Cameras in the Cupboard #6

Agfa Optima 1

This little Agfa range finder was my second camera. But it also had several firsts to its credit. It was my first 35mm camera. It was the first camera I bought with my own money and it was the first time I used colour film.

Agfa Optima 1 - my second camera

As my interested in photography grew, I wanted to move up from the Instamatic 25 to something a little more sophisticated. By this time I had started at my first job and a colleague recommended that I find a nice range finder camera. Not being able to afford a Leica, I looked around for something used but in good condition and found this Agfa.
Agfa introduced the Optima 1 in 1961. I would have purchased mine in 1969 or early 1970. It has four distance settings for focus and an f.stop range from 2.8 to 22. The Optima 1 only took films up to ISO 200, but had a clever little device for indicating a correct exposure and it didn’t require a battery.

When you took up the pressure on the shutter, a dot at the top of the range finder either displayed green or red, indicating the light level for the shot.

I still have a number of boxes of slides I took with this camera. They are all either Fujicolor, Perutz or Agfa. I don’t think I ever put any of the nearly-departed Kodachrome through it.

The Agfa Optima 1 didn’t stay in use for very long. My interest in black and white photography and developing and printing my own film was growing. By 1970, I had moved on to my first Single Lens Reflex (SLR). But that is another post.

This entry was posted in cameras in the cupboard.


  1. Stuart July 5, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Interesting that this camera had an indicator for correct exposure; how good was it given the level of sophistication in the metering modes of today? Was it good enough that you didn’t require an additional light meter?

  2. Interface July 5, 2009 at 11:47 pm #

    I have a lot of underexposed slides, does that answer your question?

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  1. […] first. The Petri FT was my first SLR and my third camera.  I had been using the Agfa rangefinder for a while and was now interested enough in photography to want to start developing and printing […]

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