It’s actually a Goldammer Goldeck II, but it was advertised on fleabay as a Goldhammer and that is what it has become.
Goldammer was a German manufacturer that produced cameras from the 1920s through to the 1960s. The Goldeck II that I have dates from somewhere around 1958. It has a 75mm f2.9 lens made by Steiner, a German manufacturer of binoculars and camera lenses. The shutter is labelled as a Pronto and provides speeds of B and 1/25 to 1/200. On mine the aperture appears to have one drooping blade, so the central hole is not round. But knowing this, I will just open it up a bit to compensate. Anyway, it might do something interesting to the bokeh.
The camera’s distinguishing feature is the telescopic lens mount. The lens is normally stowed close-in against the body, but this is not the position it shoots from. Give the lens a twist and it extends out on a chromed tube to lock in the shooting position. A nice touch is that the shutter is locked when the lens is in the closed position. Why the tube? Probably because it was cheaper and easier to make than a bellows and collapsing the lens makes it an easier package to carry around.
The camera feels an odd mix of good and cheap. The lower ends of where the spools are held in the camera hinge out for loading. Nice feature. The camera body is metal and the top plate is a smooth pressing with a satin finish. The lens pulls out and locks on its tube. Fiddly but nice. The viewfinder is small. The strap lugs are bits of thin sheet metal. The sliding cover for the frame-counter window is thin and barely works. But for 99p and delivery, it beats a Holga.
The main win is the lens. Maximum aperture of f2.9 and it focuses down to 3.5 feet (imperial measurement despite being German). Stick a little rangefinder in the cold shoe and we have a working package.
If you want your photography to slow you down, this is the boy for you. Extend and lock the lens; measure and set the exposure; measure and set the distance; cock the shutter; oh, where did my subject go? There is no interlock on the shutter, so you can do multiple exposures at will. And you will unless you get into the good habit of winding on after every shot. Another thing that beats a Holga is that it winds-on nice tight rolls of film – none of the light-leaking fat rolls you get with the plastic fantastic (or indeed with my Ensign). Perhaps unusually it pulls the film from right to left, so the wind-on knob is the one on the left. The knob on the right does rotate, but only to record the speed of the loaded film as a reminder.
The viewfinder is small, as I said. Due to the size of my nose it’s actually easier to shoot the camera as though it was in portrait orientation: on its side. When you take a shot you can see the shutter cocking lever spring back at the bottom edge of the viewfinder. At least you know you took one – the release is quite firm and takes more pressure than you might expect for a leaf shutter.
So I took my new precious out for a walk, and as you do with a strange new camera I loaded it with a strange new film – Ilford Ortho-plus.
So it really can be focused and it can throw a good background. The ortho film also darkens male skin tones for that rugged look.
Incidentally, this is what ortho film does relative to normal full-colour:
It is effectively blind to red and renders blues very pale. Tomatoes go black.
As you can see, the Goldeck can be focused like a ‘real’ camera with the aid of a clip-on rangefinder. The lens opens wide enough to do soft backgrounds as well and allows the use of a slow film like Ortho 80.
So colour me happy. I think I have found my Holga substitute.