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Montanus TLRs

Montanus Camerabau was founded as a subsidiary of a plastics moulding group, Pothoff, who saw an opportunity for a plastic-bodied camera in 1952. The company produced cameras at Solingen in West Germany between 1952 & 1960. I've struggled to find any historical material on the company beyond this basic information.

The two Plascaflex models were the first products, also sold under distribution arrangements under at least two other names ("Amplion-Reflex" by Amplion in the UK; "Reporter" I think probably by Kaufhof in Germany and the US). To enhance the product image, Montanus switched over to metal bodied models from about 1954. The two main Metal TLR series (which somewhat overlapped) were the Del Monta/Montiflex and the Rocca. The Rocca name was also used for a number of more-or-less undistinguished 35mm cameras. The Rocca TLRs have a presence and weight which perhaps exaggerates their true quality, and appeared in a number of guises, including the super-rare "Ultraflex" (below) and a Wirgin Edixa model (also rare).

In volume 2006/3 of Photographica World (©PCCGB, 2006), Paul Gates, a long-term collector, wrote a short history of the Delmonta which makes a number of statements about the model and about its close double, the Montiflex (see below). Interestingly, he claims the Montiflex preceded the Delmonta, which other guides - including McKeown - reverse. Judged by the serial numbers on the otherwise identical Pluscanar lenses on my two (below), he has this wrong - the Delmonta is earlier. This is supported by the better Prontor-SVS shutter on the Montiflex. He also says that he has "never heard of "Pluscanar" lenses before I encountered the Delmonta, and have never heard nor seen any reference to them before or since". Pity he didn't do some web research - the German Classic Cameras site notes that Montanus had lenses made Lenses were made by Staeble and Enna. They were originally badged "Plascanar" when installed in the first Plascaflex models; later "Pluscanar", presumably to seem a little classier... Mr Gates' comments on the use of the Delmonta are more interesting, and it's worth reading the article for that.

If you find any errors on this page or have any camera I might be interested in, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Click on the small "thumbnail" pictures below to go to larger ones.

Montanus Plascaflex PS35

The two Plascaflex models were the firms first products, dating from around 1952 and made from what looks like a thermo-setting plastic (similar to bakelite as used in the later version Voigtlander Brillants) as the name implies (see history above). This is the better of two models in terms of both lens and shutter fitted.

Taking lens is Plascanar 75mm f3.5
Shutter Prontor-S 1 to 1/300

Montanus Plascaflex V45

As indicated at left, this is the second and lesser of the two Plascaflex models, with the f4.5 lens fitted rather than the 3.5, and a less capable shutter. Otherwise, it is substantially identical to the PS35. The tall design allows space for a spare film cavity at base, the cover of which doubles as pull-out magnifier for the viewfinder.

Taking lens is Plascanar 75mm f4.5
Shutter Vario 1 to 1/200

Montanus Reporter

McKeown doesn't mention this, but to it's clearly a metal successor to the Plascaflex. Whether it is a "missing link" between the Plascaflex and the Del Monta series or a down-market variant produced around the time of the Del Monta I don't know - it lacks the magnifier/film compartment and the frontal design is more basic, although the workings are very similar.
Taking lens is Pluscanar 75mm f3.5
Shutter Prontor-SVS 1 to 1/300

Montanus Del Monta

A metal TLR derived from the Plascaflex (above). It retains the Plascaflex' film cavity space at the base, the cover of which doubles as pull-out magnifier for the viewfinder. Click the thumbnail pic to go to the page with a larger photo of this and a rebadged variant called the Atlantic Olympia, sold by a distributor in Sweden.

Taking lens is Pluscanar 75mm f3.5
Shutter Vario 1/10 to 1/200

Montanus Montiflex

This is very similar to the Del Monta, just having the flash connnector in a different place on the front, and it is also fitted with a rather better shutter. The Del Monta was made from 1954-9, and the Montiflex from around 1956, so it's probably a marginally improved model, although later Del Montas have the Prontor-SVS too.
Taking lens is Pluscanar 75mm f3.5
Shutter Prontor-SVS 1 to 1/300

Montanus Rocca Automatic

Very unusual Automatic self-cocking TLR, heavy and well-made, with a one-way mirror sports finder. It isn't a Rolleiflex, but Montanus made a good try! I have two of these - one is a bit of a mess, but one is in nice condition. It's unusual in having a clear (shaped) glass sport finder front - most have "Rocca" engraved on them.
Taking lens is Rodenstock Trinar 80mm f2.9
Shutter Prontor-SVS 1 to 1/300

Montanus Ultraflex

Very unusual Automatic self-cocking TLR, heavy and well-made. It is basically a Rocca, (see previous), but the mirrored sports finder glass says "Ultraflex". It must be very rare - there are no mentions anywhere in the literature or on the web. If you know anything about it, please let me know!

Taking lens is Steinheil Cassar 80mm f2.8
Shutter Prontor-SVS 1 to 1/300

Montanus Exakta

This is an almost exact copy (please excuse the pun) of the Reporter model above, but with a cheaper shutter. None of the guides has anything to say about it, so it must be pretty rare. My best guess is that Montanus made it for rebadged sale under the Exakta/Ihagee brand name, but it's an odd one. Does anyone know anything else about its history?
Taking lens is Pluscanar 75mm f3.5
Shutter Vario 125 to 1/200