Monday, November 28, 2011

#41 Agfa Optima 500 Sensor

This is an Agfa Optima 500 Sensor, made in Germany, by Agfa-Gevaert, in 1969.

This was the first model displaying the orange Sensor shutter release, that became a distinctive feature of future Agfa cameras. It is made of a metal membrane, with a travel of less than 0,5 mm, what makes the shutter release operation ultra soft avoiding motion blur.

Agfa Optima 500 Sensor (2)

The shutter, of the central leaf type, is a Paratic. The shutter speed ranges from 1/30 to 1/500, hence the name of the model.
The lens is a Color-Apotar, 1:2.8/42 mm, focus scale, with three pictograms on the upper part of the lens barrel and a scale in meters and feet on the bottom.

Agfa Optima 500 Sensor (3)

Above we also can see, on the aperture ring, the aperture values, to be used only with the B setting of the shutter.
The aperture and shutter speed values, in normal operation, are automatic selected and controlled by a CdS cell, powered by a BMR 9 cell, using the ISO info, with a range from 25 to 400.

Located on the bottom plate is the film advance/rewind lever, exposure counter, tripod socket and spring loaded film cartridge lock.

Agfa Optima 500 Sensor (4)

You might find strange a film advance/rewind lever but, in fact it is a quite a clever feature.
Reached the last exposure one presses and lift the lever, marked R, by the lens barrel, and actuate the advance/rewind lever several times, rewinding the film, simultaneously the exposure counter regresses, providing the information about the progress of the operation.

You can see, in the picture above, a small window by the top right side of the camera. It's marked LZ/GN and displays some figures in the window, selectable using the small thumb dial under it.
It's function is provide the meter system with the info about the flash guide number (LZ - meters, GN - feet).
When a flash is placed on the accessory shoe the camera automatically enters in the flash mode:
The shutter speed locks on 1/30 and the aperture is calculated in function of the selected distance and flash guide number.

Agfa Optima 500 Sensor (5)

The silk screen impression displaying the model is long gone, only the orange dot endured the passing of time.
The viewfinder is collimated and the round window by it's side arbours the CdS cell.
The disk between the shutter release button and the accessory shoe is the film sensitivity dial, marked in ASA and DIN.

There is a black edition of this camera. The Sensor 200 and Silette LK are very closed related.

It's a very nice and compact camera, perfectly usable as you can see by the following shots, taken with it:

Agfa Optima 500 - Foz do Douro (1)

Agfa Optima 500 - Foz do Douro (3)

Merry Xmas

Stay tuned (o;


  1. Nice! You're making me want a Sensor!

  2. Hello RaúlM,

    First of all, great website! I love it!
    I have a problem and maybe you can help me out. Today a got myself a Optima 500 in a secondhand store. It seems to work ok (whithout a film in it). The transport handle works as well as the shutter.. But as soon as I put in film in it is seems like he's having a hard time transporting it. After 3 pictures the handle that transports the film goes very heavy and im not able to transport it al the way.. Am I doing something wrong?

    Thanx in advance!

    The Netherlands

    1. Thank you.
      I suspect that this camera of mine suffers from the same problem.
      I have used it only once and only managed to take 3 or 4 pictures.
      I don't know why, I have other cameras from the Optima series, with the same film transport system that work fine.
      I will give it another try someday soon.

  3. Hi Raul, wasted 2 rolls already on this camera, can't seem to make the rewind knob work. Should I push the rewind lever back to its original position once the rewind knob on the bottom pops? Would really love to make this camera work after seeing the photos you took with them. Thanks

    1. hello kim,

      had the same problem, but now i figured it out:

      "To rewind, the rewind release, mounted beside the lens, is moved in towards the lens and upward - where it latches. The advance lever is now reverse-geared to be a rewinder."

      worked for me, but without a film in.

      hope this helped,


  4. Hello,
    I have an Agfa Optima Ia with leather case, Bauer flash and thumb push adapter to take the picture. All in excellent condition. Would you like this for your collection?
    Chris Horne

  5. Thank you, Chris, but I already have one of those:

  6. Hello! This thread is years old I know,
    But it's hard to find much in English about this camera,

    Is there a way to manually select shutter speed on this camera?
    And what range does the A setting use, so what shutter speeds will it go to in the process of automatically choosing? Worried it will go too long and give me blurry shots.

    1. Hi Mitch,
      As you can read in the above text:
      "The shutter speed ranges from 1/30 to 1/500" and you can't change the shutter speed. You can use bulb and choose the aperture and in flash mode the shutter speed is 1/30