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View Full Version : I like these agfa's


g0tr00t
11-28-2004, 17:15
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=30099&item=3856051612&rd=1

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=30099&item=3856050392&rd=1

I think these are so cool...:)

Solinar
11-28-2004, 17:31
The Karat IV is a battle axe, but that Ambi Sillette is one of nicer looking ones I've ever scene. By the way, the Karat IV with a Solagon is the better of the two 50mm lenses, but oh is it a heavy beast to carry.

I'm going to go back and look at that Ambi-Silette, again.

g0tr00t
11-28-2004, 17:36
I know, that Ambi is on my watch list. Bummer that I can't win the lotto....Free RF's for everyone!

That AMBI is one of the best packages I have seen....

bmattock
11-28-2004, 17:41
Originally posted by Solinar
The Karat IV is a battle axe, but that Ambi Sillette is one of nicer looking ones I've ever scene. By the way, the Karat IV with a Solagon is the better of the two 50mm lenses, but oh is it a heavy beast to carry.

I'm going to go back and look at that Ambi-Silette, again.

Battle-axe? Battle-axe? Why I oughta!

http://www.growlery.com/agfa_karat_iv/

I now have all the Karat IV variations except one - I don't have the Rodenstock lens version, but I have two of the Solagon's. Note that there were actually FIVE different lenses available for Karat IV. I actually think the Xenon is the sharpest, but that may just be my examples! Actually, note to self - I want to do a shootout between those two and find out for sure.

I don't think it is heavy at all - but it is solid, and heavy compared to other cameras of that approximate size. Solid steel, baby!

I've never had an Ambi Silette, but I've had a couple of Super Silettes - deceptively good rangefinder and lens, but rather cheaply made. I much prefer the Agfa Karat IV's for sheer build quality.

Anyway (grin) just kidding with you - but you cut close to the heart, man. I love my Agfa Karat IV's - in my humble opinion, one of the best-built cameras ever!

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

bmattock
11-28-2004, 17:42
Originally posted by g0tr00t
I know, that Ambi is on my watch list. Bummer that I can't win the lotto....Free RF's for everyone!

That AMBI is one of the best packages I have seen....

Stephen Gandy has a nice web page about the Ambi Silette:

http://www.cameraquest.com/agfambi.htm

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

g0tr00t
11-29-2004, 02:01
Hey Bill, how many times have you pinched your fingers in the scissors on the Karat? Just curious....

I read they are pretty sharp.

bmattock
11-29-2004, 03:39
Originally posted by g0tr00t
Hey Bill, how many times have you pinched your fingers in the scissors on the Karat? Just curious....

I read they are pretty sharp.

A couple of times. Comes from just idly opening and closing the spring-loaded front of it. It will 'ouch' you!

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

Solinar
11-29-2004, 04:38
The Karat had a longer than average life. I personally like the later viewfinders. Plus, the range finder patch is visible even in low light.

I'll echo Bill's comments with regards to the Karat IV's build quality. It is however a dated platform, having began its life in the late 1930's. It proved to be versatile platform that saw a great deal of improvements in the post war years. It's interesting that scissors design of the front platform lends itself to a self-cocking shutter.

Sorry if the battle axe comment cut too close to the bone. With that said, I know of a Leica buff that swears by his Karat.

Kodak launched its Retina IIa with improvements that included a now troublesome lever wind and shutter cocking rack. The first post-war redesign of the Karat already had all these improvements and they were much less troublesome.

Zeiss-Ikon's Contessa was beautiful, but no match for the unit focusing Karat. The is also the Voigtlander Vitessa.............

Anyway you look at it, the Karat is still the crown jewel in the Agfa line up. The Silette line up in my opinion simply took the Super Solinette shell and to my eyes resemble kluged fixed-lens range finder based on existing platform. I'll take the Super Solinette over the Silettes any day.

The Ambi-Silette on the other hand was Agfa's reply to the Kodak Retina IIIc and IIIC. Here again, while not as polished as the Retina, it is in many ways funcitonally superior to the Nagel-Kodak. Mainly the lens line-up on the Ambi-Silette is a bit more sensible than auxiliary lenses for the Retinas. Have you ever attached an 80mm Longar to a Retina IIIC? It's huge and you have use a conversion table to set the focus.

24x30
11-29-2004, 05:27
Allow me (as ambi silette lover) one remark about it. Most of them looking pretty good at their age, but also most of the leaf shutters don't work properly anymore (at times below 1/60s). Often the Viewers had to be adjusted.

I own three of them. One to learn how it works (almost destroyed now), One for spareparts and one to use. :-) Great stuff.

Some interresting pages about repairing an AMBI SIlette (even if couldn't read the text :-) ).
http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_1.html
http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_2.html
http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_3.html
http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_4.html

Even if there are 3 lenses coming with, it shouldn't cost more than 120$.

