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Encyclopedia > ALPA
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Alpa was formerly a Swiss camera design company and manufacturer of 35mm cameras. The current owners bought the company name after backruptcy of the orginal company and the company exists today as a designer and manufacturer of high end medium format cameras. A camera is a device used to take pictures (usually photographs), either singly or in sequence, with or without sound recording, such as with video cameras. ...

Alpa was an offshoot of the Pignons company, which made a particular part for Swiss watches. They made high end, all metal 35mm cameras. In true Swiss fashion, each camera was individually crafted. Thus, production was low, but quality was high. It is estimated that as few as 40,000 cameras of all models of Alpa were made during the company's 40 year history. Allowing for certain gaps, the serial numbers would support that, as the last cameras made (in about 1990) carried serial numbers of only 64,xxx.

There is the on-going question of which camera company was first with such innovations as the quick return mirror, thru the lens metering, and the bayonet lens. Alpa was a contender for being first with each of these innovations and several others.

Unfortunately, Alpa didn't have the resources to keep up with the technological advances that the main stream camera companies were introducing in the 1970's and sales began to decline. An attempt was made to bring out a more popularly priced camera that was made in Japan by Chinon. It used M42 screw mount lenses, but it didn't sell very well in part because the premium Alpa lenses couldn't be used on it.

The company retained the same lens mount on the swiss made cameras from 1942 until they ended production. The back focus of the body was the thinnest of any 35mm camera, and as a result, it was possible to make adapters to use lenses designed for almost any other 35mm SLR on an Alpa. Adapters offered included Exacta, M42 (automatic diaphragm and manual), Nikon (auto and manual), Leicaflex, and Contax.

Alpa didn't make their own lenses - and sourced them through some of the best lens makers - Angenieux, Kern, Kinoptik, Schneider and others. They were the only company to guarantee optical quality of the lenses they sold.

The Kern Macro Switar lens was a 50mm lens at F1.8 or F1.9. It was an apochromat, and is still highly regarded as possibly the best standard lenses ever offered. Other apochromats offered by Alpa included the 100mm F2 and 150mm F2.8 Kinoptik lenses.

External links

  1. Alpa Reflex
  2. Alpa of Switzerland



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