other Agfa cameras in my collection:
Agfa Super Silette [1956 - 1959]
The rangefinder models were called
Super Silette. The adoption of the term
Super - to identify a rangefinder camera - appears to have been common to many German manufacturers and in later years
Super was often abbreviated to
In the USA, the Super Silette was sold as the Ansco Super Memar.
In 1956, the Super Silette cost £36 - 8s - 9d; the rough equivalent of two weeks average UK wages at that time (circa £17). The target users for early (1950s) Silettes were serious amateurs on a budget. Sadly, later generations of this camera were designed to appeal more to snap-shooters. In his book
Collecting and Using Classic Cameras, Ivor Matanle rates the early Silette as a reliable, good quality camera that's hard to beat.
Specifications (version II)
Viewfinder: A split image rangefinder. The second image is circular and coloured yellow. No bright line or parallax markings. Image about 2/3rds of natural size.
Focus: Coupled rangefinder with manual lever on lens barrel.
Lens: 45 mm f/3.5 Agfa Apotar. Three-element lens.
Close Focus: 3.5'.
Diaphragm: Stopping down to about f/16.
Shutter: Prontor SVS five-blade leaf shutter. B (Bulb), 1, 1/2nd, 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/15th, 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th and 1/300th. The shutter can be set at M or X sync. There is also a V setting for self-timed shooting.
Cable Release: Standard socket in shutter release button.
Filter Size: 30mm push fit.
Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync.
Film Advance: Lever.
Frame Counter: Incorporated around film advance lever hub. Manually set, with automatic count-up.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Back Opening: Sliding catch.
Size: 126 x 83 x 67 mm (W x H x D).
The first version of the Super Silette had shutter speed steps of 1/25th and 1/50th sec. In the second (& 3rd) version these speeds were changed to 1/30th and 1/60th sec.
At some time during the production of the second version, the flash PC socket location seems to have moved from the left (facing) to the right-hand side of the front plate.
The third version included an EV scale on the aperture selector ring, and a locking lever that synchronised the shutter speed and aperture selection. This required a modification of the lens barrel, and relocation of the VXM selector switch to the right.
Super Silettes were made with an Apotar 45mm f/3.5 (three element) lens and nine speed Prontor SVS shutter, a Solinar 45mm f/3.5 or f/2.8 (unconfirmed f/2.8) four element copy of the Carl Zeiss Tessar (where the lenses are arranged as a modified triplet, with the rear element replaced by a cemented pair), or a high quality Solagon 50mm f/2 six element lens, both fitted in a Synchro-Compur shutter.
Some Super Silette models had a distance scale calibrated in feet, while others had this in meters.
In 1956, an integral light meter was added to the Silette, giving rise to the
L series (L, SL, and LK) but rangefinder equipped model versions didn't come along until the second generation Super Silette was introduced in about 1960. These had an altered look; they were taller, had larger viewfinders, a completely flat top-plate with an inset film advance lever, rewind knob recessed within the top plate, and the shutter release moved to the front of the camera body. Same name: different camera.
I paid £1.20 for this camera in August 2013. I bought it for one reason only; it was super cheap. It's an early example of the second variation with the f/3.5 Agfa Apotar, 1/30th and 1/60th shutter speeds, no EV scale, a focusing scale calibrated in feet, and the flash PC socket on the left (facing).
It required a good deal of cleaning (with metal polish), but everything works as it should (one of a few 1950s cameras in my collection that does), save for obviously slow shutter speeds at 1 to 1/8th, and the self-timer (but they often don't work).
The Super Silette is actually quite a nice camera, and feels very usable ... in fact, in June 2016 I bought a third version (shown in the bottom photo, with the grey backdrop) for £4.99 (reflecting the general increase in prices). The condition of this second camera is just like the first: all working except the slow shutter speeds are slow, and some serious cleaning needed - with metal polish.