/rudi

g0tr00t
11-29-2004, 06:23
Now I may have to bid on them. Thanks all! :bang:

My parents gave me their Silette which has started me on this RF bug. Its got the 45 2.8 lens and its takes some great pics IMO. Sunny 16 and zone focusing - Whoosh - that was fun learning....

bmattock
11-29-2004, 07:25
Originally posted by Solinar
Sorry if the battle axe comment cut too close to the bone.

No worries, mate! I was just kidding. I love my Agfa Karats, and I tell everyone about them, but no one seems to get very excited - I never understand why not. I guess I just have 'different' tastes.

Like you, I think the Karat IV was a real tank - in the sense that it was well-made and nigh-invulnerable. I have often found them with stuck shutters, but so far, I have had very good luck unsticking them with q-tips and lighter fluid. I have also found that the top comes off easily - even a fumble-fingers like me can get at the mechanisms inside. The rangefinder is one complete unit inside - you can remove it with three screws and no worries that little bits will come tumbling out. In other words, I have been able to clean and adjust the viewfinder/rangefinder on the Karat IV's, which is something I never quite managed on most of my other fixed-lens rangefinders. Really well-made kit, y'know?

One thing I have not quite managed yet - the ranging mechanism on the front of the camera - Agfa used some grease that gets quite solid over the years. Several of my Karat IV's are quite stiff. I have found that working them a bit eases things, but of course I need to really get in there if I want to do it properly. I've never quite figured out how to do so.

One other camera that in my opinion has similar build quality - the non-rangefinder Zeiss Contina IIa (527/24). A really nice well-made camera, and the ones with the Pantar lens are even capable of doing the front-element lens-change thing like the Kodak Retinas. However, I prefer the Novar-Anistigmat variety with the non-replaceable lens elements. I wish it was a rangefinder instead of early zone focus, but really - nice camera. One must hold it in the hand and play with the mechanisms to really appreciate how well-made it was. The lens is so quiet - the faintest 'snick' but oh, so Teutonically precise, y'know?

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

bmattock
11-29-2004, 07:28
Originally posted by g0tr00t
Now I may have to bid on them. Thanks all! :bang:

My parents gave me their Silette which has started me on this RF bug. Its got the 45 2.8 lens and its takes some great pics IMO. Sunny 16 and range focusing - Whoosh - that was fun learning....

I think it is great good fun to play with the older fixed-lens rangefinders; and although the lenses on the Japanese rangefinders of the late 1960's and early 1970's are hard to beat, the build quality of the German (and some Japanese) camera of the 1940's and 1950's were incredible! Not that they were all of the highest quality - but some of the better Agfa, Canon, Nikon, Zeiss, Voigtlander, and of course Leica were.

The only reason I don't play around with Leicas is that I can't afford to.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

Solinar
11-29-2004, 07:41
Hey that's a nice group of links, even though I don't have an Ambi-Silette. I've reposted the links so that you can cut and paste.

By the way, when you see the dirt and grit that this person flushed out of the shutter, this is exactly what it looks like and you wonder why the slow speeds are off.

http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_1.html

Second Page - (http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_2.html)

Third Page with Shutter Disassembly (http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_2.html)

Fourth Page with (http://www3.pinky.ne.jp/~cefiro/camera/repair/AmbiSilette(II)/AmbiSilette2_4.html)

24x30
11-29-2004, 20:57
Solinar wrote
I've reposted the links so that you can cut and paste.

oh, sorry haven't seen this yesterday ...
I just copied them in.

/rudi

pshinkaw
12-09-2004, 07:59
Agfa has a nice web page in German on the Karat series. It shows the many variations.

http://www.karat-kameras.de/frameset.htm?Karat%2063%20Art%20Deko%20Allemagne.h tm

-Paul

bmattock
12-09-2004, 08:25
Originally posted by pshinkaw
Agfa has a nice web page in German on the Karat series. It shows the many variations.

http://www.karat-kameras.de/frameset.htm?Karat%2063%20Art%20Deko%20Allemagne.h tm

-Paul

Interesting. I can only make out some of the German, but from what I can see, it is somewhat incorrect. For example, the Karat IV had several lens variations - the f2 Solagon, f2.8 Solinar, f2 Xenon and f2.8 Xenar, and now I have seen several with the Rodenstock Heligon 50/2 lenses as well (could be transplants from Model 36, I guess). I'm still trying to get my hands on an example of the IV with the Heligon for my collection.

As well, the Model 36 had at least two different winding lever mechanisms - one of which resembled the Karat IV (pictured there on your linked page) and one which folded up like a submarine periscope to get out of the way when not in use. I believe the top of the frame also changed somewhat while still being called the Model 36. There was also an Ansco-branded version of the Model 36 made - I forget the name.

