Silette is a name used by the German maker Agfa from 1953 to 1974 to designate successive generations of 35mm fixed-lens viewfinder cameras. The corresponding rangefinder models were called Super Silette. There was also an interchangeable lens rangefinder model called the Ambi Silette, which is discussed elsewhere. The first models were sold in the USA under the name Ansco Memar and Super Memar, and some of later ones were sold under the name Agfa Solina.

Silette models[]

The typing is as to McKeown's.[1]

The first generation[]

The first generation of Silette models was produced from 1953 to the early 1960s.

The original Silette appeared in 1953 and was a simple yet well built 35mm camera with a simple viewfinder, a leaf shutter, a lever wind advance and an accessory shoe. The range of shutters went from the simple Pronto (1/25-1/200) to the better Compur Rapid or Synchro Compur (1/500), with the Prontor (1/300) in between. The lenses was either a three element Agfa Color Apotar 3.5/45mm or 2.8/45mm, or a four element Agfa Color Solinar 2.8/50mm. In the USA, it was known as the Ansco Memar.

The original Super Silette was the same body with a coupled rangefinder. The lens range comprised the usual Color Apotar 45/3.5 and 45/2.8 and Color Solinar 50/2.8, but the top of the line was represented by the Agfa Color Solagon 2/50mm six element lens. Today the original Super Silette with the Color Solagon on the Synchro Compur is considered the most desirable model of the Silette fixed lens family. In the USA, the original Super Silette was known as the Ansco Super Memar.

The Silette L, introduced in 1956, was based on the same body as the viewfinder Silette with an uncoupled selenium meter in the top plate. There were three successive types of meter, with a bigger or smaller setting knob, and a larger or smaller cover flap. The shutter and lens combinations were the same as above, except the cheaper Pronto.

The Silette SL, made from 1957, was based on the last variant of the Silette L, but the exposure meter was coupled to the aperture and speed settings. The lens was the Color Solinar 2.8/50mm and the shutter was the Prontor SLK to 1/300.

In 1958, the Silette LK was a cheaper variant of the SL, with an Agfa Color Apotar 2.8/45mm lens and a Pronto LK 15-250 shutter. Launched the same year, the Silette Automatic (named Silette SLE at the beginning) was a better evolution with a collimated viewfinder and the meter reading visible inside.

In 1958 the body of the basic Silette model was slightly modified, with an advance lever hidden in the top plate and a larger viewfinder. The cheaper models had a simple viewfinder and the better models had a collimated viewfinder, with a second window to illuminate the bright frame. The choice of lenses included the Agfa Agnar 3.5/45mm, Color Agnar 2.8/45mm, Color Apotar 2.8/45mm and Color Solinar 2.8/50mm. The shutters were the usual Pronto, Prontor and Compur Rapid, as well as the Vario B-25-50-200 on the cheapest model. Some of the simpler models were sold in the USA under the name Solina.

One variant of the 1958 basic Silette had a different elevated top plate that announced the style of the later models.

Prototypes of a Silette Stereo model have been mentioned.

The second generation[]

Some of the later models got a similar body like the fully automatic Optima, for example the Super Silette LK. Around 1970 the camera series got a more modern body and the red sensor point as release button. The Silette LK sensor cameras were late examples of cameras with selenium meter.

Notes and references[]

  1. McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). pp.33-35


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