Recently, my mum kindly passed onto me two vintage cameras…a Kodak Box Brownie which belonged to my Nan, and an Agfa Synchro Box which belonged to my uncle…both who have now sadly passed away.
Unfortunately, I can’t get film for the Box Brownie, but the Agfa is a medium format camera, taking B2 or the modern equivalent of 120 film, just like my Yashica Mat-124g.
However, as the format is larger…6 x 9cm which is six times the size of a 35mm negative…it only takes 8 frames per film!
Apparently my uncle did lots of research as a kid, and saved up…his choice was the Agfa which he bought at a local pharmacy in the 1950s.
It has been sitting in a shoe box for years and years, until Mum found it after my Nan died…
The Agfa Synchro Box was manufactured in Germany in the 1950s, and it was called Synchro because you could mount a bulb flash – the Agfa Clibo.
The front of the camera is very Art Deco, and I think looks like a face – the eyes being two ground glass screens for the view finders…the reflectors are polished steel….
The magnifying viewfinders themselves are on top and right sides of the camera…one for portrait, one for landscape…and you hold the camera at waist level, not up to your eye.
In some ways, the Synchro is a basic box camera…the lens is a 105 f/11 Meniscus lens with fixed focus.
I believe that the shutter speed is 1/30 although I read some references to 1/50.
The focus range is 3m to infinity so isn’t suited to portraits or close up shots.
However, looks are deceptive as I discovered that there are actually two aperture settings, a built in yellow filter, instant or bulb exposure options plus tripod and cable release sockets
So after giving the camera a quick clean, I put in some film…grabbed a Lomography ISO 800 I had spare.
To load the film, you pull out the winding key and open the back of the camera, and then take out the inside section…
I first thought that the original spool wasn’t there any more, so picked up some from my local photo place.
Turned out it was actually still in the top bracket, but I want to keep it so am using the modern plastic versions.
For those who have never used 120 film, the film goes from the initial spool onto another and you take that to be developed, which is unlike 35mm film that only uses one cartridge.
Had trouble knowing how far to wind the film on as it was really hard to see the number through the red window on the back of the camera.
I had to hold it to the light to see any markings which isn’t a good idea due to risk of light leaking into the camera and onto the film.
The Lomography film had the letters white on black so I unfortunately lost some shots at the start, and accidentally wound the film on too far a couple of times as I missed the number.
And when I took the last shot, I hit another snag…I tried winding it on as I would with the Yashica, so the exposed film comes off the first spool and finished winding onto the second, but it wouldn’t budge.
Which meant I had to open the back of the camera, and manually break the film off and then I was able to wind it.
Not sure if it was just an issue with that film, or that the hand winding mechanism of the Agfa is not strong enough for the modern films.
I decided to send the film off to get it developed, although I was not very hopeful that there would be anything of use on it
But to my surprise, the little box camera did manage to capture three good image and one sort of ok out of the potential 8.
This one was the best….
And I love this one too…
Because the negatives are so large, you get much better quality then what you get from 35mm film…even when using a box camera.
I have to say I am totally in love with using this format, which is a surprise as I only learned of it’s existence earlier this year!
The results from my first try with the Synchro Box are good enough to make me keen to put in another roll of film and see if I can get the full 8 shots!
Plus, how cool is it to be able to use a camera that my uncle used when he was a child, especially as he is now longer with us!
Have you used a box camera before? Did you have an Agfa Synchro Box or the more popular Kodak Box Brownie?