Main -> Photography -> Classic Cameras -> Folding Cameras [sitemap]

Created 22 September 2005 ... Updated 24 May 2009

Folding Cameras
Rodenstock 6x6 Although many large format cameras are also from the folding type, with the category folding cameras, usually medium format folders are meant. There are however also some interesting 35mm folding cameras, which, folded are very small and might often be smaller than a standard pocket type chemical film camera.

Did the 1900s have the glass plate camera, the 1920s the box cameras, the 1930s were the time for the folding cameras for film. Many companies started building cameras themselves but even more wanted to get a cheap entry and bought the main components from other factories and just assembled the cameras.

The camera catalogues from that era showed the results: many very similar cameras. Similar to what we have now with SLRs: should you buy a Canon, a Nikon or a Minolta system? They are all very similar and performance is near identical as well. One brand has some high end options which might be useful but the others have different options that could also be useful and for the average user these options are either too specialized or too expensive. In the 1930s people had similar choices but with folding cameras.

Main advantage of folding cameras are than they are light weight, are usually mechanically very incomplex and might be easy to repair when broken. They come in numerous flavours and versions and might come very cheap, although some of the more wanted versions might get very expensive.

My first folding camera was an old Agfa. These are often broken, the focus ring might be stuck due to dried out grease and the bellows often show pinholes, sometimes even bigger holes. Reason for that is that the bellows very not made of leather but from some cheap leather look-alike which is not very strong in the corners when bent.

Absolute favourite for moody pictures is my 6x6 Rodenstock folding camera, got it very cheaply but it works like a dream. The lens is very old fashioned and the light fall-off towards the edges is huge. The resolution in the centre is still ok, the resolution towards the edges is minimal so as a portrait lens it's not too bad, well, it's actually great for character portraits.

camera The cameras
links Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515
links Agfa Billy Record 7.7
links Agfa Billy Clack 74
links Agfa Solinette II
links Agfa Isolette I
links Agfa Isolette V
links Balda Jubilette
links Goerz Roll-Tenax
links Kodak 66 Model II
links Rodenstock 6x6

documentation Documentation
I've recently aquired an old camera catalog: Herlango Austria 1938. A few pages of this catalogue are dedicated to the Agfa folding cameras available at that time, with the prices of those cameras, in RM (Reichsmark).
Herlango catalogue - Agfa Some other prices for comparison:

Rolleiflex Automat: RM 250
Rolleicord Ia: RM 96
Kodak Box 620 6x9 cm: RM 5

links Folding camera weblinks
links The site from a dedicated Agfa collector.
links I haven't found an Agfa camera which is not described on this page.

links - article
links An article titled: Medium format in your pocket.
links Very informative on how to use old folder cameras.

links Robert Monaghan - Medium Format Folders
links The why and how of MF folders, what to look for when you want to buy and use one.
Agfa Commercial 1928
Agfa print commercial from 1928

All photos copyright of M. Koning 1997 - 2005