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Agfa Compact (Agfa Optima 935) with Electronic Winder
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:08 am    Post subject: Agfa Compact (Agfa Optima 935) with Electronic Winder Reply with quote

Has anyone heard of the "Agfa Compact", also apparently known as the "Agfa Optima 935"?


(Image from Dirk Meyer via Wikipedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Agfa-compact.jpg)

There is one that appeared at a local second hand shop... It is definitely compact, and relatively heavy for its size. It feels well built.

I haven't found much info on it... The lens is an Agfa Solinar 39/2.8, and it is manual focus, but without a rangefinder. Exposure is automatic once you set the ISO, and the film advance and rewind are motorized. It has a small dedicated flash that attaches to the side, as well as a bracket with a hotshoe to hold a traditional flash. The lens retracts when the camera is turned off.

Some more info:
http://www.optiksammlung.de/Agfa/compact.html
http://www.collection-appareils.fr/agfa/html/agfa_compact_electronic.php
http://www.misa-photography.de/home_cams_minicompact.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eergun/page19/


I'm trying to decide if it is worth picking up. Wink


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting find, looking forward to the pix. Solinar was Agfa's top-o-the-line lens, a Tessar if memory serves. So, zone focus?

Actually, for their Karat series, there were the Soligon and Heligon lenses,
which were above the Solinar.


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the price? It looks nice enough to pick up for the right price. Very Happy


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mo wrote:
What is the price? It looks nice enough to pick up for the right price. Very Happy


It's priced at NZ $35 (which is somewhere around US $27.50, AU $27.40, 19.50, or 17.50). It's above my impulse buy threshold... so I'm hoping to find out if it is any good first. Very Happy So far, I have yet to find a single review of the camera... all I have found are photos of it and specifications. Neutral


The one in the shop has its lens cover open with the lens retracted, and the sliding cover for the viewfinder is closed and will not open. I suspect that there is a mechanical interlock of some sort that will need repair, but it could just be that it needs batteries in it (2x AAA) to sort itself out. I would have to consider it an as-is purchase and hope for the best. Wink


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you haggle by pointing out it may have an issue? Some 2nd hand places have no idea and just guess the price.When I was in NZ last I found the 2nd hand stuff overpriced. Sad


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Possibly... I tried a bit while I was there, but the person minding the store couldn't do much. I would have to go back when the shop owner was around.


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting camera. I'd test the exposure meter and shutter with fresh bateries by pointing it to light/dark areas, and if it works I'd get it. It seems really rare, I've never seen one around. The German version of an Olympus XA2.


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ludoo wrote:
Interesting camera. I'd test the exposure meter and shutter with fresh bateries by pointing it to light/dark areas, and if it works I'd get it. It seems really rare, I've never seen one around. The German version of an Olympus XA2.


I'm not exactly sure how to test the meter... I think the viewfinder just has a pair of green and red LEDs... so as long as the green one lights, you would have to trust that it is setting a reasonable shutter speed and aperture... I suppose I could try covering the lens and watching for the red LED?

The shutter is another tricky bit. From what I have read, the camera is "smart", and will only fire the shutter if it has film in it... Neutral


It does seem to be rare! Especially with the accessory flash. I am well aware that rare does not always equate to "valuable", but at least it makes it interesting. Wink


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the film/shutter lock is anything like old Voigtlander cameras, it just means the shutter won't cock unless the wheel moving film turns, which you can easily do with the back open using your fingers. Then check that aperture changes by firing with the camera pointed at a bright light, and at a darker spot.


PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember this camera when it first came out and it had some very positive reviews. Being an electronic camera it would need fresh batteries and a roll of dead film to get it tested properly.


PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a good looking thing ...


PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, i had also one. Surfaced during an attic clearing. It's surely a nice looking camera but unfortunatly it didn't function.



PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seele wrote:
I remember this camera when it first came out and it had some very positive reviews.

