The Agiflex - The Camera I Daren't Use

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by john_seaman|2, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. The Agiflex 3 came with three lenses, hoods, filters and a set of extension tubes. The seller said it was working, and it certainly seems OK. Even the slow speeds work! But I'm terrified to use it as I've read that these cameras, like the Reflex Korelle on which it was based, operate with a string or wire linking the film wind and shutter, and once this breaks or comes off it's pulleys, the camera can't be repaired. Or perhaps the third version is more robust than the first two?
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  2. The Agiflex models 1,2 and 3 were 6x6 rollfilm SLR's made by Aeronautical and General Instruments, Croydon, UK, who also made the Agimatic 35mm and Agifold roll film cameras. The Agiflex was developed from a wartime camera, as this company like many others had to quickly move into peacetime manufacture after the war. The third version, with a larger bayonet rather than screw lens mount, came out in 1954. It has a focal plane shutter and a removable bright waist level viewfinder with a condensing lens. No eye level finder was ever developed.
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  3. The door below the shutter release conceals the PC flash sockets.
    The three Agilux lenses, are the standard 80mm f2.8, and telephoto's 16cm and 24cm f5.5. No wide angle lens was ever produced. There are also two lens hoods with yellow filters, and a set of four extension tubes.
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  4. The camera came with its original manual, advertising brochure and AGI hire purchase and price leaflet.
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  5. The brochure is perhaps worthy of closed inspection. I hope you can see it clearly enough:
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  6. More from the brochure:
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  7. And more:
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  8. And one more:
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  9. The price list from the Hire Purchase leaflet. Interestingly the 1950's price of the kit I bought was almost exactly what I paid for it in 2015. (Edit, I've photographed the wrong page, the one for the Agima and Agifold, I'll add the Agiflex page later)
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  10. In case I'm accused of cowardice for not putting a film through it. I taped the 80mm lens rather precariously to the front if my Sony Alpha 900 and took a few shots around my garden, showing what the lens is capable of, at least in the central area.
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  11. Another one
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  12. Last one - a foxglove, thanks for looking.
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  13. Here's the price list for the Agiflex kit, note there's a 30cm lens too.
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  14. Terrific post, John, on a camera I'll probably never see in the flesh. I have a couple of Agifolds and an Agimatic, but the Agiflex is as rare as the proverbial hen's teeth, downunder. You're extraordinarily luck to find such a complete kit in such great order, and I understand your reluctance to risk immobilising the camera. It's always a hard choice with an old, seemingly-irreparable camera, but many thanks for showing us this old gem in such a competent fashion.
     
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  15. Awesome post - real pleasure and lots learned - especially with the bonus material of the brochure! I can't blame you at all for the reluctance to use it, and I am one of those people who usually espouses a philosophy that cameras are meant to be used, cars are meant to be driven, etc. But in this case... yup, I am with you. I'd chicken out too - and its truly too bad, I bet its a pleasure to use and capable of wonderful work. Thank you so much for sharing it!
     
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  16. C'mon, don't be afraid. At least run a roll through it. There's no such thing as a camera that can't be repaired. You may not be able to do it but someone can. By the same token, if you're never going to use it, its doomed to live it out its existence as a shelf queen, so who cares if it breaks?
     
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  17. What Marco F said.
     
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  18. You know when I read Marco's response it got me thinking... right now its kind of a Schrodinger's cat of a camera, in a way its as good as broken since it "can't" be used so it kind of is and isn't... it exists in a weird limbo lol I guess if you are looking at it as an investment and keeping an eye to its value as a commodity then perhaps the caution is justified but otherwise...
    This is all good and well because its your camera of course, I am still inclined to think that logic might take a back seat to a fear of breaking it if it was my camera... anyway - its a nice problem to have I suppose and in no way detracts from the enjoyment and appreciation for your presentation of this rare beast.
     
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  19. Never mind any 'investment value'. There's another value in old cameras: the existence of a (few) sample(s) that still work(s) is of historic value. Do you need to use this Agiflex? If not, why risk removing a sample from the remaining pool of working cameras?
     
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  20. Thanks to all for the comments, hmm that's two for, two against and one kind of in both camps. I've gone through the same process in my head and come out against using it, but who knows? If I do, I'll certainly share the results.
    Some reassurance as to the mechanical superiority of the third Agiflex model might help ..
     
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  21. Well whatever you do, John, thanks of a very good post of a camera I have never seen before. Nice to see all the original paperwork, too. Very interesting.
     
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  22. Just curious. I can understand repairing a camera can be difficult, complicated, tedious, and very labor intensive but it
    seems that that anything that has been assembled can be reassembled. Why would this camera be unrepairable? Not
    trying to be facetious, just curious.
     
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  23. Well I've found various references on the internet by people attempting this repair, but none who seem to have succeeded, for example http://www.rangefinderforum.com/classics/forum/messages/2/25591.html?1351264496
    Also I've seen a number of Agiflexes on Ebay for spares or repair, referring to the wire problem.
    Actually I've got to talk to a camera repairer during the next few days about something else, and I'll get his opinion about the Agiflex and let you know what he says.
     
