A review of classic 6 by 6 folders would not be complete without including the Agfa Super Isolette , considered by many to be the finest 120 folding camera ever made including the much heavier Zeiss Super Ikonta IV. Having said that the Super Isolette is no lightweight either but that bares testimony to the excellent build quality from this german made camera.
I purchased mine around 12 months ago from the well-known folder specialist in the US , Certo6 ( Jurgen Kreckel).It is in immaculate condition , fully serviced and operating very smoothly with the rangefinder spot on.It came with a lens hood and 2 x 32 mm slip on filters ( red and K2 yellow).Unlike almost all Agfa folders, this camera has leather bellows which are in near perfect condition.
Ken Rockwell speaks very highly of this camera boldly claiming-
Unlike many of the cheaper and more popular Isolettes and Speedex cameras, the Super is made with the quiet precision of a fine wristwatch and has a 4 element Solinar (Tessar) lens which is super sharp from edge-to-edge, even wide open”
Much better than any Leica, it has an even quieter leaf shutter and shoots medium-format film with resolution that Leica people merely dream of. It is a jewel of silent precision, making a Leica feel lumpy and unrefined by comparison.
I would have to agree with him on the build quality and that superb images can be made with one.To date all my photos have been hand-held and whilst I have no doubt putting this camera on a tripod could improve things even more, the beauty in this camera is its portability. I carry mine around all the time in a small shoulder bag so its ready for use in a moment unlike eg TLRs and other “compact” 120 cameras without retractable lenses.
At present, I have only used 400 asa film (mainly T Max400 , occasionally Ilford Hp5) but I do want to try some medium speed film such as T Max100 Ilford FP4.The Agfa Super Isolette is easy to to focus quickly so it good has potential as a street camera.
When sourcing one , make sure you get a leather case with it as like many of the folders of this era , it has no strap lugs which increases the risk of dropping this beautiful camera.
Although hard to explain but easy to see, the images produced with this camera which incidentally was made between 1954 and 1957 have a unique look about them just as Leica and some Rolleiflex cameras . As they were only made for a relatively short time they are pretty rare and expect to pay between US$700 to $1000 for one.