Thanks! That's encouraging...

hanskerensky wrote:
Well, i had also one. Surfaced during an attic clearing. It's surely a nice looking camera but unfortunatly it didn't function.

Yep, that's it! Do you still have it? I would be interested to know what the symptoms were when it failed... Did you use it in the past, or was it non-functional when you purchased it?


PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I went back to the shop today with a pair of AAA batteries, and they still had the Agfa. I mentioned that I had been in before, pointed out that the viewfinder cover was stuck and the lens cover wasn't in the right position, and asked if I could test it with batteries...

I put the batteries in, and the camera immediately went "whirrrrr-CLACK!" Shocked and the lens was retracted with the cover tightly closed. I nudged the sliding viewfinder cover downward, and "Snap! whir-whir-whir-CLACK!" the lens was out and locked, and the viewfinder cover was open. Very Happy

I hadn't thought it all through, but right then and there, proving that it worked, I lost all of my bargaining chips to haggle on price. Embarassed Laughing Oh well. Wink

So here it is:


It's too bad I'm a user and not a collector, because this one came with everything but the box. Shocked

Included are:
* The camera, with a neck strap
* An Agfa leather-type case
* The guarantee cards
* A business card for the national sales manager for Agfa-Gevaert NZ Ltd.
* A "Useful Tips" booklet
* An instruction book (text)
* An instruction book (figures)
* A clip-on flash (markings: 6933/100, referred to in the manuals as the "Compact Lux", powered by an additional two AAA batteries)
* A right-angle flash bracket, with a cold-shoe and a sync cord socket


There is some writing on the guarantee card, indicating that it was purchased in Auckland on July 12, 1985. It's hard to believe that this is a 25-year-old camera! Cool


PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm jealous! Smile

I have a soft spot for Agfas, and this one is really beautiful.


PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What nice agfa!!!

And the lens solinar, is the name of the best agfa lens design (tessar)


PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

estudleon wrote:
And the lens solinar, is the name of the best agfa lens design (tessar)


The best is the Solagon, a double gauss.


PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ludoo wrote:
estudleon wrote:
And the lens solinar, is the name of the best agfa lens design (tessar)


The best is the Solagon, a double gauss.


It's your taste, that's right for you.

In mine, when the lens is single coat I prefer the IQ of the tessar's (here in agfa calculation) design over the double gauss, with certain exceptions where it is not the solagon (50 nor 55 mm).

My point is the following: In tessar design, the solinar has a determinated and very good quality (among the best tessars design, like xenar, skopar). In the double gauss world, in my opinion the solagon isn't among the best RF lenses (summicron M, Canon or Nikkor RF, Konica 1,9/47, yashica 1,7/45, etc.)

We were speak about RF cams.

I recognice that the last versions of the agfa apotar had almost the same IQ of the solinar.

Anyway, all are very good ones.


PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhhh ok, you are speaking of personal taste and actual use, then it's a different matter. I was just saying that the Solagon is the "best" in the sense that it was their most expensive and rarer lens.


PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks ludoo and estudleon. Cool The discussion is somewhat academic, since I can't change the lens on this camera, but it is always good to know where your equipment stands in the rankings. Wink


In another development, I grabbed a roll of Fuji Superia 200 and loaded the Agfa Compact this afternoon, intending to take a roll of test shots to see how the camera performed. Unfortunately, loading the film is as far as I got. Sad

I loaded the camera by the instructions - making sure that the film leader engaged in the takeup spool, and closing the bottom first and then the back. The film winder automatically advanced the film, and the counter moved from "A" to "1", as expected. However, when I attempted to take a shot, nothing happened. There were no lights in the viewfinder, no sounds, no shutter, and no film advancing. Sad

The manual says to replace the batteries when the lens extends or retracts slowly, and mine is anything but slow, so I know the batteries are OK. It also zipped right along when I told it to rewind the film back into the cartridge. It just couldn't take any pictures.


Since the camera has power and the film advance motor is working, I suspect that the issue is with the shutter release button, perhaps just not making good contact electrically. However, since this camera is so automated, it could also be that one of the other sensors isn't responding correctly, and the camera doesn't think it is in the right state to be ready to fire.


