I was in Macau in December of that year to take in the opening of the Venetian casino resort. There was a lot of hum about it 3 years back, now its just old hat with the newer developments on the Cotai like the City of Dreams, but I’ve remained fond of it in some way. It was there that I took a new friend out for a spin in Taipan Village just down the road from the Venetian – the Agfa Isola II.
I had junked both the Holga and the WOCCA by then, and game to try something new when she caught my eye on ebay. The Isola was one of a series of 120n rollfilm viewfinder cameras that Agfa produced from 1955 to 1959, along with the Click and the Clack (the Germans had a strange sense of humour in the post war years) and the Isoly. It was an affordable buy (more expensive than any black plastic brick passing itself off as a “camera”, but worth every dollar and more) and I’ve never regretted it.
This is the first set of photos I ever took with the Isola, and when I saw them, they blew me away. It was a Holga on f.king steroids. The mechanism for photo taking was the same – frame, adjust for the parallax error, release the shutter and pray – but the photos were anything but.
It was lightweight, yet made of durable plastic with alloy, with additional features like a simple winder to advance the film and prevent double exposures (one up on the Holga), and a collapsible lens system that you extended and locked into place before the shutter could be engaged (in plain speak that meant the lens was stuck on the end of a plastic tube that you had to push out and lock in before you could take a photo.) It was a wonderful viewfinder, couldn’t have asked for anything more and the lens, what a lens it was – it was sharp – you could almost cut yourself on it. This camera made the Holga look like a piece of China made rubbish (which sad to say is closer to the truth than most people will care to admit.)
~ ANDERS, 2011