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Is my Agfa Optima 1535 broken?
Old 08-15-2017   #1
Huss
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Is my Agfa Optima 1535 broken?

I just received my Agfa Optima Sensor 1535 from City Foto Center in Bonn, Germany. Via ebay. Advertised as working w/o any issues.

Looks super nice, tiny size. I put batteries in it - no film yet - and fired off some test shots to make sure if works. It has a green light to signal the auto only exposure is over 1/30 sec, and a red light that signals it is under 1/30 (and I think it goes to 15 secs).

ISO set to 200. I'm indoors and I push the shutter half way. The green light lights. As I take the pic the red light flickers on very briefly. Then I decide to test longer speeds. I cover the dual light meters with my hand, hoping to hear the shutter stay open much longer. But no, exactly the same. Green light on, red light blinks as the shutter fires. Same quick-ish shutter speed.

Is my camera broken? There is no film in it so does it only shoot real speeds loaded? It does not seem that this thing would be that sophisticated. The red light should show if I cover the meter cells either way.

Advice/commiserations? This is a very sweet little piece.

As a digression, I've read of people complaining about the weird shutter noise. Sounds like an extended 'bzzzipp!'. I noticed it is not the shutter that is causing that, but the exposure counter. When you wind the film it does not advance. The exposure counter only advances the moment you take a shot, making that sound. So there's that mystery solved..
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Old 08-15-2017   #2
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I tried it with a test roll of film (an old roll of Kodachrome 40 that I use to test cameras' film transport systems) and no dice. It always shoots at the same shutter speed.

Are these things fixable? I'd love to get it to work. It looks like a Plaubel Makina designed by Playmobil.
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Old 08-15-2017   #3
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I think I had the same fear when I was testing the camera out - regardless of the 'low light' red light or the green, it seemed to fire at the same speed no matter what I set the ISO to (looking through an empty camera back). However my first roll of ISO200 film turned out fine in various lighting so I'm not sure if it's some voodoo that's making it work.
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Old 08-15-2017   #4
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I have it briefly, but can't remember how it deals with flash mode. Have you tried to rotate aperture ring?
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Old 08-15-2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I have it briefly, but can't remember how it deals with flash mode. Have you tried to rotate aperture ring?
Yeah tried that. Even though the aperture ring is only for flash control but I'm with you, tried it anyway!
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Old 08-15-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taomei View Post
I think I had the same fear when I was testing the camera out - regardless of the 'low light' red light or the green, it seemed to fire at the same speed no matter what I set the ISO to (looking through an empty camera back). However my first roll of ISO200 film turned out fine in various lighting so I'm not sure if it's some voodoo that's making it work.
Interesting.. I'm thinking of just sacrificing a roll of Fuji C200 and see what happens. $1.49 for the film. $6 for the developing. Just to see for sure.

(Costco used to dev for $2 or so and I used to use them to test out 'new' cameras...)
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Old 08-15-2017   #7
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Here it is, and for size comparison next to a CLE w/ 40mm lens (the Agfa is also a 40), and the mighty M5. Funny to think these are all 35mm rangefinder cameras.

IMG_2138 by desmolicious, on Flickr
IMG_2139 by desmolicious, on Flickr
IMG_2140 by desmolicious, on Flickr

I hope this baby works...
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Old 08-15-2017   #8
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Try a few frames with a roll of bw film. Shoot 4-5 frames, in the dark cut them off the roll, develop them roughly and see what it gets you. It will be cheaper and faster to get results than trying with a roll of color film.
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Old 08-16-2017   #9
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In the accessory shoe is a small lever that sets the speed to 1/30 when a flash is put in. Maybe the lever or its contact is stuck.

When I cover the light sensitive cell on my 1535 completely, the shutter closes after ca. 1/4s; when it is not covered completely, simulating a darker environment, the speed is much longer. This seems to be an anti battery drain feature. The camera was regularily delivered with a soft pouch and has no shutter button lock, so accidental exposures in the bag seem possible.
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Old 08-16-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petronius View Post
In the accessory shoe is a small lever that sets the speed to 1/30 when a flash is put in. Maybe the lever or its contact is stuck.

When I cover the light sensitive cell on my 1535 completely, the shutter closes after ca. 1/4s; when it is not covered completely, simulating a darker environment, the speed is much longer. This seems to be an anti battery drain feature. The camera was regularily delivered with a soft pouch and has no shutter button lock, so accidental exposures in the bag seem possible.
Ah! I had slid a hotshoe cover in mine to experiment with flash settings at various apertures (essentially making it a forced manual exposure camera at 1/30s) as petronius suggested which explains why mine was pretty much always on one shutter speed. Didn't have the hotshoe cover when I was shooting the previous roll.

Thanks @petronius!
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Old 08-16-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petronius View Post
In the accessory shoe is a small lever that sets the speed to 1/30 when a flash is put in. Maybe the lever or its contact is stuck.
Ahhh! I see that now, it is in the out position but moves in and out correctly (or seems to). The shutter does seem to be about 1/30.
Would it be ok to spray some electronic contact cleaner in there?
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Old 08-16-2017   #12
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I heve no Idea whether this will help or not. My own 1535 work properly and I have no idea how these beasts look inside. There is some information and a downloadable text here
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Old 08-16-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petronius View Post
I heve no Idea whether this will help or not. My own 1535 work properly and I have no idea how these beasts look inside. There is some information and a downloadable text here

Thank you for those links.

Out of curiosity, I put a flash on the camera, set the aperture and took a shot. It all seemed to sync properly. So it seems at the moment it is a manual exposure camera shooting at 1/30 sec and whatever aperture I select!
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Old 08-16-2017   #14
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I had an issue with my 1535 regarding flash. Any flash unit I plugged in some to fire the flash when the film advance was wound but not when the shutter was tripped. Any ideas?
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Old 08-19-2017   #15
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Well I dropped it off at Walter's Camera Repair in Los Angeles this morning. They have fixed other stuff for me before. If they can repair it, it will be $80 including full CLA. If not, no charge.
They are good peeps.
Here's hoping!
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Old 08-25-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petronius View Post
In the accessory shoe is a small lever that sets the speed to 1/30 when a flash is put in. Maybe the lever or its contact is stuck.
That was it! The repair shop - Walter's Camera Repair in Los Angeles - said that that lever was bent inside the camera so they repaired it. It now works.
They said it looked like someone had it apart and bent it when they put it back together, as things needed to be in a very specific order. Quoting them "It was a real pain in the ... to put back together!".
The lens had to come off.
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Old 03-03-2019   #17
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I love this camera!

Fuji C200, Nikon Z7 scan

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Old 03-03-2019   #18
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Itīs a fine machine!
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Old 03-03-2019   #19
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Indeed!
I have this printed at 20x30 and ready for a customer. Looks fantastic up close.
Shot with the Agfa 1535.

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Old 03-03-2019   #20
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Agfa Optima 1535, Fuji C200, Z7 scan, negativelabpro.com

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Old 03-04-2019   #21
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Agfa Optima 1535, Fuji C200, Z7 scan, negativelabpro.com

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