Donation to History Collection
This camera has been donated by John Austin, photographer and artist who has lived in Quinninup for over 30 years. John has his work displayed in Galleries in Fremantle, Perth and Bunbury; his work is also being used in the new Museum in Perth as part of an exhibition. John has kindly done some research and written an interesting article to be kept with the camera. It is a bit long and technical in places but of interest as a historical record.
"Agfa Jsolette Folding Camera"
"This camera was a well rusted gift from a friend, it previously belonged to his father. I was tempted to put it in the bin when I got home, but with brutality I got the front to open. More brutality and the back latch broke off in a shower of rust. What got me to even consider cleaning it was that my father once said he got his best pictures from an Agfa folding 120 camera in the late 1940s, preferring the results from the Agfa after he got a Rolleicord.
History; this camera was made in about 1937 by Agfa* Kamerawerk AG, Munich and sold from Photo . . . Spezial Haus Otto Brzoska in Darmstat.
Given its history and that it was a gift, and that my father probably used one in England is what gave me the energy to try cleaning it. The bits that got a lot of cleaning were the two rusted rollers either side of the film gate that the film rolls over. I have polished these as well as I can with steel wool and metal polish. The bellows are well knackered, but I have repaired them as well as I can and have glued them back in.
What is very stuck and rusted is the top shutter release, but with more brute force I have been able to get the release button to pop up, but now it is stuck in that position and I hesitate to put any more pressure on it. The shutter rlse I can operate from the front.
The viewfinder in the Trolitan (Bakelite?) plastic top plate is surprisingly clear for a two elephant design of this age, even much newer Leica ones are always misty. I looked for screws holding the top plate in place, but the couple I could see are just lumps of rust inside the body, so I have left them alone for now.
The lens and shutter, uncoated Agfa Solinar f4.5 8.5cm in a a Compur Rapid shutter, has come up slightly clean after a good scouring with very fine vehicle polish to remove the filth and fungus growing on it. This is a trick a few people have suggested. I have been reluctant to try this before, but in this case I had nothing Tolouse. The Solinar was the premier lens for the Isolette series, originally known as the Solinear when made by Reitzschel, whom Agfa took over in 1925. The shutter sounds good, 'though a bit sluggish at one second, after eightyfour years I am impressed.
After cleaning rust away with steel wool and metal polish, mainly on the film rollers, I put the camera back together and taped a 120 ground glass screen in the film plane, focus appeared perfect at infinity and at two metres. I put a roll of film in it and secured the back with gaffer's tape prior to more work and re-fixing the back catch.
The camera is now officially in the Quinninuip Historical Collection, and I can return to real work, but at least is is saved from the bin. PS Edit: Processed the film, first observation is that the bellows are more brittle than I realised, one of the bottom folds cracked open, which is why the light splash is at the image top, and a corner crack giving the light at the lower right. The rusty rollers are also a problem. Anyway, here is a pic of a washing line. Washing lines in sunlight are a great lens test, as are Rae's flowers for 2mtr focus. The images have had the contrast increased to enable them to be readable." written by John Austin, Quinninup.