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The Optima is a family of 35mm cameras made by Agfa in the 1960s and beyond. The original Optima from 1959 was the first camera manufactured with automatic programmed exposure, using a selenium-meter-driven mechanical system. (The Paxette electromatic may have also appeared in 1959, but it was a simpler camera with just automatic aperture.)

The first (un-numbered) Optima appears to have a shutter release on the "wrong" side; in fact this lever is held down to operate the light meter. (The actual shutter release is on the top deck, in a conventional location.) But later models used a front-mounted shutter release operated by user's the right hand.

all images by Just Plain Curt (Image rights)
Optima I
Optima III

Optima Ia (1962)

The camera has an optical bright frame finder with parallax marks, a distance setting ring with symbols around the front lens element, and an aperture setting ring with separate aperture setting scales for B-mode or flash synchronized speed 1/30 seconds. The automatic exposure mode (A-mode, without flash) has to be switched on with the same ring. Film speed setting is possible only up to 200 ASA. The camera's bottom & back part can be removed very easily for loading the film. Film advance has to be done with a tiny advance lever. Other than the Optima I's lever it's mounted on the camera top. The exposure counter is readable from the side. Its advantage over the Optima I of 1960 is its hot shoe and maybe a different shutter. A similar model was the Agfa Agfamatic Ia.

all images by Just Plain Curt (Image rights)
The Selecta, a half-automatic variant
Agfamatic Ia (like Optima Ia)
Optima IIS (S stands for coupled rangefinder)

List of the first series of Agfa Optima cameras
Model Name Year Lens Shutter (max speed) Note
Optima 1959 Color-Apotar S 3.9/39 Compur (1/250) seperate button for exposure meter
Optima I 1960 Color-Agnar 2.8/45 Prontor-Lux (1/250)
Optima Ia 1962 Color-Agnar 2.8/45 Optimat 103A (1/160) plastic body
Optima II 1960 Color-Apotar 2.8/45 Prontormator (1/250)
Optima IIS 1961 Color-Apotar 2.8/45 Prontormator (1/250) rangefinder
Optima III 1960 Color-Apotar 2.8/45 Compur (1/500)
Optima IIIS 1961 Color-Apotar S 2.8/45 Compur (1/500) rangefinder
Optima 500S 1963 Color-Solinar 2.8/45 Compur (1/500) rangefinder

For export the Optima III was called Optima 500. In Canada and probably in some other countries most models were sold as Agfamatic, e.g. "Optima Ia" changed into "Agfamatic Ia". Other cameras by Agfa are very close to the Optima design: the Agfa Selecta (with shutter priority automatic exposure) and some Agfa Silettes (manual exposure), like the Agfa Super Silette LK.

So, the name Optima indicates a programmed shutter and this way it was used on different cameras: The Optima Reflex was the sister of the Flexilette, but with automatic exposure. The Optima-Parat belongs to the Parat family of half-frame cameras.

Model Name Year Lens Shutter (max speed) Note
Optima Reflex 1960 Color-Apotar 2.8/45 Pontor (1/250) 35mm TLR
Optima-Parat 1963 Color-Solinar 2.8/30 Compur (1/500) half-frame camera 18x24

In the mid-sixties the design of the Optimas was updated. The stylish look of the Parat cameras was taken, and the controls for the film transport moved to the bottom. The correspondent model of the Silette series is the Silette Record.

Model Name Year Lens Shutter (max speed)
Optima 500 1964 Color-Apotar 2.8/45 Paratic or Compur (1/500)
Optima 500SN 1966 Color-Solinar 2.8/45 Paratic (1/500)

In 1965 Agfa resurrected the Karat film cartridge as the Rapid system in response to the Kodak Instamatic cassette. In the first place it was intended for simple cameras for the masses, like the Iso-Rapid I, but also some Optima Rapids were made which could benefit from the "easy film loading".

Model Name Year Lens Shutter (max speed)
Optima Rapid 100C 1966 Color-Agnar 4.5/38
Optima Rapid 125C 1967 Color-Apotar 2.8/35 Paratic (1/125)
Optima Rapid 250 1965 Color-Agnar 2.8/45 (1/250)
Optima Rapid 250V 1966 Color-Apotar 2.8/35 Paratic V (1/250)
Optima Rapid 500V 1966 Color-Solinar 2.8/35 Paratic V (1/500)

In 1968 Agfa introduced the famous red-orange shutter button with the Optima 200 Sensor. The name "Sensor" should imply a very soft shutter release. The Optima 500 Sensor was the first Optima with CdS-cells for metering, it was available in silver and black. The 200 Sensor shares its body with the Silette LK Sensor, the black 500 Sensor is very close to the Agfa Selectronic Sensor.

Model Name Year Lens Shutter (max speed)
Optima 200 Sensor 1968 Color-Apotar 2.8/42 Paratic (1/200)
Optima 500 Sensor 1969 Color-Apotar 2.8/42 Paratic (1/500)

In 1974 Agfa introduced 2 Optimas for the film format 110. They were of higher quality than common pocket cameras and equipped with the 4-element Solinar lens. The 6000 model even has a self-timer, a tripod bush and a cable release socket.

Model Name Year Lens max speed
Optima 5000 Pocket Sensor 1974 Color-Solinar 2.7/26 1/1000
Optima 6000 Pocket Sensor 1974 Color-Solinar S 2.7/26 1/1000

In 1976 Agfa launched a series of completely new designed, very compact Optimas: the Optima Sensor electronic series. The Optima 935 was a single model, better known as Agfa Compact.

Model Name Year Lens Shutter (max speed) Note
Optima Sensor electronic 1982 Solitar 2.8/40 Paratronic (1/500) like 535, made in Portugal
Optima 335 Sensor electronic 1978 Agnatar 3.5/40 Paratronic (1/300)
Optima 535 Sensor electronic 1976 Solitar 2.8/40 Paratronic (1/500)
Optima 1035 Sensor electronic 1976 Solitar S 2.8/40 Paratronic (1/1000)
Optima 1535 Sensor electronic 1979 Solitar S 2.8/40 Paratronic (1/1000) rangefinder
Optima Sensor flash electronic 1981 Solitar 2.8/40 Paratronic (1/500) specs like 535 model
Optima 935 1981 Solinar 2.8/39 (1/1250) aka Agfa Compact


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
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