A roll of Fomapan 400 with the Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor.

  • Camera: Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor.
  • Film: Fomapan 400. Rated at 400asa. Developed in Ilford IDL dilution 1+3 for 23 minutes @20 degC.
  • Film scanned using Plustek OpticFilm 8100 through Silverfast 8 software.
Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor

Why I chose this camera?

Having an interest in analogue photography I like to follow a YouTube channel called Analogue Insights (link at the end of this post). Recently, Max, who is the host of the site has done a review of the Afa Optima 1035. It seemed to be the ideal camera for some Street Photography and as a coincidence there was one on Ebay in mint condition which I purchased for £56.

The camera and it’s features.

The camera is built of metal and is very compact and takes 35mm film. It has zone focusing but if turned upside down it has the distance scale on the underside of the lens. Zone focusing is something I often use for Street Photography so that is fine. The viewfinder is very large and bright for such a small camera and it is equipped with a nice f2.8 40mm lens. The zone focusing settings are shown in the viewfinder which is handy. The exposure is fully automatic but there is an aperture setting on the lens. This though is only operational when using flash.

Zone focusing seen in the viewfinder.
The zone focusing on the top of the lens.

Design philosophy

The camera was one of a series of cameras produced by Agfa through to the late 1970s and the simplistic design philosophy has as it’s roots in that of post war German industrial design. The design is a reflection of the design principles by such great designers as Dieter Rams who was instrumental in the design of the sleek and understated household goods for Braun in that era. “Good design is as little design as possible.” These few words encapsulate the philosophy of Rams. The British-American designer Jony Ive, Chief designer for Apple until 2019 once said of Rams that his work is “beyond improvement.”

This camera was designed by another German design studio. In 1967 Norbert Schlagheck and Herbert Schultes formed the design partnership Schlagheck Schultes Design GmbH and took on work of designing products for AGFA Gevaert AG. The design partnership was located in Munich and they were Influenced by Dieter Rams and his 10 Principles of Good Design. They were responsible for delivering designs for several classic cameras, along with other products. The design for AGFA provided a new and more modern direction for the camera-maker with the large red sensor shutter release being instrumental in the catch phrase for the product of ‘The other red dot camera’. This being a reference to the logo on Leica cameras. Not quite up to the standard of manufacture of Leica of course.

The results of my first trip out with the camera.

I recently was able to visit the National Trust property of Anglesey Abbey. Having just received the camera through the post I thought I’d load up with a roll of Fomapan 400 black and white film and try it out. It was an overcast day so not too much contrast but the white statuary in the grounds set against a dark background of foliage proved to be ideal for a test and I’m quite pleased with the results. The camera was a joy to use and handled very well. Manual focusing was very easy with the 400 ASA film providing small enough apertures to get some depth of field.

My next test of the camera will be to take it out on a trip doing some Street Photography.

A review of some mini tripods.

MARCH. 28, 2019

I’ve been trying out some small tripods recently. I do have a conventional carbon fibre tripod which isn’t very heavy but I just needed a very compact tripod for use in churches and the like when I’m going for those low level shots using my fisheye lens. Some places also don’t like you using a full size tripod but you can often get away with using a small one.

Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Tripod for SLR Cameras with Ball head.

I’ve had a Gorillapod for a couple of years and have been able to try it out in various ways including winding it round the framework on the back of a Jeep on safari. It is very versatile and is great for attaching to things like lamp posts and bridge railings. It’s not the most compact but does fit into my camera sling back that I mostly use.

I did though replace the ball head which had a tripod mount specific to the Gorillapod. I use the Arca Swiss type plates for all my tripods so I purchased the Vanguard TBH-50 Ball Head to replace the one supplied. this comes with an Arca Swiss compatible QS-60S Quick Release Plate and that is the head that is shown on the picture of the Gorillapod.

The ability to be very versatile has resulted in the Gorillapod having many plastic cup and ball joints in its leg construction. This though can result in some of them working lose over time. This has certainly happened in mine after a couple of years. After some searching I found a solution on You Tube which is to pull the lose cup and ball joint apart and insert a piece of tinfoil which then tightens the joint.

Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Tripod for SLR Cameras with Ball head Price: £47.99 now £63.77

Vanguard TBH-50 Ball Head currently priced at £49.95.

Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Tripod fitted with the Vanguard TBH-50 Ball Head

Conclusion.

The Gorillapod is lightweight, fairly compact and probably the most versatile of all mini tripods. It is probably not going to put up with a lot of use due to the joints working lose. The price at £48 was pretty good but is now being sold for around £64 and with having to change the head for something that is a bit more versatile in it’s attachment that works out at around £114 which pricey for a small and compact tripod.

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Platypod Ultra flat tripod for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras.

I also tried out a friends Platypod which is basically a flat aluminium plate with 4 screws, one at each corner and a threaded stud in the middle. It is supplied with a short strap which can be used to attach the Platypod plate to a lamp post etc. It doesn’t however come supplied with the tripod head. It is fairly versatile due to the way the plate is machined to take the strap in various configurations but not as versatile as the Gorillapod. It takes a while to set up as you have to screw in the four corner screws every time you want to use it unless you are prepared to carry the plate around with the 4 screws attached. This though kind of ruins one of its advantages of being just a flat plate that you can slip into a side pocket of your bag. Its also not practical to carry the camera around with the Platypod attached to the camera.

Platypod Ultra cost £55.00

Platypod Accessory pack which is another £30

Typical tripod head. Add on at least £50

Platypod Ultra flat tripod

Conclusion

Very compact as it consists of a flat plate for the tripod head. Slow to set up. Not the most versatile. You can’t carry the camera around with it attached.

At around £135.00 complete with a head it is expensive.

Manfrotto MP3-BK Large Pocket Support.

This very small attachment is the most compact of the tripods mentioned here. It is however also probably the least versatile. It’s strength though lies in the fact that it is the most compact and can be left in place on the camera and hardly noticed that it is there. The three rubberised feet can be used to just support the camera on a flat surface and can also be used on a curved surface such as the top of a handrail. It is nicely made and has three small feet that are tensioned by springs. As long as the springs maintain tension on the feet it should last well. I must admit that due to the low price I was expecting less in the way of quality but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the engineering and finish.

Manfrotto MP3-BK Large Pocket Support: £15.99

Manfrotto MP3-BK Large Pocket Support.
Manfrotto MP3-BK Large Pocket Support in place on a Lumix GX8.
Manfrotto MP3-BK Large Pocket Support in use.

Conclusion.

Very compact and can be left in place on the camera. Not very versatile. Cheap but quality engineered.

Sirui 3T-35K Table Top Tripod

This is the latest of the small tripods that I have purchased. It has three small feet fitted with rubberised covers which keep the tripod from slipping, The three feet can swing up to lay flat against the main column of the tripod and the column itself can be extended slightly. When the feet are swung up the column assembly makes for a very compact and comfortable hand grip. The tripod with the feet out can also be used against the chest to provide additional support for thos low speed shutter hand held shots. The tripod is supplied complete with a ball head which has an Arca Swiss plate included and will take my other plates. The ball head can be mounted directly to the feet assembly to make for a very compact setup although in the configuration the feet can’t be swung up to create a hand hold. The quality of engineering and finish is very good.

This is a very nice compact little tripod and comes in a bag with an additional non-extending column and the necessary allen keys for dissassembling the columns and head.

As far as versatility goes it’s only negative point compared with the Gorillapod and the Platypod is that it can’t be attached to a lamp post or railing.

Price; £80.

Sirui 3T-35K Table Top Tripod
Sirui 3T-35K Table Top Tripod in it's lower position.
Sirui 3T-35K Table Top Tripod in it's extended position.
Sirui 3T-35K Table Top Tripod with the ball head fixed directly to the foot assembly.
Sirui 3T-35K Table Top Tripod in it's lowest position with the Lumix GX8.

Conclusion.

Very compact and can be left in place on the camera and provides a hand grip. Not the most versatile in comparison with the Gorillapod and Platypod. Reasonably priced for the quality of the engineering.