other Halina cameras in my collection (and so it shall remain)
Halina Paulette & Paulette Electric [1965 - 1972]
The bottom of the Paulette is stamped
Empire Made, which means Hong Kong - a 60s/70s by-word for cheap and nasty - but that was what we consumed in those days. I think quality control must have been hit-and-miss because few people seem to have a good word to say about the Paulette, but mine really was OK. Maybe the anti-Paulette views are down to the fact this was an entry-level camera for amateur photography, making it prone to much user error?
There isn't much more I can say: it's a basic, no frills camera, with a styling typical of numerous German models of the time (such as Adox, Braun, or Regula), but it wasn't a direct copy of anything. It was also sold as the
Sears 65 in the USA.
At the end of production, the Paulette evolved into the Halina Paulette II, which was essentially the same lens and 4 speed shutter specification, wrapped in a new boxy shell, with a hot shoe added. In addition to chrome, there was a black finish option. I can't establish any dates, but the Paulette II appears to have been quickly renamed as the Halina 2000, which was only available in chrome finish and had modest styling changes. These models look like they might have light collection windows for a bright frame finder, but they are fake.
In 1966, the Halina Paulette cost £8 - 19s - 6d, when the average weekly UK wage was £24 - 6d.
The Paulette Electric
The Paulette's big sister (it's got a girl's name, so it must be a girl) was the Halina Paulette Electric, which had a built-in, uncoupled, Selenium frog-spawn meter. A pointer window on the top plate shows an EV rating, which has to be manually transferred to the exposure settings via two additional lens controls. One is a film speed selector. The other is a window which shows an EV number, which is set by adjusting the aperture dial (although the shutter speed setting can alternatively be altered). The Electric is otherwise exactly the same as the Paulette. The Electric was re-badged for Dixons under the name -
Prinz Mastermatic III.
This camera also lived-on as the Halina Paulette EE II - a boxy, black or chrome finished, meter equipped companion model to the Paulette II, which in turn became the chrome only Halina 3000. Dixons sold the EE II as the Prinz Mastermatic V (but only in black). The panels either side of the viewfinder on these models have make/model identification plates, rather than pretend illumination windows.
In 1966, the Halina Paulette Electric cost £11 - 19s - 6d
Paulette / Paulette Electric
Viewfinder: Albada reverse telescope type with bright-lines and fixed parallax markings. Magnification about x0.75 at a guess.
Focus: Manual - scaled in feet.
Lens: 45mm Halinar Anastigmat (see the grey panel on the right). Appears to be 3 elements.
Close Focus: About 3 feet.
Diaphragm: Five blade, f/2.8 stopping down to f/16.
Shutter: Four speed 1/30th to 1/250th +B.
Cable Release: Standard screw-in.
Meter: N/A / uncoupled selenium.
Exposure range: N/A / EV 7 to EV 17.
Film Speed: N/A / ASA 25 - 400.
Filter Size: 42.5mm screw fit.
Flash: Cold shoe / hot shoe and PC terminal.
Film Advance: Lever.
Frame Counter: Count up with auto reset.
Back Opening: Sliding catch.
Size: 126 x 86 x 70mm (W x H x D).
Weight: 399g / 427g.
The Halina Paulette was the first proper camera I owned. So far as I can recall, it was purchased in 1973 (at the end of its long production run) from my Mother's
Littlewoods mail order catalogue for £12.99 - including a case. That's how we bought things in those days ... from mail order catalogues. We paid a little more than shop prices, so that the cost could be spread over weekly instalments.
I was under no illusion that the Paulette was a quality item, but I never had any problems with it. Image quality was never really an issue, because I was accustomed to pictures snapped with my parents' very basic 126 format Instamatic camera (a nasty Ilford Compact 25), compared to which, the Halina's shots were almost deluxe.
I've been tempted to buy a Paulette on and off, but what has stopped me is the common asking price of around £10.00: that's more than it cost new (in the high street). Fuelled by a recent inability to find my next collection camera, I took the plunge on an inexpensive, £1.20, Paulette in February 2016.
My Halina Paulette is in nice condition: in fact - pretty fantastic condition for a cheap, forty to fifty year old camera … and it still works. The film transport grinds and pings, but that's how Paulettes sound. The focus adjustment is a little stiff, and obviously the light seals have perished to the point of non-existence, but I doubt I'll ever bother to replace them.
Back in 1973, the camera I really wanted was an Electric, but I couldn't afford it! I think I had a bit of a nostalgia rush, and bought a Halina Paulette Electric in May 2019 for another £1.20. My Electric is also in good condition with a working meter, but the focus adjustment is very slack, and I doubt it actually works at all. There's something strange about the diaphragm: it seems to have only four blades, which form a rectangular aperture?
My Paulette received a bit of a makeover. I had made myself a desk for my den, with an insert leather top, and had some leftover material. I thought it would be nice to cover the Paulette .. and here it is; a cream leather covered camera photographed on a cream leather desk top.
These cameras remind me of happy times; in the sense of a contentment with the simple pleasures in life. Generally people didn't want so much in 1973, because there weren't many things to want, and simple pleasures were the antidote to the general unrest in the UK (National strikes, IRA mainland bombings, the
Cod War, joining the EEC and the introduction of VAT, and not forgetting pesky school and homework).
There's something else, aside from seller greed, that has stopped me buying these Halinas; snobbery - thoughts such as, does it cheapen my collection? No - I'm really glad I got them, because they remind me that cameras are the tools of photography, and owning a super-duper camera doesn't make anyone a great photographer.