Zeiss Ikonta – A 1950’s Folder

In my collection there are a few Zeiss Ikontas, a folder camera from the 1950’s.  Mine came from internet auctions and varied in shape upon arrival. Since it is an all mechanic camera the Pronto shutters often need a going through with cleaning of parts in alcohol and perhaps some careful lubrication. Specially the longer times of 1/10 s and 1 s are a bit wobbly. And the self timer usually sticks somewhere. Armed with very small screwdrivers and pliers and pincettes most of the problems can be cured. If the lenses need cleaning I have also made a special tool to get a good grip on the inner lens element and shutter assembly.

Zeiss Ikonta 523/16 (ser# V32977).

A shutter can be overhauled in this way in a couple of hours of joyful spare time.  Or in about one hour if in a rush, but where is the fun in that?

The result is rewarding with the image on a large square of 6×6 cm. While the Novar-Anastigmatic lenses are not known to be as sharp as Zeiss’ Tessar design they come close and an Ikonta is certainly no slouch. With correct handling it can give excellent pictures. Of course, all responsibility fall on the photographer, since everything is manual: Focus distance, aperture and shutter speed. On the other hand, those are the only settings to worry about. No menus, no batteries, it just works!

Ikonta with Fuji ACROS 100 and developed in HC-110.

There is no point in complaining about the lens, it delivers as good today as it did 60 years ago. It really is that old. Fascinating. But people have made lenses for astronomy long before the camera was invented so I shouldn’t be surprised really!

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