Halina Paulette Series Review : Vorsprung Hong Kong Technique

These 60’s viewfinder point and shoot cameras drew influences from the German models of the day. But how do they fare as a retro shooter today and compared to their 70’s successors the Halina 2000 & 3000 ?

Prinz Mastermatic III
Prinz Mastermatic III (a rebadged Halina Paulette Electric)

As I sit huddled away from the winter storms at the Start of 2015, this Hong Kong made Haking camera that died on me is one that I fondly remember. Mines was in the slightly Austin Powers-esce Prinz Mastermatic III rebranding (as sold in the UK by Dixons)

Adults £12.00
Prinz Mastermatic III with Kodak BW400CN. Dumfries 2014

Halina Paulette & Paulette Electric  Specs

  • Lens:  Anastigmat 45mm 1:2.8
  • Focus:  Scale
  • Aperture: f/2.8-f/16
  • Shutter: 1/30-1/250 +B
  • Meter:  Uncoupled, Selenium ¹
  • Meter ASA range : 25-400 ¹
  • Meter EV 100asa: 7-17 ²
  • Actual EV 100asa: 8-16

¹ Metering only on Paulette Electric

The 60’s Paulette series featured 2 camera, the meterless Paulette and the Paulette electric which was basically the same camera with a uncoupled light meter and setting arrangement. Beyond the metering stuff there is no difference.  Both were viewfinder scale focus shooters. The later Halina 2000 & 3000 are mechanically the same camera wrapped up in a 70’s styled plastic body (as was the Halina Paulette II & Paulette EE II) but I suspect the lens arrangement was slight different (and less good). The original Paulettes are predominantly metal bodied with styling very similar to German cameras like  Franka or Regula King.
Haking also made this camera under other brands. For example, the Paulette can be found as the Sears 65 and the Paulette Electric as the Prinz Mastermatic III and Brenner Electric.
I see ewe
Prinz Mastermatic III with Kodak BW400CN. Lockerbie 2014

The Paulette series camera all have barrel focus, aperture and shutter speed controls just like the Halina 2000 & 3000. Like the 3000, the Paulette Electric adds an additional ring which you set to the film speed you’re using on the underside. This moves a small window around the barrel which shows a LV (light value) number. To use the camera with the built-in meter you read the LV from a needle meter on top (the LV is actually an Exposure Value (EV) at 100asa) and then move the shutter and aperture until you get the right LV showing on the lens. The meter is powered by a selenium cell array so no batteries are required.

Halina Paulette Electric lens detail
Halina Paulette Electric lens detail. Note LV window between Aperture and shutter rings

This obviously takes a wee bit longer initially compared to coupled automatic cameras but allows you the flexibility of choosing between a slow shutter & small aperture or fast shutter and wide aperture for the same shot.  The gearing isn’t linked so increasing your shutter speed doesn’t widen your aperture as it does with some other cameras like the Yashica Minster III but still allows a lot of control . I tended to fix a shutter speed or aperture then just move the other ring in the same conditions which speeds things up.

Bricked up
Prinz Mastermatic III with expired (2003) colorama 200asa film shot at box speed. 2014

 

The Metering system is okay for most shots and you aren’t tied to it which makes this a very controllable camera. For its day the shutter and aperture range is actually pretty good (f/2.8 for low light is pretty good). Although the meter gets up to EV17 the camera can only achieve a maximal 1/250 f/16 giving an actual maximal EV16.  You can ignore the meter and shoot manually and with a bit of nonce you can shoot faster films by adjusting the LV up a stop or 2  (e.g. with 1600asa film set film speed to max 400asa and add 2 to the meter LV reading  so 12 becomes 14 and so on)

Sneaky peek
Prinz Mastermatic IIII with Ilford XP2. 2014

The camera’s scale focused Anastigmatic lens is okay but I did find the distance settings were off with this most obvious with landscape shots. Things got blurry at infinity but even distant objects seemed more in focus at 30ft settings. The focus plane seems more even than my Halina 3000 so images are much sharper across the image. This lens is a tad soft but quite contrasty which  I like. Some vignetting is evident but not too bad.

Caught you looking
Prinz Mastermatic III with Kodak BW400CN. 2014

This camera is capable of taking reasonable images and better than it’s 70’s successors in my opinion but I’d recommend a test roll first to test out your focus. Worth noting you’ll need to get imperial as distances are in feet (90cm  is just under 3ft and 10ft is just over 3 meters). As ever shooting with small aperture helps. Am aware others have had serious issues with focus and wonder if misalignment is an issue for these as they age and some seem worse than others. I’ve included 2 other reviews one positive and negative at the bottom – worth noting the electric reviews are more postive by and large.

Chinese and English dishes
Prinz Mastermatic III with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Whitehaven 2014

You get cable threading, tripod mount and PC sync only flash. The PC sync point is on the lens barrel and there is a cold shoe mount point up top. It does have filter threading but I have no idea for size.

Mines started to under-read badly and then the winder packed in. I’m happy enough with the Halina 3000 but if I had the chance I’d pick the Paulette over it any day. However I’m aware folk have problems with some of these ( I’d do some test shots at different distances with focus adjusted above and below the actual distance). This isn’t a compact camera like a trip or 70’s-80’s P&S but has its own retro style (abet nicked from German models of the time). Not one if you want either quick automatic exposure shooting or dead sharp images but quite fun and retro to use.

Needlework
Prinz Mastermatic III with expired (2003) colorama 200asa film shot at box speed. 2014

My problem with metering is a clue to issues. These are 60’s cameras and selenium cells can wear out. Make sure seems to work and I’d only buy if camera comes with the case (selenium goes downhill more rapidly if exposed to light). Feels generally robust and light seals aren’t an issue. I’ve had issues with Halina 35x and 35x super with fungus so make sure lens is clear too. You should get for just a few quid on ebay. The papery fake leather on mines was starting to peel but this should be an easy replacement

Alternatives

  • Regula King Series – German 35mm cameras with similar looks
  • Franka 125 – Another German 35mm P&S
  • FED 50 –  Bonkers Soviet selenium powered 80’s compact P&S

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6 thoughts on “Halina Paulette Series Review : Vorsprung Hong Kong Technique”

  1. I have a Galina Paulette Camera flash gun,Made in Hong Kong, 36 Roll, F=45mm,Fc-Hallinar,Anastigmat 1:2•8,B 30,60,125,250. 4,56,8,1116, 8metre, Can snaps moving targets. Will you pl.take it back with some reward. Thanks.

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