Personally, I never cared for the Model 36. The entire frame splits to focus, not a traditional focusing patch, and I find it hard to get used to. And of course, only the Model 36 and the Model IV were capable of using modern 35mm film - the others all used proprietary 35mm Agfa cassettes which are no longer loaded commercially.

God, I'm turning into a camera collector freak. Somebody stop me.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

pshinkaw
12-09-2004, 08:35
Bill:

There were Ansco variations, that is, Agfa cameras sold under the Ansco label. Some of those cameras could have been the source for Rodenstock Heligon lenses. Perhaps they were intended for one label and ended up on another production batch, etc. Or, they could have been switched later by a repair technician.

There is an interesting history together with court cases involving the Ansco company during World War II because it was essentially a German company.

-Paul

bmattock
12-09-2004, 08:50
Originally posted by pshinkaw
Bill:

There were Ansco variations, that is, Agfa cameras sold under the Ansco label. Some of those cameras could have been the source for Rodenstock Heligon lenses. Perhaps they were intended for one label and ended up on another production batch, etc. Or, they could have been switched later by a repair technician.

There is an interesting history together with court cases involving the Ansco company during World War II because it was essentially a German company.

-Paul

Well, it would be interesting to try to piece together the historical information, but I note that in general, for some reason Rodenstock lenses were seen more often on "Europe" only cameras and Schneiders on "USA" models - not just from Agfa, either. At least, this is what I've noticed. The Kodak Retina series is this way, isn't it? Can't recall offhand.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

Solinar
12-09-2004, 11:58
That's a nice web page, Paul. As you can tell by my RFF moniker, I'm a big fan of Agfas from this period.

In my case, I prefer to root around for the equivalent models under the Ansco trademark. They seem to be less dear. One example is my $15 Super Regent. It's a stunning performer. My Super Speedex wasn't as cheap, but at under a hundred it is still the finest folder I'll ever own.

A word about the Heligon, if it is better than the Xenon on my Retina IIIc, then this is the Karat to get. My Super Regent has been gathering dust since I acquired the Retina.

With that said, the unit focusing Solinar is no slouch even if it is a Tessar-type rather than a Planar derived lens.

st3ph3nm
12-11-2004, 22:19
So just how much is an Ambi Sillette worth, nowadays?

I've always thought a folding Retina (probably a later II with the lever wind) would be very cool. But I notice on *that* website an Ambi with two lenses and a couple of meters...

Cheers,
Steve

24x30
12-12-2004, 02:54
posted by st3ph3nm
So just how much is an Ambi Sillette worth, nowadays?
I had a look at ebay.de (I bought some of them). An Ambi Silette with a 50mm lens is between 40 and 50 Euro. With a 35mm and a 90mm lens it's between 100 and 150 Euro dependend to the condition. In common you will have some work with it ... adjust the finder and clean the leaf shutter :). I bought mine in GB because the prices in germany are to high (just my opinion).
One further remark: the lenses are sensitiv against back light (is this right for sun shines from the front? oh my english ... :( ).
/rudi

g0tr00t
12-12-2004, 14:53
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=15234&item=3858432136&rd=1

Karat f2 50 solagon

bmattock
12-12-2004, 17:37
Originally posted by 24x30
I had a look at ebay.de (I bought some of them). An Ambi Silette with a 50mm lens is between 40 and 50 Euro. With a 35mm and a 90mm lens it's between 100 and 150 Euro dependend to the condition. In common you will have some work with it ... adjust the finder and clean the leaf shutter :). I bought mine in GB because the prices in germany are to high (just my opinion).
One further remark: the lenses are sensitiv against back light (is this right for sun shines from the front? oh my english ... :( ).
/rudi

Rudi,

I think you mean the lenses are subject to lens flare, which is what happens when uncoated lenses (and others) are exposed to stray light from the sun which bounces around inside the lens. It lowers contrast and can create those funky hex spots as well.

And your English is better than my German!

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

st3ph3nm
12-12-2004, 18:30
Dammit, got sniped (by $2.50!).

Sounds like I missed a good deal, too.

Ah well, WFA* was going to be marginal at best.

Cheers,
Steve

*WFA: Wife Acceptance Factor

24x30
12-12-2004, 21:12
Originally posted by bmattock I think you mean the lenses are subject to lens flare, which is what happens when uncoated lenses (and others) are exposed to stray light from the sun which bounces around inside the lens. It lowers contrast and can create those funky hex spots as well.

Thank you Bill Mattock ... ok lens flare is the Problem ... or not, I saw friday some nice street shots done with the Ambi Silette.

regards
rudi