Serendipity landed me an Agfa Isoly 100 in my lap for less than a £1. Follow me as I try out this hidden fixed focus gem from the 1980's in an adventure that cost less than £5 for the camera, film and processing.
Serendipity. It’s a funny thing.
We already owned an Agfa Isoly 100. Well, what I mean to say is my 8 year old daughter inherited it from my late father and it was her camera (you’ve got tons of your own, dad! !). But she wanted a flash for it and I spent sometime looking on ‘that’ auction site for one. I came across one listed with another Agfa Isoly 100 which I put a small bid for fun.
When I landed it for 99 pence, it gave me a chance to try out this nice bit of kit as well as placate my daughter with the flash.
Camerapedia is one the few information sources on this gem from the 80’s. The Isoly 100 was manufactured between 1980-86 for Agfa by Certex. The camera strongly resembles Certex 1970’s Welisa cameras.. It is Fixed focus and Camerapedia describes it as having a f/8 aperture. The only setting available is the shutter which has 3 settings (sunny,cloudy or bulb/flash). Despite looking at a copy of the manual and trawling the internet, all I can find out about the shutter is that it uses Agfa paratic shutter and the flash setting is 1/50. The shutter is set up by winding the film on with the quite comfortable thumb winder on the back of the camera.
There is a standard hotshoe and tripod mount but no cable release attachment. The camera comes with a case that appears to be of half plastic and half cardboard.The cardboard doesn’t seem durable and the catch on the back has fallen off both our cases (probably an age thing).
I loaded it up with a spare role of agfa vista 200 negative film (the irony of using a agfa camera that is not German and Agfa film that is really Fujifilm was not lost). This is widely available and cheap (my roles come from a certain chainstore where everything costs £1). It is quite a grainy film and its colour profile is a bit of a marmite one (either you’ll love it naturalisic vintage style or hate it’s grainy mutedness) but heck it’s cheap. Processing was done at my local supermarket where I got 4 rolls c-41 processed and scanned to cd for £9 (£2.25 a roll). This meant I had my camera, film and processing for just over £4 (excluding p&p).
The camera performed well in good sunlight situations as shown and surprisingly quite sharp. Worked best with objects a metre plus away. The Agfa vista 200 has reasonable tolerability and I wasn’t able to really elicit much difference between the cloudy and sunny settings as this montage picture shows nor on with my Diana Mini which I shot some frames in parallel to test out
The cameras performed equally well in the test shots at medium distance and it’s down to personal taste as this montage shows.
The isoly 100 does struggle with close photography as this shows where Diana Mini performed much better.
At a distance it’s down to personal tastes again.
For flash photography results were good both with Diana F or other flashgun. Mount seemed a wee bit tight for the Diana adaptor.
Overall very pleased with shots. In Good light produces good results. Perhaps a bit too sharp for some.
However the camera is limited. There is no focusing possible which makes it limited for close work. You can’t easily do multiple exposures and there is no B setting. Although only slightly larger than the Diana Mini it becomes too larger to slip into a pocket especially with the case.
But for a less than a quid it’s been a bargain. Whilst I was lucky, these cameras appear to sell regularly on auction sites for a few quid .
It’s a funny thing.
Just after I finished the roll and was itching to load some other film , we realised the shutter was sticking on my daughter’s one, so she’s now got this one.
Mind you there is another one on auction at the moment……