Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

By Bob Janes

In the past, I’ve tended to review some high-end 110 cameras. The release of Lomography’s recent 110 camera was a timely reminder that some quite decent ‘Instamatic’-style cameras were also produced back in the day.

In the late 70’s our local camera shop had a sale on Agfa 110 cameras. My father was impressed enough with the design to buy one for himself and one for me. Mine suffered from teenage misuse, but Dad’s was cosseted more. In going through some of his old stuff I came across it…

The Camera

Kodak called their cartridge cameras ‘Instamatics’. Agfa, with an uncharacteristic lack of imagination, chose ‘Agfamatic’.

Agfamatic 4008 Tele Pocket

This particular camera, the Agfamatic 4008, was a mid-range model. It featured automatic exposure, and tele and normal lenses, both with scale focusing. The lens was not super-fast, but the design and attention to detail are quite impressive.

A look around the Agfamatic 4008

The top of the camera features a flip-flash socket, a focus slider, a cable release attachment, a big orange ‘Sensor’ shutter release, and a selector that selects the normal or tele lenses.

Camera top. The orange overlay on the focus scale is non-standard (one of my father’s many camera modifications)

The right-hand end of the camera features a tripod bush in a plastic plate.

The underneath has a catch that allows the tripod plate to be removed, a switch that allows the camera to open for use, and a bit of grip on the end bit of chromed plastic that allows you to slide off the battery cover.

The back of the Agfamatic 4008 just has the viewfinder aperture, the window to view the frame counter on the back of the film cartridge and the sliding release for the film door.

Opening the Agfamatic 4008

On operating the open switch on the base of the camera the camera zips open. Well, it did 45 years back, now it takes a more leisurely pace, inviting you to just help it on its way. The open-close action winds the film and cocks the shutter. Sliding the open switch back with the camera open means that the next time you close the camera, it will lock at the smaller, pocketable size.

Apparently, the noise of the body-slide wind-on led to this type of camera being called ‘Rich-Ratch’ in Germany…

Operation of the ‘Tele’ switch on top of the Agfamatic 4008 switches between a ‘normal’ focal length lens located behind the shutter, and a telephoto one in front of it. As well as switching the taking lens, the optics in the viewfinder also switch.

Normal and Tele settings.

The Agfamatic 4008 lens is not fast (it doesn’t advertise its speed but it is supposed to be something around f/6.3), but works reasonably well with the 1/250-30 second shutter speed range. There is no indicator of a variable aperture, I suspect that the positioning of the shutter in front of the ‘normal’ lens and behind the tele lens may have led to them deciding that this was a ‘wide open only’ camera.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder is quite simple, with bright lines and parallax marks. If the exposure is going to be longer than 1/30 a red light shines in the side of the viewfinder when the ‘Sensor’ button is half-pressed.

Flash

The ‘Flip flash’ connector might seem a little archaic, but the idea of the device was quite good. Flip-flashes had 10 flash bulbs facing forwards on a plastic panel, with a connector on each end. Each shot would fire one of the bulbs from the upper part of the plate (avoiding red-eye), when those were finished you turned it over and it went through the other 5.

There were also electronic flash units that could fit in the same socket. The Agfamatic Pocket had a flash made for the series with a chord that plugged into the socket and a flashgun that could be slid into the right-hand end of the camera in replacement for the plate with the tripod bush.

Batteries

The batteries hide behind the smaller chrome plastic panel on the front of the camera. They should be px625s but Zinc-air 675 batteries fit and will power the camera.

In practice

The Agfamatic 4008 is quite small when closed and isn’t a lot bigger open  – it just isn’t competing for any ‘smallest camera’ titles. You don’t get an indication of the focus distance in the viewfinder, but you do get that warning light if the slow-ish lens is going to result in camera shake.

You get no control over exposure, but at these focal lengths and apertures defocus isn’t much of an option.

The key thing for any point-and-shoot camera is what the results turn out like.

The Agfamatic 4008 Pocket Tele is a bit of a curate’s egg… In general, shots are quite well exposed. Those taken with the normal lens are nice and sharp.

Those with the tele lens, less so.

Pictures

I was reasonably impressed at the level of detail coming from a modest lens projecting onto such a small negative…
The same steps taken with the ‘Tele’ lens.
…while this is a blow-up of the central part of a negative taken from the same spot and with the same focus settings with the normal lens (so from an even smaller negative area).
Creative flare effects anyone?

Summing up the Agfamatics

The Agfamatic Pocket series exhibits some nice design touches. The most basic models (lower numbers) don’t feature automatic exposure (‘Sensor’ refers to the broad shutter release pad, rather than sensing light).  I think automatic exposure comes in at the ‘4000’ level. That one of my lenses is ‘soft’ could be down to my particular 45-year-old camera, although I’ve seen a similar comment elsewhere on the internet with regard to the Tele lens of the 4008.

