The Bolsey B is a 35mm rangefinder camera with a cast aluminium body, introduced by Bolsey in 1947. The lens is a fixed Wollensak Anastigmat 44/3.2 with helical focusing, and the Wollensak leaf shutter gives T, B, 10–200 speeds. The rangefinder is of the split-image type, coupled to the lens but separate from the viewfinder.

A version named Bolsey B Special, with MODEL B SPECIAL engraved on the front, has a removable lens and shutter assembly, to insert an extension ring for close up work. In Richard Sanford's book, there are pictures of a Bolsey microfilm reader kit including a Model B Special, and of a medical kit with a rim flash and Model B Special camera in white leather covering.

The Bolsey B2 is the successor of the model B, made from 1949 to 1956 with double exposure prevention. It is engraved MODEL B2 on the front. The shutter is synchronized and marked Synchro Matic with a red lightning painted on each side. Minimal aperture is 22 instead of 16.

Bolsey A
Bolsey B
Bolsey C
Bolsey Explorer
Bolsey Jubilee
Jacques Bolsey

The Bolsey B22 is a variant of the B2, launched in 1953, with a system called Set-o-matic to couple the aperture to the distance for flash photography. It is marked BOLSEY B22 SET-O-MATIC on the front.

The Bolsey Jubilee is a modernized model, launched in 1955. It has a coated 45/2.8 lens made by Steinheil, marked BOLSEY-STEINHEIL ANASTIGMAT, and a shutter made by Gauthier, marked AUTO-SYNCHRO DUST-TIGHT SHUTTER BOLSEY-GAUTHIER, with speeds from 1/10 to 1/200. The release button has moved from the shutter to the top plate.

The Bolsey B3 is a simplified version of the Jubilee, without the Set-o-matic system. It exists with clear leather covering (picture in Sanford's book).

The sales of the whole B series stopped in 1956. In 1957, the watch company Wittnauer sold the Festival, a Bolsey Jubilee under another name. The top plate has changed, and the Bolsey markings on the lens and shutter have been removed.

There are military models of the Bolsey B series:

  • a US Air Force version, with normal alu finish, of the B2 and the B Special;
  • a US Army version of the model B, in black with olive leather and strap lugs, military code PH-324A.

P.-H. Pont suggests that the Bolsey B body shape could have been designed with an SLR in mind, and supports this with pictures of the Bolsey B side by side with an Exa. A 35mm TLR was made with that same body, the Bolsey C series.


  • Pont, Patrice-Hervé. Le Bolsey. Fotofiche n°9. Flassy (France): Fotosaga, June 1988. (Leaflet, no ISBN number.)
  • Sanford, Richard. Bolsey, the man behind the camera. Home publication, 2003. (No ISBN number.)


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