These photos were taken on the first roll of film taken by a complete newbie to film photography, my daughter-in-law Amy, on her first visit to Australia in July 2019, when she stayed with us in Perth for a few days, and then went on to Sydney.

I’m in my late 70’s now, but I started taking photos in the 1940s as soon as I could hold my dad’s Brownie Reflex the right way up. Photography, combining physics chemistry and art, was good for me, and got me out and about on my bike in the English countryside. Later, I managed to adapt to colour photography and then digital, and readers of my generation will understand that was not without pain.

After seventy years I have a large collection of books and cameras. Amy was keen to try film photography, so the night before she left, I looked at some cameras I’d recently tried to sell and picked out one I didn’t mind parting with, that seemed to be in good working condition, with a good leather ever-ready case. It was a fairly humble Agfa Optima 1A and its Agfa Color-Agnar 45mm f/2.8.

The next morning, off we went to a well-known camera shop in Leederville, where upstairs, we found several films displayed, some with names unknown to me, but to my relief, there was Kodak Gold 200, and ILFORD FP4 PLUS — ILFORD FP was a favourite film of mine from the 1950-60s, developed in over-diluted Promicrol! Strangely, the FP4 PLUS was more expensive than the Kodak Gold, but I bought a roll of each.

A few days later Amy emailed back her first results from Sydney, which were somewhat to my surprise. Firstly, the processing had been rather haphazard as there were scratches and tramlines, and much more grain than I would have expected from ILFORD FP4 PLUS.

But I was impressed with the definition on some of the shots from this non-pedigreed old Agfa; I particularly like the close photo of Sydney Harbour Bridge. And Amy had done rather well handling the quirky old camera, focusing her shots and composing them through a pokey viewfinder!

~ John

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About the author

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John Ellis

An old-school photography enthusiast who grew up in Manchester England in the 1940s and 50s. Strictly an amateur, but during fifteen years living and working in Zambia I did some local paid wedding, school and portrait photography. I was involved with camera...


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  1. Very nice results indeed 🙂
    “Scratches and tramlines” shouldn’t happen at any decent process lab. I’d look closely at the Agfa to see if its happening in-camera. If she can find a junk roll of film, have her run it through the camera, then examine the (un-processed) film in daylight to look for damage. (Needless to say, she won’t be getting any pics from THAT roll.) If its all good, find another process lab!!

  2. Great article John. My first encounter with analog photography was with the Agfa Stilette Camera of my grandfather. I like shooting with it to this day even though the camera has lots of limitations.

    Greetings from Germany