A colleague at work recently mentioned that she had a bunch of her father-in-law’s cameras taking up space in her loft and asked if I was interested. This week she wandered into my office and deposited a large carrier bag onto the desk. While a little part of me was dreaming of a long forgotten Hasselblad or Leica however, the contents were a little less exciting but no less intersting. As well as an old aneroid barometer inscribed in some scandanavian language, there were three cameras enclosed in slightly battered leather cases which bore the words “Agilux”, “Werra”, and “Yashica”. I was familiar with Yashica, but the other two were previously unknown to me, so I popped open the cases one at a time to see what I’d got.
At first I thought the “Ag” meant I was dealing with an Agfa camera of some sort. But opening up the Agilux case revealed a tidy looking folding camera with a nameplate reading “Agifold” and when I opened up the camera I found “Made in England” engraved beneath the lens. A quick search on the ever reliable Camerapedia showed that it was manufactured in Croydon around 1957 by Agilux Ltd. It’s a folding medium format camera that shoots 6×6 frames on 120 film, has an uncoupled rangefinder, and a primitive exposure meter.
The second unfamiliar name, Werra, was emblazoned on a peculiar looking camera which at first appeared to have no controls at all other than a shutter release on top and on the bottom a rewind crank, flash sync mode selector, and frame indicator. The lens cover, which turns out to double as a lens hood, revealed a Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm Tessar lens surrounded by controls for everything else – shutter speed, focus, aperture, and even, it turns out, the film advance and shutter cocking. Made around 1955 in what was then the DDR, it’s quite a neat bit of design, and makes a very tidy little 35mm compact camera.
Which leaves the Yashica – which I think is a Minister II – and is in some ways the most sophisticated of the three cameras. It’s a fixed lens (a Yashinon 4.5cm 1:2.8) coupled rangefinder 35mm camera with a built-in selenium light meter, and a Copal shutter in the lens. The light meter gives a “light value” number which you set on the lens, and the shutter speed and aperture are then coupled, so that increasing the shutter speed automatically opens up the aperture to compensate. Unfortunately the central Copal shutters appears to be the weak link. Although cosmetically the camera appears to be in almost mint condition the shutter is gummed up with what I guess is dried up lubricant and refuses to fire without a lot of persuasion. Which is a pity because it’s a really nice looking camera that I’d love to shoot with.
Anyway this is just an introductory post really – as I figure out these cameras I will of course run some film through them and then I’ll post about each one, and give a bit more detail. So many thanks to Jo, for the donation and for the chance to have some fun.