Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spotlight: Agfa Flexilette

The Agfa Flexilette is an extremely unusual and beautiful 35mm camera that was made in the early 1960's. The Flexilette looks very similar to a traditional 35mm SLR from the period, except it's NOT an SLR, but rather a twin lens reflex! The twin 45mm f/2.8 lenses are focused simultaneously by rotating the ring around them. As with any TLR, the lower lens takes the picture, while the upper lens projects the image onto the focusing screen. The Flexilette sports a waist level finder, and the surprisingly bright ground glass screen features a split-image focusing assist. A swing-out magnifier is available to assist with fine focusing. Once you pop the magnifier up, you can also compose your image through a nifty eye-level finder.

Aperture and shutter speed settings are located on the lens barrel, and are easily adjustable. The camera has a leaf shutter, with speeds ranging from 1/500th to 1 second, plus Bulb. The threaded shutter release button is located on the top plate, along with the exposure counter and film-type indicator. The exposure counter is of the countdown variety, which means it starts at 24 or 36 (depending on the size of your roll), and counts down after each exposure, eventually reaching zero. You must reset the counter manually after each roll by repeatedly flipping a switch on the rear of the camera. The film advance lever is on the bottom plate, which is also where the rewind knob is located.

It may look incredibly strange, but the Agfa Flexilette is very pleasant to use. Its small, yet hefty build feels solid in your hands, and the controls are always at your fingertips. I wish the camera could focus a bit closer (3 feet is as close as you can get), and a slightly faster lens would have been nice. Overall, though, I had a great time shooting with the Flexilette. I took it with me to the Ren Faire, as well as on a weekend trip to Galesburg, Illinois. I used Kodak Tri-X 400. Here are my results:

Thanks for looking!