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  24. Hi, John congratulations on that fine acquisition. I have an interest in AGI stuff too, and inter alia have all three of the Agiflexes with standard lenses, plus a 180mm F5.5 accessory lens plus the close-up gizmos. I also have a prewar Reflex Korelle. The US seller of the Korelle described it as 'non-functioning', but was honest enough to advise not to bother with getting the cable problem sorted out because it would inevitably just happen again. My understanding with the post-war Agiflexes is that they're much more reliable in that department, especially the Agiflex 3. However, their focal plane shutters invariably seem to need a service, don't they? (Pete In Perth)
     
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  25. John, I understand your caution - I had a Reflex Korelle and the shutter cable tensioning thing snapped as per your fears. I had a go at a repair but it was beyond me. What was annoying was that this appeared to be the only weak link in the design as the rest worked perfectly. Sold it for spares.
     
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  26. Thanks for showing the Agi to us, really interesting camera, and one that I have never handled. I think that very few made it Downunder.
    As for using it, really a hard one there. If it was mine I would have a crack and if it breaks you probably have lost a few dollars, but the thing will still look good on the shelf.
    I had a similar thing with a VP Exackta, got halfway through the roll when it jammed, but I was dying to try it out.
     
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  27. If you use it then it breaks, and doesn't work. If you don't use it, it doesn't do you any good.
    I think use it, but be sure that it is a worthwhile use. Find a special occasion to bring it out.
    Sitting on a shelf, it doesn't matter, the way I see it, if it works or not. Only if you use it.
     
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  28. What a nice set, in great condition. Many of us were after one of those or similar, at some time.
    I don't favour you using it. There do have to be clean copies of rare cameras. I know how you feel. I have a brilliant Contax I in lovely nick, that I wouldn't be prepared to repair, that I just wind on & release once in a blue moon. There are a lot more Contax IIs around to waste, and old Leicas just seem to keep working, until, like immortality, they don't.
     
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  29. Excellent post, really informative. Beautiful outfit to have found, in such good condition. My vote would be to use it. As they said, if you never use it, it might just as well be broken. Funny thing, is it actually MAY already be broken. How would you know. There goes that old Schrroedinger's cat again. I say photograph one live and one dead cat, then put it up on your shelf.
     
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  30. Again thanks for the comments and opinions. I would defy a third party to work out the connection between a dilemma about whether to use a classic camera with a slightly doubtful reputation for reliability, and a famous thought experiment like Schrödinger's cat!
    Furthermore, I told my repairer about it and he said rather disappointingly that, first, he had never worked on an Agiflex, and second, that British cameras were rubbish anyway. He went on to ask if it felt reasonably smooth upon winding on, (which it does), and said that it might help to lubricate the mechanism so that excessive force would not be needed, making it less likely for something to break when it's operated.
    So I'll let him have it next time I see him, and of course, share any possible results.
     
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  31. I'm for using it as well, with the logic others have stated: If you use it and it breaks, then it's a shelf queen, but you're treating it as a shelf queen already anyway, so it's little loss. Further, if you occasionally exercise it (winding on and running the shutter through its speeds), as James has suggested with the Contax, then you are using it, so you might as well do that with film in. With the Agiflex, it looks like only two exercise rounds through all the shutter speeds equals one roll of film. Plus, the passage through of light stops the lenses getting melancholy. :)
    --Dave
     
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  32. Isn't there a difference between a shelf queen that has been but no longer isn't, and a shelf queen that still could if you would?
     
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  33. What a paradox, if it works, do not use it. I have to agree, I would hate to be the one who breaks it even if I owned it. At
    some point it reminds me of the black cat paradox. It is not dead or alive until we open the box. Are you sure it is still
    working?
     
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  34. For repairs, what about Ken Ruth at Bald Mountain Camera repairs? I doubt he would be defeated by it.
    Mathew
     
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  35. " it might help to lubricate the mechanism so that excessive force would not be needed,
    making it less likely for something to break when it's operated" John Seaman's "repairer"
    This is the best advice for sure. Plus with the service, one may be able to take proactive steps to remedy design flaw weakness.
    Because once the camera malfunctions, it becomes a puzzle and/or requires custom part fabrication.
    In this case, "an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure"
    After which, baby it as you put it to use...
     
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  36. Life is too short for worrying about the camera. Use it. Enjoy it. Show us results.
     
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  37. The camera's life may be too short to enjoy much of it. Spare yourself a disappointment and use a camera that can be used without such risk. Life's too short.
     
  38. That's right, Raid, Q.G., life is too short.
    If it was the only classic camera I owned, things might seem different but I've got a shedload of the things clamouring for attention. I'm waiting for some results from an Ensign Autorange 16/20 which I was also somewhat reluctant to use, but for a very different reason.
     

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