The spy who blurred me – Beier Beirette K100 Review

This is my second dalliance with this East German camera. This series of basic viewfinders have a sound a like name to Bond’s original firearm before Fleming gave him the  Walther PKK and like its namesakes compact and stylish. But is this camera worth taking on her majesty’s secret service or has been a Quantum of Solace ?

Beirette K100 35mm Soviet era DDR zone focus simple camera. #film
Beirette K100 35mm simple compact from 70’s East Germany

If you’ve read any more of this blog you’ll know I’m a bit of a fan of soviet cameras and I also have enjoyed using (West) German cameras from the post war period, but sadly this little DDR number left me frustrated twice which is a shame as on many levels it’s quite a clever and neat camera – just a shame about the lens.

Down the lane
Long Lane Carlisle, 2015. Beier Beirette K100 with Agfaphotoa Vista Plus 200. Smeary isn’t it !

Beier Beirette K100 Specs

  • Lens: Chromar 52mm
  • Focus: 3 zones
  • Aperture : fixed f/11
  • Shutter: 1/30, 1/125 & B
  • Metering: None
  • EV (100ISO) :  14-16
  • Flash: Hotshoe

Woldemar Beier started making cameras in Frietal near Dresden in 1932. Oddly his company remained part private under the communist regime initially until the state went from part to full control of the company 1972  and the pace was rebranded as VEB (citizens’ own company) Kamerafabrik Freital. Both names are linked to the long running Beirette series. The first Beirette was a folder launched in 1939 but the later 1958-1990 compacts are better known. The K100 launched in 1977 and in essence is a stripped down version of the vsn with a more basic achromatic lens.

The Capon Tree
Brampton, 2014. Beier Beirette K100 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Probably my best shot on a K100

What you get is a scale focused basic lens with a fixed (f/11) aperture and a choice of  3 shutter speeds determined by a ring showing symbols (sunny 1/125, cloudy/flash 1/30 or Bulb (B) – matched to 18-21 DIN films (50-100 ISO) according to the manual.). The camera has a few quirks that would keep Q happy. Firstly the shutter will not fire unless you load with film (or advance the film hole  sprocket manually)  meaning you could mistake a good ‘un for a dead ‘un. The film counter oddly only resets when you lift up the rewind spool (completely independent of the door release catch). The retro styled shutter on camera’s front has a almost invisible cable point. This all quite neat and is wrapped up in an attractive plastic and aluminium design echoing older German design but with more compact modern styling except for the obviously plastic lens barrel.

Xmas Stuff
The Lanes, Carlisle, 2014. Beier Beirette K100 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

And that lens is more than a cosmetic issue. I got one in 2013 but the lens looked a bit opaque. I shot a roll and wasn’t impressed and got some naff advice from someone who probably knew less than me and binned it. I chanced my arm again at the time of writing (2015) but guess what the lens looks a bit  opaque (as does almost every shot on google images is the same). The images rendered are bit hit and miss to say the least on both K100 I have owned. Occasionally you’ll get a passable shot (slightly soft, granular) but often blurry to the point of smeary with and unequal film plane (the slower 1/30 shutter speed doesn’t help either). It is a bit like using a Lomography Diana Mini without the cuteness.

Lochmaben
Lochmaben 2015. Beier Beirette K100 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Nicely styled and more easy to use than a lomo Smena 8m but the lens is rubbish. You’d really need to be into truely Lomo style to like. I’m getting a better lensed VS to see though if the mechanics are more foregiving. For now I’m neither shaken or stirred.

Why Buy ?

  • Compact
  • Nicely styled
  • Cheap

Why not ?

  • The lens
  • Limited settings

What I Paid

  • Paid £2.50 plus postage for camera only on eBay

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