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Agfa Isolette III - A classic medium-format folding camera

Create: 02/15/2015 - 15:09

The Agfa Isolette III is a folding medium-format camera from the 1950s.

Classic camera lovers know that the Agfa Isolette III is one of the better medium-format folding cameras.

It has an excellent design, is easy to use and folds into a very compact package.

However, it's not without its problems, and I explain what they are in this video.

Comments

This is really a superb camera -- particularly for someone who likes to be able to snap high-resolution, high-quality photos as and when the opportunity presents itself, as it folds up into a neat, pocketable package (especially if you have somewhat large pockets). ;-)

I purchased mine from Jurgen Kreckel ( http://www.certo6.com/ ) in December of 2013, so mechanically it is virtually as-new, and it looks it, as well.

One of the advantages of purchasing from Mr. Kreckel is that he buys these things (and dozens of other types of folders) as fast as he can get his hands on them, and in any condition. So he has many that he can use as parts donors. That allows him to mix-and-match according to customer orders. In addition to the standard C L A treatment, he put a brand-new bellows on, so this camera will no doubt soldier on for another 50 years before needing any further treatment.

I wanted (and got) the Isolette III with the f3.5, 75mm Solinar lens, but I requested (and got) the Prontor-SV shutter. That was because, while the Synchro Compur is undoubtedly a better shutter, and it also offers higher exposure speeds, it is probably the most complex shutter ever built. All my research convinced me that it is difficult to find someone who will undertake to repair one when the inevitable problems crop up, and that if you do succeed in finding someone to repair it you'll pay through the nose for the work.

It was for that same reason that I decided to get the model III instead of the remarkable Super Isolette. The "Super" model has a coupled rangefinder, unit-focusing, and a film advance mechanism that stops automatically at each successive frame of film -- no peering through tiny red windows. But -- along with these wondrous capabilities came some nightmare complexities that make that model pretty much irreparable if and when those systems break down, especially the film-advance system.

So, I have an as-new, convenient, medium-format folding camera with a truly superb lens.

And incidentally, the Agfa models were sold in the US through the Ansco Company, with the Ansco Camera Co's brand name on them, as the "Ansco Speedex," with models marked "I," "II", "III", and "Super," just like the Agfa models. They are the same camera, and under either brand name, if you can get a good one (see Mr. Kreckel and avoid any worrying) you will have a superb photographic instrument.