Friday, January 15, 2016

Agfa Synchro Box

A friend gave me this pretty Agfa Synchro Box just after I had decided to go on a nearly year-long sabbatical from photography.  So, it has taken me much longer than it should have to get some pictures from the camera.  This '50s box resembles the earlier Agfa Shur Flash, but the case and the inner cone are all metal and the front plate sports a natty deco design.  As the name implies, the camera has a couple contacts on the top deck for attaching an accessory flash.  It also has two aperture settings, a built-in yellow filter, a tab which permits a choice of instant or time exposures, and both tripod and cable release sockets.  The viewfinder windows are small, but bright.

The Synchro Box yields 8 frames from standard 120 roll film which is still easy to find on line.  I shot two rolls of Lomography 100 color film in the camera.  One roll was used mostly on a trip to Phoenix, the other on a morning walk through the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens.  I like the results from the film just fine, but the gray numerals on black backing paper present a real challenge to read through the ruby window.  The only way I could see the frame numbering was to hold the back of the camera so that the sun shone directly on it.  I hate doing that as there is always a risk that some light will bleed through or around the paper backing.

The adjustable aperture does add some adaptability to different lighting conditions, but I selected scenes that would allow using the smaller f16 setting as I felt that would likely give me sharper results and better depth of field.

A manual for the Agfa Synchro Box is available on line at the Butkus web site.


Albuquerque has been getting different weather every day lately, not unlike much of the rest of the country, I guess.

For most of the pictures on the second roll through the camera I used a Kodak No.13 accessory close-up lens which is a perfect fit to the Agfa lens ring.  That lets the camera get within nice portrait range of about 3.5 feet, and I think it also adds a bit of sharpness to the resulting images.  The little garden sculpture which is a favorite test subject compares nicely to other camera images I have made at the garden.

The wagon wheel in the garden's demonstration farm yielded the sharpest result in my close-up series.  Some of the other shots were a bit fuzzy, either because I misjudged the distance, or perhaps because I didn't have the accessory lens seated quite properly.

I was surprised to come across this porcupine enjoying a breakfast of low-hanging tree twigs near the entrance to the Japanese Garden.  He stood still for his portrait, but didn't look particularly happy about the opportunity, and the shot is not a very good likeness.  Still, it was nice to get a chance to do a bit of nature photography with a box camera.


Jim Grey said...

Could this be the perfect box camera, given its good specs and bright viewfinder? It certainly is capable of delivering reasonable results.

Mike said...

It is certainly convenient to be able to use 120 film, and the tripod and cable release sockets definitely up your chances of getting some good pictures. However, nothing that I have found can top the Ansco Panda in regard to the viewfinder and the sharpness of the images on film.