I was contacted by someone from Germany who said she had a few cameras for sale if I was interested. Most of them would not have been worth the price, plus customs and postage so I had to decline. It was a shame as I really did like one of the cameras, this one. Once I declined, she wrote back and said she would send it if I covered the postage. Well in that case, yes please 🙂 Good to her word this camera arrived about a week later. The paint was falling off so I put a few stickers on top of the worst parts to stop the paint covering my fingers.
It was a bit rough and ready but that wouldn’t matter if it worked. I was already quite impressed with the other Agfa cameras I had tried, especially the 335. This version had an f2.8 lens and a top speed of 1/1000th compared to the 1/300th on the 335. From the comments made on the 335, I was informed that I could still get the right batteries quite cheaply so this time I did order some Varta 625s.
Introduced in 1969, just like me, this camera was part of the Optima Sensor series. What I like about this camera, this example to be specific is the rough and readiness. I wouldn’t be worried about throwing it in a bag and damaging it. Though I decided to use a lens cover at to avoid damage in that area. Once I put batteries in this example it lit up as it should but for some reason I kept putting my finger on the rewind button instead of the bright red button and wondered why it wasn’t working. To be fair with the camera up to my eye I couldn’t see the red button, I quickly realised what I was doing though and had a little chuckle.
The viewfinder is big and bright, showing the zoned focus selected at the bottom.
I told the sender that I would take the camera somewhere nice to test it so I put in a roll of Kentmere 100 and headed off to Holmfirth for a short walk. It was a terrible day and a faster film would have been a better choice, I could even have pushed this one to 400. But in the end I wanted to see how the camera coped.
With the duck photos, taking in a feeding area, I put the camera close to the ground and shot without using the viewfinder. The results do see a little soft, but that might be due to the weather, dullness and the camera choosing the widest, slowest settings. I will choose a fast film and a brighter day for another test once the UK decides it is actually summertime. The other thing I noticed on my example, the film counter didn’t work as it should. When you load the film it should reset to 0, but this one didn’t. That mean I had to keep shooting until I felt resistance on the winder…which is also the rewinder. Also, is that a light leak?
For the next film, I tried Kenmere 400 and took it to Chester. Unfortunately, the camera stopped working after 8 shots. The winder became loose and was not winding on the film and that meant it wasn’t rewinding either. In the end I cut the film and put the remainder in another camera. The results from this short roll confirmed the light leak.
The light leak can be solved, but I figured the winder was beyond my skills due to the dual function.
From the other reviews I have read, the camera seems to divide opinions. This reviewer says they love it, but it took them some time to get there. He had a flash for his and took it to some nights out. I tried to get an agfa flash for this or the 335, but after 3 attempts and all of them arriving with leaking batteries inside. I nearly gave up, but that isn’t like me so I tried one more time. This working one arrived just after the 1035 broke. I will use it with the 335.
Another review I read was at the other end of the scale. Though they didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t for them. Among the reasons they gave was it being just slightly bigger than the LC-A and not quite pocketable…try being a female, our pockets are woefully small, we do tend to carry bags more often though.
For me, my experience was tainted by the fact my example broke during my second film. Will I buy a replacement? No, I like the 335 and that is fine for me. Neither rock my boat completely and the higher prices of the 1035 mean I cannot afford one even if I did love it. I appreciate getting the chance to try this one, but I am glad I only paid for the postage.
But what to do with this one….well, I asked around and nobody was willing to service it so I decided to take it apart. I found this video online of a Japanese guy trying to fix a shutter issue.
He had trouble getting the cover off so I watched him before attempting mine. I had no doubts I would not be able to put it back together but I could gain some screws and a lens in the process. I actually found the video interesting to watch, I wish it was better quality as I struggled to see what he was doing in some places. I got the cover off mine much quicker as I fast forwarded through his thinking process.
I also took the lens apart, there are three pieces of glass. I cleaned those and the viewfinder, might as well as it was within reach. I fiddled around with the winder too and what do you know…
Bugger, now I really did have to try and put it back together. I did manage that and only had one small bearing left from the aperture section. I actually decided to keep that out as I have no doubts the camera is now not in focus at all. Plus, I could not see any bearings in the video so was unsure where it went. I do have a tendency to drop those tiny bearings so a spare one will always be useful.
Once it was all (mostly) back together I found the camera now seemed to set itself at the aperture according to the ring. So if it was at f2.8, that was what it shot at. Before, I am sure that selector only came into play if a flash was attached. Even more reason not to trust the camera any more. I don’t think the bearing had anything to do with that switch??
I am chuffed I got the cover off and the winder working, I think the latter was pure luck. Due to the set up of the lens and there being no B setting I can’t check if it is focused at infinity. So it was a nice project, but I will not be putting another film through it.
Update: I decided to put a few frames through just in case, share a roll with another camera…the Red button dropped off, so it really doesn’t work now 🙂
Update of the Update: The few frames I did put through actually came out ok, but without the red button it doesn’t fire. I will leave it in my junk pile and might play with it again on a day when I am bored.