Agfa Pioneer Test Roll

N St Clair St, Downtown Toledo
Taken 20 March 2015]

This photo of the PNC Building in downtown Toledo was one of my favorite images off of this first roll through the new-to-me Agfa Pioneer (manufactured in the early 1940’s).

The long shot of downtown from a 12th-floor window gave me the best idea of what the optics on this camera are capable of: tack sharp in the center, with noticeable blurring at the corners. I can’t use that photo to comment on light falloff, since it’s also through a window.

When I loaded up the camera, which was designed to take 620 film, I opted to use a roll of 120 instead. The film itself is equivalent, but the spool itself is a little bigger in diameter and thickness. It seemed to work well enough… except the film didn’t follow the curved film plane properly. It buckled just slightly.

I figured, it’s a test roll. We’ll see what happens.

What happened was weird focus and distortion at certain distances.

Connor, Blurry

My son is out of focus, but the blades of grass closer to the camera are in focus, as is the background. I’m assuming this is a result of focal plane weirdness with the buckled film. I’m pretty sure he was standing still at the time (since it’s such a rarity).

Verdict: I like the camera itself well enough, and it’s neat to have an antique that actually works (and works pretty well). But getting only 8 exposures per roll and spending about $10 per roll on developing (not including buying the film itself, plus shipping, since I send my film out to be developed now) and having to respool onto a 620 spool and only using the camera in certain conditions… I don’t take my box cameras out for a whirl very often, as a general rule.

But hooray for getting a new-to-me camera out there and getting some pictures!



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