Trees on Big Bass Lake – Agfa Optima II S

While skiing on a northwestern Wisconsin lake, the white bark of these birch or aspen trees along the lakeshore were absolutely striking against the darkness of the deep evergreen woods behind them. Though overcast, the low sun shortly before dusk seemed to make these trees glow against the contrasting shade behind them.

These photographs were made on color film, but they make even more striking images in black and white. There was really very little color in the scene to start with.

They were shot on Portra 160 in my ‘new’ Agfa Optima II S that I picked up for a few bucks at a local thrift store. This is an automatic-exposure rangefinder made in Germany in the early to mid 1960’s. It has a coupled rangefinder with an easy-to-see diamond-shaped overlapping image area in the center of a nice big viewfinder. Very similar in looks to my Retina Automatic III, including the shutter button located on the front of the camera, it is just slightly larger and heavier, and is fully auto-exposure as opposed to the Retina Auto’s shutter-priority auto-exposure.  I prefer the Retina Auto, but this is a nice solid camera, with a capable f:2.8 45mm lens (same speed and focal length as the Retina, but it’s hard for me to judge yet if the results are as good as those from the Retina’s Schneider lens). I’ll be using this camera more, and will write more about it and provide more photos of it later.

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2 Comments on “Trees on Big Bass Lake – Agfa Optima II S”

  1. Jim says:

    Is your Optima a pleasant camera to use? I have an Optima (the original one) and found it to be cumbersome. You have to push this button on the front of the camera down, and it has a long travel, to activate the autoexposure, and then press the shutter button atop the camera. It’s hard to work.

  2. Rick Schuster says:

    That sounds a bit cumbersome. No, with this one you just press down on the shutter button, which is the lever-like button on the front. It does have a very long travel for a shutter button. And the wind lever has an extremely long travel — you wind the lever around from the back so that it’s almost sticking straight out the front of the camera. Your thumb on the wind lever ends up right above the shutter button — that’s a little weird. I’d say it’s not the most well-designed camera, but not terribly cumbersome to use.


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