One day while working with my father, doing some electrical work for a charity shop, I found something. While in a basement and halfway up a ladder, I looked down and saw a leather case peek out of a Tesco carrier bag, that was the moment that I started my camera collection. As the day went on, we found more and more cameras, cases and lenses while working on the store. We put everything we found on the desk to ask how much they wanted for it. They were so appreciative of the work we’d done to help the charity out that they didn’t want to charge us for them. This was my first medium format camera.
This Agfa Isolette I camera features an 85mm, f4,5 lens. This renders the field of view at roughly the same as a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera for comparison. As I mentioned earlier this camera has been on numerous trips with me including my trip to Berlin back in 2016. The fact it folds down into a neat package that can easily be kept in a side pouch, or the inside pocket of a suit is the reason I’ve taken it to most of the weddings I’ve been to. As much as I will talk this camera up, it is not without its limitations. The camera has a viewfinder for composition but features no rangefinder facility or exposure meter, leaving the photographer to rely on hyperfocal distance calculations, light-meters and pure guesswork if you’re feeling brave (I was INCREDIBLY brave with this camera and it didn’t always pay off)
This camera and its lack of modern amenities have both challenged and inspired my work. Stripping it all back to basics, forcing yourself to think about your image before you make it. Being limited to 12 images per roll, and having so many thing to consider before making an image really makes you want to get the best out of the camera.
This was one of the most invaluable cameras in my collection. It’s been traveling with me to its homeland, it saw me through my first experiments into the field of medium format photography, it’s taken a hell of a beating through various bags, houses and has been dropped more time than I can count, and is currently the only member of my collection to be gifted to another artist!
2 thoughts on “Agfa Isolette I”