SLRs. Alpa made no lenses. They were furnished in
>> Alpa mount by Kern, Schneider-Kreuznach, Angenieux, Kilfitt.
>> Their quirkiness made them relatively uinsuitable for what our group
> terms
>> photjournailsm or street photography as they are slow and
> counterintuitive
>> (e.g. the film advance-shutter cock lever protrudes from the front of
> the
>> camera and is drawn clockwise toward the rear!!!) Thus it is very slow
> and
>> deliberate in operation and was used more by scientists, laboratory and
>> research people than by PJ's.
>> Tom Abrahamssen, who used to collect them, describes having disassembled
> a
>> very early model of which he said the shutter mechanism and gear train
> for
>> the delayed action release were like the inside of a Patek Philippe or
>> Rolex watch while the rest of the camera looked like it came from a
> Soviet
>> tractor factory! Later models are magnificently made, rivaling even
>> contemporaneous Leitz and Zeiss production.
>> Take a look at the history that I believe is on the Alpa website. Capaul
>> and Weber are a Swiss couple who bought the Alpa name and mark from the
>> receiver in bankruptcy in about 1990 and proceeded to design and
>> manufacture this current Alpa camera that is built to space station
>> quality levels, nothing automatic whatever. They too do not make lenses
>> which are still produced for the Alpa by some of the world's finest
> optics
>> manufacturers.
>> I have had several Alpa's and 50mm lenses recently and still have a
>> collector camera/lens combo like-new in box.
>> Seth
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "eric" <>
>> To: "LUG" <>
>> Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 6:36 PM
>> Subject: [Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?
>> Do pros really use these? Or just former sultans?
>> Are these even snobbier than Leicas?
>> I stumbled into these cameras on a stroll of the net today and I am not
>> familiar with them.
>> Eric
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>> Leica Users Group.
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>> See for more information
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Replies: Reply from creativevisions at (Michael J Herring) ([Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?)
In reply to: Message from leica_korenman at (eric) ([Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?)
Message from sethrosner at (Seth Rosner) ([Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?)
Message from creativevisions at (Michael J Herring) ([Leica] So.. what is the deal with Alpa Cameras?)