Agfa Karat 1V

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. Took my Karat 1V to an old machinery rally last weekend as I have just had this camera serviced. The Karat I used here is the last hurrah for the venerable series of Karat models that started just before WW11 and ended with my camera in 1957.
    Originally the Karat took 35mm film in "Karat" cassettes which wound the film from one cassette to another to get around the hassle of rewinding. This led to the mildly successful Rapid system from the sixties.
    The Karat 36 introduced in 1948 did away with this system and reverted to normal 35mm film. One unusual feature of the later Karat's was the unusual rangefinder system where the whole viewfinder image divided for focussing.
    All Karat's featured this until the model 1V which uses a conventional rangefinder spot. I mst admit that I prefer the spot to the other, which while effective takes some getting used to.
    These cameras are quite compact too, with a fold away front operated by a lazy tong system. The winder is a bit odd too, being on the end of the camera and operating backwards.
    Ido like the Karat's though, they seem better built than a lot of Agfa cameras, though the early models do suffer from Agfa "gummitis" where the lubricant hardens to a point where nothing operates. With a bit of TLC, they are very nice to use and fortunately Agfa blessed them with a fine range of optics.
    My model 1V comes with an F2 Agfa Solagon, but you could get them with a Xenon or Heiogon in F2, or a Xenar in 2.8. I have Karat's with the Xenar, Heliogon and Solagon...noreal difference in IQ between these.
    These shots were taken at the annual Old Machinery Rally at Bega, which features old tractors and stationary engines.
  2. With another Karat.
  3. A few pics.
  4. This is No.4
  5. The weather was hazy bright so I loaded up some Pan F+, developed in Pyrocat HD. Thanks for looking!
  6. Nice series, Tony; looks just like home! Love that Holden ute in #8. These old machinery rallies are great fun for the blokes, though there's often a conspicuous absence of their female partners... I find the Karat IV's really attractive, a blend of funky and elegant, if that's possible. Of the two I have, one has the f/2.8 Xenar and the other, the f/2.8 Solinar, possibly the better lens of the two. Great punchy images from the Pan.F. Thanks for the post.
  7. Smiling.
  8. What a nice-looking camera.
    And nice looking images too, but where is the steam tractor? ;)
  9. Nice birght day. Great punchy results with PanF. This is a bit more contrasty but the conditions were also rather bright. Nice even tones using Pan F and Pyrocat. I too, in my somewhat limited exposure have not been too impressed with the Agfa build quality. I've read some positive things about their folders and this Karat series . Nice to see some results in the right hands. From your description I am a bit intrigued now about the older RF series.
    Your results are nice and sharp that speaks well for the lenses. Thanks for showing two of the models and featuring this no so often heard from survivor of the semi 35mm formats
  10. Thanks all, the conditions were a bit challenging, but by overexposing and under developing in Pyrocat the tones were fine. Although I have used this camera with the Rodenstock, Schneider and Agfa lenses, can't really see any difference in IQ. Maybe a little less contrast with the Heligon, but there may be a little haze in there.
    JDM, I only shoot steam tractors with a Leica you know :)
  11. Oh, you Leica people... We antipodeans can't disappoint JDM! Here's a pic of a steam tractor from the Karat folder, though I can't recall which camera was involved. Incidentally, we call them "Traction Engines", down here.
  12. Thanks Rick, I must have deleted all mine, great looking engine...and of course you are right..they are properly called Traction Engines...damned colonials!
    The rally I was at this time has no "Traction Engines", that is at the nearby Bombala Steam Rally which is coming up soon again actually...I'll try not to use a Leica this time :)
  13. Sad that as a former occupational safety inspector all I can think of is - yikes, all those unguarded spinning, crushing, mutilating death things. But, otherwise, yup, good photos... of spinny, crushy, mutilatey, death thingies. Our coolest camera for documenting unguarded spinny, crushy, mutilatey, death thingies was a Canon TX, not nearly as cool as the Agfa Karat.
  14. Great results. Thanks for an informative post.
  15. "The weather was hazy bright so I loaded up some Pan F+, developed in Pyrocat HD."​
    Good choice. I was going to say, the moderate contrast and detailed blacks are perfect for these photos - very classic looking b&w for classic machines.
    What exposure index, by the way? I've had good results from Pan F+ at EI 25-50 in Diafine, but the results weren't as fine grained and smooth as yours.
  16. Thanks Les, no one was killed or maimed you will be glad to hear. There is a wire fence keeping us from getting too close, and they do have safety officers roaming around.
    I rated the PanF at 25 and developed in Pyrocat for 11 minutes instead of 14. Pyrocat, like all staining developers, gives very fine grain but still retaining good sharpness.
  17. The image quality is very impressive! Thanks for sharing.
  18. we call them "Traction Engines", down here​
    Well, we calls 'em "steam tractors" up here, although the occasional person might in an odd moment call them traction engines...
  19. Nice write-up on your Karats, Tony - I'm quite a fan of them too. Got to agree with you that the earlier models' 50/50 split rangefinder imaging takes a bit of getting used to compared to the more usual central window, but I got to like it - especially for photos in poor light.
    Have you ever tried reloading one of the early models using Karat Kasseten? It's quite a fiddly exercise, which I tried once 'blind' with my hands doing the feeding, under bedclothes, using modern AGFA colour negative film. I got there in the end and ran the now-loaded cassette in my 1938-ish Karat 3.5, with F3.5 Solinar, which was my very first Karat acquired and gave me the Karat Bug. It even came with its original orange/blue box. still in lovely condition. Strangely, everything worked fine on that 1938 Karat, with not a sniff of anything stiff or stuck.
    So I wondered just what AGFA-owning folks were on about, with all that talk of Dreaded Gunky Green Grease and such. However, when I acquired Karat #2, 3 etc - I soon found out ..... ! PN
  20. Thanks Pete, I do have an early Ansco Memo somewhere, but the lens is full of haze unfortunately. I did have a crack at the loading though, and it worked fine.
    The gummy grease is quite a common ailment, as is the degrading of the alloy on the front, but the Karat 1V that I used here has a much better quality chrome finish.
    Incidentally, Agfa resurrected the Karat name in the seventies for their quality recording tape...remember those!
  21. <img src=""><p>

