The Camera Site

Agfa Kamerawerk AG, Munchen, Germany


Agfa Optima Ia (1962)

The "original" Optima was the first fully automatic camera in the world. There were times when Agfa was no doubt one of the best known camera brands. Only second to Kodak. After manufacturing cameras over a half of the century, production ended in1983.Today both companies, Kodak and Agfa, are continuing in photo-bisnes, producing film, photo papers etc. aiming more for the professional usage. Let´s go digital. you know.

Optima Ia takes 24x36 negatives on 135mm film. It has 2,8/45 Agfa,Color-Agnar lens. Shutter, 1/30-1/250, operates automatically when you press "The Magic Button". When you press the shutter lever halfway down a mechanical system sets the correct aperture value and speed from the electromechanical part of the meter. A red signal dot in a viewfinder turns green when the right aperture/shutter speed combination is achieved. That's the way how "The Magic Eye" indicates if there is light enough to take a picture. The widget weights 400g and the measures are 121x82x68 mm. Quite lot of plastic is used as a material and the body seems to be similar to other variations of Optima cameras. System has no battery. Required energy is produced by a selenium cell. Focusing is manual. The standard model which is built on the same basis is Agfa Silette I


Agfa Optima II

Agfa Optima II (1960 - 1964)

Optima II Is rather heavy all metal camera. It has much more reliable touch, than the "plasticy" Optima Ia (above). My camera has a metal release knob, which means, that it is an early version of Optima II. You can see the difference, just look at the Optima Ia.

Most functions appear to be same as in a updated version the Optima Ia but there is also differences. The lens is Color Apotar 2,8/45 and the shutter has a name Prontormator and the "Magic Eye" can be seen in the upper edge of the viewfinder instead in the bottom. The functions of the programmed automatic exposure are similar, from 1/30 sec. at f/2.8 to 1/250 sec. at f/22. As a first generation of Agfa Optima It is heavier and bigger but as I mentioned, this isn't necessarily an impairment.

Today (2003) Agfa Gevaert Group is producing only disposable cameras but it has a broad assortment of photo-lab devices, optics and other appropriate products

More about Agfa Optima II on Peter Wallace's page

Short History of Photographic Films

Two chaps in France, Joseph Nièpce and Luis Jaques Mandè Daquèrre developed a system how photographs was taken by exposing them on a silver-plated copper plate. Joseph Nièpce is considered as a creator of the first photograph in the history. In the middle of the nineteen´th century their invention, Daquèrreotype, was widely used all over the world.

William Talbot was busy with a negative/positive solution, which led to glass plates and finally a sheet of nitrocellulose or later plastic film, coated with an emulsion of light-sensitive silver halide salts was invented. When exposed, the silver salt grains are converted to metallic silver, which forms a black part of the film negative.

In 1889, George Eastman took the command and photographing turned to everymans activity.

It was time to get colors on a film. Kodacrome was introduced in 1935 but the first commercially viable film was Agfacolor, in 1937. IlfordBefore that Dr. Edvin Land invented a process to get "instant" pictures. It was a beginning of a famous Polaroid brand.

The first omen what the future holds was revealed in 1984, Canon demonstrated digital camera. About ten years later film industry did their last effort to stay alive. Advanced Photo System, APS, cameras were brought to light. Bright idea, but too late. You don´t need to be a prophet to say, that the end of polymer strips has begun. CCD and CMOS is now in the lead, but who knows how far ?

©2009 Reijo Lauro