However, the normal lens is fine and on this sort of camera, a telephoto is probably a bit of a gimmick. If you fancy a play with a P&S-style 110 camera and can’t afford a new Lomomatic 110, a 4000 or 4008 (if kept on the wider setting) may tempt you. Be warned that the push-pull wind-on does not tend to co-operate with re-used cartridges loaded with perforated 16 mm film, so you need to find a workaround that works for you or use the films available from Lomography (for which all 110 photographers are extremely grateful).

Agfa also did a 6000 series with the same clever design ethos, with a faster lens and with the focus scale visible in the viewfinder, but then you are getting out of the P&S ethos and closer to Canon 110ED/Minox 110s/Rollei A110/Pentax Auto 110 territory – cameras that really push the 110 cartridge to its limits.

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About The Author

By Bob Janes
Retired IT guy. Volunteer stem-cell courier. Interested in education, photography and local history. Lives in Greenwich, SE London, UK.
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Comments

Daniel Emerson on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Hi Bob,
Comprehensive rundown on the camera and I am amazed by the clarity of the shots. Interesting to see the enlargement from the standard lens clearer than the telephoto.
I hope one day Lomo gets around to making 126 film for the Instamatic.
Regards
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

In general the quality of German plastic cameras is really impressive - made to a budget of course, but using it well. I note there are re-loading options for instamatics - I've also submitted something here for reloading 110.

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James on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

I have a AGFA Agfamatic 2000 I am just about to load with some Lomography 110 in the next few days. Mine appears to have been used very little - everything moves smooth. Can't wait to see what I get from it - some of the b/w snaps you took have a very "vintage" look to them, even if it wasn't from 100 film. I shall soon see how my 2000 performs, in both colour and b/w!.
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Would be very interested to hear how the 2000 holds up!

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Gary Smith on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

I see from looking in my copy of the 12th edition of McKeown's that there were 25 versions on the Agfamatic! This doesn't count the AgfaEasy, Mini, Optima Pocket, Snapper, Sport, Star, Tramp or Traveller which share a similar form factor. With 25 pages of cameras in McKeown's, Agfa was making quite a lot of cameras but quit the business before having to compete against cell phones. Nice article Bob!
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

I used to like their slide film too - many thanks for your kind words...

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John Furlong on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Thanks for this Bob. The images are very impressive and I've been very interested in your whole series of posts on 110, to the extent that they've sent me off down a 110 collecting 'rabbit hole' - with particular interest in the Agfamatic / Optima / 901 series. The 5000 / 6000 range offer such delights as a self-timer, an external focusing dial on the top of the camera (in addition to the 4 zone focus 'icons' in the viewfinder) and an in-built macro lens. I've also come across a non-OEM underwater housing for the Optima 6000 and its companion flash gun. The housing is aptly named 'GUPPY'... The 901s offer a motor drive facility, so the 'ritsch-ratch' no longer can be heard. I think Afga were trying to emulate the sound on the Minox 'spy camera' range with this effect.
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Agfa had lots of interesting 'add-ons' for these cameras - I found a dedicated close up attachment (highly modified by my father) in the same drawer as the 4008...

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Richard Arbib on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Interesting camera and review and good photos. I recently purchased a Minox 110S on eBay. It had many great features, but unfortunately, the shutter wouldn't work. I returned it and got a refund. But I am considering purchasing a new Lomomatic 110.
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

The Minox is a nice camera, but it doesn't give the impression of robustness..

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Tony Warren on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Thanks for the interesting article Bob. It points up for me the difference between the German and Japanese approach at the time. The design of the Agfa here is streets ahead of the rather clunky design of my appreciably larger Minolta 460Tx which has a very similar spec apart from auto exposure but optically the Minolta knocks it into a cocked hat. The Rokkors are both very capable lenses. Might just be the age thing of course and the ritch, ratch mechanism might put some stress on the body and upset the very fine tolerances. I doubt it though. Agfa's engineering was top notch.
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

I've never got my hands on a Minolta 110, despite usig lots of their 35mm, APS and '16' cameras. The 110 SLRs do intrigue me, but I've never found one at the right price.

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Bradley Newman on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 16/05/2024

This reminds me of the Minolta 16 I played with as a kid. It was my grandfather's and is either buried deep in a SoCal landfill, or is similarly buried in the bedroom closet of my childhood home still occupied by my elderly parents. I don't ever remember putting film through it. But, I loved the clickety-clack of opening and closing the thing.
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 16/05/2024

The old collapse-down 16 that I had passed to me had a viewfinder lens that was rather horribly cloudy (looked like the plastic had been attacked by a solvent), but it worked quite well withe the lens removed. That original camera had individual shutter speed and sperture controls, but there were some intresting variants.

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Bradley Newman replied:

Comment posted: 16/05/2024

Oddly, what's most memorable about mine was the horrendous smell of the leather case it sat in.

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Paul Quellin on Agfamatic Pocket 4008 – a P&S of Yesteryear

Comment posted: 16/05/2024

Interesting and detailed article Bob. Having read a few about 110 now, this one made me think I have to try one at some point. This does look a nicely made machine. Thanks for a good read.
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Bob Janes replied:

Comment posted: 16/05/2024

There are some rather intersting 110 cameras out there - although I stress you do have to embrace grain a bit :-)

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