Bilora Bella 3c
Beautiful in so many ways
This good looking camera was manufactured by Kürbi & Niggeloh, Radevormwald, in Germany between 1950s. The company started as a metal factory in 1909 The brand name BILORA has been created of the names of the company‘s founder - Wilhelm Kür- BI, Carl NiggeLOh - and the city of the company foundation RAdevormwald. You would be surprised to learn that the company still exists although their manufacturing line is focusing on accessory type of products mainly tripods, bags, music stands, bicycle axis etc.
Bilora serviced other camera manufacturers including Yashica, but between1935 and 1975, it came up with several nice sounding models of its own: Bellina, Bella, Boy and Bonita. It was a cheap and well built range and it sold over a million cameras.
Bilora Bella 3c was produced between 1955 and 1958. It is a feminine looking camera and one of prettiest that can still be found in second hand shops and on online auctions.
Like a true analog chick, it wears a case made of sturdy vinyl. The camera is quite heavy. The body is made of two iron parts with the top plate chrome and the other parts painted blue. At the back, there is a prominent inscription saying it is made for 127mm film (although you can fit a 35mm roll in it if you want to shoot with sprokets) and made in Germany. The back plate is not fixed to the body and it is opened by turning a big key at the back.
All the settings are manual and are found on the lens-shutter barrel with the focus range from 1-5m to infinity. The lens mount is fixed and the lens itself is Achromat f/8. There are two aperture settings, 8 and 11, and there are shutter speeds for 1/50 s, 1/100 s, and a bulb setting. There is a flash shoe, and a socket on the side of the lens. The red label "SYNCHRO-FLASH" on the lens is supposed to give the impression that the camera is somewhat ‘automatic’ and easy to handle.
The shutter is operated by pressing the release on the front side of the camera. If you are keen on taking accidental photos, Bella can offer many nice surprises. But if you want to stay more in control it can be tricky. This is because it is difficult to keep track of the exposures. If you don’t remember whether you have taken a photo on the current frame or not, it is quite possible that you will end up with a few unwanted multiple exposure images.
The film advance wheel can’t be missed and the viewfinder appears larger than the actual frame of the shot the camera takes. It is worth remembering since the viewfinder does not show any guide lines.
The whole experience of handling this camera is very pleasant. You know you hold a beautiful thing in your hands, you can play with it and you can enjoy a degree of creativity in the process. With love and care beautiful Bella will produce beautiful shots.
If you enjoy this review, you will probably like others. Check out Zenit-E - mass produced for the common people, Sputnik - 3D with TLC and AMI 66 - the serious toy from the 70's.
Jolanda Meuwissen from the Netherlands has combined Bilora Bella with an old EFKE R100 film to create these images.