The Agfa Karat series of cameras covered a wide variety of models from the initial release in 1936. I’ve covered a few different models on this site, but this model is the one that started the series – the Agfa Karat 6.3 Art Deco.
My Agfa Karat 6.3 Art Deco Camera
This was a camera which I bought basically on impulse because it was a good price. I found it as a buy it now sale on eBay for £10 postage paid and since the price for even ‘parts’ Art Deco models can be 2 or 3 times that I bought it just to add to my Karat collection even though it was sold as ‘faulty’.
When I received it I found that the seller’s description is, in fact, accurate – it is faulty and has a few parts missing, but since I have a later model Karat with a missing focus stop and shutter boost spring, I can probably use parts from that model to patch the Art Deco model. The missing parts are decorative; the top of the shutter release button, which has been unscrewed and lost, and the door release mechanism which has also at some point be removed and lost. I might also replace the back film door which has a lot of paint loss.
Mechanically there are obviously some issues as well – the film advance turns continuously rather than stopping when the frame is advanced, the shutter release is locked unless operated with the arm inside the bellows area and the focus is completely locked. I’m pretty sure all these issues can be sorted by a good clean of the film advance mechanism, shutter and focus assembly which I’ve had to do on all my other Karats. The good news is that the bellow assembly, although slightly distorted seems to be light-tight, so I’m fairly sure I can restore this Karat to working order.
Cosmetically there are quite a few areas of missing paint and scratches etc, but that is to be expected with a camera which is nearly 80 years old.
Agfa Karat 6.3 Art Deco Description
As I said above the 6.3 Art Deco model was the first Karat produced and was first sold in 1936.
The basic design is similar to all the other early Karats in that it is a miniature camera with a pop out lens assembly, connected to the body with a set of bellows. The film type is normal 35mm film fitted into Agfa’s own ‘fast load’ cartridge system. In this system, two film canisters are loaded into the camera, an unexposed film canister on the right and an empty canister on the left, and the film is pushed out of the full canister and into the empty canister as the film is advanced. Once the film is complete, which would be after 12 exposures, the now full canister is removed for processing. The shutter fitted to this model is much simpler than other cameras in the
The shutter fitted to this model is much simpler than the one fitted to later cameras in the series, just consisting of a simple 3 speed + bulb arrangement. It also appears to be a shutter made by Agfa, rather than one made by a specialist shutter manufacturer like Compur or Pronto.
The lens is an Agfa Igestar 50mm f/6.3 which means, when coupled with the slow speed films available at the time, this camera was for outdoor, bright light use.
The camera controls are very simple. There is a large knob on the top which is used to advance the film, with a frame counter, which is also on the top of the camera, which shows how far through the film you are. The viewfinder is also fitted to the top of the camera and, obviously, is used to compose the picture. Once the lens is popped out, by pressing the release button, everything is set for a picture. The only settings the photographer needs to make are the shutter speed, with a lever on the front standard, the aperture, with a ring around the lens, and the focus, with a lever on the front next to the lens. Since the camera has a fairly small maximum aperture in many cases the focus could be left at infinity and most pictures would be pretty much in-focus anyway.
This model has strap lugs on the top of the camera which allows a (very thin) strap to be fitted for carrying the camera around the neck – these strap lugs seem to appear and disappear from the Karat range and regular intervals – some models have them and others don’t.
When I repair the issues with the camera and get it properly working I’ll post another article explainging how I did it.
Agfa Karat 6.3 Art Deco Specifications
- Agfa Karat 6.3 Art Deco camera
- First in a series of miniature 35mm cameras
- Simple 3 speed (1/25, 1/50, 1/100) plus bulb & time shutter
- Pop out lens unit on bellows for space saving
- Simple manually settable frame counter
- Strap lugs on top plate
- Agfa Igestar 50mm f/6.3 lens
- Aperture adjustable from f/6.3 to f/22
- Manual focus
- Uses 35mm Karat film cartridge