If you lived in the 50s and 60s like I have, you likely have owned or knew someone who owned a Foldex 20 camera, or a similar model, that had the big flash attachment and opened up so that the lens moved forward on a folding bellows. Sweet.
The 1950-1953 Foldex 20 had a synchronized shutter too. What more could you ask for? Well, perhaps an 86 mm Octvar lens would be nice, and is. For novices like me, there are only two adjustments for shutter speed; 1/50 and time settings. When using the 1/50, point, click and it automatically opens and closes the lens. When using the time setting, use a tripod attachment to steady the camera. Push down on the button, hold, and then release after 1 to 15 seconds (a light meter might be handy to use for the correct timed exposure). Frame your photo shot through the viewfinder. Wind the film to set up the next shot. Note that the shutter is protected by glass.
This amazing folding camera was manufactured in the Chicago area by Pho-Tak Corporation. Pho-Tak was just one of several news companies in the 50s who made and sold camera models in Chicago, New England, and NY. They also made Scout 120 Flash for the Boy Scouts of America and a single box camera named the Traveler 120. It used 120 film whereas the Foldex uses both the 120 and the 620 film. The resulting photos are 3 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches. The camera is black with aluminum dials, etc. Did you notice that the camera folds together, making it an early version of today’s “compact” cameras. Funny.
Per westfordcomp.com all Foldex cameras are built like “battleships.”
My camera had the rare attachment bulb flash. As I recall, we bought these in packs and got one flash pop per picture. Since there are only 8 exposures on the film, we needed 8 flash bulbs per roll of film. With each snap, they went from bright light to burned out.
A good Foldex 20 find today is considered to be one with no chipping or paint loss to the finish or, the less issues the better. Many can’t be sold other than “as is” because most owners no longer have the bulbs and the film to make magic with old cameras. We just do our best as we manuever through our digital world.
About this same time, the Rollex 20 camera was introduced which was very similar to the Foldex 20. The Rollex 20 was manufactured by the United States Camera Co., which many believe was either Pho-Tak under a different name or United States Camera was subcontracting from Pho-Tak with the variation in name. Both companies were supposedly Chicago based.
So I have learned more about this very interesting folding, compact, camera. Hope you have too. Comments are welcomed below. Please consider following my writings.