Sunday, February 07, 2010

Agfa Ansco Box Camera

A lot of nice box cameras listed on ebay fail to find loving homes.
One has to hope they are humanely euthanized. I found this Agfa-Ansco box camera just as it was about to drop off the screen on ebay at less than $2.00.

The last patent date inscribed on the camera was 1924; it hardly seems to have gotten any use since then. This is the first old camera I've found with a wooden return spool. The interior film-holding cone is also wood; it is very light and fine grained, possibly boxwood.

The front panel on the Agfa-Ansco is held on with brads, so I decided not to try removing it for cleaning of the shutter. Fortunately, the lens is behind the shutter, so I was able to go in with some lighter fluid on a brush through the front opening to clean the shutter mechanism.

Box cameras have their focus set to capture either closeups and middle distance features, or else scenic compositions. This one takes a broad view, with the closest sharp focus at about 15 feet. In practice at the time it was intended to be used, the issue was largely academic as most users would have gotten contact prints which would show about everything to be equally in sharp focus.

The camera is very tightly constructed. While the viewfinders on the top and side seem tiny, the lenses and mirrors are faultless and perfectly useable. The shutter has the usual Instant and Time release, and in this camera the shutter is actuated on both the up and down swing. I estimated the shutter speed at 1/30 sec. and used Adox 50 for the first roll. Development was in D-76 , 1:1 for 9 minutes.

Below are the results of the roll of film I put through the camera, probably the first to come out of it since the 1920's. They were made along the Rio Grande near my home and in the village of Doña Ana, north of Las Cruces, New Mexico.


cameratakesphotos said...

I love these kinds of finds.....

Edwin said...

Och ay Mike, an it's braw tae see ye bak :-) :-)

Gustavo Goncalves said...

hay sir!
I have the same camera. Unfortunatelly, the shutter mechanism doesn't work at all. I'm looking for some picture of the shutter mechanism of this camera to orientate myself into the restoration of my camera. I'd really appreciate if you post a picture of the shutter mechanism of yours.

Thanks in advance!

Mike said...

Mine works fine, so I'm not going to risk disassembling it. The shutter can be accessed by taking off the front panel which is held in place in this model by some small nails. You should be able to remove the nails by prying them out, possibly with the help of some small needle nose pliers. You will need to work carefully to avoid damaging the camera.

All of the box cameras have simple rotary shutters, usually with one or two springs which can get broken or dislocated. Sometimes it is also helpful to brush a little lighter fluid on the moving parts to free them up. If you look in the blog thread over in the right column about the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash you will find a picture of the shutter in that camera.