View Full Version : szabad 5x7 camera

5-Jun-2001, 21:28
i have a szabad camera, and was wondering if anyone else had ever heard of this camera? ... is there a good way to make a "stop" so normal 5x7 film holders will regester at the right spot? the film holders have to go in about 1/4" or so beyond where the film holder would normally want to stop, until the film opening is lined-up and it is sort of a pain .. . if it were the other way around and i had to put it in "less" i know i could put some small round screws as a "block" ... but i am at a loss to figure out the best way to remedy my situation ... does anyone know how to determine the age of one of these cameras? i read somewhere that they were only made between 1943 and 1962 and they were used by lots and lots of swedish commercial and portrait photographers ... thanks in advance! - john

6-Jun-2001, 04:23
Hi John!

The Szabad camera was built by a hungarian who immigrated to Sweden. I know very little about him but I think that he was an engineer. The cameras he made were done for the european formats (13x18 and 9x12 cm). I don't think they are very abundant, but I see them now and then. I have never seen a 13x18 in the flesh, so I did not know he did them. Until now, that is.

The engineer did constant developments and changes to the cameras, but from the examples I have seen they are sturdy and well-built, if not over-built.

I thought the 5x7 holders would be like a 4x5 holder. These holders have the same outer dimensions as the european 9x12 cm holders. The hungarian also made Szabad filmholders. I have eight of these (9x12) and they seem to be made to the standards.

Can't you just mark up the holders so that you know how far in the holders has to go to sit correctly? Otherwise you might have to modify the camera, but I am positive there is some way to remedy the problem.

17-Jun-2001, 15:56
jimi! thanks so much for the information about my camera!

i figured out what the deal was with the film holders ... i came to the realization that the camera's former owner put the ground glass on upside-down, so things were a little messed-up .. :) since i reversed the ground glass, the film holders seat PERFECTLY!

- john

13-May-2006, 17:39
hi fredrik :)

its good to know there are others that have and use szabad cameras !
since i originally posted i bought one of the few 8x10s that were made.
according to some there were only 3 or 4.

i was lucky enough to have the original swedish "history" of mr szabad and his cameras.

if anyone is interested i have attached a pdf of an english translation of the swedish text.


16-May-2006, 09:36
John et al,
I have a small book from the early 60's, titled Press/View Camera Technique by Paul Wahl. It has a very small write up on the camera w/ the then current prices and a picture of one. At that time they were roughly equal in price to a Deardorf and contemporary with the Linhof Kardon Color and Technika IV, Sinar Norma and Kodak Master. If you are interested I could scan the material and e-mail it. They do look like real nice cameras, I bid on one on ebay several months back, but got sniped.

20-Jun-2006, 18:51
Old favourite threads re-surface again. :) Incidentally, I did one translation for John into english, patched up from several smaller texts and tidbits I found here in Sweden, some of it from the link given by Fredrik. I've since last time I posted, seen a few Szabads, all of them 9x12 size. They come up now and then at the auctions held by LP Foto (http://www.lpfoto.se). The Szabad holders are of course, more common.

26-Jun-2006, 05:35
I have never seen any of the 18x24 Szabad holders. Even the usual 18x24 ones seems hard to find. BTW, I got 4 old, used wooden 8x10 holders and a Turner Reich Anastigmat Convertible (12"/21"/28" focal length) in an Ilex shutter, complete with machined brass retaining ring, hanging around in a cupboard here... Just thought I'd mention it. PM me if you're interested.

Ole Tjugen
26-Jun-2006, 07:59
The "usual" 18x24 holders are easy to find - on ebay.de. Since they are becoming ever less popular, they are a lot cheaper than 8x10" ones too.

In my case they only add to the confusion, I have 9x12, 4x5", 13x18, 5x7", 18x24, 8x10", 24x30 and 30x40. I hope I never find a reason for a 10x12" camera.

26-Jun-2006, 10:26
Good to know to where to find the holders but I think that you have too many cameras, Ole. Not good for your health, this. Might as well send a few over to me for safekeeping, eh? ;)

(btw, you haven't by any chance owned a Mamiya RZ with a 110 lens somewhere in the mists of time?)

Ole Tjugen
26-Jun-2006, 11:31
Jimi, I may have too many cameras (anyone need a pretty, but lousy 13x18cm folding "Reisekamera"?), but no, I've never ownad a Mamiya RZ. My only Mamiya is a C3.

