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Created 4 April 2009 ... Updated 4 April 2009

Agfa Optima 500 S

Agfa Optima 500 S One of the major issues of photography is finding the correct exposure. In the beginning people tried and tried and tried and finally got a feeling for the correct expoure. Then came the exposure tables, some very basic based on the sunny-16 rule and some highly complex with several look-up tables which had to be combined in order to calculate a number which then had to be looked up in yet another table which then gave the correct exposure. A small step forward proved the optical exposure meter where the photographer would look through a tube trying to read the numbers or pictures inside. Then looking up this number on the table on the outside of the tube which then gave the correct exposure. A little later the first electrical expose meters were introduced and made life a lot easier.

Well, that was of course all before the first cameras with built in exposure meter were introduced. Agfa was one of the first camera builders to not only integrate an exposure meter with the camera but to also connect the shutter and aperture mechanisms thus setting the correct exposure automatically.

The first line of Agfa cameras with automatic exposure was the Agfa Optima Series which started with the Optima in 1959, closely followed by the Optima I in 1960, II und III and 500 S and after the Optima Reflex finaly ended with the Optima 500 SN. The Optima had, what was later called, aperture priority in which the aperture was set manually and the correct shutter speed automatically.

Where the first Optimas equipped with the 3-element Agnar or Apotar, the Optima 500 S was the first camera in the series with the much better 4-element Solinar 45 mm f:2.8 lens. This lens was set in the Prontor shutter with a maximum shutter speed of 1/500, hence the name. The 500 S was introduced in 1963. After the initial Optima series, Agfa introduced the Optima Sensor series in 1968 and the Optima Sensor electronic series in 1976, the well-known black cameras with the big red button. Use of the Optima name ended with the Optima 935 / Compact in 1981.

Manufacturer  :  Agfa
Model  :  Optima 500 S
Type  :  35mm rangefinder camera
Produced  :  1963
Film  :  35mm (Type 135)
Picture size  :  24 x 36 mm
Made in  :  Germany
Lens  :  Color Solinar 2,8/45
Shutter  :  Compur Spezial leaf shutter. 1/30 - 1/500 second. Automatically set by the camera.
Aperture  :  smallest aperture is f/2.8
Filter size  :  35,5 mm.
Viewfinder  :  A very bright finder.
Focusing  :  Coupled Rangefinder
Focus range  :  Coupled range finder with marks for portrait, people and landscape.
Exposure meter  :  CdS cell
Exposure  :  Automatic
Battery  :  none
Flash  :  cold shoe on top of the camera.
Flash Contact  :  Standard connector next to the lens barrel
Film Advance  :  Manual, single stroke
Collection status  :  sold
Agfa Optima 500 S

links Agfa Optima 500 S weblinks
links Agfa Optima 500 instruction manual
links Read the manual at Michael Butkus' Website in JPG format.

All photos copyright of M. Koning 1997 - 2009

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