I’ve been on a 35mm SLR jag for the last couple of years, in case the number of SLR reviews I’ve written here hasn’t caught your notice. I’ve discovered that I’m an SLR guy through and through. But that’s led me away from my first photographic love, which is seeing what kind of images a simple camera can make.
That’s led me to look for old boxes and folders lately. To make it interesting, I’ve narrowed my searching to cameras that take 120 film. Given how many such cameras take 620 film, this shrinks the field considerably.
I came upon an eBay listing for this Ansco Viking Readyset. Agfa made these in Munich for Ansco from 1952 to 1959. I certainly overpaid, at $45 shipped, but at least this example is nearly in mint condition. Most of these that I’ve seen over the years have been rough.
This Viking Readyset features an f/11 Agfa Isomar lens, which I’m betting is a single-element design. It offers two aperture settings, “Bright,” the full f/11, and “Hazy,” which might be f/8. An old ad I found for this camera says that the shutter operates at 1/40 sec.
The camera offers two focus zones, 5 to 10 feet and 10 feet to infinity. The viewfinder is a simple pop-up “sports” type, on the same side of the body as the winder. The body is metal with a coating that feels like it’s made of plastic. There’s a tripod mount on the faceplate, a nice touch. The camera also features a flash sync port. The Viking Readyset makes 8 6×9-cm images on a roll of 120.
Interestingly, the Readyset was the least of a three-model line of Viking cameras. The top-line Viking featured an f/4.5 lens; the next one down an f/6.3 lens. Both were set in a 1/200 sec. shutter. The Viking cameras cost $48.65, $34.95, and $19.95, respectively, when new. In comparison, an Ansco box camera could be had for as little as $4.95.
This camera looks to need no reconditioning, although to be safe I will check for pinholes in the bellows and repair any I find. I’ll also gently clean the lens with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Look for photos from this camera and a full review probably later this spring, or in the early summer.