The Focasport name was born successively by three series of 35mm fixed lens cameras made by the French maker OPL in the 1950s and 1960s.

The first Focasport series Edit

The first Focasport series lasted from 1955 to 1962.

The original Focasport was a simple 35mm viewfinder camera with an Atos (sometimes Crouzet) leaf shutter up to 1/300. It had a Foca Neoplar 4.5cm f:3.5 three element lens with front cell focusing. These characteristics are modest, but it was a well finished camera, and at least in France it benefited from the aura of the more expensive Foca models, a line of 35mm rangefinder cameras with focal plane shutter and interchangeable lenses meant to be a local equivalent of the Leica. It rapidly met a big success in its country of origin. In 1957 its name was changed to Focasport I.

In 1958 it became the Focasport IL with the addition of a winding lever, and in 1960 the lens became a faster Foca Neoplar 4.5cm f:2.8, also with three elements. Apparently in the catalogues it never had the name Focasport IL but simply Focasport I, maybe the IL name has been forged later by collectors.

In 1957 a model equipped with an uncoupled selenium meter appeared, called the Focasport IC (presumably C for cellule or cell).

In the same year, the more luxurious Focasport II appeared with a coupled rangefinder, and a four element lens Foca Oplar Color 4.5cm f:2.8 with helical focusing. The very last Focasport II cameras had a Foca Oplex Color 4.5cm f:2.8.

In 1959 appeared the Focasport IB and Focasport ID, that both had a new projected frame viewfinder, and the Foca Neoplar 4.5cm f:2.8 three-element lens. The IB had no meter, while the ID had an uncoupled selenium meter and replaced the IC. The IL remained in production as the cheapest model.

The Focamatic Edit

The Focamatic model appeared in 1961 and had a totally new body with a boxy shape. It had a selenium meter commanding a mechanical programmed exposure. It was one of the first programmed exposure camera, two years after the Agfa Optima. The Focamatic had a projected frame viewfinder, of the same design as the one on the first series Focasport IB and ID. It had a Foca Neoplar 4.5cm f:2.8 three-element lens, and the shutter speeds were up to 1/250.

The Focamatic was normally sold in black, but it also existed in cream white, in blue and in red.

The second Focasport series Edit

The second series of Focasport cameras lasted from 1962 to 1964. Their body was based on the Focamatic, but they had traditional manual exposure. All had a collimated finder, like the Focamatic. The two first models were introduced in 1962, with shutter speeds up to 1/250. The three next models seemingly appeared in 1963 and had shutter speeds up to 1/500.

The Focasport CF had a coupled selenium meter readable in the finder and on the top plate and the Foca Neoplar 4.5cm f:2.8 three element lens. It was very much like a Focamatic without the programmed exposure.

The Focasport IIF was the top of the line, with a four-element Foca Neoplex 4.5cm f:2.8 and a long base coupled rangefinder. However the integration of the rangefinder left no room for an exposure meter.

The Focasport CF was quickly replaced by the Focasport C, which is the same with shutter speeds up to 1/500 and a little change to the cell.

A simpler model called the Focasport I appeared, identical to the Focasport C but with no meter.

At last, the Focasport IIC was like the Focasport C with the addition of a short-based rangefinder. The rangefinder's second window was outside of the frame containing the meter window and the two windows of the collimated finder, as if it was an afterthought. We could think of it as the top of the line, but it still had the simpler three element lens. It seems that OPL somewhat downgraded the Focasport models, from the more ambitious IIF to the more amateurish IIC.

A version specially designed for use on a microscope was based on the second series of Focasport.

The third Focasport series Edit

The third series of Focasport showed a marked degradation in ambition and quality of construction. They were cheap plastic-bodied cameras, with no advanced features. All had the Foca Neoplar 4.5cm f:2.8 three element lens and a plain, not collimated, viewfinder.

The Focasport S had no meter and a simple B-30-60-125 shutter. The Focasport SC was equivalent with a selenium exposure meter, and the Focasport SF had in addition the 1/250 shutter speed and a folding magnesium flash unit incorporated in the top plate.

The third series of Focasport met quite limited success.

A user's summary Edit

The first series of Focasport are very common in France and can be bought cheaply. Their finish and quality of construction is excellent, the quality of the images delivered by the three element Neoplar is very acceptable. The Focasport II, with its rangefinder and four element lens, is yet more desirable, and is not uncommon to find. It is a great compact camera, an alternative to a Voigtländer Vito, Zeiss Ikon Contessa or Agfa Super Silette, but with no meter.

The second series is a bit rarer, and its boxy style might make it less attractive to some. Their finish is told to be good but not up to the one of the first series. The Focamatic is best left to the collectors, one would not wait too much from a mechanical programmed automation of the 1960s.

The third series has a much cheaper feeling, and today it only has a very marginal interest for Foca collectors.

Bibliography Edit

  • Princelle, Jean Loup. Foca Historica. Mialet, France: Éditions Cyclope, 1997. ISBN 2-910284-38-6.
  • Vial, Bernard. Histoire des appareils français. Période 1940–1960. Paris: Maeght Éditeur, 1980, re-impressed in 1991. ISBN 2-86941-156-1.

Links Edit

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