WERRA Cameras in Collection
Werra 1


After the Second World War, Carl Zeiss was divided into a West German and an East German division. The East German division, Carl Zeiss Jena, lost a lot of personnel to the Russians, who deported them to create cameras for the Motherland. When they slowly started trickling back in the early 1950's, Zeiss Jena didn't have an immediate use for their expertise. They realised however that it would be a tremendous loss to the company and the country if their experience went to waste, so they gave them a project of their own: the Werra cameras. Manufactured in the Ernst Abbe Werk of Eisfeld, they were named after the river that runs near that town.

The main idea behind the whole Werra series, its unique selling point, was the rapid film advance ring. This ring, which is the big Vulcanite-covered ring near the body, cocks the shutter, and advances the film and the frame counter all in one twist. A very rapid, very sure, very smooth twist.

Despite good sales, the Werra series was discontinued in 1966 after Carl Zeiss Jena was assimilated by VEB Pentacon in 1964. Pentacon's director Siegfried Böhm felt that a highly specialised company like Zeiss should stick to its core business (optics) and abandon its simple viewfinder cameras. Other companies in the Pentacon group were making viewfinder cameras too, and Böhm foresaw that the future lay in SLRs – of course, history proved him right.