Agfa/Reflecta Slide Projector Models
With one exception, Agfa slide projector lenses were not serialled – often an indicator that the manufacturer doesn’t take them seriously. Agfa’s reputation in Mainland Europe is healthy, but UK opinion is well summarised by the view of a repair specialist who recently harrumphed in my direction: “Well… Agfa projectors – they never were any good”. Well, many of their lenses certainly were. Even Agfa’s basic projector models had relatively high resolution optics compared to their competition – knowledge that seemingly never filtered into the wider market. Most were typical triplets, but there are more complex designs to tempt the connoisseur, too.
In the absence of serials, dating depends on linking lenses to a projector model timeline. The following dates confirm when a model was in production, but don’t always define its total shelf life: in most cases, it can be assumed that a given projector remained on the market for some time after the date here specified, unless it is marked with an asterisk – in which case we have a confirmed date on which the model was discontinued.
|Date||Agfa Projector Model||Part No||Lens Options|
|1940||Opticus (early Black)||75/3|
|1937-1952||Karator I (most expensive)||Agomar 100/2.8|
|1939-1957||Karator II||Agomar 75/2.8|
|1939-1957||Karator III (least expensive)||K III 100/3.3|
|1951-1968||Karator U||5950/03||Agomar 100/2.8|
Agomar 150/2.8 [V1]
|1955-1960||Opticus / Opticus 100||5965||Agomar 85/2.5|
|1955-1960||Opticus 150||5966||Agomar 85/2.5|
Diamator SE (2×2)
|Agomar 85/2.8 [V1]|
|1958-1960||Karator 77 (medium format)||Agomar 150/2.8 [V2]|
|1960-62||Diamator M||5910||Agomar 85/2.5|
|1960-68||Diamator H||5905||Agomar 50/2.8|
|1963-64||Diamator H18||5904||Agomar 60/2.8|
|1963-64||Diamator M18 (half-frame)||5907|
|1965-66||Diamator 100||5925||Agomar 60/2.8|
|1965-66||Diamator 150||5922||Agomar 85/2.8|
|from 1970||Agfacolor 50 Automatic||5923||Agomar 85|
|1973-1975||Agfacolor Pocket||5935||Agomar 45/2.8|
|from 1974||Agfacolor 50||5920||Agomar 85 (sharp)|
|1979-1984*||Agfa Diamator AF||5947||Agomar 85/2.8|
|1979-1984*||Agfa Diamator 1500 / 1500AF||5945||Agomar 85/2.8|
+ 60, 90, 150mm
Agolon 90/2.5 MC
|POST-1984 REFLECTA MODELS|
|1984-1992||Reflecta Diamator 1800 AF||1021||Reflecta Agomar 90/2.8 MC|
Docter Agomar 90/2.8 MC
|1984-1992||Reflecta Diamator A|
Reflecta Diamator AF
Reflecta Diamator AF Combi
Reflecta Diamator AF Delux
|Agomar 90/2.8 MC ‘Wetzlar’|
Agomar 90 red ring
Will Maginon 85/2.8
Docter Agomar 90/2.8 MC
|1992||Reflecta Diamator 1500 AF|
Reflecta Diamator 1502 AF
|Agomar 90/2.8 MC|
|1990||Reflecta Diamator 2500 AF|
Reflecta Diamator 2502 AF
Reflecta Diamator 2506 AF
Agomar 90/2.8 MC
|1992-1994||Reflecta Diamator 2000 AF|
Reflecta Diamator 2002 AF
Reflecta Diamator 2004 AF
Reflecta Diamator 2008 AF
|Reflecta Agomar 90/2.8 MC|
|1995||Reflecta Diamator 2501 AF|
Reflecta Diamator 2505 AF-IR
|Agomar 90/2.8 MC (on 2501)|
Agomar 90/2.4 MC (on 2505)
|1994*-||Reflecta Diamator 1504 AF|
Reflecta Diamator 2006 AF
|Agomar 90/2.8 MC (red ring)|
Agomar 90/2.4 MC (red ring)
|1999-2001||Reflecta Diamator 7800 AF|
Reflecta Diamator 7805 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7808 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7810 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7811 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7812 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7815 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7817 AF
Reflecta Diamator 7819 AF
Agfa’s slide projector operation effectively ended in 1984 when their Portugeuse production facility, and future development of second generation Diamator models, was taken over by Reflecta until well into the next century. Reflecta-branded lenses of this period are conspicuously similar to Braun’s, but projectors from the 90s often seem to have bundled with lenses made by Docter and Wilhelm Will (Maginon 85/2.8) Models were reset to 1xxx type numbers and carried markings stating ‘made under licence from Agfa-Gevaert’.
