Agfa Standard

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Agfa Standard cameras are a range of metal-bodied folding cameras, some models for plates and pack film, and others for roll film. They were made by Agfa from about 1926, when the company had recently become part of IG Farben and taken over the Rietzschel factory, until the mid-1930s (1933, according to McKeown).[1] It is clear from patents filed by Rietzschel that the Standard range of cameras was already planned by the company before the change of name.[2]

  • Model 204 is for 6.5x9 cm plates, or 6x9 cm film-pack;
  • Model 208 is for 9x12 cm plates;
  • Models 254 and 264 (the same camera with a coupled rangefinder, introduced later) are for 6x9 cm on 120 roll film (Agfa size B2);
  • Models 255 and 265 (again, the latter with a rangefinder, and only available later) are for 6.5x11 cm on 116 roll film (Agfa D6).

Both plate and roll film cameras were at first offered only in a normal finish, with black leather and bellows;[3] a Luxus finish (not described with this term) was also offered in the early 1930s, with light brown leather.[4] Brown leather added just 4 Marks to the price for equal lens/shutter specifications; however, some specifications were only available with brown leather: for example, the model 254 was offered with the Trilinear f/6.3 or f/4.5, and with the Automat shutter when in black finish, and with the same lenses and the choice of Automat or Compur shutters when in brown.[4][5] Standard model 208 seems to have been discontinued before the smaller cameras: the 1930s brochure no longer offers model 208 (roll-film and 6.5x9 cm plate cameras are still listed), and the Isolar, with a more conventional lens carriage, rack-and-pinion focus and both rise and shift, is the only 9x12 camera offered.[4]

The 1928 brochure offers the roll-film cameras with the Agfa Anastigmat, available as an f/7.7, f/6.3 or f/4.5, and the plate cameras only with the Agfa Double-Anastigmat f/4.5.[3] The later brochure offers both roll-film and plate cameras with the triplet Trilinear as an f/6.3 or f/4.5; the double-anastigmat Helostar f/4.5 and the Solinar f/4.5 are offered for the 6.5x9 roll-film and plate cameras (it seems likely that the Trilinear is identical to the Anastigmat, and the Helostar to the Double-Anastigmat); the Solinar is also offered for the 6x9 camera if fitted with a rangefinder.[4] McKeown states that some cameras of models 254 and 255 were fitted with Krauss Quatryl f/4.5 or f/4.7 lenses at the Krauss factory in Paris.[1]

Even in the plate cameras, where the lens carriage slides on rails, the lens is mounted in a helical mechanism for focusing;[2] this gives unit focusing; i.e. the whole lens moves, not just the front element. In surviving examples, the mechanism is frequently stiff because of dried grease.

The shutter is usually the Automat everset shutter illustrated here, with speeds 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 second, plus 'B' and 'T'. This was made by Gauthier; it is not marked with a name, but has the company's logo on it. It was the only shutter mentioned in the 1928 brochure:[3] as noted above, some models were later available with a Compur shutter, giving 1 - 1/200 or 1/250 second plus 'B' and 'T', and with a self-timer.

Plate model 208 (for 9x12 plates) has front rise; there is no shift. The lens carriage on this model latches at the infinity-focus position,[2] at which the helical mechanism gives focus down to two metres. However, the carriage can be drawn further forward to obtain closer focus, down to about one metre, using a scale on the right of the bed. Some of these cameras have double-anastigmat lenses, in principle separable, but the bed (with a simple pair of fixed rails) is not long enough to give infinity focus with the front group removed. Instead, slip-on front-mounted Vorsatzlinsen or Verlängerungslinsen ('front-mounting lenses' or 'lengthening lenses') were available. A 1928 brochure mentions only one, which increases the focal length from 13.5 to 16.5 cm;[3][6] the 1930s brochure offers two: model 'A' is said to extend the focal length by a factor of 1.3 (i.e. to about 17.5 cm) and model 'B' by 1.5 (i.e. to about 20 cm).[4] lenses of other powers have been seen, suggesting the range was changed more than once.[7]

The cameras all have a brilliant finder, which rotates for portrait and landscape orientation, and a wire frame finder. Plate models can be used with a ground glass focusing screen.

As noted above, a slim, side-mounted coupled rangefinder was made available later (it is mentioned in the early-1930s brochure, but not in the 1928 one) for several of the Standard cameras. In addition to the roll-film models, where the camera with the RF was a distinct model number, the RF was an option for model 204, adding 20 Marks to the price (the price of the camera without RF was between 55 and 95 Marks, depending on the lens and shutter). The rangefinder is of an interesting type, with only one front window (presumably housing two prisms), and giving a split view rather than two overlaid images.[4]

The roll-film cameras have spool-holders that hinge out of the camera body for more convenient loading.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p36-37.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 For example German Patent 438404, Photographische Kamera, deren Objektivtraeger durch einen Stift umfassenden federnden Schieber in der Stellung auf Unendlich festgehalten wird (Camera whose lens carriage is held in the infinity position by a sprung fastening pin), filed by Rietzschel 12 March 1926 and granted 2 June 1927, describes the combination of a lens carriage latching at the infinity focus position, with a helical focus mechanism, as on the plate cameras. French Patent 599471, Chambre pour films en rouleaux avec porte-bobines basculant à l'intérieur (Camera for roll films with spool-holders hinged from the interior), filed by A. H. Rietzschel GmbH June 1925 and granted January 1926, describes the swing-out spool holders of the roll-film Standard and other Agfa roll-film cameras; British Patent 249383, Improvements in Roll-film Cameras, filed July 1925 and granted March 1926, is equivalent. US Patent 1591072, Spool holder for roll film cameras, filed July 1925 and granted July 1926 makes reference to the original German Patent filed in May 1924. At Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Pages from a brochure for Agfa Standard cameras, for Estonia (Estland), July 1928 (dated on the front page), at Charlie Kamerman's Flickr site:
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Agfa brochure Die Agfa Photographie, undated but clearly of the early 1930s (the Standard cameras are still listed in all but the largest size), and not before 1931 (the Agfa Billy Jgetar 8.8 has been redesignated the Billy I)
  5. 1929 Agfa Standard 6×9 Luxus roll-film model, with coupled rangefinder, 10.5 cm f/4.5 Solinar lens and Compur shutter; a lot in an auction in October 2005 by Auction Team Breker (the listing is at the LiveAuctioneers site.
  6. Example engraved Verlängerungslinse 13.5/16.5 sold at Ebay, January 2015 (item 151568337186).
  7. Example engraved Verlängerungslinse B 13.5/23 (a factor of 1.7), offered for sale at Ebay, January 2015 (item 310847916565).