Parat

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The Agfa Parat family of cameras was introduced in 1963 with the basic Parat I and more advanced Paramat. In 1964 the most advanced model, the Optima-Parat was introduced. These cameras take 18 x 24mm exposures on 35mm film (half frame), capable of taking as many as 72 exposures on what would normally be a 36-exposure roll in 24 x 36mm format. In practice half frame cameras do not provide an exact doubling of frames available on a given length of film because of the additional number of spaces between frames, but the Parat cameras provide frame counters that are able to register 72 frames.

Focusing is done by turning the small silver front ring of the lens, which focuses from 0.9 m. to infinity. Focusing is a matter of guessing the right distance. The focusing scale at the underside of the lens is given in meters as well as feet (in green). There are also three pictograms at the upper side of the lens indicating the optimal distances for portrait (at c. 1.8m., which seems pretty far for a 30mm lens), group pictures (at c. 4m.) and landscapes. The first two (two heads and a 'family' respectively) have a click stop, the latter (church between mountains) is simply the infinity end of the focusing scale.

All three cameras shared the same Agfa Color Apotar 30mm f/2.8 lens, but the exposure controls vary significantly between models.

Parat I

The Agfa Parat I is completely manual; aperture, shutter speed and focus must be adjusted by hand. There are 4 shutter speeds to choose from between 1/30 and 1/125 second. This camera does not include an exposure meter, so all adjustments are made either by informed guessing or by means of external meters. A hot shoe is provided for flash photography.


Paramat

The Agfa Paramat adds selenium-cell metering and automatic exposure controls, using the same 30mm f/2.8 Apotar lens with zone-focus markings as well as meters/feet. In normal operation, this model provides only a single shutter speed, 1/125 second, and the camera automatically adjusts the aperture to match. Pre-metering is performed by a half press of the shutter release button; a red/green indicator in the viewfinder provides feedback if there is not enough light for a proper exposure.

In addition to the standard 1/125 second shutter speed, the camera can be set for flash operation (which changes the shutter speed to 1/30 second), or for bulb ("B"). The automatic exposure mechanism is automatically disengaged when the camera is set to flash or bulb operation.

The price of the Paramat in Germany was twice the price of the Parat I.[1]


Optima-Parat

The Agfa Optima-Parat was introduced in 1964. It is one of the most sophisticated half frame cameras made by Agfa. Like the two cameras above, it is fitted with the excellent Color Solinar f/2.8 30mm lens; however, the lens is set in an advanced Compur shutter with speeds ranging from 1/30 to 1/500 second plus B. Automatic exposure is provided by a selenium cell, but manual exposure is also possible; aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/22.

Film speed can be set from ASA 10 - 250, DIN 12 - 25 with a round selector in the top plate. Film transport is done with an advance lever and the shutter release button is found on the front of the camera. The cable release socket is situated rather unconventionally at the underside of the shutter release button. The frame counter is to be found at the underside of the camera and runs all the way up to 72, since this half frame camera could take 72 pictures of 18x24 mm on a standard roll of 135mm film.



References

  1. Foto Koch catalog, Frankfurt a.M., 1963/64