AGFA Optima III
AGFA used the Optima for several generations of automatic compact cameras. The first Optima name appeared on a 1932 Billy Optima, as a klapp model, replacing traditional glass plates with film sheets 7.5×10.5 cm. It was an odd experience that did not float long.
The Next Optima models were a line of viewfinders and rangefinders, where the latter had an ‘S’ suffix. The 2ng generation came in 1964, with a mix of unimportant models, using 35mm, Rapid, and #126 formats. An Optima Reflex of 1961 was a cousin of the AGFA Flexilette. The third and last generation were the Optima Sensor models, also named Selectronic and Agfamatic, where the latest model was introduced in 1982. As with other camera makers, the models carried different names in different markets.
See a complete list of the Optima models at the bottom of this page.
The camera is very well built and fished. The unit on my desk has no aging signs; it is still bright and shiny, inside and out. Not a spec of rust or fog. It is described in the manual as having a “magic release lever”, taken at the time as technology forefront. Light meters were known long before this model, but a fully manual camera was a giant leap forward; this was the same year the Soviets (crash) landed the first craft on the moon. It is styled like the other Optima of that generation, with a heavy body and classic, streamlined style, self-explanatory controls, with no unnecessary features. On the plus side, the camera does not require batteries; just aim and shoots.
An online search on this model does not return much. There is an archived page about an earlier model and some mentions of an Optima III frying pan; that’s all. Assuming not much collector’s interest.
Good to know
- The focusing dial clicks into position to mark three distance icons.
- The Rewind knob pops up by sliding back the tab next to it.
- Film-type memo dial is within the rewind knob.
- The film speed dial is at the top right. To set it, slide the tab next left to it and use a strong thumb or a coin to change it.
- The speed selection is automatic, 1/30-1/500. User choices are A, flash and B.
- In auto mode, the camera sets the shutter speed and aperture. In B mode, the user may select the F stop, the value of which is well hidden in a tiny window.
- Setting the F stop is inconvenient. The dial is flush with the body, so it is hard to get a purchase. In A mode, the dial defaults to 22.
- The meter reading shows as a two-tone capsule floating at the top of the viewer window; if it is green, it is good to go. Red is for underexposure.
- The meter activates upon cocking the shutter.
- A mystery transparent bubble is on top, by the accessory shoe. The user manual describes it as “Green signal-exposing” (sic). It exposes or shows nothing on my camera, so I am still bewildered.
- Tor rewind, push and hold in the release pin at the bottom while turning the rewind knob.
- The frame counter is at the back by the bottom. The case has an opening there.
|Manual||Butkus (the rangefinder version)|
|AKA||Optima 500, Agfamatic III|
|Weight||700 gr, Body with lens|
|Class average weight||480 gr, Body with lens|
|Lens make||Color Apotar|
|Lens mount||Fixed lens|
|Shutter make||Compur B|
|Light meter||Selenium, external coupled|
|Service / repair links||See camerlog.com|
AGFA Optima III images
Agfa Optima models list
|Optima 1035 Sensor||1976|
|Optima 1535 Sensor||1979|
|Optima 200 Sensor||1973|
|Optima 335 Sensor||1978|
|Optima 500 S||1963|
|Optima 500 Sensor||1969|
|Optima 500 SN||1966|
|Optima 5000 Pocket||1974|
|Optima 535 Sensor||1976|
|Optima 6000 Pocket||1975|
|Optima 935 Sensor||1981|
|Optima II S||1960|
|Optima III S||1966|
|Optima Parat Tele||1963|
|Optima Rapid 125 C||1967|
|Optima Rapid 250||1965|
|Optima Rapid 250 V||1966|
|Optima Rapid 500 V||1966|
|Optima Sensor Electronic||1982|
|Optima Sensor Flash Electronic||1981|