Agfa Isolette L is a 120 film folding camera, 6x6 format, one of
the latest models of a whole series, built from 1938 to 1960 by Agfa
Kamerawerk AG, Munich. The "L" model was first
issued in 1957. It has no rangefinder, but it has two interesting
features: a built-in non-coupled light meter and masks for a 24x56mm
light meter was obviously handy to promote their colour film and their
colour slide film, which needs to be exposed more precisely than
ordinary B&W film. For a selenium meter it's astonishingly exact.
There was special film for the panoramic format with according
numbering available. But you can still use it with modern film. On
Ilford film there are 3 dotted circles preceeding the next number. The
first (tiniest) of them is exactly in the middle between two numbers.
Stop there, make your photo and avance to the next number.
Size (mm): 145 x 107 x 43 Weight: 610 g Lens: Color Apotar 4.5/85, closest focus 0.95 m Shutter: Pronto, B, 1/25 - 1/200, F 4.5 - 32 Finder: bright viewfinder, mask for panoramic format Film advance: knob winding by red window
Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.
front closed. Top: film advance, selenium cell, viewfinder window,
film type reminder, opening button sticking out to the side.
from the back. On top: Film type reminder, viewer, light meter wheel and film advance. Red window in the middle.
from above. Film type reminder. The little lever in front of the
accessory shoe actions the panoramic format viewing mask. With the
wheel in the middle you put the white brackets over the light meter
needle and you can read the appropriate aperture/speed combinations.
Shutter release button and small indicator for double exposure
prevention in front of film advance.
Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.
front open. Distance scale, depth-of-the-field scale, speed setting
ring. Little self-timer lever bottom right of the speed setting ring.
from above, camera open. Lens: shutter cocking lever near the speed setting ring, aperture
Left side, camera open.
Right side, camera open.
Camera back open.
chamber with 24x56mm masks put into place. They are hinged and fold
the spool housing when not in use. As they are quite big, it's a bit
fiddly to get them out. There is a groove in the masks, the size of
35mm film. It suggests that there was a 35mm adaption kit (planned). I
have never seen one. However I own such a kit for a Welta Reflekta.
It's quite rare.
Leather case, not original, is's from a Franka Solida.
Leather case open. It fits perfectly.
an Agfa Isolette L is easy, it's like
other folding cameras. Loading film is as usual. Open
camera back, retract the winding knob and put the take-up spool into
place. Put the film spool into its cradle, it's hinged, so this is very
easy. Insert the film paper
into the take-up spool and advance it using the knob until it's
well engaged. Close the camera back. Open the red window and advance
the film via the advance knob
until the red window shows "1".
Hold it towards your subject and look at the light meter. Put the white brackets via the wheel over the light meter needle and you can read the appropriate aperture/speed combinations. Cock
the shutter, set speed and aperture. Set focus by directly turning the
front of the lens, focussing movements are inside the lens. Press the
shutter release button. That's it. The double exposure warning
will be visible and the release is blocked until you turn the film
close the camera, press the hinges of the struts as
usual, it will fold easily.
Agfa Isolette is a very nice and quite sturdy camera, yet it is
lightweight and easy to use. The light meter is a big advantage. There
is no rangefinder, so you might add one as accessory. Lens and shutter
are not top class, but quite o.k. The bellows are said to be a weak
point. Mine were fine.