Either way, it looks like I have some repair work to do. Wish me luck. Neutral


PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So a bit of an update-

I opened the camera up to see what was wrong, and the first thing I can tell you is that this camera is SOLID. The engineering & packaging work is really incredible. Shocked

There are only a few screws which hold the camera together, and surprisingly, two of them are the contacts for the external flash. Once you have the screws out, the camera halves won't budge. I'm confident that you could use it like this for months without even noticing that the screws are missing. Shocked There are a few hidden snaps, and then with some persuasion, the halves will separate. Oh, and the sliding cover over the rewind switch on the top has to come off first.

Once you have the halves off, the camera will go SPROINGGGG and a sprinkling of tiny pieces will become lost forever, and others will move into positions that will take hours to figure out where they should have gone. Crying or Very sad Laughing Agfa sort of thought of this, and I can advise that if you open the camera with the viewfinder cover OPEN (and the lens extended), then things will hold together better and it will be much easier to put back together. There is a tiny tiny tiny roller in the viewfinder cover switch assembly that will fall out, and due to the mechanical/electrical interlocks, the camera will be 100% useless without it. DO NOT LOSE THIS PIECE! Mr. Green It is not immediately obvious that it is missing, just that you put it all together and nothing works. Very Happy


Ok, so with the camera apart, I started tracing the shutter button assembly, only to find that it is a mechanical linkage that disappears to somewhere deep inside the camera. I couldn't reach the actual switch, and further disassembly of the camera was quite daunting, so I elected to just blast it with air to see if it was a dust issue. To my delight, it was! Surprised

I put the camera back together, and waited for the next day to test it out with some film.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the camera working, I can give a bit of an operational usage report.

The camera is miserable to use. There, I said it. Mr. Green

I think Agfa was eager to show off the motor winding feature, so this is a camera that operates in a continuous burst mode at all times. There is no half-press of the shutter, it is just an on/off switch. If you are pressing the shutter, it is taking pictures as fast as it can. And let me tell you, it is fast. Shocked

The shutter is a leaf shutter in the lens, and it is extremely quiet. My first time, I pushed the button and heard the winder, but I was waiting for the shutter click or the winder to stop when it was finished. In just a few seconds I had taken 7 pictures. Shocked I tried just bouncing my finger on the button to take one shot, but this did not register with the camera enough to take a shot. Confused So the learning curve is to figure out just how long you have to hold your finger down to take ONE shot... but not so long as to take multiple. Since the shutter is so quiet, this is a real challenge.

I started with a 24-exposure roll, and I think I got 3 genuine intentional shots on it before the shutter button started acting up again... the counter is reading 15. Laughing


I probably won't take it apart again. It looks great, it is well built, and I'm sure the manual focus lens is top notch as well. But man is it a pain to use. Laughing


PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little OT but I had this problem with the Yashica MG1...the quietness not the speed factor Very Happy

Quote:
The shutter is a leaf shutter in the lens, and it is extremely quiet


PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

May be it helps to use the flash? That needs some time to reload after each picture taking!


PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:56 pm    Post subject: Agfa Compact Reply with quote

I worked for Agfa until 2007 and remember the launch of the Agfa Compact well. It was the last Agfa camera made in Munich before the camera works closed in 1981. That's one of the reasons why it is so heavy - German engineering!

The most common fault was with the lens opening mechanism. I have one here that I bought for my wife in 1980; it still works but is something of an antique now. Try taking the batteries out, open the shutter and viewfinder cover, then put the batteries back in move the switch again and the lens should come out. Then close in the usual way. I just tried that on my wife's camera and it worked.

All Agfa branded cameras made after 1980/1 were sourced from the Far East.

The 'AgfaPhoto' cameras on sale today have only the Agfa brandname in common. The 'AgfaPhoto' company has no connection with the current Agfa company which pulled out of photography in 2005. Cool