A junk shop find, in cheap, as bought, condition, in need of a bit of TLC, it all works, the shutter is accurate, and the lens clear, the shutter release on the body was stuck down, but now works, and the body release for opening and latching the front was stiff, but also now works. it needs a strip and lube, plus some light rust removal. The alloy body will polish up nicely with chrome polish. The leatherette is dirty, but whole and in good condition. Body Serial number FB 5418, lens no 717278 Agfa Oppar type.
An Agfa Karat 4.5 original 2nd series, without the strap lugs, but after the black finish models, made in 1938 at the start of the war. Takes Karat,(rapid), Standard 35mm film in the cassette to cassette method, like the Agfa Ansco Memo from the States. Later post war Agfa Karat cameras took conventional 35mm film.
It needs some rapid cassettes to work, they are reloadable with any 35mm film. This version is 24x36 frame and 12 per film, but more shots will actually fit.
Generally, the front cell focusing Agfa Oppar F4.5 lens has a very reasonable performance. The Shutter runs from 1/25th to 1/125th plus B, and this one is working accurately.
The interior still has the orange German warning sticker to put the empty cassette on the right side, and has a very nice transfer for the original shop still in place on the inside back, for Photo-Voss, Otto N Voss, Hamburg. No case, it will need a new camera pouch to store and use.
Last Edit: Jul 29, 2013 12:51:55 GMT -5 by Stephen
And this is where the Karat was originally sold, Neuerwall 16-18, Hamburg, only two doors from Tiffanys shop, very up market these days, I wonder if this was the same pre-war, as it is nearby to the Hamburg docks, and must have been destroyed in the bombing.
Camera rarely wear out, it is lack of use and damp that are the killers, a worn looking camera is an indication it was well used and reliable. If stored unused from new they can work, but the worst is the little used, one holiday camera, taken to a beach, add sand, and damp, put away and forgotten, likely to be corroded and in a poor state! The worse is the forgotten camera given to kids thirty years ago to "play" with, and then put away again, still not working, jammed and fiddled with, the trash is the camera dropped in sea water!!
It's cleaning up quite well, even the lens is pretty good, under the accumulated dirt. I don't think much needs stripping, except to remove rust from the catches.
The light Nano oil has released the body shutter release,and the front catch now moves. I may take the top and bottom off later to polish them. The bellows look light tight, but will need a film scrap test to confirm they are still working. I put a small clip of high speed b/w inside for 8hours, then process, it should be clear.
A small issue that is now a very difficult, and important, problem, the shaft of the shutter release has broken, it explains the stiff release, it was fractured and has now come apart into two pieces. It runs right through the camera, and the design has to allow for the collapsing bellows operation.
The release shaft is very, very complex, rather like a car camshaft, and in four parts with springs!.
It fires the ever set type shutter, and then on the up stroke controls the wind on and the counter operation, and also has a side tab for the cable release. Even the release top is a threaded on item, very complex.
It is made in chromed brass, so it should be possible to pin it and either soft or silver solver the bits back. the shape is too complex to easily copy to a new part, and screw have to go into threaded holes, of unknown pitch, so it is best to rescue the existing broken parts.
The design and parts in the Karat are a surprise, it is not a budget design like the later plastic Rapids, it must have been an expensive top of the range model, lots of complex and ingenious design went into the Karat. The top and bottom are solid cast aluminium, not cast mazak, and fully machined. All the rest is cast and solid steel parts, well made, but they over did the complexity on the release mechanism.
The alternative is to leave the shutter independent of the body release, but that means manual wind on needing tripping for each shot.
The whole shaft part could be duplicated in stainless steel, but it is very complex shape they have machined into the shaft to copy, original would have been done on an indexing fitting on a milling machine, with several cuts.
I will have to make an aluminium jig to hold the broken 4mm rod in line whilst the pinning and soldering is done, then skim in the lathe to make sure it freely runs in the body hole.
On Ebay at £12 Buy it now, another Karat, said to be in working order, but with the leather original case, and a cassette! I spotted it by accident moments after listing. it appears to have the better shutter and slightly later lens. Some had a shutter that required cocking, and it simplified the complex release shaft that the early ones used, that has broken on the other Karat. If it needs any attention, at least I have had experience of servicing the older model. It looks less worn than the Junk shop one. Stephen.
The Karat type coming, with the better Prontor shutter and post war lens version, about 1946. There was also a more expensive version with a Compur, and F2.8 lens.
The Karat radically altered to 35mm film in the next models, but never really caught on like the rival Retina, possibly from the association with the rapid Karat film system in the minds of the customers.
The release shaft is now repaired, silver soldered together, with an inserted steel pin to strengthen the joint, about 2.5mm x 2mm area, very small. It has had to have the chrome plating removed (out of sight), but I have tinned the brass surface with tin solder to get a silvered surface, which will aid the smooth operation of the shutter release. I will clean up all the disassembled parts, and start re-assembly.
The ever-set type shutter on the older Karat model is interconnected to the wind on, but the later shutter is independent, it has to be cocked, and Agfa relied on the cocking lever being visible in the viewfinder to remind the owner, on the later model, after the shutter is pressed, the same complex shaft movement is used to allow wind on and increment the counter.
I have several of these, including the so-called art deco model, as well as one with a Solinar and Compur shutter. The Solinar is the best of the bunch. However, the limiting factor is that you can only shoot 12 photos at a time. Still, they are fun cameras to tote around.
The second Agfa Karat has arrived, in much better condition than the first junk shop find, all works well, no binds or troubles with the release. A slightly later model, must be post '46, or so, as it has "Made in Germany" embossed in to the leatherette. Original leather case with it in reasonable condition. Lens outside is a bit dirty, just a good clean needed, no fungus, or deep scratches.
Inside is clean, slight wear, it has the sticker warning to put the empty to the right, slightly different to the pre-war type.
I'll give it a clean up to get it ready for a proper film test, it has a spare cassette, and I have another made from a 35mm cassette body, narrowed to the Rapid width, with caps over the spool holes.
Much cleaner now, in quite good condition throughout. The whole camera has revised parts compared to the pre-war, lots of castings altered, and a separate chromed viewfinder, instead of the previous casting. The release in modified, different design at top, and the entire shutter and lens changed. 1 sec to 1/250th + B range with apertures to F3.5, the lens being an Agfa Apotar, (un-coated). The shutter has to be cocked for each shot, unlike the earlier model which was an everset type.
The speeds test accurate, and the delayed action works. The lens has front element focusing, with two hyperfocal distances marked in red, but there is no actual depth of field scale......
Shutter is very quiet and smooth in operation. Made in Germany is embossed into the leatherette on the back, which is a casting, not pressed metal.
I will try it out over the weekend, with Fuji film re-loaded to the Rapid Cassette. The camera cost was £12 on E#bay, with case, not bad at all.
Last Edit: Jul 31, 2013 18:29:12 GMT -5 by Stephen
I got a little f3.5 Karat w/Compur rapid and solinar, quite "well used". I intended to use it as my first try with Karat cassettes. However, I just realized an hour ago that this camera has been extensively and expertly modified to use a more conventional but modified 35mm film cartridge! There is a beautiful spring loaded rewind knob, an unlock control for take-up sprocket, reworked film chambers and, I suspect, other modifications.
Serial is DV 6541, presumably prewar.
Has anyone heard of such a camera? Darnest thing...I'm still scratching my head.