Flipping the lens in an Agfa Clack for the #FrugalFilmProject, 02 September 2023

Flipping the lens in an Agfa Clack for the #FrugalFilmProject, 02 September 2023

Recently I picked up an Agfa Clack for 10€. This is now my third Clack, beginning with original Clack for the #FrugalFilmProject and the slightly damaged one that I bought to cannibalise but found I couldn't. 

I bought this one specifically because it had fungus in the lens, hence the cheap price, although otherwise it is in lovely condition. I wanted it for two reasons: to practise removing fungus from a lens since I have another couple of lenses that need cleaning, and I wanted to flip the lens of an Agfa Clack. Yes, I could have used my original Clack and flipped the lens in that one, but I love that Clack and didn't want to ruin it.

Flipping the lens in a camera can give some lovely effects, where the centre of the frame remains reasonably sharp but the edges become quite blurred. The most well-known example is reversing the front element of a Helios lens, which apparently gives a lovely swirly bokeh effect around the edges of the frame. 

I'm ertainly not expecting anything like that with the Clack, and reversing the single lens on the Clack is a much simpler job than reversing the front lens of a multi element compound lens like the Helios. So I removed the lens on the Clack (not as easy as everyone made it seem), cleaned up the fungus (hopefully) and ... flipped it.

Below are the steps I took to remove the lens from the Agfa Clack. The lens and shutter mechanism is held together by a metal ring which fits around the front of the lens housing. Remove this and the front of the housing twists off, leaving the lens exposed below. 

If you look at the lens, the convex part faces outwards, this is the bit that needs flipping. The lens mount is held onto the shutter assembly with a single screw. Remove this and the mount can be popped out.

The lens is held in place by a metal ring with three pins. These need to be gently prised up and once freed the lens will just fall out. Be careful that the pins are totally straight as they can be a pain to pop back in to reassemble the lens.

The lens can then be removed and in my case the first thing to do was soak it in a solution of hydrogen peroxide to kill the fungusand then give it a gentle clean. Be careful not to scratch the lens, of course. Once cleaned, pop the lens back into the mounting ring, but this time make sure that the concave side is facing outwards.

Replace the now reversed lens back into the lens mount and press the three pins back into place. The lens can now be reassembled, which is simply a case of screwing the lens mount back into place, clipping the lens housing onto the shutter assembly and replacing the mounting ring. You now have an Agfa with a flipped lens.

So all being well, my next outing for the #FrugalFilmProject will be with the flipped lens Clack and Fomapan Retro.

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