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During my first year at the High School of Art & Design, they made us sample a few months of each course of study offered at the school. Despite the fact I was accepted on the basis of my sculpture portfolio (an EJ Korvettes shopping bag filled with clay heads), I had a go at technical illustration (nope), fine-art painting (nope), graphic design (nope), fashion design (double nope), and photography (Hmmmmmm...). Before long it was bye-bye clay heads, hello Tri-X.
The camera I used that year was an Agfa Isoflash-Rapid, a simple point-and-shoot camera that despite the 'Made in Germany' stamped along the bottom of the camera's f/8.2 Isinar Lens (Hoo-hah!), was as basic as plastic point-and-shoot cameras get. Introduced sometime around 1966, the Isoflash-Rapid made use of a proprietary, 35mm-based, dual-cartridge imaging system that captured 24x24 mm images while transporting the film from one canister to another. While somewhat goofy, the rational for the system was that if you accidentally opened the film door you'd only fog the exposed frame, since the previous and following frame were safely tucked away in one of the 2 canisters. Pretty slick, huh?
The Isoflash Rapid had 2 shutter speeds - 'Sunny' (1/80-second) and 'Shady/Cloudy (1/40-second) and made use of flashbulbs (AG-1 Clear bulbs for Agfapan black & white film and AG-1 Blue for Agfacolor negative and Agfachrome slide film) when shooting indoors. The small curved chrome flash reflector that popped up from the camera's top-plate also prevented singed eyebrows. An update of the camera - the Agfa Isoflash Rapid 'C' - was introduced when flashcubes were introduced to the marketplace.
And with the exception of a small battery tucked behind the camera's baseplate that triggered the flashbulb, the camera was purely mechanical.
As a photo major at 'A&D' we were taught the basics of picture-taking using 4x5" Orbit monorail cameras along with a few classic Deardorfs. It would be a full year before we were allowed to shoot assignments with 35mm cameras, and when we did I purchased a Minolta SR3, which was the poor man's SRT-101, which my friend-to-this-day Sharon Newborn owned. I soon switched to a black enamal Pentax H3V, which was a poor man's Pentax Spotmatic, which despite it's name had an averaging meter, not a spot meter.
By the time I went pro, I shot on a succession of Nikon FMs, FM2s, and F3s, a tough-as-nails camera that was produced for 26 years. My last film assignment (August, 2001) was shot using a Nikon N90, which now sits on a shelf alongside my Agfa Isoflash Rapid. Since then I've used a number of digital cameras - mostly Nikons and Canons - but every now and then I dust off these relics of my past and marvel about how far we've come in such a short time.
Tell us about your first camera.