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.
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.