Optima Sensor Series

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The Optima Sensor Electronic series were produced between 1978 and 1983 by the German Agfa company, and initially comprised three viewfinder cameras; the 335, 535 and 1035. The model numbers were indicative of the top shutter speed, as in 1/300th, 1/500th and 1/1000th (and presumably the 35 stood for 35mm). Agfa's marketing pitch focused upon the fact their cameras were auto-exposure, and all but the base model could provide automatic exposure for a shutter speed as long as 15 seconds.


  • A fourth camera - the 1535 - added coupled rangefinder focusing.
  • A fifth camera - the Agfa Optima Sensor Electronic Flash - added a built-in in flash.
  • The sixth and final model was launched in 1982 and had no number: it was called the Optima Sensor Electronic, but was essentially a clone of the 535 and manufactured in Portugal.


Differences between the models were not confined to top shutter speeds. The key features of each camera were:


The features in common for this series were:

  • large viewfinder,
  • Sensor shutter release (a big red button), #1
  • Paratronic shutter, #2
  • Stepless shutter speeds (within the overall range of the model),
  • Film loading system, #3
  • Reversible film crank, #4
  • Auto exposure,
  • A tiny size (104 × 69 × 56mm (W x H x D)).


1 - Agfa introduced its sensor point shutter release system in 1968. This was a round membrane made of red foil framed with a metal ring. Depending on the camera type, either a mechanical or an electromechanical shutter release button was hidden under the membrane. From that time onwards, most of the company’s models had this distinctive feature. The Optima Sensor Electronic cameras all had electromagnetic shutter release systems.


2 - The Paratronic shutter comprises two blades. The first blade is released when you press the shutter release, and the second is held back by an electromagnet for a period of time determined by the amount of light collected by the CdS cell, which in turn is converted to an exposure time by the camera's auto exposure circuitry.


3 - The film loading system comprises a closed receptacle with a slit, through which the film leader is inserted and gripped by a sprocket wheel (no slots in spools or their variations), such that exposed film disappears behind a door and is (apparently) protected against accidental opening of the back cover.


4 - The film transport mechanism is unusual in as much as a small lever marked R (located on the left of the lens) reveals a push-button, which reverses the transport gearing so that the film advance lever rewinds the film, with the exposure dial counting down and thus showing when the film is fully rewound.


Notes

This series of cameras is often confused with the 1969 Agfa Optima Sensor range, which comprised the Optima Sensor 200 and optima Sensor 500. The Optima Sensor range gave way to the 1970 Agfa Selectronic cameras, which comprised the Selectronic Sensor, and Selectronic Sensor S. These cameras were similar to the later Optima Sensor Electronic cameras in specification, but did not share the compact design.

To confuse matters further, Agfa also introduced Agfa Selectronic SLR series in 1980, comprising the Selectronic 1, 2, and 3.


Links


Agfa Optima Sensor Cameras
Classic Optima | Optima Sensor 200 | Optima Sensor 500 | Selectronic Sensor | Selectronic Sensor S
Modern Optima Sensor 335 | Optima Sensor 535 | Optima Sensor 1035 | Optima Sensor 1535 | Optima Sensor | Optima Flash Sensor