The Agfa Memo, introduced in 1939, was an 35mm camera used the Ansco Memo film cartridge, first introduced in 1927.

The use of the Ansco film cartridge rather than the expected Agfa Karat film cartridge of 1936 (which seems to have been inspired by the original Ansco Memo unit) appears to have been done for a number of reasons:

  • The larger Ansco film cartridge held twice as much film as the Agfa (24 exposures instead of 12)
  • The camera, although labelled as the Agfa Memo, was designed and produced at the former Ansco factory in Binghamton, New York. (In 1928 Ansco had merged with Agfa and was thereafter known as the Agfa-Ansco Company).
  • The older Memo film cartridge was more likely to be encountered in an American photography store than the newer Karat film cartridge.
  • The use of the smaller Karat film cartridge, was still possible in the Agfa Memo as a result of clever engineering, though one needed to be careful to set then frame counter at 12 rather than at 24. The ability to also utilize the Karat film cartridge was a definite advantage in the European market. However, Agfa Karat cameras could not utilize the larger Memo film cartridge.

The first versions of the Agfa Memo used the by then standard 24x36mm image size, though a nearly identical half-frame (18x24mm) version was introduced in 1940. The Agfa Memo is a horizontal folding bed camera solidly constructed of pressed steel stampings. Film advance is by a sliding knob in a horizontal slot on the camera's back plate which activates a claw-based film-advance mechanism, another design idea taken from the original Ansco Memo camera of 1927. The manually reset 24 exposure frame indicator is similar to the Ansco Memo's, but is located next to the advance knob (which activates it) rather than on the front (where the Ansco Memo's is activated by the shutter release). A centrally located viewfinder is mounted on the top plate.

The Agfa Memo came equipped what some believe may be a Wollensak shutter[1] (due to the design similarity to their Alphax shutter). Three different anastigmat lenses were used: f/3.5, f/4.5, and f/5.6, all without focal lengths indicated, and all marked with the name "Agfa Memar" - though it is likely that these uncoated lenses were supplied by Wollensak. The lenses measure approximately 50mm in focal length.

The least expensive Agfa Memo was equipped with an f/5.6 lens stopped down to f/22 and focused to 3.5 feet. The manually cocked shutter has speeds of 1/25s, 1/50s, 1/100s, B, and T. These cameras were finished in a textured flat black paint.

The more expensive Agfa Memos equipped with f/4.5 and f/3.5 lenses, which also stopped down to f/22 and focused to 3.5 feet. The manually cocked shutter has speeds of 1/2s to 1/200s, B, and T. These cameras were finished in black Morocco leather and featured a nickel plated depth of field calculator to the right of the viewfinder. These cameras also featured nickel plated metal trim and a black accessory shoe to the left of the viewfinder.

Flash synchronization appear to be lacking in all models.

Production was halted when the US entered the second World War, as the US government seized all Agfa-Ansco assets as enemy property.


  1. [1] Rick Oleson's Agfa Memo entry on Flickr

Links Edit

Bibliography Edit

  • Kalton Lahue and Joseph Bailey, Glass, Brass, & Chrome - The American 35mm Miniature Camera, University of Oklahoma Press, 1972
  • Life Magazine (April 17, 1939) advertisement
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