Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Agfa ISO Rapid Camera

This cool little "brick" camera made by the German company Agfa in the 60's, the model shown here it's almost entirely made of plastic apart from the thin metal plate on the base, top of the camera and lens barrel.

The camera is very simple to operate with only the "sunny" and "flash" settings and falls easily into the "point and shoot" category. It has a tripod mount (even though there's no B setting), a mechanism that prevents double exposures and this particular model has the hotshoe for the flash.

Now, in order to use one of those beauty you'll have to find two empty Rapid cassestes made especificaly for the Agfa cameras and in total darkness load you 35mm film of choice. I say two cassetes because the camera has no rewind feature, it basically runs the film from one cartridge to another.

The nicest thing about this camera in my opinion apart from the design, is the 24X24 square format you'll get on standard 35mm film. 

The results below were taken in a bright sunny day with Fuji Across 100 ISO and processed with Rodinal 1:100 dilution 1 hour stand development.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Smena Camera

I don't know how I ended up with three Smena Cameras... I remember the first one I bought from the guy who fixed my LCA. He had this nice little camera with the old Lomo logo stamped on with all those symbols, and a really well made leatherette case that put shame in so many well branded cameras. That really grab my attention! at that time I just couldn't resist and bought the camera... that was back in 2006. The other two I guess I came across while searching for junk cameras on ebay, just found them by chance and I remember paying almost nothing for them.

Smenas were made by the Lomo factory in the former URSS so you can expect very good lens (hard-coated 3 elements) fitted in smelly plastic body. Some of the camera's features are flash synchronisation in all speeds, cable realease socket, tripod mount and the B mode. It's really hard to believe you have all these features in such a cheap plastic body!

But the great thing about these cameras in my opinion is the ability to make anyone take good photographs with the minimum knoledge. The clever symbol system where everything can be quickly set in order to give the photographer the correct combination of shutter speed and aperture without having to know about photography is what makes the camera even more special. Select the film ISO by rotating the front ring around the lens and you've got yourself already the correct aperture, choose the weather symbol accordingly and the appropriate shutter speed it's set, the focus ring comes with symbols as well to simplify the process, just like the Diana and Holga cameras.

On the downside, the earlier models it's a real pain to rewind the film back to the cartridge once it's finished. Also the life-size one to one ratio viewfinder is hard to get used to which means that what you see it's not always what you get on the frame.

They were produced under different names depending on the market/year it was released (cosmic symbol, cosmic 35, smena 8m, smena symbol...) you may find some with the Cyrillic inscription wich were obvioulsy made to the former soviet market, they look more attractive in my opinion.

Back few weeks ago I tried my last Smena Cosmic 35 acquisition. This is an earlier model from the 60's, the body it's made from bakelite and it's havier the the later plastic body models. There's no weather symbol and the focus scale it's in meters but this model have self-timer delay, it also looks less toy-ish comparing to the later models.

I got this one in almost mint condition including a brand new case, box, instructions, a certificate from the Lomo factory with serial number and a receipt dating from 1967 in French.

And here are the latest results... Taken with Kodak 125 PX and processed with Rodinal 1:100 1 hour stand development.