Plaubel of Frankfurt was a German camera manufacturer founded in 1902 by Hugo Schrader, who had apprenticed at Voigtländer. In the early 20th century, Plaubel found success in the consumer and professional markets with the Makina and RollOp lines of folding medium format cameras.
The 6×6 Makiflex
In 1956 Plaubel announced plans to enter the 6×6 interchangeable lens SLR market to compete with Rollei and Hasselblad. A prototype camera was even shown at Photokina. Unfortunately market conditions prevented this camera from being manufactured at the time.
The 9×9 Makiflex
In 1963 Plaubel introduced the 9×9 Makiflex – an all metal medium format SLR. In 1966 Plaubel followed up with the Makiflex Standard, which is a somewhat simplified version of the original Makiflex.
There is very little information to be found on the internet about the Makiflex – it seems they are fairly rare. It has been said that less than 1000 Makiflex, and less than 400 Standards were ever manufactured.
The 1966 Makiflex Standard features:
- Interchangeable lenses
- Lens board 122×122 mm
- Focal plane shutter
- Speeds B, 1/8, 1/10, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125
- Flash sync on 1/10
- Bellows focussing on the rigid front standard
- Rotating back
- Waist level viewfinder
- Retractable focusing loupe
- Interchangeable backs
The original 1961 Makiflex has these additional features:
- Shutter speeds up to 1/500
- Automatic stop down diaphragm on lenses
The automatic diaphragm stopdown feature made it impossible to mount recessed lens boards, and therefore lenses wider than 150mm, which may have been the reason this feature was dropped from the later Standard model.
The Makiflex shares lens boards and other accessories with two other Plaubel cameras, the Pecoflex and the Peco Junior. The Pecoflex is basically a Makiflex with a monorail and front movements.
The Makiflex is one of a group of medium format single lens reflex cameras, which includes:
- Graflex Baby Reflex 2×3 (6×9) Early 20th century
- Curt Bentzin Görlitz Primarflex (6×6) 1930s
- KW Pilot 6 (6×6) 1930s
- Hasselblad (6×6) Post WWII
- Praktisix (6×6) 1950s
- Kowa Six (6×6) 1960s
- Pentacon 6 (6×6) 1960s
- Kiev 60 (6×6) 1960s
- Makina Makiflex (6×9, 9×9) 1960s
- Bronica (6×6) 1960s
- Rollei 6000 series (6×6) 1970s
- Salyut-S (6×6) 1970s
- Mamiya RB (6×8) 1970s
- Norita Rittreck 66 (6×6) 1970s
- Pentax 67 (6×7) 1970s
- Pentax 645 (6×4.5) 1980s
- Mamiya RZ (6×7) 1980s
- Mamiya 645 (6×4.5) 1980s
- Fuji GX680 (6×8) 1990s
The Makiflex is unique on this list in that it shoots both 6×9 and 9×9 format. To accommodate the rotating back necessitates a film gate that is 9×9 cm (actually 86×86 mm). This means the camera itself is quite large and heavy, being a pressed steel cube 180x180x140 mm and weighing around 2kg. This makes it larger and heavier than a large format Linhof Technika 4×5 camera!
The sheer size of the Makiflex probably doomed its chances in the market, as it was competing with the likes of Hasselblad and Rollei.
This is a shame because, in spite of its clunky looks, this is a finely engineered and well designed camera.
As a single lens reflex camera, there is a hinged mirror mounted inside the box and a huge 9×9 ground glass on top marked with frame lines for both 6×9 orientations of the back.
The focal plane shutter is a pair of independent curtains which travel vertically. This arrangement allows the shutter timing to be varied without the use of variable spring tension.
Plaubel offered a range of large format lenses mounted to 122x122mm metal lens boards, some with special bayonet mounts. The lens boards came in either flat, recessed, or extended variants to suit the focal length of the lens.
In the absence of a comprehensive catalog of lenses, I have been able to gather that the following (incomplete) list of lenses were available:
- Rodenstock Ysarex 135 f/4.5mm (Tessar type) – Only able to be mounted on the Makiflex Standard due to recessed lens board
- Voigtländer Braunschweig Apo Lanthar 150mm f/4.5 (Heliar type)
- Schneider Krueznach Xenar 150mm f/4.5 (Tessar Type)
- Schneider Krueznach Symmar 150mm f/5.6 (Plasmat type)
- Schneider Krueznach Xenotar 150mm f/2.8 (Biotar type)
- Schneider Krueznach Xenar 210mm f/4.5 (Tessar type)
- Schneider Krueznach Tele Arton 270mm f/5.5 (Tele Tessar type)
Additionally, there are in existence several prototype lenses. I’m not sure if these ever went into production, but they include:
- Schneider Krueznach Xenar 180mm f/4.5 (Tessar type)
- Schneider Krueznach Tele Xenar 240mm f/5.5 (Tele Tessar type)
Most Makiflex shipped with a back to accommodate a 6×9 standard Plaubel roll film holder with dark slide. This back has the part number MX 1/521. Also available was a rear board that allowed the use of standard 4×5 double sheet film holders, producing a 9×9 square image. This board has the part number MX 1/538. The complete list of available backs is as follows:
- MX 1/521 97318 6×9 Rail Back
For Plaubel Makina 120 roll backs which come in 12 exposure, 8 exposure and 35mm
- MX 1/525 97320 6×9 back
With spring loaded ground glass screen
- MX 1/526/1 97322 6×9 back
With spring loaded ground glass screen for double dark slides
- MX 1/537 97324 9×9 back
For single slides 4×5″
- MX 1/538 97326 9×9 back
For double dark slides 4×5″ (FIDELITY, GRAPHIC, LINHOF, POLAROID)
- MX 1/539 97328 Adapter Back
Accepts following holders:
1) Linhof Rollex 6×9
2) Linhof Cine Rollex 6×7
3) Linhof Super Rollex 6×7
4) Graphic Roll Holder 6×9
5) Polaroid Sheet Film Holder 4×5″
- MX 1/531 97316 Polaroid Back Adapter
For Makiflex System, with viewfinder mask for film pack CB100 (usable format 74 x 86mm)
- MX 1/551 Angled finder with loupe for attaching in place of the waist level finder
— 06/67 CATALOG EHRENREICH PHOTO-OPTICAL INDUSTRIES via Nokton48
- PX1/08 Makiflex Attachment With Bellows – Plaubel made available an extended monorail front bellows with shift and tilt. This accessory transforms a Makiflex into a Pecoflex.
This particular Makiflex Standard
This Makiflex Standard has the serial number 211 S M. It was purchased in 2020 from a seller in Germany. It is in excellent condition, with a small amount of wear. It has had around 9000 shutter actuations, which is not too bad for a 50+ year old camera. It looks like it was not used very much and well cared for, perhaps as a studio camera.
The shutter seems accurate after some exercise.
This Makiflex came with a recessed lens board and a Rodenstock Ysarex 4.5/135 (Tessar) lens.
I plan to fit an Aero Ektar 2.5/178 to this Makiflex in a future project.