5-Jul-2006, 03:02
I bought a black 9x12/ 4x5" in Sweden last year. The bellows had to be replaced and I ordered a custom made Technika lensboard adaptor at Lotus View Camera in Austria (www.lotusviewcamera.at). After having worked with Linhof Technikas for more than 15 years the Szabad is now my standard 4x5" field camera.

Matthias, University of Fine Arts Bremen Germany

Lee Hamiel
19-Jul-2006, 03:27
I have a Szabad 4x5 that I'm in the middle of restoring. It's a really well made camera & very solid. The previous owner had modified the front standard to allow for an oversized lens & I am putting it back to it's standard configuration. At this point I am a ways off from completing as I decided to completely disassemble the camera to do it right & not just do a quick fix. I also will be making new bellows for it as well.

One thing is that once you take apart a camera like this you can appreciate the amount of engineering & design that went into it as well as the craftsmanship. A lot of nice touches such as the sliding tripod mounting plate to rebalance the setup is similar in handling to a rail camera - the standards are very solid & again similar to a rail camera as well. The swing lockdown levers are almost identical to the Linhof Bi-Kardan I used to own.

Having liked the Linhof Bi-Kardan a lot I sold it to try to be more portable & got a Wisner 4x5 Tech & now with the Szabad I feel like it's a hybrid between a rail & field camera. Once done I will plan on posting some pics.

Lee Hamiel
21-Jul-2006, 15:53
I will be happy to post Fredrik:

Also feel free to correspond directly via email & I will be happy to proof the english version you come up with.

I am at PatentIllustration "at" comcast "dot" net

Just let me buy a 5x7 & maybe an 8x10 before you post on your website:)

These are truly great cameras & as some have said overbuilt & after you post the prices are going to go up ...

Good Luck with the site & best regards

22-Jul-2006, 06:12
hi jimi et al.

looks like we have a little szabad fan club over here :)
thanks again jimi for the translation! my memory is very bad
and i couldn't remember if i got it from you, or ...

fredrik -- i was always under the impression that the 18x24 and 8x10 were different cameras, as are the 5x7 and 13x18 ... thanks for straightening me out <g>

can't wait to see your szabadcamera rave site !


22-Jul-2006, 08:21
here one of my 8x10 ...
fredrik it looks like my scales are a little
different and the lensboard mount is a little different too ...

any idea when your 8x10 / 18x24 was made ?
the person who i bought from mentioned
his studio bought them new in the early 60s ( he had 2 of them!) ...

your scales look sort of like the ones on my 5x7.
( when i get a chance i'll ad a pic of that camera as well ... )

22-Jul-2006, 12:27
Well, even if I don't own any Szabad (yet) I can always help out with translation stuff and technical things if anyone needs it.

I think there was a way of knowing when (approxomately) a Szabad was made, maybe year and a unique serial number, but I know I've seen some numbers and that idea didn't quite add up. Generally the black ones are the latest.

It would be interesting to see if it was possible to find any archived material from his business, maybe in the archive of the city museum in Stockholm. His full name, Szilard Szabad ought to be easily recognized anyways. We also know for example that he sold products for Hasselblad, if I remember correctly. So there ought to be something more somewhere... :)

22-Jul-2006, 17:19
hi fredrik

sorry for my confusing lingo :)
by scale, i mean the gauge that tells
how far you tilt your front/rear standards ..
i wasn't really sure what to call them - guage, scale, degree plate :)

maybe mine is later or earlier than yours, and they just changed the hardware ?


Lee Hamiel
22-Jul-2006, 18:40
I think John means the inclination level indicators for the tilts of the standards.

Mine has the swinging arrows hanging down inside of the indicator scales which are below the arrows.

23-Jul-2006, 12:33
I think John means the inclination level indicators for the tilts of the standards.

Mine has the swinging arrows hanging down inside of the indicator scales which are below the arrows.

yeah, that's what it is called :)

on the 5x7 there is a pointy metal piece afixed to the standard ( kind of ) and the 8x10 seems a little more "refined" (metal plate, almost art deco-ish numbering+metal bits) ... both have the little white "dot" and hole in the standard to "0-out" ...


Lee Hamiel
24-Jul-2006, 16:21

These shots are great! Wow ...

