FLEXARET AUTOMAT VI. The Flexaret twin lens reflex cameras are a product of the Czechoslovakian company. Meopta (manufacturers of enlarging equipment) . The Flexaret manual linked at the top of this review has a decent explanation of this system on page 18 of the PDF manual (its the one that. I just got a Flexaret VI and was wondering if anyone knew where I could get an english manual. I’ve seen one for the VII, are they similar?.

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Meopta changed owners and names over the course of their history, but they were the most successful of all Czech camera makers, and the Flexaret TLRs are one of the highest regarded camera marques not made in Germany or Japan. Coupled Reflex Viewfinder Shutter: Growing up in the United States, we were taught a bit about European history in school. We talked a lot about the Roman and Ottoman Empires, the struggles of England and France, and how western colonization helped form the basis for the US.

Towards the end of the school year, we got into the first and second world wars and how the Soviet Union was formed. While I am sure countries like Czechoslovakia came up in school, for the life of me, I cannot remember anything I would have learned. The world is a big place and many countries have deep and rich histories and sadly, there is only so much time that can be spent on one area, and this is a part of the world I know little about.

When it comes to technology and precision instruments like cameras, you always think of Germany, Japan, the United States, and even England. The company made all kinds of optics related products such as condensers and lenses.

Their lenses were used by other manufacturers for enlargers, binoculars, projectors, and cameras. As the company grew, they started making their own cameras, binoculars, rifle scopes, and slide projectors. By the mid s, as tensions grew in Europe, Optikotechna became a major supplier of military optics for the Czech military.

Once war broke out and Germany occupied the country, Optikotechna continued making military optics for the German war effort. This line of cameras would be re-released as the Flexette inwhich would be the basis for future Flexaret models. Byas a result of decreased need for military applications, Meopta strongly shifted their focus towards civilian products.

Meopta Flexaret VII (1968)

Over the course of the next two decades, the Flexaret models would continue to evolve adding or changing a feature or two at a time culminating with the top of the line Flexaret VII from There was never a time when the Flexaret was completely redesigned.

As a result of changing communist political pressure, Meopta discontinued making civilian cameras around and focused on other products for the Optics industry.

Somehow they managed to survive through the collapse of the Soviet Union, and inbecame a privately owned company once again. Today, Flexaret cameras have a very strong reputation as being one of the best TLRs, but for some reason, their values are nowhere near what comparable Rollei or Yashica models typically sell for.

These are wonderful cameras that are made with the highest precision, and if taken care of throughout their life, continue to work well today. TLRs are an interesting type of camera. They look unlike any other camera, and when shooting with them in public, they often draw the attention of passers by.

When the camera arrived, I was delighted to see that not only was there an old camera in the case, but it was definitely a Flexaret VII! Since Flexarets were made from β€”the possible values are 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0.

Mine begins with an 8, so that means it was made in The camera was in pretty good shape and appeared to be in operating condition. I did a quick wipe down of the body and lenses to get the grime off it, but I noticed that there was a lot of debris trapped inside of the viewfinder beneath the ground glass. This is a pretty common problem with TLRs due to the large open cavity where the reflex mirror is.


There are no visible screws or any obvious way to take it apart.

I found a site online that mentions that flexraet first step to disassembling it, is to remove the leatherette which hides some of the screws. The viewfinder was dirty, and the ground glass had yellowed a bit, but it was still very usable.

I was able to give the taking lens a good cleaning so I loaded in a roll of Kodak Ektar and went shooting. The results speak for themselves, the Meopta lenses are outstanding.

Remember that Meopta was mmanual optics company first and a camera company second, so felxaret should be no surprise that the pictures will be crisp, with excellent contrast and color rendition.

First, opening the back door is different from other TLRs. Once you have closed the door, you screw it tight to keep the door latched.

mnual Before loading the film, you need to decide if you are going to shoot 6cm x 6cm photos, or 6cm x 4. Load the film like you would on any other TLR. The baffle only goes in one way, so pay attention to the little protrusion and make sure it goes into the notch on the body otherwise it can fall out. See the image to the right showing the baffle correctly installed inside of the camera. Next, you need to make sure that the transmission lever this is what the manual calls it which is that little dogbone shaped piece of metal on the lower right side of the camera with the numbers 60 and 45 on it is in the correct position.

If you cannot get a grip on the transmission lever, there is a metal pin you can push on from inside the film compartment that will push the transmission lever outwards from flexarte body of the camera. This makes rotating it a lot easier. Once both baffles are in, and the transmission lever is correctly set with the number 45 in an upright position and 60 is upside down, the camera is ready for film.

This is how you get 16 images on a single roll as opposed to If you do not properly roll the film so that the Start indicator is on the take-up spool, the film will not be ready for the first frame.

Meopta Flexaret VII () – mike eckman dot com

Once the camera is loaded, you should turn your attention to the frame counters. There are 2 of them on this camera. The frame counter on the left has to be manually turned by the photographer and is not internally coupled to anything.

This left counter has the numbers 0 through 4 on it. The right frame counter is coupled to the camera and goes from 0 through 9. When loading film into the camera, you must manually turn the left counter to 0, and the camera should automatically set the right frame counter to 1 indicating that you are ready for your first exposure.

Once you reach the 10th exposure, the right counter goes to 0 and you must manually turn the left counter to 1, so that the left counter is 1, and the right counter is 0.

Meopta twin lens reflex cameras FLEXARET AUTOMAT VI User Manual – Download

The reason for this is because the Flexaret VII also supports 35mm film which allows for a lot more exposures than film would.

This dual frame counter system is needed to shoot rolls with 24 or 36 exposures. When doing this, a 24 exposure roll will get you manuzl shots, and a 36 exposure roll will get you It would have been a huge technological feat to make an automatic frame counter that could go all the way up flexaeet 48, so Meopta chose to do with this two counter method.

Once you are ready to shoot some photos with the Flexaret, the viewfinder works like any other TLR. Focusing is pretty smooth and easy with the swiveling focus lever beneath the taking lens. This design is said to be easier to use one-handed, but in my opinion, using a TLR should always be a two handed task. My Yashica-Mat has a knob focus on the side of the camera which I find to be really easy to use.

A cool feature of the focusing system is that you can use it with or without stops.


If you want there to be stops, there is a little sliding lever on the left front side of the camera, right in front of the accessory shoe. The last major difference is in selecting the aperture and shutter speed. The Flexaret uses a coupled Light Value Scale with EV numbers 3 β€” 18 that are supposed to help in selecting the correct exposure. In a nutshell, all you need to do is know the EV value of a scene, set the camera to that value, and then you are free to change aperture or shutter speed and the exposure will always be the same.

You can still do this with the Flexaret, but it involves pulling back on the black lever pointing to the red EV values, and keep it held back while selecting your chosen shutter speed and aperture. This is a little hard to explain, but if you have a Flexaret VII in front of you, it should be pretty obvious how it works. The Flexaret manual linked at the top of this review has a decent explanation of this system on page 18 of the PDF manual its the one that someone hand wrote the number 10 in the upper right corner of the page.

At this point, you are ready to make your first exposure. Since the shutter is coupled to the film advance, there is no separate procedure to cock the shutter. If you are sure the shutter has been cocked, and the shutter release button cannot be pressed, check that the shutter is not locked via the sliding lever above the shutter release.

A red dot will be visible when the shutter is unlocked. To lock it, slide the locking lever towards the direction of the red dot. After making an exposure, it is advised not to advance the film to the next frame because this also cocks the shutter. You should only cock the shutter when you are ready to take another exposure, because according to the manual, storing the camera for an extended length of time with the shutter cocked can cause the tension spring to weaken and possibly fail.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to know before shooting with a Flexaret. The Rolleiflex was such a great camera, that it was copied by almost everyone, and for me, that can get a little boring. Meopta went with their own formula and developed a truly world class camera. Compared to my Yashica-Mat in outdoor scenes, the difference is noticeable, but not a deal breaker.

Indoors however, the yellowing and dirt can get in the way. Until then, this is still a very capable shooter that I look forward to shooting with again. Awesome article on the Flexaret.


I did check into having the mirror replaced but it would have cost about more than I originally paid for the camera. Your points praising the camera are spot on though, it is an extremely well-made camera, nice and heavy β€” quality.

You can contact me at martywaw gmail. Thank you for the kind words. I am torn with this camera. Although I find my Yashica-Mat ever so slightly easier to use, and the viewfinder in the Yashica is bright and clean, I love the ability to shoot 6 x 4. Not only do I get an extra 4 exposures out of fleexaret roll, I prefer the aspect ratio of that over the 6 x 6.

In either case, I have 2 excellent TLRs to choose from which is foexaret good problem to have! Very nice article, I was born in Czechoslovakia and Mamual learned a lot of new things here. It was the most exciting thing, after PE and IT classes. Kids these days will never know the pleasure of seeing your teacher writing on the wall!

Mike, thank you so much for this great article and review.

It is very helpful. My camera did not come with any baffles so I purchased a Flexkin kit on eBay. It has several baffles so I am not sure which one to use.