- The Agfa Super Isolette / ANSCO Super Speedex -
|In 1954 Agfa introduced a totally new medium format folder for the high-end market and called it the Super Isolette. For North American distribution it was rebadged during the following year as the Ansco Super Speedex. The Super Isolette and its Super Speedex clone are Isolettes in name only. There is no commonality between the original pressed steel chassis of the 1938 Isolette that served as the basic building block on all previous Isolettes.|
To compete head on with the best Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta, the Super Isolette is full of innovations that are not part of a normal Isolette's repertoire. Focusing is done through a helicoid gear assembly that moves the entire 75mm Solinar lens assembly forward and backward as a complete unit rather than the utilizing front element focusing. Also, the motion of lens assembly is now coupled to the rangefinder apparatus via a push rod. The coupled rangefinder of the Super Isolette therefore allows for one step focusing. The main advantage over the older design is that unit focusing is inheritantly more precise throughout the entire range of distances than the older front cell focus method used on all previous Isolettes. The 75mm Solinar of the Super Isolette not only accepts 32mm slip-on filters, but also allows one to use threaded 29.5mm filters. The lens is fitted to a premium Synchro-Compur MX shutter on early models. Later models would have a Synchro-Compur MXV.
ANSCO super isolette
AGFA super isolette
With regards to its speed and ease of operation, the Super Isolette design wins hands down against any of the previous Isolettes. In addition to the coupled rangefinder, film loading on the Super Isolette is fully automatic. One simply inserts the film into the take-up spool, closes the rear door and winds the film until the knob stops automatically at the first frame. There is no red window on the back of the camera to peer into. The film advance automatically stops at each succeeding frame, which speeds up shooting considerably. Due to the auto-loading feature, the shutter release button will not engage the shutter when there is no film loaded into the camera. Therefore, you must have film in the camera to test its operation.
Both Super Isolette and the Super Speedex have a fit and finish that is much more upscale than any previously introduced Isolette. Consequently their better build quality and rarity places them into a higher price bracket. The Agfa Super Isolette and the Ansco Super Speedex range from $150 to $500 versus the usual $40 to $90 for a lesser equipped Isolette III or Speedex Special "R" equiped with Apotars. That makes the Super Isolette and its Ansco twin beyond the reach of the more economically minded enthusiast. The Isolette III and Speedex Special "R" will remain better values for the more practically minded vintage photographer, but let it be said that the Super Isolette, along with its Super Speedex twin, are simply the finest folding 12-on-120 cameras ever made.
http://www.davidrichert.com/AGFA%20rebuild/agfa.htm for the Isolette I overhaul.
http://www.davidrichert.com/AGFA%20rebuild/agfa.htm for a very nice photocopy of the original Isolette III Instruction Booklet.
http://www.davidrichert.com/toc.htm for navigating the rest of his massive web site.