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The camera and case are in good cosmetic and working condition. The Kodak Pony 35mm selling for $29.75 and the Argus A-4 selling for $32.50, both made in the United States, were similar to this German made Ansco Memar.It is a nice, basic, yet serious, starter camera that is actually considerably better than many of the Instamatics of the 1960s and 1970s or the 35mm fixed focus cameras of the 1980s and beyond that were to follow. (1959) The original Agfa Optima, introduced in 1959, is the world's first camera with automatic exposure selecting both the aperture and shutter speed. The light meter is made of Selenium, an element which is sensitive to light.
There is a switch on the bottom - front that you switch to the A (automatic) or the flash setting.Behind the focus ring is the shutter speed selection ring.The aperture ring is behind that, closest to the camera. You set the shutter speed and aperture by estimation or a separate light meter.Film advance is with a lever, something fairly advanced for this level of camera at the time.The film advance cocks the shutter and also increases the exposure count. There is also a cold flash shoe and a socket for a flash.A follow up entilted Agfa Optima: Pop Photography 1959 Articles to the original discussion above has links to two November 1959 Popular Photography articles.
The first What's New article describes the lens as a 39mm Apotar f3.9.
The What's New article lists the price of the original Optima as $79.95 which is nearly equal to $600 in 2009 dollars.
The original Optima has zone focusing consisting of only three zones shown by icons with two people, three people and a mountain.
The "New Ansco 35mm Memar" sold in the 1955 Sears Camera Catalog (page 10) for $39.50. The leather eveready case was an additional $6.95 and the Ansco Flash (page 40) $7.95.
Sears advertised the Memar as "simplicity and quality at a low cost." It is a simple, well built camera, with sufficient controls to take some serious photos.
The shutter is a Compur with continuously variable speeds from 1/30 to 1/250 second. "[A]s the photoelectric cell constantly monitors scene brightness, it feeds current to a mechanical system which alters the position of a cam. is depressed before each shot, it releases tension on a feller arm, thus allowing spring-loaded aperture and shutter-speed controls to move until halted by the cam, thus setting correct exposure and placing a green dot in view-finder to signify sufficient light." The shutter speed stays at 1/250 until the aperture goes to its maximum at f3.9.