Although seen in many versions, all Agfa Ansco box cameras manufactured between 1935 and 1943 share the same basic construction - and this creates a big advantage for users.
The "Agfa Ansco Advantage" is that anyone can buy a couple of these cameras and scavenge parts, trade pieces, and create their own version with the best of everything. There are some caveats to this, but here are the basic advantages:
All faceplates are easily removed.
- Allows you to clean the viewfinder windows and mirrors thoroughly. We simply use windex on a cotton swab.
- Allows easily access to the shutter for repairs. Often, loose or missing nails, a twisted spring, or a simple cleaning are all that's required to get the camera working again.
- If you have a problem with light leaks, it's a simple matter to put some foam light seal material around the inner edge, which will also help tighten the faceplace if you have one that has become a bit loose.
- The tabs that hold the faceplate onto the body often become bent over time, also causing a loose faceplate and the potential for light leaks. With the faceplate removed, they can easily be bent straight to fit properly.
All Agfa Ansco 120 film holders fit all cameras.*
- If you one of these cameras with a broken holder, just find another with a good one. It's a simple swap.
- If you have a camera that offers dual 6x9 and 6x4.5 formats (fig. 1 & 2), but maybe something else is broken, you can use this holder to convert any other model into a dual-format shooter - but please check the caveats.
- The film holder has two all-important pressure bars that keep the film rolls tight, which reduces the potential for "fat rolls."
- The taking lens is located in the film holder, which both protects it, and makes it easy to keep clean between rolls.
* At least this is the case in all models that MFBOXCO has directly inspected - in cameras from the same general era of manufacture.
Any camera can be a parts camera.*
- Lenses, screws, hinge rods, shutter springs and many other small bits end up missing in a relatively high percentage of these cameras that would otherwise work perfectly. It's always a great idea to pick up an extra (or 2 or 3) when you can find them cheap - just to keep on hand for .
- Need a new back door? Want a different faceplate? It is very easy to "frankenstein" these cameras, taking the best of several slightly broken ones to make one good new one.
* Of course, all of the cameras sold here are already fully working and ready to shoot with no need for lightning and torch-bearing mobs.
- If you want to shoot 6x4.5 with the "Special" holder, you'll also want the back door with dual red windows. Also, the viewfinders in the "Special" cameras have frame lines for 6x4.5 that aren't on cameras not intended to shoot that format.
- Unless you want to strip the skin off the camera, it's unwise to remove the strap lugs, the winder, or other parts that are physically attached to the cardboard body. Most of these parts use a simple "bent-tab" fastener. The cardboard had four slits cut into it, the metal piece had for straight tabs that aligned with the holes. The piece was inserted, then crimped open against the cardboard. These parts are very hard to remove and even harder to replace since the cardboard is often softened from age, and the tabs often break when you bend them back.
- Placing the "Special" faceplate with the spring-loaded portrait lens on any other model will have an unknown effect. If anyone has experience with this, please leave a comment below.