Diamond in the rough, the wonders of the Ansco Speedex 4.5
This is my Ansco Speedex 4.5 and it was a flea market score for $15 (usd) by my sister. She stumbled across it and thought ‘it looked cool’ and she bought at a steal to put on her shelf (what!?). When I saw it I knew she had found something special, a nearly mint condition medium format folder from the early 1950’s and immediately snagged it from her (for an inflated price of course). With a quick cleaning this diamond in the rough was ready for action! If you don’t know anything about Ansco’s, they are the American version of the Afga. In 1925 Agfa acquired the Rietzschel camera works in Munich. By the end of the 1920’s the camera works began making metal bodied, medium format folders. In 1928 Agfa acquired Ansco – a North American camera and film maker that predated Kodak.
This camera was sold under the Ansco name but features an Afga lens and badges on the internals. It features 4 shutter speeds at 200, 50, 25, and ‘B’ as well as the variable diaphragm from 4.5 through 32. It has adjustable focus which is marked at 3, 3.5, 5, 6, 8, 10, 15, 30, and Infinite feet. It also features a 7’s timer (still fiddling with it) , flash sync for mountable flash, and double exposure prevention (over rideable).
The Ansco Speedex 4.5 “Special” is essentially an Isolette II wearing an Ansco trademark for the North American market. Like its Agfa twin the Speedex 4.5 “Special” was aimed to fulfill the needs of the advanced amateur who had some basic photographic skills, but lacked the means to buy a premium medium format camera. Its advertised price was $47.50 in 1955, (the leather case was five dollars more). I love this camera and it takes great shots despite the small amount of fungus on the lens (left on purpose for effect). if completely clean it would be taking sharp crisp shots but I enjoy the aura that is cast around the subject with the little bit of distortion it causes for now. If you have the opportunity to pick one of these up on E-bay, at a yard sale or in a box in your grandpa’s attic I would highly recommend it, you wont be disappointed. Its a true true gem!