The Agfa Isolette 4.5 is until now the oldest camera in the collection yet. It’s another camera from the magnificent set I received from my cousin. We believe it was our grandfather’s camera, an avid photographer. It’s a medium format folder viewfinder camera, fully functioning and with a magnificent patina. The 6 x 6 pictures are sharp, but with the “old photo look” you might remember from old family pictures. This might be caused by light leaks or the less advanced lens coating of the time.
About the camera:
The Agfa Isolette 4.5 is the first post war edition of the Isolette series and the second one of the Isolettes, which would also make a great name for an all-girl soul or lofi band: “Agfa and the Isolettes”. It was produced from 1945 – 1950. Unlike the first (WWII) edition it has a Duralumin cover, while the earlier one’s was made of plastic. Historical unsupported theory: during the war aluminium was needed in the Airplane industry and rare, so cheaper cameras were partly made of plastic while after the war Germany’s demand for Airplanes was on a record low and thus Aluminium nearly scrap metal. (My mother told me, that “Opa” build the first post-war sets of suitcases and various kitchen equipment for our family from leftover metal from airplane production). The Isolettes were produced till 1960. They came with various shutter/lens variations, mine has, as the name suggests, an Agfa Solinar f 4.5 85 mm with a Prontor-Rapid shutter. The camera is fully manual, has a accessory shoe, a tripod mount, a pc sync connect for flashguns, and a double exposure lock. Folded it fits in a cat’s pocket even better than the Franka Solida II L.
Open the back by pulling the small lever on the side. (if you never loaded film in a medium format camera, check my Holga post for instructions). Pull out the advance wheel to insert the spool, thanks to the foldable take-up spool holders, the film loading is easier then on my other medium format cameras. Close the camera, forward the film until the “1” appears in the small red window. Open the front door with the button on the left side of the top plate. Set the aperture f 4.5 to 22, and the shutter speed from “B” to 1/500. Cock the shutter with the lever on top of the lens, guess and set the right distance. The shutter release is the button on the right of the top plate. For long time exposure, cock the shutter, set the shutter speed to “B” and move the little slider on the top “T”. The shutter will stay open until you move it to the right. To avoid double exposure, the camera blocks the shutter after each picture, which is indicated by a small red dot under the shutter release. To close the camera, set the lens to infinity and press the two joints in down. in the middle of the lens’ door. In low light use a tripod and cable release, or attach a flash using a standard PC sync cable.
The Agfa Isolette 4.5 stands out in the collection not only as the oldest camera in the collection, but also our families oldest “surviving” camera. Beside this personal value, it does feel great in the hand (we have a German word for objects which can create this feeling: “Handschmeichler”), has the perfect size and makes nice pictures.
|Camera||Solida II L|
|Year built||From 1945 – 1950|
|Lens||Agfa Solinar 85mm f 4.5 -22|
|Manufactured by||Agfa Kamerawerk AG, Munich|
|Date of purchase||2016 (gift from my cousin)|
|Place of purchase||Königsfeld im Schwarzald|
Tips & Tricks:
To create multiple exposures, cock the shutter, and release it manually with the small lever on the front of the lens. To close the camera, set the focus to infinity, as you won’t be able to close the front and risk to bend the lens.
Film purchase & processing:
The camera can use any 120mm film, I usually shoot with 400 ISO which can be developed anywhere.
http://www.butkus.org/chinon/agfa/agfa_isolette_4_5/agfa_isolette_4_5.htm (Two Agfa Isolette 4.5 manuals)
http://www.rolandandcaroline.co.uk/isoletteii.html (Description of the Isolette II on Roland and Caroline’s page, where you can find a whole Agfa shelf: )
http://www.rolandandcaroline.co.uk/bellows.html (How to inspect and repair bellows on folding cameras)
https://www.flickr.com/groups/isolette/ (The Isolette Flickr group)