The Agfa Chief – A Definitive Guide

Photos made in 2021 with an 80-year old camera. If you are into modifying cameras or photo history, keep reading. If not, it gets a bit dry!

Panorama of cows made with an Agfa Chief Film Camera
Panorama of cows made with an Agfa Chief Film Camera

The Chief is a simple camera made around 1941 with one shutter speed and one aperture, but also manual “bulb” shutter and a selectable haze? filter. There is also focus control from Near (6-15’) to Far (15’ and BEYOND!)

I was looking at photos of a friend’s pinhole camera recently and I was interested in the curved film plane. I wondered which other cameras from that era might have a curved film plane and I came upon the Agfa Chief. It’s a medium format camera that was made for two different film types, this one was made for PD-16. It’s wider than 120 film and has different markings, but with 616 to 120 adapters and a custom film guide extension, this camera can shoot modern 120 film.I liked the curved film plane and panoramic negative, roughly 2.25” by 4”. I had to figure out frame spacing, Ilford FP4+ has numbers that work in the red window, you just have to be a little creative to get 6 shots on a roll.

What is the most fun? You can use the Agfa Portrait Attachment #29 and focus exactly at 42” for a close subject and a real out of focus area in the background.And that, my friends, is the Agfa Chief. Don’t leave home without it. Photos made on Ilford FP4+ and processed in Rodinal 1+50 for 15 minutes. In summary, it’s like a metal Holga with do-it-yourself frame spacing. You still have to tape up the camera to avoid light leaks. But hey, it’s fun.

About scott

I live in Minneapolis Minnesota and have a passion for making portraits with view cameras and large format black and white film. In the last ten years, I have been drawn to older film cameras and large film formats up to 8x10 inch negatives. I also spend a fair amount of time perfecting recipes for home-made pizza and vegetarian soup. When not engaged in the aforementioned pursuits, I think about which mountain I will hike next.
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