Apotar vs. Solinar vs. Solagon vs. Telinear

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., May 25, 2006.

  1. Hello -

    I have developed an interest in using old Agfa folders after I borrowed one
    from a friend. I wanted to ask for your much valued opinions about the quality
    of the lenses that offten accompany such cameras. Which would provide highest
    image quality from the lenses listed in the subject? (Apotar vs. Solinar vs.
    Solagon vs. Telinear)

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Look here:

  3. The Solinar is remarkably good if the film is lying flat in the gate. I used to find that my Isollete III gave very poor sharpness untill I realised that letting the front open too fast created a suction effect that Hoover would have been proud of. The result was that the film was yanked right out of the plane of focus. Treated with respect, these cameras can give very acceptable results indeed.
  4. I think they go in this order of quality:

    Agnar, Apotar, Solinar.

    I don't know about the Solagon and Telinear
  5. The Apotar is a triplet.

    The Solinar is a 4 elements in three groups tessar type.

    f/2 Solagons are six elements in four groups double Gauss types, similar to the Schneider Xenon, 6/4 Planars, ... The 70/4.5 Solagon is, according to the Vade Mecum, something else.

    The Telinear is, I think, a telephoto lens.

    All Agfa lenses.

    If all of the lenses are in good order, a Solagon should shoot better than a Solinar, a Solinar better than an Apotar. But if stopped down beyond, say, f/11 they should all, if in good order, shoot well enough. Typically normal lenses for the format of the camera they're mounted on.

    The Telinear isn't really comparable because it is a longer focus lens of telephoto design. Tele lenses generally give worse image quality -- distortion is a problem -- than non-tele non-retrofocus lenses like the Apotar, Solinar, and Solagon.
  6. Hello Ralf,

    Are you talking about medium format folders or 35mm (or both)? As far as medium format goes, I believe the best lens they used was the Solinar. The Solagon was used (and I am almost certain of this) only in the 35mm folders.
    I have several of the Agfa medium format folders, and can say that when properly adjusted they are all pretty good. I have two Isorettes with uncoated Apotars in Compur shutters, and when stopped they give quite good results (even with slide film). I also had a 1950's model Isolette II with an Apotar that was also quite good. Lastly, I have an Isolette II equipped with a 3.5 Solinar that I later took out (the shutter is currently non-operational) and placed in a Rolleiflex Automat X (which was missing the taking lens - see photo.net threads for that story). I must say that the I am very impressed with the performance of the Solinar lens. On the other hand, the fact that it is rigidly mounted in the unit focusing Rolleiflex might have something to do with it.
    To get back to the subject at hand, I would say that almost any of the folders will deliever fine results provided you take the time to adjust the focus, do not allow the door to spring open (as mentioned previously), and if possible shade the lens. While the Solinar is certainly the more desirable in the Agfa line-up, the later Apotar is a good solid performer at a great price.
    I hope this helped.

  7. One of the best lenses I've encountered on an Agfa folder is the 90mm f6.3 Anastigmat. Another very fine lens is the 105F6.3 Agnar. In such old cameras, image quality will depend on the condition of the lens and its alignmant with the camera as much as the individual qualities of the lens - which will vary in any mass-produced instrument.
  8. As far as I know, the Solagon was not used in medium-format folders. It was used in Agfa's "highest end" 35mm cameras, such as the Super Silette (or the American version, the Ansco Super Memar). I inherited a Solagon-equipped Super Memar from my dad, and it produces wonderful images. I also like the fact that its shutter-speed and aperture rings, when set, lock together...which allows you to set a variety of equivalent exposures with a simple turn of the combined ring. Ivor Mantale, in his wonderful book "Collecting Classic Cameras," calls the Solagon-equipped Super Silette (or Super Memar) "a considerable find"!
  9. I decided to rummage through my medium-format drawer drawer last night, and I found a couple additional cameras you may want to look into. One (an American-market version of an Agfa European model) is the beautiful, deco Ansco Titan 6x6, with anastigmat lens.

    And you've heard of the Isolette but I have a down-market plastic version, called the "Jsolette." It does, however, have a nice Solinar lens that goes down to 1/500 second (at least, one could expect that speed when it was new). Can't use it yet like I have the Titan, since the Jsolette's bellows is paper, and none to light- tight right now!

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