After a pair of false starts, I was very happy with the final results from the Ventura 66. The focus is still very stiff; I may need to disassemble it and clean further. The bellows seems to be light-tight after its Plasti-Dip treatment. The camera is missing its shutter button, but the lens can be easily triggered by pressing ‘just the right spot’ on the side of the mechanism with your right index finger.
In short the camera is still no mechanical gem, but it works.
I took it to the Millyard in Amesbury on a bright, sunny day. I brought along a #25 red filter to increase contrast and shot Ilford FP4 film. It was developed in Caffenol. These images are straight from the scanner with no adjustments.
This one had me scratching my head. I found a $6 last-minute deal for a “Venture 66” on eBay a while back. It looked neat, but a quick search turned up nothing. I bought it anyway.
When it arrived, the focus ring was seized. I made an abortive attempt at freeing it, then the camera went on the shelf. It is good looking.
There it sat, until I saw a post at 52 Rolls about the Franka Solida Record. Mine isn’t a Record, but it looks similar. With my interest peaked, I started Googling again and found out that the “Ventura 66 Deluxe” is a variant of the Agfa Isolette II. A closer look at the worn leather reveals that the ‘e’ might in fact be an ‘a.’
The Agfa Isolette II/Ventura 66 Deluxe is a 6×6 folding camera for 120 film made in West Germany (“U.S. Zone”) between 1952 and 1955. Mine features the more common 3-element Apotar 85mm f4.5 lens in a Prontor-S 1/300 shutter. The camera has an interlock between the film advance and the shutter mechanism to make accidental double exposures difficult. Intentional ones are still possible by manipulating the mechanism.
It seems there is a community devoted to restoring folders of this ilk. I did some reading, and then I took pliers to it. Stay tuned. . .
The Agfa Solina was a nice shooter, if not particularly memorable. The focus and shutter speed rings were easy to handle. I had a little trouble adjusting the exposure ring as its clearances were a bit tight. My fingers aren't that fat.
The film advance is smooth and light. The counter is oddly located near the bottom of the camera; it is manually set when loading and it counts down to zero. In my case the roll ended at '1', but it may be a case of improper loading. A small window on the rewind knob can be set as a film type reminder. Clearances on the rewind knob make it difficult to rewind, but patience prevails.
The shutter release was a bit disconcerting, as it clicks once when pressed and again when released. Visual inspection confirms that the shutter is operating correctly. The second click appears to be the mechanism resetting. Flash sync works fine.
My overall impression was of a capable camera with a predominance of sheet metal used in its construction. It looks good, feels light, and sounds cheap. It does make nice images.
This week's images were shot on Kodak E100g and cross processed at home using a Unicolor kit. Most came out fine, although I managed to overexpose many of the outdoor ones.
“In your Agfa Solina you have acquired a camera of the highest technical perfection. Everyone will congratulate you on your purchase.” – Agfa manual
The Solina was part of Agfa’s Silette line of fixed-lens viewfinder cameras manufactured between 1953 and 1974. Some were also sold in the US under the Ansco name. Mine appears to be an early version, featuring the Color Apotar f3.5 45mm lens and Pronto 1/25-1/200 shutter. It uses a guess-focus system, and unlike later versions it has a simple viewfinder and no metering capabilities.
I found it in my local thrift store recently for $8.00 complete with a decent leather case. The case says “Made in Germany” in English, so I believe this was an official export model despite carrying the Agfa name and not Ansco.
Beth chose the Solina for this week’s shoot. I could not decide, so I sent her into the camera closet with instructions to pick something cool. I think she succeeded. I’m considering making this a feature every 4th week. I’ve loaded it with one of my last rolls of Ektachrome E100G, and I haven’t decided whether to cross-process it or not.