A8 Agfa Ansco Cadet Special Box Camera

One of the reasons I like antique shops is the opportunity for interesting and sometimes amusing photos. But there is a serious intent to these visits . . . Melisa looks for things she is interested in, and I look for things I am interested in. The first time I bought anything, I got burned . . . I’ve now learned to check online for a rough idea as to the worth of what interest me. 

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

The above is a pre-WW-II box camera manufactured in Binghamton, NY.  Some might notice the similarity to Kodak’s Little Browne box camera. 

I did not find a lot of information regarding this camera. A few obscure places reference the Cadet Special as being manufactured after the merger in 1928 of the Ansco company and the US division of the German company Agfa. For about 15 years, cameras originating from both Agfa in Germany and Ansco in the US were branded with the dual name Agfa Ansco.

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

I found photos of this little camera (length = 4 in, width = 2.75, height = 3.5 in) but not a specific write-up. I did find a few posts for a later model, the Agfa B-2 Cadet, HERE and HERE, and even a photo taken with the B-2 HERE. All of the photos in this post are my own camera, taken by me.

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

As far as I can tell, everything on this little camera works, so presuming I would buy the appropriate film, I should be able to use the camera to take film photographs. 

The operation is pretty simple; the lens is fixed, not much more than a pinhole camera. The shutter is visible in the above photo right below the landscape viewfinder, and it consists of a lever that, when pressed, will trigger the shutter at either 1/30th or 1/60th of a second, depending where you read. Later cameras had the equivalent of manual shutter (open it for as long as you want), but this camera does not.

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special

The film is loaded by opening the back, and pulling out the film carrier, which consists of the entire guts of the box camera. You lift the clip at the top rear of the camera, and the back panel swings open. You then pull on the manual film winder knob to unlock the film carrier, and slide the carrier out. In that regard, it’s similar to the operation of the Little Brownie.

The little glass windows visible on the top and side of the camera are the viewfinders. One would hold the camera against the body, and look down to frame the photo. Orient the camera one way for portrait orientation, and turn the camera 90 degrees for landscape shots. Because you had to manually trigger the shutter, and because the travel of the lever is fairly long, I imagine it would behoove the intrepid photographer to wedge the camera securely against the body to minimize movement when triggering the shutter. 

These are the views through both viewfinders . . . 

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special Top Viewfinder (portrait)

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special
Top Viewfinder (portrait)

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special Side Viewfinder (landscape)

Agfa Ansco Cadet Special
Side Viewfinder (landscape)

There are no neck straps or cases that I’ve seen either in the literature or in any of the stores. You would have to carry this camera holding it in your hand. There is a leather strap atop the camera, but I can’t get my finger under it, so I’m not sure of its purpose other than decorative. I think this camera ran me something like $25. Depending where you look online, and how patient you are, you might find it for a little less. Based on the shape it’s in, I thought the cost for this one was reasonable.

I own two other Agfa Ansco cameras of later vintages, and I’ll cover those in separate posts. Meanwhile, all I have to say is . . . we’ve come a long way.

There is a section at SmugMug that will have individual galleries for each camera I showcase. The gallery for this camera is HERE 

Side note . . . the fabric I used for the backdrop has been hanging for nearly 6 months, and while I was hoping they would lessen, the wrinkles are still not out. I was too lazy to do anything about it, so you get to enjoy the creases. I’ll try and do better for the next shoot.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Find Your Own Way

Find Your Own Way

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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21 Responses to A8 Agfa Ansco Cadet Special Box Camera

  1. gpcox says:

    Oh my, remember these?!:)


    • disperser says:

      hmm . . . don’t know what happened to my earlier reply.

      Anyway, not really. My first camera was a Kodak Retina Reflex camera (I’ll be doing a post soon), but I was in my late teens by then. Before that I showed no interest in anything related to photography.


  2. Mridubala says:

    I am seeing them for the first time!
    So thanks, it was a new information!
    If U can, plz drop at : *I frown on self-promotion*


  3. colonialist says:

    Those box cameras were remarkably good. Results from a Brownie Box camera held nice and steady had amazing clarity and detail.
    Amazing to still have the box of the box! :)


    • disperser says:

      Never actually shot one, and am debating if I want to play with it.

      I did come across the practice of using a modern camera to take a photo through the viewfinder of these cameras (or any old camera), sort of like I did in the post, but a little better done and tighter.

      I’m slowly collecting cameras that strikes my fancy, and plan to maybe repair a few of them, as many do not look as good as this one . . . and are sans-box.


  4. oneowner says:

    I read an article a while back on how to use 120 film in a camera like this. It was not an easy application and you needed the original reels (or spools) for the camera, but I think it is possible. I’ve seen photos from the Agfa and Ansco cameras of this period and they were remarkably clear, though not as sharp as present day cameras. This one is in excellent shape.


    • disperser says:

      Yeah, I’ve been reading as well how to adopt modern film to these old boxes. Too many things on my plate right now, but I was thinking of using sometime in the future . . .

      . . . the future . . . when all things seem possible, there’s time for everything, and every task appears easy.


  5. Rachael says:

    Nice! It would be fun to take a roll of shots with a simple camera like this. It would all be in the composition. Took a couple of peeks at your smugmug gallery – looking good. Annoyingly, as I am using the WP app, when I leave smugmug I am taken back to my blog and have to start all over again going to your home page etc. it will be better from my desktop.


    • disperser says:

      Don’t know how your phone works, but mine multitasks, so if I link away, I can get back to the originating point exactly where I left off. I thought all phones did that, but I don’t know for sure.

      As for the SmugMug . . . it’s only worth going there if you are on a larger screen, otherwise it’s both difficult to look at photos in the original resolution, and it’s slower because it has to download large amounts of data.


  6. Rachael says:

    Argh – unsung = using. Yet again I wish there were an edit button for comments.

    disperser edit: I occasionally fix comments if I see an obvious error. And, I understand not having that feature; I don’t particularly want others to have editing privileges on my blog.


  7. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the information! I was just given this camera as a gift and I honestly don’t know how to operate it properly but I was playing around and I wanted to add a bit of info. I think I’m able to hold the shutter open as long as I want by first pulling up the piece on the top the camera, hitting the shutter lever and then pushing the top lever (for lack of a better word) back down in. Pulling that lever up and then hitting the shutter lever causes the shutter to stay open and then closes it when you push it back in. Please correct me if I’m mistaken but I wanted to add this as an accidentally discovered piece of information. Best wishes.


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