I inherited one of these from my grandmother recently. Bought new in Romania in the 1930s or 1940s, can't remember.

Anyway, I've been shooting all kinds of films with it, and have gotten surprisingly decent results (this is Ektar 100 shot at 2am):

forgot to wind it a few times

(forgot to wind it a few times)

However I've had much trouble focusing the camera, as focus must be done by estimating the distance of the desired focus point.

I'd like to start taking portraits with this thing, before breaking down and buying a Mamiya to shoot my 6x6s. I'm looking for tips and tricks on how to focus this camera.

So far I've tried using a smart phone app to gauge distance but it's extremely inaccurate I've found. There are more expensive apps available but I'd like to see here first. Simply locking it to F11 and shooting away has resulted in some very shakey exposures, handheld in the daytime. I'd prefer to not require a tripod for daytime shooting.


1 Answer 1


The Isolettes use scale focusing - you have to guess the distance and dial that in. Not that uncommon method in low end cameras of it's era, it persisted with Rollei 35 (a lovely camera!) till about early eighties.

The most accurate option for you right now is getting hold of a laser rangefinder - they are rather cheap on the well known auction site. Look for the short range (~40 meter max.) ones used in home improvement, not the long range ones for hunting.

High ISO film and narrow aperture help as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ ahh like the ones golfers use. cool, this gives me some hope. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 26, 2018 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Never heard of golfers using them, but yes it should be it. I got the idea from a builder and it works like a charm \$\endgroup\$ Sep 26, 2018 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know next to nothing about laser technology, but what's the deal with shining a laser at someone who is posing for a portrait and presumably looking at the laser? \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Sep 26, 2018 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes - should @star_trac decide to purchase a laser range finder he should be careful not to point it into his sitter's eyes (or better yet to his face, to be doubly sure). I thought it went without saying. IMHO this does not invalidate the use of laser for estimating distance; and if in doubt it can be done the other way round by putting your camera at a tripod and measuring from sitter's face. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 26, 2018 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pushing might also be helpful here. I've shot Ektar100 up to 400 with pleasing results. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Sep 26, 2018 at 17:41

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