Here’s another post about vintage cameras from this blog that doesn’t know what it wants to be.
Agfa’s Billy Record I was produced from 1950 to 1952 in the U.S. Zone of post-World War II Germany. The export model (to the U.S.) was known as the Ventura 69. It shoots at 3 speeds (1/25, 1/50, or 1/200 second, plus “bulb”) through a 105mm f/6.3 3-element Agnar lens and a Vario shutter. The aperture settings are f/6.3, 8, 11 and 22, which keeps things simple for a novice. This particular camera has shiny, pristine bellows, almost as if they were replaced at some point, and the body is completely clean and it seems to work perfectly. When it arrived in the mail, the lens was stuck, meaning it was impossible to focus. This is a common problem in this type of camera as the lubricant in the threads gunks up. There are a number of suggestions out there on how to solve this problem – in my case I just twisted until it came loose.
Now the only problem I seem to have is that I can’t turn the focusing ring farther than 15 feet or so. The way these things tend to work, you are basically (partly) screwing and unscrewing the outer lens element from the camera, moving it closer/farther from the film, which focuses the image. To approach infinity, you tighten the lens, but when mine hits 15 feet, it’s screwed all the way in and won’t turn any further.
Oddly, none of the pictures I have taken with the camera have been out of focus, however. I do have odd edges along the negatives which are interesting and as of yet unexplained, but nothing that suggests an actual light leak. I almost suspect there may have been a problem handling the film as it was being processed.
Anyway, I think the photos turned out very interesting and I look forward to taking more shots with this relatively easy to handle and sturdy camera from the early 1950s.
And a final photo – probably the last on the roll – with the most damage. It makes the photo more interesting; you can see the backing paper through the photo – but it makes me wonder whether it got that way because the Indians insisted on x-raying it when I brought it (still undeveloped) into the country.
For more photos from this camera, check out this set on Flickr.