AGFA (abbreviation for Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation) was a major producer of cameras, accessories, film and photographic chemicals, founded in Berlin, Germany in 1867. Since 2007 the brand name is licensed to OEM companies.
In 1867, Chemistry scientists Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Carl Alexander von Martius founded Gesellschaft für Anilinfabrikation mbH in Rummelsburg near Berlin. The company produced aniline colors. In 1887 chemical scientist Momme Andresen drove the company to enter photo chemistry. Its first success was in 1888 the developer . Later it had problems entering film production since was years ahead. In 1908 it launched a less flammable security cine film, and in 1910 it opened its big film factory Agfa Wolfen in Wolfen (then in Middle Germany), then the second largest factory in the world - in remained the biggest. During WWI production shifted from photo film to medical x-ray film, aerial photography film, and cine film for the soldiers' field cinemas. Filters and glasses for gas-masks were also made.
In 1925, Agfa was one of the companies that merged to form Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie (IG Farben), a huge corporation covering many dye, photographic and associated industries. As part of the merger, Agfa obtained the camera works in Munich from Bayer, and badged all Rietzschel products with its Agfa rhombus. Several of Rietzschel's cameras were continued, including the and , but in 1926 the first real Agfa camera was introduced, the , in both plate/film pack and roll film models. In 1927 the name Rietzschel disappeared from the products, though the heritage of Rietzschel can be traced in Agfa camera and lens names for many years after. In that year the successful Billy camera series was introduced. In 1928 the US division of Agfa entered a merger with , and over the following 15 years many models from the two companies were sold under the joint name .
In 1930 the first camera for 6×9 cm exposures on roll film was produced. In the following year it popularized photography in Germany by dumping the Box 44 for 4 Reichsmark, easily recouping its losses afterwards by selling Agfa . In 1937 it brought out its first camera for . After the entered the War in 1941, Agfa lost which began its own film production afterwards. Agfa introduced its modern color negative still photography film and paper in 1942 as base of the Agfacolor films and papers that became competitors for Kodacolor after the war. After the war cooperation with was revived, but only on the camera sector.
Shortly after the Second World War, IG Farben was broken up by the occupying powers because of its close association with the Nazi government. Some of the assets located in the Soviet-occupied part of Germany were taken in reparations, but some continued to operate (for example, the plant in Wolfen continued, first using the Agfa brand, then renamed as ). Agfa incorporated UCA in Bremen which became a camera factory, and later also and to enhance production capacity. For own production it took over two clock makers. In 1964 it even took over its main German competitor, .
Agfa improved its prewar camera models and introduced the new 35mm . In 1954 it modernized its camera design with the series. The pre-War Isolette was the basis of the highly successful series of medium format folders in the 50s, culminating in the and the (a folding camera with AE, in 1956!). In 1959 a 35mm viewfinder camera with auto-exposure button followed, the Optima. In 1964, Agfa-Gevaert was formed with the merger of Belgium film and paper manufacturer . The system was introduced as an answer to Kodak's . The company debuted cameras accepting in 1967.
In 1968 Agfa introduced its red sensor point, a round membrane made of red foil and framed with a metal ring. Depending on the camera type, either a mechanical or an electromechanical shutter release button was hidden under the flexible membrane. Since then this touchpad-like was used on most of the company's models and became a familiar feature.
In Germany Agfa had a huge success with its popular "Ritsch-Ratsch" pocket cameras, which accepted . A whole series of these Agfamatic cameras was launched twice, the first series using and the second, . Of course these cameras had the red sensor point as button.
In the early 1980s Agfa produced its last film cameras. The new models of the Selectronic series were manufactured by . Agfa gave up camera production in 1983 after having been taken over by Bayer in 1981. All later Agfa film cameras were OEM products.
In the mid to late 1990's Agfa sold low end compact digital photography cameras under the Agfa ePhoto name, while their desktop scanners were called Agfascan. In 1997, it had acquired Dupont's printing and graphic arts film business. In 2001, they stopped production and ended support for both their consumer scanners and digital cameras.
In 2004, consumer film production ended. A management buy out of the consumer imaging division was made to form the company named AgfaPhoto, soon after AgfaPhoto files for bankruptcy. Some of the factories and machinery from Leverkusen were sold. AgfaPhoto is now a holding company and licences branding to other manufactures.
The AgfaPhoto brand is licensed by German photographic company which sells a modest line of AgfaPhoto Sensor compact digital cameras. Lupus Imaging is another licence holder of the name AgfaPhoto, they produced the Vista line of 35mm color film that are Made in EU, by . In about 2010, they have also distributed APX black and white films in 100 and 400 ISO in 35mm format that was from older master rolls. These were also used by as Rollei Retro 100. By August 2013 the older rolls were used up and they began marketing a new version of the film now with a "New Emulsion" badging and marked Made in EU.
Currently (2012), Agfa-Gevaert (Belgium) is still producing industrial film for the medical, semiconductor and graphic press industry. A couple of companies like Maco using the brand and using the brand continued production on some of the film and paper products. In Japan, has licensed the AgfaPhoto brand for Vista print and CT Precisa slide film. The films are sold and manufactured in Japan.
Large roll-film cameras
- (8x14 cm/3¼x5½ inch on 122 film; Agfa G6 size)
- (6.5x11 cm on 116 film; also in sizes for plates and 120 film)
120 film cameras
620 & 616 film cameras
(Agfa/Ansco designations PB20 & PD16)
127 film cameras
35mm film cameras
Fixed lens (viewfinder)
Fixed lens, half-frame
Rangefinder, fixed lens
Rangefinder, interchangeable lens
Rapid film cameras
126 film cameras
110 film cameras
The series 1000/2000/... accepted .
The series 508/1008/... accepted .
The sophisticated models had a special hot shoe for the Agfamatic Lux flashes.
- StudioCam (1995)
- ePhoto 1280 (1997 0.7 )
- ePhoto 1680 (1998 1.2 )
- ePhoto 307 (1997)
- ePhoto 780c
- ePhoto CL18 (2000, 0.3 mp)
- ePhoto CL20
- ePhoto CL30 (1999, 0.9 mp)
- ePhoto CL30 Clik! (1999, 0.9 mp)
- ePhoto CL34 (2001, 1.3 MP, Coach processor)
- ePhoto CL45 (2001; 0.7 mp)
- ePhoto CL50 (1999 1.2 mp)
- ePhoto Smile (0.3 mp)
- . Advertisement in February 1930 (p.A20).
- . Advertisement in January 1934.
- - New York Times, Aug 7, 1997.
- - USA Today, Aug 17, 2004.
- - Sydney Morning Herald, May 30, 2005