Bolsey B2

Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:

Bolsey B2

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

Released in 1949, the Bolsey B2 is the predecessor of the 1950 model Bolsey C22. If you haven't read my C22 page first, please go there and read those comments as this B2 review is an addition to it. The Bolsey B2 was in production for about 7 years, until 1956 when the Bolsey Corporation went backrupt. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

The picture to the right pictures the B2 with the C22 in the background.

Like the Leica III series of the same period, the Bolsey B2 has a separate viewfinder and split-image rangefinder. A year later, Bolsey Corporation added a beautiful but uselessly small twin-lens reflex to the C22 model. Unfortunately, the domestically made Bolsey couldn't compete either against the German and Japanese imports which were starting to become more popular, or against the domestic competition from Polaroid and Kodak.


Interesting Features

The B2 shares the same inanely complex double-exposure prevention / shutter interlock. To wind the camera, you lift the knob slightly and then turn it counter-clockwise. The wind lever only pulls the film. As the film pulls through, the sprocket holes engage the sprocket counter. On most cameras, this is usually used only to ensure proper film spacing and the film counter (which it also does on the B2). But as the sprocket wheel turns, it pulls the small pin that you see on the front of the camera. This pin retracts into the body, allowing the shutter cocking/firing lever to spring all the way to the top.

The Wollensack shutter is self-energizing. Once the lever is at the top, you can set the shutter speed from a blazing 1/200 sec to a miserly 1/10 sec. Sorry, this really isn't the most flexible of cameras if you want to take it both in and outdoors. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

The Wollensack Anastigmat lens isn't too bad for its day. At least it's (single) coated.

The B2 features the amazing Set-o-Matic flash control feature. This adjust the aperture based on the guidenumber of the film and the distance to the object. This simple feature rivals the most sophisticated E-TTL metering of current SLRs.


The other quirk that the C22 shares is the chromed pressure plate. While this is fine for negative film which has an anti-reflective backing, it causes double-images with slide film. Either paint it matt black or only use negative (print) film in this camera.


Unfortunately, most of this camera was made of aluminium, which tends to oxidize black. So it looks a bit ugly, but with some elbow grease, it cleans up quite well.



Technical Details

Camera Name
Place of Manufacture

Rochester, NY

Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Rangefinder focusing (split image)

Optical viewfinder (reverse Gallilean)

Fixed Lens

44mm f/3.2 Wollensak Anastigmat (Coated)


Wollensak Synchromatic (Alpha X) leaf shutter

T / B / 10 / 25/ 50 / 100 / 200

Metering System



f/3.2 - f/22


Bolsey C flash system mount

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

Battery type
Dimensions and weight
A (light aluminum) brick
Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place.



About Bolsey (Obex Camera)

Jacque Bolsky first started designing cameras in 1923 in Switzerland. The first unit was the Cinegraph Bol. He followed with the Bolec which was later renamed the Bolex. Then he designed the Bolca which became the Bolsey Reflex and then was sold to a Swiss company to become the Alpa. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

There's some argument over Bolsky's real name. Some have him as Ukranian and his real name as Bogopolsky.

Bolsey emigrated to the U.S. after the war, changed his name to Bolsey, and started designing cameras around the Wollensack lens/shutter. He wanted affordable, well made cameras. The Bolsey Model B and Model C's accomplished those goals handily. The first were made by Pignons SA (Alpa) but the later ones were made by the Obex Corporation of NY. Unfortunately the imports from Japan and Germany were too much for him and he closed his factory doors in 1956.

On the Net

The Bolsey C series is very popular in Japan (all pages Japanese):


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