Makes me wish I had some shots with my late father in the darkroom as a kid:)

Out of curiosity - how old is Carl now? 50 years old or so...?

This is a great resource you have going for you - I wish I could send you funds to buy him a cup of coffee - or whatever his flavor may be - this is really fantastic. Let me know if I can do so easily such as paypal, etc. . I'd be happy to do so. May sound cheesy but I would like to do so.

Thanks so much for posting & I think it's great that you are going to create a webpage based on these cameras.

Best Regards

25-Jul-2006, 04:35
Really nice to see the photos. And boy, does it make my mouth water to see so many shiny cameras... :)

I've seen and used the filmholders (had 6 or so for my Speed Graphic, sized 9x12cm), which were constructed mainly out of wood and very well made. If I remember it correctly that's how it all began, as a business to make filmholders. And of course a few of the cameras, but never the tripods. If you get permission to post more stuff, keep'em coming!

Carl Szabad
28-Jul-2006, 02:05
Hi, I&#180;m Carl Szabad.

When I was contacted by Fredrik a while ago I just had to examine my fathers&#180;s archive, which unfortunetly had not been structured, due to many other projects. Fredrik also sent me the link to this discussion which I found very interresting.

As an answer to an earlier question in this thread, I am 59 years old and live in Stockholm, Sweden.

This morning I made a new examination of the archive, and luckily I found the notation book where he listed all customers related to the serial numbers of the cameras. So if you want to know when a camera is delivered I can help you with that, if it is listed.

As you can see on one of the photos I actually worked in my father&#180;s factory when I was small, even if I in that age didn&#180;t have too advanced tasks. When I was 11 years I one christmas helped my father with export documents for a lot of cameras who were then sent to New York. My father had an agent there named Dennis. Maybe some of your cameras came from him.

Lee Hamiel
28-Jul-2006, 14:30
Hi Carl:

Thanks so much for joining & posting information about Szabad cameras.

I have many questions but will save them for now & follow up in the future & perhaps via email.

Best regards - Lee

28-Jul-2006, 17:04
hi carl!

thanks for joining in !
as you can see we have a bit of a szabadcamera cult here :)

i look forward to your helpful insights and information on these great cameras ..

thanks again

Carl Szabad
28-Jul-2006, 23:14
Hi Fredrik!

In the notations with the serial numbers not all cameras are listed. Number 1153 is delivered probably to Hasselblad in 1955, due to deliveries with higher and lower numbers.

Number 1626 (=11626?) was delivered in January 27, 1961 to Institutet f&#246;r F&#228;rgfoto (The institute for color photo). Maybe it was first meant for export, as those cameras normally had an extra "1" before the four digit number. Number 11621 was delivered in 1958 to Dennis in New York.

Does anyone know Dennis? If the man/company still exists? I have a strong memory from when I was small, in 1955 or maybe even before, that the telephone rang 2 o&#180;clock in the morning. In our home noone phoned us at that time! It was Dennis from New York, where it then was 8 o&#180;clock in the evening. By that time you had to phone an operator and ask for a call in Sweden when it was outside your own city, and here came a phone call from the other side of the world!

I know that the cameras have a little bit of cult status in Sweden and the surrounding countries but it was very interresting to discover that they still are discussed, and also are used, in the US.

21-Sep-2006, 14:13
hi fredrik

nope, mine have straight corners, no rounding.
i have a feeling that they are pretty much the same camera, but
they modified the 18x24 or the 8x10 ever so slightly for the euro/us markets.

i don't shoot a lot of film, mostly paper since film is so expensive, and
i have a lot of paper on hand :)

beautiful photo!

Par Rittsel
3-Jan-2007, 09:04
Hello Fredrik and all of you in this Szabad club. I just want to tell you that I've created a few Szabad pages on my site: http://prittsel.googlepages.com/.
As soon as I find the interview I did with Szilard in 1979, it will be published. Riught now I have all the product photographs that he gave me as well as two of my portraits of him.
We met through large format photographers and after the interview we started to discuss starting the camera production again.
We even found an investor, but the chemistry beetween Szilard and him would have lead to a crash. So Szilard called the whole thing off, saying "I rather be friends with you than having enemies at work".
Happy New Year!
Par Rittsel

Lee Hamiel
3-Jan-2007, 11:42
Thanks for posting & this is great what you've done

Here's the link again:



Lee Hamiel
10-Feb-2007, 15:07
Par now has the translated interview up on his site - Interesting story about a great LF builder


Thanks Par

13-Mar-2007, 05:18
Szabad - a name from the past, from my youth in the professional photo equipment industry here in the Uk.

