View Full Version : Agfa Karat 36
I've been collecting and restoring vintage cameras for years, and lately I have been getting into 35mm folding rangefinders. I just bought a Karat 36 on ebay and it's on the way. Judging by the photo, it is pretty filthy, and the leatherette will probably need replacing (I have goat leather, steel rules, calipers and X-acto knives and I'm not afraid to use them). The metal is still looking good though, from what I can see of the parts that are not encrusted. I'm just hoping the focus is not frozen, as it has been on pretty much every other Agfa/Ansco camera I have ever gotten.
Anyway, I've heard that some people have a problem with the rangefinder on the 36. I'm not sure what the problem is though.
Okay, my Karat 36 arrived today. Seems to be in pretty good shape, if a little stiff. A good cleaning, some new grease on the threads and a very little oil should cure that. The leatherette is pretty worn, but I have some thin pebble textured kidskin ready and waiting for it. Metal seems dirty, but no rub spots or scratches (wish I could say the same about my Retinas). There are a few paint chips, but I think I can fill them in with paint sticks so it doesn't show. If not I can strip it and repaint it. The 50mm f/2.8 Solinar is not frozen and seems to be in good shape.
I still don't understand what all the fuss is about the viewfinder. It is one heck of a lot better than an Argus C-3 (way brighter and easier to use and it seems like it would be great for low light photography). I've used C-3s quite a lot without problems. I guess some people just don't like split image rangefinders, unless they are in SLRs.
Pulling the winding mechanism is going to take some getting used to though.
Okay, when it arrived, my one-second shutter speed was about two seconds, but I took it apart, cleaned a bunch of black crud out of the shutter (with naptha), gave it a very light lube in a few spots (Hoppe's gun oil), reassembled it and now I've got my shutter speeds back. The focusing isn't stiff anymore either. I need to decide whether to replace the leather now. The old stuff is all still on there in one piece, but there are rub marks, inadvertent embossings and such all over it. It even has a couple of "Zeiss bumps." The leatherette doesn't look very nice, even after cleaning and polishing, and I'm just about convinced that it should be replaced. The metal has all polished up nicely, but there are two struts (one on top and one on the bottom) where the chrome is starting to blister. I'm not sure what to do about that.
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