View Full Version : Help with mystery Agfa Folder plate camera

Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2010, 08:44
I am trying to fix up a mystery folder and thought someone more knowledgeable might be able to point me in the right direction. My father picked it up in Germany in the 40s or early 50s. Its an Agfa plate camera (I think it is 6.5x9), and is similar to the Standard, but has a front just like the rollfilm Nitor, with rise and shift. The lens is an Agfa Helostar Doppel-Anastigmat f4.5 10.5cm. I have not been able to find a name for it or a picture that matches it anywhere on the web.

It is a beautiful camera, and I would love to shoot it, but there are several issues. I took off the lens and pulled and cleaned the front and rear elements, and found the internal surfaces of the rear pair cover with fungus. I'm not sure how to get that pair apart, and even if I could, I'm afraid I might not be able to get the fungus off, so I think I need to replace the lens elements (the compur dial-set shutter seems fine, if a bit stiff). Anybody have any idea where I might get something so esoteric as these lens elements? (I thought perhaps an old-style camera workshop somewhere might have a set on a busted shutter).

Also, the ground glass actually looks like a piece of plastic, is anything but flat, and is very yellow (not sure if it is supposed to be yellow, or its just age). Can I replace it with actual glass, or is there something else I should use?

Finally, I need to find some film holders for it (I'll worry about film later). Any idea where I can get them? I assume agfa 6.5x9 holders will work. Can anyone tell me how to spell that in German, and I can search the German ebay?

Thanks for your help. Tim

Peter K
9-Feb-2010, 09:13

possible an "Agfa Spezial-Modell-K 6,5x9". Weight ca. 600 gr, size 4,5 x 9 x 12 cm. This camera was delivered with 3 "Metallkassetten" metal filmholders, cable release, exposure table and operating instructions for RM 44.- (price from the late Thirties)

You can remove the front cell of the lens to get a lens with nearly the double focal-lenght.

To remove the fungus, also from the shutter (!) remove the lens-cells and bring all parts in the bright sun. After an hour or two all spores should be dead. Also the shutter will warmed up and after colling down there is a chance the shutter is "repaired" too.

The ground-glass was made from glass, possible broken during time it was replaced with a piece of antique plastic-foil.

Have fun


Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2010, 10:02
Wow Peter! I think you got it first time. Here is a link to the camera: http://www.kamera-geschichte.de/files/spezialmodell_k_6,5x9_d.htm

The only difference is that mine has the Compur dial-set shutter.

I will try your sunshine trick, but even if I kill the fungus, I don't see how I can get it off the inside of the lens element; so I still might need to find new cells. The front cell has only a small blemish, so if the lens is triple convertible, I guess I could try that alone.

Thanks for the info about the ground glass. I'll replace it, but wait until I find some film holders so I can be sure to get the right thickness. I think the holders are called "platten kasseten".

Cheers, Tim

Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2010, 10:15
Nope, I take that back. Here it is exactly: http://www.photographica-auctionen.de/auctionlist/objectWinInfo.asp?objektnr=61&auktionsnamn=Photographica%205

According to this it is an Agfa Isolar.

Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2010, 10:23
But searching the Isolar turns up a 9x12 camera that looks different, so it may just be a case of some random box.

Still confused...

9-Feb-2010, 11:21
The Dopple Anastigmat lens is most probably a Dagor copy, in which case each half is a cemented triplet, so you should be able to just unscrew the rear element and clean the interior surface with lens cleaning fluid and lots of tissue (gently).
As for the yellow glass, be thankful as it will increase the contrast like a yellow filter.
It is a lovely little piece!

Peter K
9-Feb-2010, 12:44
Wow Peter! I think you got it first time. Here is a link to the camera: http://www.kamera-geschichte.de/files/spezialmodell_k_6,5x9_d.htm

The only difference is that mine has the Compur dial-set shutter.
The Spezial-K shown in your link is equipped with an "Automat" shutter. In the catalogue I've mentioned before the camera is shown with a rim-set Compur shutter.

The camera was equipped either with Steinheil- or Agfa-lenses, both companies made their own lenses not copies. Steinheil and Rietzschel made lenses and cameras long before Goerz was foundet.

The yellow ground-"glass" possible made from "Zelluloid" will not work as a yellow filter because the ground-glass-holder has to be removed to insert a plateholder.

Robert Hughes
9-Feb-2010, 12:49
It's the folder of the Black Pearl!!! Owned by Davy Jones hisself, arrrgh! :cool:

Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2010, 18:19
Thank you Peter. If you look at the second link (this one http://www.photographica-auctionen.d...tographica%205) you will see the camera exactly as mine is, with the dial set Compur and Doppel-Anastigmat. Do you happen to know where I might find film holders?

Bill, according to my research, the doppel anastigmat is four elements, two from two rear, with an air gap between each doublet (sorry if I have all this lens terminology wrong). The fungus is in the air gap, but not sure how I could separate the two elements as they seem permanently set in the metal piece that screws into the shutter.

Peter K
10-Feb-2010, 01:02
Tim, holders are always a big problem because neither seller nor buyer knows what he has resp. what he needs.

Take your camera to every photographica flee-market you can find, your's is only a small one, and try the holders.

Good luck


Tim Meisburger
10-Feb-2010, 01:11
Thanks Peter. Not many flea markets here in Bangkok, but I will be in Germany and Denmark for a few weeks in June, and will see what I can find then.

Best, Tim