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Agfa Agnar lens quality?

Joris Van Looveren , Nov 11, 2004; 09:31 a.m.

I recently bought an Agfa Isola medium-format camera in fine condition at a flea market. It has an Agfa Agnar 75f6.3 lens and Singlo-2 shutter. The first roll I tried (APX 100) was seriously underexposed so I threw it away, but what was on the roll seemed to look promising, so I will try a few more rolls. Does anybody have an idea of the quality of the lens and resulting enlargements? (I currently only have experience with 35mm.)


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BJ Bignell , Nov 11, 2004; 11:49 a.m.

The Agnar is the lowest-end lens from Agfa, but it's not that bad. Both my Ventura 66 and Ventura 69 folders (Isolettes) have Agnar lenses, and I don't have any complaints.

I usually shoot HP5+, but I did run a roll of 400VC through once; it looked pretty nice. I've never had enlargments past 5x5 proofs, though.


David Richert , Nov 11, 2004; 12:08 p.m.

If the lens is clean they will shoot surprisingly well. Most of these len's suffer from haze on the elements. Open up the back select "B" and aim the camera at a light source check to see if it's clean. I have had very good luck on a few images up to 14x14 but most look very good at 10x10. Check out some of my AGFA Images at http://davidrichert.com/AGFA%20Manuals/agfa1.htm

Mike Elek , Nov 11, 2004; 12:54 p.m.

As the others said, the Agnar was the lowest-level lens offered.

The Agnar occupied the bottom tier. The Apotar sat in the middle, and the Solinar was the top lens.

As a small amusing note, if someone says, "It's not that bad," you can also infer that "it's not that good," either.

HOWEVER, I think if you keep the lens to f/11 or smaller, you'll be quite pleased by the results, especially if you've only been shooting 35mm. The big negative is a huge benefit.

The most important thing to check is that there are no pinholes in the bellows -- the Agfa medium format folders are notorious for this.

My own experience with the Apotar (Isolette III) is that it's an adequate lens when stopped down. Even when shooting at f/16, images were never as sharp as they should have been.

Lex Jenkins , Nov 11, 2004; 02:28 p.m.

My Isolette has the 85mm f/4.5 Agnar (Pronto shutter) and is surprisingly sharp edge to edge, corner to corner, even wide open. A bit disappointing since I was actually hoping for softer edges and corners.

The tricky bit is guess focusing. That's especially difficult shooting wide open. So I normally shoot at around f/11. I have taken some street shots in low light at f/4.5 but they were a bit blurry from motion (I shoot while walking) or because my judgement of subject distance was off.

Otherwise it's a good lens.

Andrew Yue , Nov 11, 2004; 02:50 p.m.

Sometimes you get incredibly lucky. I recently refurbished an Agfa Ventura 69 for a friend and the "quote" bottom of the line Agnar lens turned out to be sharper than most mid-level Apotars that I've dealt with. Had the camera been for me, I'm sure that the lens would have been a dog.

Also, sharpness isn't alway the end all even in enlargement. I tend judge a lens by the contrast and tonality present in the final print.

Glen Peterson , Nov 11, 2004; 04:17 p.m.

Like lex my Jsolette has a agnar 85mm f4.5(but in a vario shutter), and is very sharp. One of the best ebay buys I've ever made. The largest prints that I ever make in the darkroom are only 8x10, but I have cropped a small section from a negative(printed at 8x10), and it looked great.

don mckeith , Nov 11, 2004; 06:57 p.m.

I often wonder why someone buys a 50yo camera and worries about sharpness

It's probably at least as sharp as my 1924 Kodak #1, with a RR lens, and I really like those pics, and I'm sure it's as sharp as my Target Brownie Box camera and I'm doing a port. on box camera pics ,cause they're great-

shoot some film,see how you like it,don't worry about sharpness,it's overrated

Joris Van Looveren , Nov 12, 2004; 04:02 a.m.

I'm not worried, just wondering what I might get out of it.

Mark Sampson , Nov 12, 2004; 10:20 a.m.

When I was a child my dad's camera was an Agfa Isola with a 6.3 Agnar lens. After I inherited it I loaned it to a co-worker who used a Diana (they were the Holga of 20 years ago). She tried the Agfa but gave it back because the lens was "too sharp".

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