Saturday, 2 June 2012

Agfa Silette

Agfa Silette

Agfa used the name 'Silette' for a large range of camera over many years.  Mine is the Silette type 4 from (I think) 1958.

It is a basic 35mm camera which seems to be well made.  It has a Pronto shutter and an Agfa Color-Agnar f2.8 lens.  It has a double viewfinder - the opaque window adds brightness to the frame lines in the clear window.  There is no light meter nor a rangefinder in this model although both were available in other cameras in the Silette range.

As this is a typical basic camera, there is little to say.  The shutter is a Pronto four speed shutter - 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 and 1/250 seconds plus 'B'.  It also has a timer delay which works well (even though the general advice is not to try the self timer on old cameras).  On a fifty-plus year old camera, this shutter seems to be at least adequately accurate.

The lens is an Agfa Color-Agnar lens - not a lens I have come across before.   This is a Crooke's Triplet lens - originally designed in 1893 in England but still in use today.  My camera came with a cassette of film already loaded, so I tried the camera out with that.  The results were decent - especially when I removed the cassette and looked at the inner surface of the lens which was very dirty (but without any trace of fungus).  This lens is clearly coated - there is a blueish/purplish hue to the glass - but the lens is very susceptible to flare.

One fault with this particular specimen is the light seals.  These have obviously failed at some point and have been replaced with black wool.  This is not a technique that works.  I shall shortly replace the wool with black foam.

The viewfinder is clear with bright-lines for framing the picture - including parallax lines for close-ups.  There is a film speed reminder on the rewind knob.  This is not as easy to adjust as it could be - you need to lift the rewind knob (as if rewinding the film) and turn a knurled ring underneath the knob.  A sign of the age of this camera is the range of ASA speeds that are available - 14, 16, 17, 40, 100, 250, 650 - you would be hard pressed to find ASA 16 film now.  Kodachrome slide film was made as ASA 16 in the 1950s - the time of this camera - and Kodacolor print film was ASA 32.  Ilford monochrome film of the time had a speed rating of about ASA 160.

The exposure counter in at the centre of the base showing on the back of the camera.  Alongside this is the serial number - VI 2457 in my case.

The camera is marked as "Made in Germany" (i.e. West Germany).  There is sometimes confusion about Agfa cameras as Agfa sold the rights to the names and designs in North America to Ansco who continued to make "Agfa" cameras for some time separately from Agfa Germany.  This is not an Ansco camera.