Like opening a 71 year old time capsule.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Sep 3, 2011.

  1. Ever been to a cellar and find an old bottle of wine, aged to perfection? No? Neither have I, but at least now I know what it might feel like :).
    I have a 35mm Agfa Memo which is in good condition and quite unique in operation, from film advance to the cassette system. A few days ago I ran into its older brother, the Agfa B2 Commander and wanted to participate in a mild bidding war for it. $24 later I claimed victory. It arrived yesterday, and was astonished with its new or very close to new condition. I do not think it was ever used. The chrome is bright and shiny the bellows are practically new, the shutter snappy. The lens had a very thin film of dust, but once wiped, it appeared brighter than swarowski crystal. Even the wooden take up spool inside, showed no oxidation or weathering. It is as if it was made a few months ago, not 71 years ago.
    Although, I do not believe in shelf queens, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I feel a slight hesitation in putting this folder through its paces. This unit, just like the 35mm Memo, was produced in Binghamton, NY, by the Agfa/Ansco alliance. The shutter is much better quality than some of the dingy shutters used by the contemporary Kodak consumer grade cameras. The speeds range from 1/2s-1/250s plus B and T. The lens is an 85mm Anastigmat, 4.5 and it is front cell focusing. I checked the focus on the ground glass and it projects a sharp / well defined image under good lighting; it should be a good shooter.
    It is my opinion that Agfa folders produced in US aged better generally than those produced in Germany. For example, the Agfa folders imported from Germany, are notorious for swiss cheese bellows and frozen focusing threads due to the problematic Agfa grease, a predecessor of super glue. At any rate, I can't wait to see what I can get out of a shoot with this B2 Commander (Sounds like a heavy bomber, doesn't it? :)). Some quick snaps:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  2. Nice looking example. I can't wait to see some results. Thanks for posting.
  3. Hi Mike, neither can I. I just hope the weather will hold up.
  4. Wow! it DOES look brand spankin' NEW! Beauty! I think it deserves some film ;)
  5. Indeed it does Peter, I am trying to decide, what though, Acros 100 or Portra 160VC.
  6. I have and occasionally shoot with an Ansco Titan which exhibits similar build quality and optical/ shutter precision to your find. Pictures in July, at a small engine and steam show in Pepperell, MA some years ago, produced really nice images.
  7. If it's like the later Speedex it should be a good camera, maybe a little soft in the corners at large apertures, but it will produce good results. If you can find a hood that fits, I'd highly recommend using it.
    I don't think the American bellows are really any better than the German ones really, every Ansco, even pre-Agfa ones I've encountered has had holes in the bellows. If yours is without holes it's probably because it wasn't used much.
  8. The post-war Agfa folders have notorious bellow leaks due to the material used, I do not know whether this holds true for pre-war folders as well.
    At least your camera has a bellows made from standard material (they all seem to have those decorative stripes - the later Agfa bellows had a shiny unstructured surface) and it will probably be OK. Usually minor leaks (pinholes) on the corners can be fixed with black silicon filler.
  9. Two-and-a-quarter in a pocket! That is what I love about these little folders. Just picked up a Zeiss Nettar with a 75mm f6.3 Novar three months ago. Clean for its age but nowhere near a pristine as your gem and I paid $25 for mine.
  10. Very nice!
  11. It's way too pretty to be called a "B2 Commander"... Lovely classic folder, Ralf, with a particularly elegant top deck. I'm looking forward to the pics.

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