A fond farewell ? : Boots Pacemaker 35 / Franka 125 Review

Sadly last week my Boots Pacemaker 35 died. This basic camera  is actually a re branded Franka 125 made by the long gone West Germany company in the 1960’s. But was it retro fun or rightly dated ?

Boots Pacemaker 35
The lamented Boots Pacemaker 35 (aka Franka 125)

Picking it up you would have guessed German styling straight off. This so typical of 1960’s German viewfinder cameras (the Halina Paulette series comes close in styling and handling). This camera was matched with the Pacemaker 35 LM essentially the same camera but with an uncoupled selenium light meter (aka Frank’s 125 L). this is reflected in the styling with a odd mirrored segment next to the viewfinder where the meter would go and a dial on top for reminding you of the film speed where I suspect there would be a calculator for settings using the light meter. I am unaware of any differences between the Franka & re-branded Boots versions.

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Dumfries 2014. Boots Pacemaker 35 with Kodak BW400CN

Frank 125/Boots Pacemaker 35 Specs

  • Lens:    45mm 1:2.8
  • Focus: Scale
  • Metering: None
  • Aperture: f/2.8-f/22
  • Shutter: Prontor 125
  • Shutter speeds: 1/30-1/125 + B
  • EV 100asa: 8-16
  • Filter-Thread:  none

The camera has a full scale focus but in the most you’ll use 3 distance pictograms on the top. The Isco-Göttingen Color-Isconar lens is not the sharpest I’ve ever seen especially at distance but at narrow apertures does okay. You’re likely to be shooting with small aperture as the shutter has only 1/125sec as fastest speed. The Prontor 125 shutter is an everset shutter, meaning unlike most where you cock the shutter before shooting (usually done  by winding on), the shutter is both tensioned and fired by the depressing the shutter button.  This is a cheap effective arrangement but limits the shutter speed meaning this camera will be a bit limited in bright light.

The summer getaway
Kippford, August 2014. Boots Pacemaker 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

There is a PC sync for flash with a cold mount point for flash. The shutter button is on the side of lens and hence you can’t use a cable release (edit 01/02/17 – there is a cable point see comments below)

running the bridge
Kippford, August 2014. Boots Pacemaker 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Solid feeling camera with a winder lever for film advance. The film speed dial goes up to 3200asa although you’d struggle at times using 400asa with it (amusingly there wasn’t enough room to display 1600 or 3200 asa and they are shown as 160 & 320). It was the winder return that went first and then a few months later the shutter sounded but didn’t open.  I think this might have been an issue with unseen damp where the camera was stored however.

last link
Boots Pacemaker 35 with Kodak BW400CN

I loved the retro styling of this camera but saying that most Germanic cameras and their clones of that era had similar styling but often offered better shutter speeds etc. . The lens is okay but there are better examples. Boots also sold 3 other cameras under the Pacemaker brand but they were re-branded King cameras from their Regula Sprinty series and they also sold home movie cameras under this brand. The Rugula camera appear to offer more function

Blue comms
Carlisle 2014. Boots Pacemaker 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

These come upon ebay with quite a range of costs. I wouldn’t pay over a tenner for the Pacemaker 35.  Most sellers don’t delineate the models so worth noting the Frank based models have a shutter switch on the side of the lens and the later Regula ones have a shutter button on top. Light seals don’t seem to be an issue but the shutter working will be key. You’ll likely get with the plastic/leatherette case

Alternatives

  • Halina Paulette series –  Haking’s clone of  cameras
  • King Regula Series – Another German rival of the Era
  • Halina 6-4 – 120 roll camera with similar styling

Helpful links

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10 thoughts on “A fond farewell ? : Boots Pacemaker 35 / Franka 125 Review”

  1. “The shutter button is on the side of lens and hence you can’t use a cable release.” Yes you can.There is a threaded socket on then underside of the shutter button that is threaded for a standard cable release.

    1. Thanks John – useful to be aware of although I can’t recall my long dead pacemaker having one but may have missed it

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