Dr.August Nagel began his camera design business in 1908 as Drexler & Nagel, quickly to become the Contessa Kamera-werke a year later. In 1919, he bought the Nettel Kamera-werke and renamed the combined operation Contessa-Nettel AG. Post-WW I Germany was a difficult economic environment for entrepreneurs and many small manufacturers failed.

Nettel was specializing in folding plate cameras. One of the company's specialties was its wide range of stereo camera models. Another specialty were cameras with focal plane shutter. With these shutters the camera were marketed under the name Deckrullo.

While Dr.Nagel's designs were technically successful, he found it financially necessary to join other small companies.

In 1926 Contessa-Nettel merged with Ica, Ernemann and Goerz forming the photographic giant Zeiss-Ikon. Zeiss Ikon continued to produce camera series of Contessa-Nettel's and others before merging. Contessa name used by Zeiss Ikon until 1960's.

That liaison was short-lived, however, and in 1928 he again formed his own firm, Dr.Nagel-Werke.

It became famous for its small format camera Nagel-Pupille.

In 1932, Eastman Kodak bought this business and he company became Kodak's German branch Kodak AG, in Stuttgart, with Dr.Nagel as its managing director and design head.

After that, the model range continued with the Kodak name. The company had developed the immediate predecessors of the Retina. 152 different camera models were made by Nagel and its successor Kodak AG.

Kodak Retina No.117 designed by Dr.August Nagel. It was Kodak's first 35mm camera and the camera that introduced the 135 film in 35mm film cassette in 1934, still in use today. [1]

Dr.August Nagel had been an early adopter of downsizing to exploit the emerging finer grained emulsions. He had produced the Recomar quarter plate cameras while these were still favored by advanced European amateurs, but he was quick to recognize the advantages of designing cameras around the new roll films. The Pupille, using 127 roll film and available with a fast f /2.0 Schneider Xenon lens in a helical lens mount, could be seen as a capable alternative to the Ermanox. It also mounted slower Xenar, Elmar and Tessar lenses.. Kodak AG also made at the same time a bellows design for 127 film usually described as the Kodak Vollenda No. 48 with slower Schneider or Zeiss lenses and a more modest No. 52 with only a metal frame eye-level finder and a similar lens selection. The slower lenses were front-cell focusing, while the others had helical mounts.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover).

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