Classic Cameras; Leitz ELDIA And NATRA; The Lowest Price Leica Collectibles? Page 2

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).

ELDIA disassembled: 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that the memory remains vivid enough that I did not wish to try it again, even though I still have a tin of (grievously outdated) Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film, or FG Pos.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.


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, 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.


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