Agfa's Little Black Box


The Agfa Synchro Box or in short Agfa Box was thrown onto the German camera market back in 1949 and in production until the late 1950s. So you see, this camera is a very old one!
It takes 120 medium format film and the images have a size of 6×9cm, either landscape or upright – depends on how you hold the camera. But the general handling of the Box allow rather upright than landscape pictures.

image from camerapedia

Like with the Agfa Clack you get just 8 images on one 120 medium format film but those images are again huge! Some people say you can even make a wallpaper out of one negative. But let’s come to the specifications of this little black Box. To load a film you need to open the back door and get the inner metal element out. Don’t forget to pull out the film advance wheel. Otherwise the metal element cannot be taken out because it is secured by the advance wheel. Then place the spool into its intended place (it’s a bit tricky though) and then roll the film across the back of the metal element and put the unexposed film spool in place. Then put the metal thing back into the camera, close the back and wind the film until you see the number ONE on the back of your film.
Because the Box has a aperture time of only 1/30 it isn’t easy to create sharp pictures. Most of them will turn out a bit blurry. Or you put the camera onto solid ground and then press the shutter release. My Box is a bit stubborn and the shutter cover doesn’t go back in place so I have to put the lever back in place by hand.
At the left side of the camera (seen from the front) are three different levers. WIth the top one you chose between normal and long exposure. For long exposure it has to be moved upwards and the downward position is for normal exposed images (see a little dot for normal images and a line for “B” exposures).The second lever puts a yellow filter in front of the lens. Just pull it out. And the one at the bottom is the release.
To get an image in focus you need to remember that you cannot get that close to the object. 3 meter to infinity is all you can do.
The viewfinder on this camera looks rather odd. There are, above the lens, two little viewfinders. One is coupled with the left viewfinder (the one on top of the camera) and the other one at the side of the camera is coupled with the right viewfinder. So if you turn the camera about 90 degrees you get landscape images and use the viewfinder next to all the levers.
Got it?! Just try it! It’s not as complicated as it may sound!

written by graefin on 2008-11-25 #gear #medium-format #agfa #review #old #black #retro #box #1940s-to-1950s


  1. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

    box is fun!!!!

  2. gonz
    gonz ·

    Well, I´ve just come from Berlin, where I found this marvelous camera, only for 10€ (the guy who was selling it didn´t even know how to put it in it´s folder)
    The thing is, after playing with the lens, I just got too excited and put a new film during the flight.
    I don´t know what I did, but the film got broken, the paper, only the paper, got rolled on on side of the metal thing, and the exposure paper stayed in the other one.
    Do you know what I did wrong?

  3. rafapont
    rafapont ·

    i just bought a camera last week and i didn't notice my grandfather had one agfa synchro box! i totally went mad when i found it and started a serious investigation about this camera and tomorrow iim gonna put it some 120 films and take some good pics. thanks for the post. i have a question, could you tell me how do i know if the films is all rewinded? and in which way does the film should advance? from the bottom to the top or from the top to the bottom? thanks :)

  4. graefin
    graefin ·

    @rafapont After you saw the "8" in the little red window on the back you still have to wind a bit until you see the words "exposed". You will feel it when the film is all wound up around the take up spool. There is a little arrow on the advance know. Wind in the direction the arrow points to.

  5. lilitoran
    lilitoran ·

    @graefin i got just a new afga box !!!
    somebody knows were i can buy the 6x9 of 120? on line ?
    or on a german site?? i think is cheaper than in france

    can i use the lomo films of 120 in my afga box??????

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