other Halina cameras in my collection (and so it shall remain)
Halina Paulette [1965 - 1973]
Wow - have you gone mad Bear? You may well ask!
Well no; 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, and paid for them in weekly instalments.
I was under no illusion it was a quality item, but I never had any problems with it. After buying the Paulette my Father introduced me to one of his work colleagues - keen amateur photographer
Wing Commander George Thwaites - who taught me the principles of exposure control.
Image quality was never really an issue, because we were accustomed to pictures snapped with cheap 126 format Instamatic cameras, compared to which the Halina's shots were almost deluxe. I use to mainly take photos of my dog, rabbits and hamster, plus I'd be the family photographer for the occasional trip/event.
I've been tempted to buy a Paulette on and off. What has stopped me is the common asking price of around £10.00. Hell, that's more than it cost new. Fuelled by my recent inability to purchase my next collection camera cheaply, I took the plunge on an inexpensive (£1.20) Paulette for sentimental reasons (February 2016).
The bottom of the Paulette is stamped
Empire Made, which means Hong Kong - a by-word for cheap and nasty - but it was what we consumed in those days. I think quality control must have been hit-and-miss (mainly 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 (like various Adox, Braun, or Regula models), but it wasn't a direct copy of anything. It was also sold as the
Sears 65. At the end of production, the Paulette evolved into the Halina 2000, which was essentially the same lens and the same 4 speed shutter, wrapped in a new boxy shell - styled like the Minolta Hi-matic 7s.
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, un-coupled, Selenium meter. The Electric hung-out in Dixons under the name -
Prinz Mastermatic III. This camera also lived-on as the Halina 3000 - a boxy, meter equipped companion model to the 2000.
The original Paulette body also seems to have lived on as the Haponette, a little documented range of cameras sold by Prost, probably made by Regula, and featuring a Prontor shutter.
In 1965 the Halina Paulette cost £8 - 19s - 6d, when the average weekly UK wage was £24 - 6d.
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. 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.
Filter Size: 43mm screw fit.
Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. X-sync at 1/30th.
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: 399 g.
This camera reminds 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).
new Halina Paulette is in nice condition: in fact it's in pretty fantastic condition for a cheap, nasty, forty to fifty year old camera. More than that, it works, while a few of my more prestigious cameras do not. The film transport grinds and pings, but that's how Paulettes sound. The focus adjustment is a little stiff, but so are some of my joints. Obviously the light seals have perished to the point of non-existence, but I doubt I'll ever bother to replace them.
There's something else, aside from seller greed, that has stopped me buying one of these cameras: snobbery - thoughts such as, does it cheapen my collection? No - now it's in my hands - I'm really glad I got it, because it reminds me that cameras are the tools of photography, and owning a super-duper camera doesn't make anyone a great photographer.