You’ll notice that Agfa is typically idiosyncratic about its model numbers (ie, not chronological) and fond of recycling brand names: the pre-war black Opticus was reborn as a range of coloruful 1950’s Opticus-es in the 1950s. The Karator (first trademarked in the UK in 1938) had a second life in the 1960s. Agfa’s CP range was almost resurrected as the CS range, which was simultaneously called Diamator – which died in the late 1960s, then revived in the 1980s, before it came under their aegis of Reflecta. The Agomar is reassuringly constant, appearing on Agfa lenses for more than half a century.
Agfa Slide Projector Lenses
It’s hard to establish provenance for specific projector lenses. Agfa had the in-house resource to design and make them, but in typical German (and very Agfa) fashion, there was a collective resource pool between Braun, Agfa and Staeble from the 1950s-1980s that makes it likely that some of each company’s intellectual copyright (and production fingerprints) might linger on any model in any range. Similarly, some – probably a majority – of Reflecta-branded lenses were made by Docter and interchangeably branded Reflecta / Docter. However, specifically Agfa-branded lenses are seen of the following types:
Agomar was a lens name shared between many German manufacturers, appearing on Agfa models as early as 1940, distinguishing the better two of three triplets offered for Karator series slide projectors. At present count Delta lists XX versions of the Agfa Agomar, commonly air-spaced three-element primes in the range of 75-150mm focal lengths. Most are f2.8, but later 1960’s-era Diamators upped the ante to f2.5. These mechanically fragile f2.5 lenses are tremendously characterful and out-Meyer the Trioplan when it comes to exciting bubble bokeh. Later lenses returned to f2.8 and have somewhat more sedate rendering. Agomars fitted to late-1970’s Agfacolor 50 and 1980’s-era Diamators are unreasonably sharp, despite their unpromising plastic barrels and ubiquitous 85/2.8 specification.
In the Reflecta era we see not only improved multicoating on stock Agomars but a much more purposeful series of four-element f2.4 Agomars from 1994 that appear to have co-developed as the Braun Ultralit PL.
Only one lens is seen marked Agolon: a plastic-barrel four-element 90/2.5 positioned as ‘the upgrade lens’ from 1979-1993, when it was superceded by the Reflecta Agomar 90/2.4 MC. It therefore spans the Agfa/Reflecta era and is seen in both Agfa and Reflecta guises.
The six-element 60/2.8 Color-Agolar (Cat 4784/100) was the shorter sibling of the Color-Agolon – Agfa’s best lenses for their best projector series: the Agfacolor 250 D, A, S and DAV models sold from 1971 until at least 1976. There were in fact three Color-Agolars produced for the Agfacolor 250 Series – although the longer 150/2.8 and 250/4.5 variants must have relatively unpopular, given their scarcity on the used market.
The solitary Color-Agolon 90mm was a more substantial version of the Agolon 90mm. Both are f2.5, but the Color-Agolon is throttled down from a potential f2 by a (removable) internal waterhouse stop, giving slightly better resolution, particularly in the outer image circle. The dissimilarity of this lens’ drawing style to similar Braun and Staeble models suggests this was a unique Agfa design.
The Color-Agolon 90/2.5 [Cat 4785/100] combined with the Color-Agolar 60/2.8 to form a ‘luxe-pack’ designed for the range-topping Agfacolor 250. It’s a lens with something of a cult following – not because of unusual sharpness (scoring just 7.6 / 7.3) but because of its refined and appealing drawing style, and absence of aberrations. It’s a five-element air-spaced design: uncommonly well corrected for a projector lens – second only to Leica’s Super-Colorplans. The image circle is larger than necessary for 35mm slides, which results in consistent Zone 1-3 performance and minimal mechanical vignetting (cat-eye bokeh balls and swirl).
Cine Projector Lenses
Pending . . .
Additional chapters in the Agfa-Gevaert story: