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Carl Zeiss Jena Werra 3

Style, film format Interchangeable lens, 35mm rangefinder

Lens, shutter Coated f/2.8 50mm Tessar (also pictured, coated f/4.0 100mm Cardinar)

Photo quality Excellent

Ergonomics Very nice

The Werra line of cameras came from the Carl Zeiss Jena operation in the former East Germany and is a very interesting camera.

The top of the camera is nearly devoid of controls, except for a shutter release and the accessory shoe. And some Werra models only have the shutter release.

A short twist of the large ring at the base of the lens advances the film and tensions the shutter. It's quick; it's simple; and it works very well.

The unified viewfinder/rangefinder uses a different system. With most rangefinders, you either align top and bottom images or align a primary with a secondary image. The Werra rangefinder (not all Werras had rangefinders -- some were zone focus) uses a system in which the central spot must be aligned with the surrounding image. It's a bit different, so practice makes perfect.

The coated Carl Zeiss Jena lenses are excellent -- sharp with plenty of contrast. They did very well with backlit situations -- something I generally test with each of my cameras.

The camera itself is quite small although not too small. It's nicely balanced, and it feels very high quality. That is, the body feels tight. And the choice of materials is a step above what you sometimes see in Eastern-bloc cameras.

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