It loads like a little camera, with 5 ft of "standard safety-base or 35mm
positive film stock (which may be purchased from any photographic dealer)"
on the two spools that are revealed when you pull the side-cover off. The short-knob
spool is the feed, the long-knob version is the take-up. Load the film emulsion
side out. Replace the spools and close the side cover (it's a push fit).
the long-knob spool on the left, with the engraved arrow on the
end, is the take-up; the one on the right, the feed. You can clearly
see the red safelight in the back of the ELDIA here.
The image to be printed is laid atop the film in the gate, emulsion to emulsion,
and the top gate is closed. Check the density through the red rear window; make
your exposure. "A low power bulb or a Leitz enlarger may be used as a
light source; the intensity of the light being varied by stopping down the diaphragm
of the lens."
Wind the positive stock on two clicks (one click for half-frame--a mask
ELKIN, $3.60, was available as an accessory); set up the next frame to contact
print; and off you go again. You could use the resulting string of images as
a filmstrip, which was probably more common by the '50s, or cut them up
into single frames for mounting as described earlier.
It has been years since I actually tried to use an ELDIA, and I have to say
that the memory remains vivid enough that I did not wish to try it again, even
though I still have a tin of (grievously outdated) Kodak Fine Grain Positive
Film, or FG Pos. I admire anyone who has the intestinal fortitude to do so,
but I cannot recommend it.
E. LEITZ WETZLAR logo on ELDIA.
Anyone who wants to buy mine ($75 or best offer) is welcome to it: it has
been swilling around for longer than I care to remember. Actually, it's
my second ELDIA: my first was prewar, and went 20 years ago, and I bought this
one because I liked the instruction leaflet. But as a collectors' piece,
in a cabinet alongside some Leicas (or even just one Leica), it does look pretty;
and at the sort of price that these cameras go for, you really can't complain
too much if that is all it does. Contact me via www.rogerandfrances.com, where
you will also find all kinds of other good things.
But just to give you two vintage Leica accessory reviews instead of only one,
here's a negative viewer NATRA as well. NATRA was introduced about a year
after ELDIA, in '32, but whereas the ELDIA illustrated is almost certainly
postwar, this NATRA is prewar or wartime. The body is matte and rather oxidized
nickel, blackened on the inside and with velvet light-traps to avoid scratching
the film as it is pulled through the negative channel. The sliding eyepiece
is polished nickel, with a black paint surround to the eyepiece. An accessory
opal glass diffuser, NAMAS, was available and there was also a '35 version
of NATRA with a handle, NAKUS.
E. LEITZ WETZLAR logo on NATRA.
It's a simple device, which would originally have been fitted with a
negative punch for marking the negatives you wanted to print (in the border,
I hasten to add) but this has gone among the wastes of time on mine. Either
that, or it was a wartime unit on which the punch was never fitted, as an economy
measure. The magnifier is 5x, with simple slide focusing, and once again it's
engraved (actually, it looks more like it was beautifully impressed) with the
immortal E. LEITZ WETZLAR logo.
NATRA is a lot less common than ELDIA, which is reflected in the price, typically
$100-$200 though I would expect this one to be at or below the bottom end of
the range because of the missing part; for $200 you would expect a near-mint,
boxed version. I think I paid less than $15 for mine but that was 20 or 30 years
ago, and I bought it just to use, which I rarely do any more, so I guess it's
time that one went, too.
For further information on the art and craft of photography from Roger Hicks
and Frances Schultz, go to www.rogerandfrances.com.