Agfa Isolette II 6x6 camera review

The Agfa Isolette II is the second rendition of a series of medium format folding cameras. It was produced during the 1950s, and usually came with an Apotar 85mm lens in a  Prontor-S or Compur-Rapid shutter. It is a nice looking, well made camera; however the bellows was of low quality, and after decades almost all of them have light leaks.

It has double exposure prevention. The shutter button at the top of the camera will not work unless the camera is wound for the next shot. The shutter release (on the lens) can be  operated with a cable release or with your finger to allow double exposures if wanted. The Apotar 85mm lens is considered "sharp" or "very sharp", producing quality 6x6 images;
however, the Solinar lens has been considered the best lens for the series.

Fact Sheet

Vendor name Type Country of origin
Isolette II
Elements In Group Focal length / Aperture
Coated Apotar 3 element Apochromatic Anastigmat 85/4.5
Year of production
Weight | Filter size
143 x 96 x 39mm (closed) 143 x 96 x 99 ( open) 569.8g
Film type
Link to Manual
12 shoots on 120mm film 6x6cm
Focusing aid
Double exposure prevention
B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300 and switch for T

User Comments

Not long after I began looking for older cameras to use in my photography, I noticed these folding medium format cameras. And when I saw this Agfa Isolette II, it was love at first sight. It's not original black leather and bellows, but having been totally refurbished with new cranberry bellows, adjusted and was ready to go. And it is a sweet camera. It folds into a truly pocket-sized unit, and is so nice to hold and use. It is strictly best judgement when it comes to focus. Guesstimate the distance in meters, set the focusing ring and shoot at f8 or so to make up for any error. Or, get an accessory rangefinder for assistance. This Agfa is definitely the creme of my camera collection so far, and the images I've made with it are noteworthy. If shot with the aperture wide open, the edges of the image are soft, just the way I like them to be. Otherwise the images are sharp and the shutter is like a whisper. This folder is a perfect camera if one wants to travel light, and still have a high quality 6X6cm negative.

(Ken Smith)

The later Isolettes had improved lens coatings, in addition to their better shutter offerings.

The Isolette II, formerly known as the Ventura 66, is the same camera as the Isolette III, with the exception of latter's uncoupled RF. The uncoupled range finder does come in handy. Another note, the Isolette III doesn't have a T lever to lock open the shutter release.

The basic Isolette II and Isolette III were made concurrently and are generally fitted with a hard coated Apotar lens into a Prontor S, Prontor SV or Prontor SVS shutter assembly. The Prontor S series has 8 shutter speeds between 1/300th of second to 1/second. The Prontor SVS shutters, that were used at the end of the production run, lack the old fashioned cable release mount on the shutter itself and has the self-timer lever is incorporated in the MX selector.

The Isolette L has a selenium light meter and a film gate for making 24mm by 60mm panoramic prints. It has the only Apotar that was labelled as a Color Apotar, which may have been a marketig gimmick. Also, it was fitted with the Pronto shutter, which has only 4 shutter speeds.

Stick with either the Apotar, which has 3 elements and the better corrected Solinar, which has 4 elements. IMHO, an Isolette III fitted with an Apotar and Prontor SV is usually the best buy for the money.

As is often true in photography, you can pay a lot more to upgrade a little. An Isolette fitted with the less common Solinar often will sell for three times the price of one fitted with an Apotar. Plus, the Solinar is more often than not fitted to either a Compur Rapid, Synchro-Compur MX or a Synchro-Compur MXV, which accounts for some of the price differential between it and the almost as competent Apotar/Pronto S combo.

(Andrew Yue)

The Isolettes have a very poor bellows material, and hardly any of these bellows is still intact. The original (poor) material has a shiny surface, and if you see any cracks around the corners it is VERY likely that there will be pinholes. Also the Prontor shutters used on most Isolettes (and many other german 50s cameras) are very prone to gumming blades and in many cases need disaassembly down to the single blades and a thorough cleaning. Flooding them with lighter fluid will mostly distribute the gummed grease but not wash it out.

But the most horrible thing is that stuff they used to grease the focussing helicoid, you have to scratch it off every single thread of the helicoid to obtain a smooth focussing.

(Winfried Buechsenschuetz)

The collapsed camera is a small ideal partner for travel. It has a front cell focusing lens. To obtain the proper focus you need to measure the distance between film plane and the subject, either with an external measuring device or by estimating the distance.

Several tools are available to measure focusing distance. The most popular is an external range finder, which can be mounted onto the cold shoe on top of the body. Several types are available on the used market. The best ones are made by Voigtlander and are usually accurate after decades without any maintenance. Other German made range finders such as  Watameter, Leica, etc. are usually of high quality. I have had poor experiences with inexpensive Russian external meters - none of them that I tried worked without first undergoing
maintenance. An inexpensive solution is to use your SLR camera as a distance meter, or you can use a digital ultrasonic distance meter.


Comments (2)
I also have one
2Tuesday, 10 April 2012 01:43
Any idea on how much its worth
Agfa Isolette Apotar Triplet 6x6 rollfilm Folder Camera- Ventura 66 Deluxe
1Monday, 28 November 2011 17:51
I have one of these cameras that was handed down to me from my father.It comes with a matching case that screws at the bottom of the camera. The leather case shows it's age a little,but is in otherwise fine shape.The camera itself is is mint conditition and fully functional.I was curious as to what the value of such a camera would be worth today.

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