120folder.com          Agfa Isolette L

The  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 panoramic format.

The 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.

Camera front closed. Top: film advance, selenium cell, viewfinder window,
film type reminder, opening button sticking out to the side.

Seen from the back. On top: Film type reminder, viewer, light meter wheel and film advance. Red window in the middle.

Seen 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.

Camera front open. Distance scale, depth-of-the-field scale, speed setting ring. Little self-timer lever bottom right of the speed setting ring.

Seen from above, camera open. Lens: shutter cocking lever near the speed setting ring, aperture control.

Left side, camera open.

Right side, camera open.

Camera back open.

Film chamber.

Film chamber with 24x56mm masks put into place. They are hinged and fold into 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.

Handling an Agfa Isolette L is easy, it's like other folding cameras. Loading film is as usual. Open the 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 backing 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".

Open the camera. 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 advance. To close the camera, press the hinges of the struts as usual, it will fold easily.

The 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.

Agfa Isolette L610145 x 107 x 43NoRWColor Apotar 4.5/85 |0,95 Pronto, B 1/25 - 1/200 | 32LM, 3x6 Mask, VFMask