BeLomo Agat 18K

On a walk around Manchester with a film photo group I am in, I was handed this camera to take away and try. I think the owner regretted it a bit as it was the first film camera he owned. He has moved on to other cameras so lent me this one. I decided to use one film in it and send it back as soon as possible.

It is a half-frame, but strangely I am starting to like half frames. I have been given a couple of them recently and haven’t immediately hated them. How would this one fare?

Unfortunately, every day I had the camera it was cloudy or rainy. I did manage to get to a park for a couple of hours and try half a film before the heavens opened again. As this camera was someone’s beloved, I decided that was it. Half a roll of a film in a half-frame camera is a full roll in a full-frame camera.

So what about the Agat? Actually, this isn’t the first time I have tried one. I swapped another camera for one but the swap that arrived just didn’t work and nothing I did would make it work. So I forgot all about it until this example was offered. I thought loading the camera might be an issue as the take-up spool was a bit loose. In fact, it was relatively easy. The biggest issue I had was splitting the two parts of the camera. You have to push the slider and pull the halves apart, I found that tricky to do in one motion. It is one of those things you get better at with repeated tries. Other than that the Kentmere 400 film loaded very smoothly. Once loaded, you set the asa on the front of the camera. Then you adjust the settings based on the weather. The camera is manual and uses the sunny 16 rule, you set the camera with the weather symbols before shooting. I set mine to very cloudy and mostly left it there. The only other thing you have to look out for is the focusing point. There is a scale on the top of the lens 0.9m to infinity. I mainly used infinity but did try a few closer shots just to see the difference and the sharpness of the camera. You can find more technical details on this website. Plus everything you ever wanted to know about this camera you can read on Mike Eckman’s site. He even includes an explanation of the exposure symbols. I hadn’t noticed the sailboat one, which would have been good for the dead grass in the sun.

The whole camera felt a bit flimsy but being so small, it easily fitted safely inside my pocket. While in my pocket, the shutter fired a couple of times. So I lost a couple of shots, half shots though. As I hadn’t finished the film I didn’t rewind it or try the red/white dot rewind system. I put it in a dark bag and cut the film where I had finished shooting. I loaded the remaining film into another half-frame camera I am trying.

Then I developed the film in pyro-510 and for the first time used a dilution of 1:200 instead of the usual 1:100.

Here are the individual photos from Phoenix Park and a walk around Swinton.

On the whole, I am pleased with the results. There were a couple of overexposed shots where I didn’t change the settings when the sun appeared from behind the clouds. The photos are quite sharp too, even the ones that were not shot at infinity such as the animals and metal sculpture.

Of course, half-frame photos are sometimes represented as a set of two so I left some together in their double format.

I couldn’t show them all in this format as I often forget to take them with two in mind. That means there was often a landscape and a portrait next to each other. That reminds me, I found the placement of the viewfinder compared to the shutter button a bit awkward. The framing lines on this example were a little light too, so I sometimes had to really think about where to place my eye. When I did get it in the right place I then had to turn the camera. That would be my only gripe, I loved this camera and am a little sad to be returning it. Luckily I have other half-frames to try or use…they don’t look like this one though.

13 thoughts on “BeLomo Agat 18K

  1. Kurt Ingham says:

    It resides in the elite ‘very fun crappy camera’ category – in my case a fairly small bunch since I’m not a big fan of using them. Every time I take it out I get happy surprises .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Toby says:

    Bit of a quirky camera, have to admit I have a soft spot for old Soviet photo stuff, even if half the time it was faulty when it left the factory. I subscribe to the Darwinian theory, survival of the fittest, it’s only the good ones that made it 30 years+ after the end of the Soviet Union …same with DDR stuff
    At least being more receptive to half frames opens up a whole new realm of cameras for you to try…..cos of course you are running out of old film cameras to try.
    It developer dilution seems to have worked fine, nice photos

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darrell Meekcom says:

    To be honest; seeing the camera didn’t match up with the quality of the photos it produced, it looks like a flimsy childs toy but it produces what appear to be very usable shots that I’d have been happy with and I’d ever seen one of these before. Old Eastern Block cameras always throw up a surprise don’t they. Thanx for posting Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. brineb58 says:

    I just picked one up from evilbay and am waiting for the weather here in the US to get better to try it. Your results make me feel it will be a fun camera!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Roger B. says:

    Sooo … another half-frame camera that proves to be a pleasant surprise! Thanks for showing your results with developer at a 1:200 dilution. I use Rodinal at 1:100 and my results are always very contrasty, with little regard for what emulsion is involved. Will try 1:200 next go-round.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peggy says:

      The developer was pyro, I haven’t tried rodinal at 1:200. The times for pyro is much shorter hence I didn’t mind trying it. The time was still well under an hour. With agitations every 10 minutes.


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