It was love at first sight, so I bid too much and won an Agfa CLACK 120 film 6X9 format box camera. The shutter wasn’t working exactly right, but this camera is so basic that it’s simple to take apart and fix. The fact that it uses 120 film is a huge advantage over many other box cameras (mostly Kodak) that often have fiddly 620 film spools that require either re-spooling or purchasing a re-spooled film from a limited selection of stocks at a premium— like double the price or more.

The CLACK is a German-made, metal-bodied box camera from the late 1950s to mid-60s with a meniscus lens and three aperture settings, one with a built in close-up lens setting. Some also have a built in yellow filter option, but mine doesn’t. The shutter has one speed of about 50, as well as a bulb setting for slow exposures. Shooting 50 speed Ilford PanF Plus, I used a tripod and remote cable release in every shot—and mostly shot on bulb.

The 120 film advances along a convex back and the horizontal curvature serves to keep the outer edges in better focus. You use a typical red window to see the number when a frame is ready; there is no double exposure protection. The viewfinder is eye level and a decent approximation of what you get, although keep in mind there is no parallax correction—so things you think are centered might not be.

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, now, but I took this camera out around my neighboring adopted hometown city of Durham, where I raised a family once. Most shots are at the Eno River State Park there, but two are downtown.

I thoroughly enjoyed shooting this quirky camera, and the results to me are wonderfully spooky—which I could never accomplish with a ‘real’ camera. I had my film processed and scanned at The Darkroom in California.

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