I only remember the Szabad studio stand though, I don't think that the LF cameras ever made it to Britain.

The Szabad studio stand ('statif' on the exhibition booth) was imported into the UK by the Sinar importer of that time (1960/70's) Stanley Kenyon and I remember the stand that used to sell being slightly different from either of the models shown on the trade show booth picture. Maybe by the '60's it would be an 'improved model' !

I remember particularly that it had two very useful features quite apart from it's useful height, absolute rigidity and ease of movement about the studio floor but iwith rock-solid locks on the wheels. The two features were a crank handle/worm gear on the lateral (side shift) arm which allowed fine control of camera tilt. The second was that the camera securing 'block' which moved along the side'lateral arm has a side levelling (see-saw) feature which permitted final lateral levelling of the camera even if the studio floor was a little out of true !

It was a fantastic stand and worked wonderfully with Sinar - at a fraction of the cost of the great Linhof, Cambo, Plaubel and Foba stands of those days.

But they were built like the proverbial battleship and so many of them may still be around today - though possibly more in Scandinavia and Europe than in the USA (studio stands always were VERY expensive things to ship on the basis of weight vs. value).

From what has been said above it is possible that Szilard was a contemporary of Victor Hasselblad himself in those early days ?

(P.S. I see from one of the links above that the Szabad stands are STILL being made by an engineering firm in Sweden !)

Marc Joslyn
21-May-2008, 20:58
In 1954, or thereabouts, I bought a Szabad 5x7 (mm equivalent) camera from the Hasselblad store in Stockholm, together with two Schneider lenses (the front and back elements of which could be separated and used independently). I also bought a dozen film holders, a roll-film back, and a big Linhof tripod. The Danish writer R. Broby Johansen was doing a book on medieval Scandinavian church art and wanted some large, detailed illustrations in color. I was quite impressed with the Szabad, its sturdy blackened wood (oak? ash?) construction with well-designed stainless steel fittings and I took many fine Kodachrome plates with it, working up to each with 35mm Leica 3f studies.

Later, in the U.S. I lent the Szabad to an old friend and a great photographer, William Current. I was occupied at a graduate school, had no time for much else, and Bill could make good use of my equipment (although his favorite camera was the Roloflex). Some of his outstanding photographs can be seen e.g. in his book about the great California architects the Green brothers in the early 1900's in Pasadena, and his book about the Anastazi cliff dwellings of Arizona.

I never got my beloved Szabad back. Bill sold it with the lenses etc. one time when he was hard up for money, but kept the Linhof. I was upset, of course, but Bill claimed I had given him the Szabad, not merely lent it to him. So be it. He was dear friend and so I let the matter be.

Now I am glad to know that out there, somewhere, someone is using the Szabad and enjoying the results.

Lee Hamiel
22-May-2014, 15:16

6 years and one day since the last post ...

After a full dis-assembly and cleaning + making new leather bellows for my 4x5 / 9x12 Szabad I've decided to sell it

I'll be posting in the for sale section in the next day along with photos

Regards - Lee

22-May-2014, 19:08
jimi! thanks so much for the information about my camera!

i figured out what the deal was with the film holders ... i came to the realization that the camera's former owner put the ground glass on upside-down, so things were a little messed-up .. :) since i reversed the ground glass, the film holders seat PERFECTLY!

- john

Yeah, but now I'll bet that the ground glass images are upside down. Damn -- it's always something!:)

23-May-2014, 19:22
Yeah, but now I'll bet that the ground glass images are upside down. Damn -- it's always something!:)

actually the image was rightside up, and NOW it is upside down.
i hate how that happened... totally right bill, always something ! :)

Steven Tribe
25-May-2014, 11:44
You might be better off selling this at the Photographic auction house in Stockholm - or through a dedicated Swedish website. They are not really special enough to command international interest - but have some novelty appeal to the Swedish public. There are about 2 - 3 to sale each year. There are quite a few versions, as might be expected from a small operation and learning from purchasers' feedback.