    A few years ago I found a loose lens at a Photorama show- a 50/2.8 "Karat Xenar". Asked the price and got, "Oh- that one is expensive, $30". Aperture ring as shown, goes to F11. Took it apart to clean the haze, and found it was a 5 element in 4 group lens, which explains why it is so much better than my Zeiss 5cm F2.8 Tessar for the Contax.

    Now in RF-coupled Leica mount, using a focus mount from a Canon 50/1.8.

    Anyone know what model Karat this came off of? The small aperture ring and F11 - WW-II vintage?
  22. Hi, Brian that's an interesting lens you've got there! It may possibly be one of a batch of F2.8 Schneider Xenars fitted to the 'Interim' CRF F2.8 Karats around 1939/40, which always confuse Karat collectors because they have lens s/nos indicating c.1936 manufacture. I've actually got two of these cameras. So, first question - can you please give your lens's s/no?
    Secondly, I never knew that Schneider produced 5-element F2.8 Xenars in 5cm/50mm guise. I did know that during the mid-to-late 1930s, they produced faster versions of their longer FL F2.8 Xenars (ie 75mm for example) because I've got such a one in Reflex Korelle mount. It's also identified in a Schneider lens catalog scan I scored somewhere off the Net. However, amongst all the other 1930s Schneider documentary stuff I have, there's nothing about shorter FL Xenars with 5 elements for 35mm cameras.
    Not to say it's impossible, of course! I also collect Mirandas, and one of their 1950s lenses (from Soligor) was a preset-aperture 5-element F2.8. It doesn't look very spectacular so most Miranda SLR buyers went for the faster F1.9 option. However, I bought a Miranda 'D' some 10 years ago with that F2.8 5cm Miranda-Soligor quite cheaply, because its shutter needed some work. The F2.8 lens was a bit cloudy too. So I left it with our Perth camera Repair Guru Max Dellaway to fix the shutter and clean the lens.
    Max did a great job on both, and mentioned that according to the Zeiss Collimator he'd recently acquired, that F2.8 Miranda-Soligor lens was the sharpest F2.8 5cm/50mm lens he'd ever tested! Even down at F2.8, where Tessar-design 4-element lenses usually start to get a bit soft, that Miranda-Soligor was still really sharp. So, is your 5-element Xenar of similar ilk, maybe? (Pete In Perth)
  23. Thankyou for the interesting information-

    The serial number is 796325, and it looks like the front element of a standard Tessar lens was split into two elements of lesser strength. The performance is better than the Zeiss, and better than the 4-element Xenars that I've used. I'll have to test it against and Industar 61L/D, which I will be doing a CLA.

    Some more on the M9 here:

    The rendering of this lens is beautiful. I found a series V yellow filter for it, will try it in black and white.
  24. I found this link-

    All of the optical surfaces of this lens are coated- hard coated, as good as the Zeiss lenses of the day. I'm going to speculate that the blocks of serial numbers were allocated by an order, but the actual completion date may be later. The earliest factory-coated lens that I have is 1936, a Zeiss 5cm F1.5 Sonnar. By 1938, coated optics were more common.

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