The Altissa Altix V, Altix-n and Altix-nb all had interchangeable lens mounts. The lens mount was unique to the Altix, the lenses could not be mounted on other cameras. To mount the lens, one needed to place it on the mount base and then tighten the large knurled ring. Three different standard lenses were available: a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f/2.8, a Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 50mm f/2.9 and a rare E. Ludwig Meritar 50mm f/2.9. In addition, there was a telelens, the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Telefogar 90mm f/3.5, and two wide-angle lenses, the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primagon 35mm f/4.5 and a rather rare Meyer-Optik Lydith 30mm f/3.5. The latter is black with silver stripes, in so-called zebra style, which does not really match the look of the Altix cameras and the other lenses.
As only later models of the Altix-n and Altix-nb had viewfinders with frames for the different focal lengths, an accessory viewfinder with masks for 50mm and 90mm was available. Without mask it showed the field of view of the 35mm lens. It also featured parallax correction.
The Altissa Altix V was introduced in 1954. Other than the interchangeable lens mount, it was nearly identical to the fixed lens Altix IV. Many slightly different versions of the Altix V existed. For instance, early models have Altix engraved in the top housing in capitals, later models in italics. Export models had a Prontor-SVS shutter instead of a Tempor and a small window in the top housing that showed the selected flash sync setting. Arguably the most interesting and certainly most collectable (and expensive) range were the coloured-leather Altix, including blue, green, red, orange and brown versions. These even had matched-colour accessory viewfinders, which are extremely rare these days.
An early version of the Altix-V with 'Altix' in capitals on the top housing. Pushing the red button left of the lens mount allowed the cocking lever to be pushed further as to activate the time delay.
Export model of the early version of the Altix-V with 'Altix' in capitals on the top housing. This example is fitted with the rare E. Ludwig Meritar 50mm f/2.9 lens, which was only produced for a short while (in Altix mount).
Top view of the same export Altix. The small window next to the name Altix indicated the flash setting, which could be adjusted with a small lever beneath the lens. This version did not yet have a film reminder dial integrated in the rewind knob, in contrast to the later models below.
A later version of the Altix-V with 'Altix' in italics on the top housing and a film reminder dial integrated in the rewind knob. Other small differences compared to the earlier version were the grey time delay button left of the lens and the viewfinder window, which no longer had two screws to secure the front glass.
A late version of the Altix-V in green leather, the authenticity of which can be verified by the embossed Altissa logo and model number at the back. This particular example was made a little earlier than the same version above, as it still had a time delay button with red dot.
A colourfull bunch: blue, brown and green versions of the Altix-V.
A late export version of the Altix-V with 'Altix' in italics on the top housing and a little window next to it that indicated the X-M-V settings on the shutter.
The Altix-n was the result of a considerable redesign of the Altix body. The small Galilean viewfinder of the Altix-V, which was still inherited from the very first Altix, was replaced by a larger bright frame viewfinder, the camera got a winding lever, and the body was streamlined with a larger top housing. In addition, the whole back of the camera slides of so loading film is considerably more straightforward.
Two main versions exist. The first version has Altix-n engraved on top of the camera, it has a somewhat smaller viewfinder than the later model and a large rewind knob which has an integrated film reminder dial. The second version had a larger viewfinder which projected frames for 50 and 90 mm lenses. Due to the unusual location of the bright frame window on top of the camera, the rewind knob had to be much smaller and the film reminder dial moved next to the winding lever. As the first version had no frames for 35mm and 90mm lenses, a separate viewfinder that slot into the accessory shoe was necessary.
First version of the Altix-n with a small rounded viewfinder window.
Second version of the Altix-n with a brighline frame finder with 50mm standard lens. Top and bottom right photos show the same camera with 35mm and 90mm lenses, respectively. Click here for some phots taken with this outfit.
The Altix-nb was similar to the Altix-n but included a light meter (the 'b' stands for 'Belichtungsmesser' in German). The first version of the Altix-nb was similar to the first version of the Altix-n and had the light meter mounted on top of the camera. Due to the size of the light meter the rewind knob was smaller but higher than the Altix-n version. As opposed to the small light meters built into most cameras of that time, the light meter of the Altix-nb was nearly the size of handheld meters and therefore presumably quite accurate. Unfortunately most don't work anymore. Some models of the first version have Altix engraved on the front, others on the light meter flap.
The second version of the Altix-nb had the same light meter integrated into the top housing. It had the light meter dial where the film reminder was located on the second version of the Altix-n but was otherwise identical.
An early Altix-nb with top-mounted light meter.
A late Altix-nb with integrated light meter and brightline frame finder.
A late Altix-nb with rare Meyer-Optik Lydith 30mm f/3.5 lens. The lens was better known from the Exakta mount version. It looked rather different than the other, chrome Altix lenses. Its most appealing feature was the close focus distance of only 30 cm, however, on a camera without rangefinder or parallax correction like the Altix-nb it would have been rather difficult to take advantage of that.
There are some indications that Altissa was going to develop a rangefinder version of the Altix-nb. Under the top housing a small frame is visible next to the winding mechanism, which is presumably there to hold a rangefinder patch. There is also ample space for a rangefinder mechanism. It is however unclear how the lens focus was going to be coupled to the rangefinder mechanism.
A disassembled early Altix-nb showing a small frame (indicated by a red arrow) possibly intended for a future rangefinder.