Vintage 1950s 35mm Film Camera

Agfa Silette Pronto Vintage 1950s 35mm Film Camera

The first generation of Silette models were produced from 1953 to the early 1960s and the original Silette appeared in 1953. It was a simple well built 35mm camera with a simple viewfinder, a leaf shutter, a lever wind advance and an accessory shoe. The shutters for the Pronto is 1/25-1/200, the lens is a three element Agfa Color Apotar 3.5/45mm. The Silette name was used by the German Camera maker Agfa from 1953 to 1974 to designate successive generations of 35mm viewfinder cameras.

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AGFA is the abbreviation for Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation originating in 1873. It produced chemicals for photography. Most famous is the film developer Rodinal, introduced in 1892 and continued for 115 years. When Agfa obtained the Rietzschel camera works in Munich from Bayer in 1925, it badged all Rietzschel products with its Agfa rhombus. In 1926 it introduced the first real Agfa camera, the Standard. In 1927 the name Rietzschel disappeared from the products. In that year the successful Billy camera series was introduced, and Agfa licensed Ansco to manufacture its products for the American market. In 1930 the first Agfa Box camera for 6×9 cm exposures on roll film was produced. In the following year it popularized photography in Germany by dumping the Box 44 for 4 Reichsmark, easily recouping its losses afterwards by selling Agfa 120 roll films. In 1937 it brought out its first camera for 35mm film.


After WWII Agfa improved its prewar models and introduced the new 35mm Solinette. In 1954 it modernized its camera design with the Silette series; 1956 saw the introduction of the medium format Automatic 66. In 1959 a 35mm viewfinder camera with autoexposure button followed, the Optima. In 1964 Agfa introduced the Rapid system as an answer to Kodak’s 126 film. The company debuted cameras accepting 126 film in 1967. 1968 Agfa introduced its red sensor point, a round membrane made of red foil and framed with a metal ring. Depending on the camera type, either a mechanical or an electromechanical shutter release button was hidden under the flexible membrane. Since then this touchpad-like shutter button was used on most of the company’s models and became a familiar feature.

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