- The Agfa Record III -
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- An Agfa Record III on the Road -

Andrew Yue

© 2009 - All Rights Reserved:

- An Imperfect Photographer -

I shoot film and prefer 6x9 medium format film when possible.   6x9 cameras can be rather large.   The compact option in this film format is none other than the classic folder.   The Agfa Record III shown above will fit in either a belt pouch or a small over the shoulder satchel.   While not nearly as refined as a modern Mamiya 7II or my case a cumbersome Fuji 6x9, the Record III gets the job done for up to an 11 by 14 print in my opinion.   That's an A2 print for you overseas readers.

I don't own any perfect cameras.   I guess that makes me an imperfect photographer.   So, the Agfa Record III is a good fit.  

The Agfa Record III produces 8 large negatives to a roll of 120 film.   Each frame is 2 1/4 by 3 1/4 inches, which is about 5 times the area of a standard 35mm frame.   There is zero automation.   The photographer looks into a red window to wind the film and stops winding the film when the proper exposure number appears in the window.   The shutter must be manually tensioned before each exposure, because the film winding is not connected to a cocking rack.   Also, the rangefinder focus dial is totally independent from lens focus ring.   This makes it an uncoupled rangefinder camera.  

In short, the Record III has many similarities to a 1920's camera - even though even though it was built from 1953-56.   The basic body shell underneath the top cover is pretty much identical to the Billy Record from the late 1930'ies.   Like nearly all post WWII lenses, the 105mm/4.5 Solinar has optical coatings to reduce lens flare.   Due to the Record III's moderate price point, the lens uses front cell focusing.   By the late 1950'ies - some newly introduced Japanese twin-lens reflex cameras made the Record III obsolete.

- The Winding Road through Southern Colorado -

In March of 2009 I made a road trip from Austin, Texas to San Juans Mountains in Southern Colorado.   I brought the Agfa Record III, the Big Fuji 6x9 and my little Leica IIIf.   More often than not, the camera I reached for was the Record III.

Upon looking at the prints from all three cameras when I got back, I'm glad I chose to bring the Record III.   The large negs allow room for cropping - although not to same degree as the Fuji GW690 III.

Below is the cropped version of above photo to better show a Ford Van headed through Molas Pass.

I recently purchased a proper scanner for medium format film.   The images on this page are the first from the scanner.   I still prefer to view an actual silver halide print which was printed directly through the neg onto photographic paper.   Viewing the same images on a computer monitor after going through them with prints in hands seems like watching a program on amatuer photographers on a television set.

Next up an out the car window shot, which I later was able make an 8x10 / A4 print with a sideways 645 crop.

The above full-framed shot from Molas Pass between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado really didn't do much for me until I saw a photo that was in the photo.

Old 35mm habits are hard to shake.   It's always best to shoot so carefully that the final print uses the full width of the negative.   With a zoom telephoto - a photographer can try all kinds of variations in the field.   On an old folder with a single, fixed focal length - what your see in your viewfinder from the side of road is what you going to get on film.   Plus, the viewfinder image is small and squinty.

From the above full framed image comes the cropped 645 image below.

A 6x9 neg allows for extra wiggle room.   With the Agfa Record III, a 645 crop as far as I'd take it for an 8 by 10 print.   Past this point, one quickly pushes up against the resolving power of the 105mm f/4.5 Solinar lens on the Agfa Record III. print.   To those of you overseas, an 8 x10 inch print is slightly smaller than an A/4 print.

Difficulties: The most serious problem I had was the use of 40 year old, uncoated filters.   An Agfa orange filter proved troublesome while shooting into the sun.   The above exposure of US Highway 550 was shot with a lens hood into the sun - the uncoated filter tooks it toll.   Better luck next time.

Yep, one final shot of the Molas Pass area.   This one faces my desk at work as an 11 by 14.   So, I know it well.

A last minute edit: For my brother who was in Hawaii, the above and next color exposures are also of the Molas Pass area.   The color shots were taken a very large Fuji 6x9 camera.   Unlike the nearly silent Agfa, the Big Fuji makes a loud plastic ping sound everytime you release the shutter.   The Fuji is a Toontown-sized camera that feels like shooting with an artillery piece after using Record III, but it produces beautiful negs and its splendid viewfinder makes it much easier to set up each shot.

Below is a crop of the same frame off of the Big Fuji, which shows the Fujinon lens holding its head a little higher than the Record III's Tessar-type, Solinar.

The Fuji's better performance is to be expected, but it doesn't dent my appreciation for having the Record III with me on this particular road trip.

With the Sangre de Cristo mountains at my back, so long for now and thanks for visiting.

A note on copyright infringement: Please do not cut and paste any of the above work for publication either on the internet or for anywhere else without first getting my specific permission.   This is a noncommercial web page written for educational purposes and it is intended to be of assistance to anyone interested in amateur photography.   Fair use allows for appropriate content from this page to be used for description purposes by web search engines, reprinting for personal, (not commercial), use and links with a appropriate citations mentioning this web page.   On personal web pages please provide a link to this web page that states, "See Andrew Yue's web page for more information." The views expressed on this page are my own and do not reflect an endorsement of any kind by the University of Texas at Austin.

- Revised on November 24th, 2011 -