The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The History of the Pentacon Six

British copies of the Reflex-Korelle: The Agiflex

Dates: 1946/47-1950 (?)

The Agiflex I of 1948
During the Second World War, the British firm Aeronautical and General Instruments, or AGI, of Croydon had produced for the Air Force and the Navy reconnaissance cameras based on the German Reflex Korelle  (Shriver, p 86).  After the war, reportedly in 1946, they produced a version of this for the general public: the Agiflex.  This turned out to be cosmetically and even mechanically very similar to the Reflex-Korelle, but much heavier and much less reliable.


This produced 6×6 (2¼" square) SLR, 12 exposures with 120 film.  Like the Reflex-Korelle, the Agiflex had a left-hand film-advance lever and a rotating shutter speed dial providing speeds of 1/25 1/50 1/100 1/200 1/500 and B.  The mirror was raised by finger pressure and dropped back down when the finger was taken off the lever (thus achieving an “instant-return mirror”!).  It had a folding waist-level finder, the sides of which were made of metal.  There was a waist-level finder with magnifier and a “sports finder” (direct vision finder).  The standard lens was an f/3.5 80mm “Agilux” stopping down to f/32 in a small three-pronged bayonet mount.  Flash synchronisation was provided by two contact pins.

“Amateur Photographer” reviewed the camera on 26th November 1947 and described it as “a high-grade single-lens reflex, of all-British manufacture” (p 821).  However, their test of the shutter speed showed results that were anything but “high-grade”:
Speed marked
Actual effective exposure
1/244 mean
1/87   " 
1/49   " 
1/31   " 
1/19   " 

No wonder they wrote, “we should have preferred to see the dial marked 1/250, 1/100, 1/50, 1/30, 1/20” (p 822).  Worse, “at the top speed the exposure given varies from 1/213 at the right-hand edge of the picture to 1/313 at the left-hand edge, the value at the centre being as given in the above table”.  However, they generously did not consider this to be a serious fault, stating “especially as it can be put right by a trifle of shading when printing”. !!

They reported the price as being £42 10s 0d plus £13 16s 6d purchase tax, making a total of £56 6s 3d (approximately £56.31 in decimal currency).  The “ever-ready case” was an additional £2 5s 6d plus £1 17s tax, according to the same article.  At a time when a good steady wage in England was about £7 per week, these were considerable sums of money.  (The 1970 SLR Yearbook gives the same price but slightly different calculations of the Purchase Tax.  It is probably fair to assume that the writer of the 1947 article was more aware of the tax rates applying at that time.)

Advertisement from the British Journal Almanac, 1948
Click on the image to see a larger version.
[C447_37A...jpg] Top view of the Agiflex I, showing the purportedly-available shutter speeds.

At the time it was not possible to import foreign cameras into England, except in extremely restricted circumstances and only with a special government permit.  Thus, in spite of the shortcomings of the Agiflex and its high price, it was successful within the UK.

Review of the Agiflex I
from the British Journal Almanac, 1948
Click on the image to see a larger version.

To go to the Bibliography, click here.

To go on to the next section, click below.
11 The Agiflex II

To go to the beginning of the history section, click here.

To go to introduction to the cameras, click here.

To choose other options, click below.

© TRA August 2010