Recently my wife took a trip to rural Victoria to visit her sister. Whilst there they visited a local second hand store, and as luck would have it, noticed the arrival of a collection of old cameras, and thought I may be interested. After the exchange of a number of text messages where she tried to describe the cameras she decided to take a chance and make a purchase. I had asked her to look for something that took 35mm film and had some adjustments. She managed to find one and paid $20.
When she arrived home I was presented with a camera in a nice leather case. Opening the case revealed an Agfa Optima 1a, which I knew nothing about. An internet search revealed the 1a was built in 1962 (about the same year I first used a camera) and was an upgrade of the Optima 1 and now featured a hot shoe for the flash. On inspecting the camera it seemed to be in pretty good condition and the shutter worked. The uv filter had taken a knock or two but the lens appeared ok.
I decided I would buy a roll of film and go shooting. It had been quite a time since I had bought a roll of film and headed off to a local camera store and asked for a roll of FP4 24 exposure, for which I was charged $15, which I think is a ridiculous price, but I still bought it, loaded the camera and took off to the beach to try it out. There is a focus ring, but you cannot visually focus, just pre set the distance. There is also an aperture ring but no shutter adjustment, which I found confusing at first, and an inbuilt light meter that lights green when exposure is correct and red when not correct I worked out the basic operation by experiment and noticed there was also an auto setting. So off I went trying different combinations of focus and exposure and quickly ran through all 24 exposures.
That evening I pulled out the old tank and chemicals and processed the film. I was quite excited when I saw some well exposed film but also disappointed at the number of over exposed frames. I later found an instruction manual on the net that I downloaded and learnt that the camera only operates on manual exposure. The manual f stop adjustments are for flash use and my experimentation had lead to a number of poorly exposed frames - lesson learnt. However I had a lot of fun and manged to get some frames scanned.
The images above and below are the best from the day.
I am looking forward to getting out again with this camera, however I think I will look for a cheaper film supply. The maximum ASA is 200 which is a bit limiting but I am planning on doing some street shots next. I am also planning to do some time exposures at some stage and will post the images here. I think I am going to enjoy this new project.
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