Archive for November, 2017

Zeiss-a-licious Super Ikonta

While back I wrote about my Mamiya 6 folding rangefinder camera. I love folders and I also have owned and used the amazing, Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta cameras. The Zeiss camera has one specific advantage really over the Mamiya and it is the overall build quality. These old Zeiss cameras are just so finely crafted and the attention to detail is at a Bentley level. Honestly as a shooter I prefer the little Mamiya 6, but as a classic folder the Zeiss is just a masterpiece of precision and quality. The camera feels like it was fashioned from a solid block of metal.

There were a great many versions of the Super Ikonta Cameras and I can only really chat up a few I have had over the years. My favorites remain the 6×6 models and preferably later units with coupled shutter release and advance. They also had some awesome 6×9 cameras. Those were a bit bulky but offered a 2×3 format (same as 35mm) on a bout the largest piece of medium format film outside of extra wide format camera.

The 6×6 cameras are more compact and do not require the user to change the camera position to compose vertically. This to me makes the handling characteristics much better. My Super Ikonta is featured in this review and it was a fairly late-model with film advance auto stop and shutter lockout for double exposure prevention. It is difficult to find these 50-70 year cameras with a clear and crisp viewfinder. I am fortunate to have found one.

These cameras are well-known for being a bit persnickety and mine was no exception. But the image quality is quite good and appreciating the camera’s quality feel never gets old. For those looking to use a folding medium format camera I would stick with the later models as they offer the Zeiss T lens coatings that are among the world’s best. This helps increase contrast, saturate color, and minimize lens flare.

The 2.8/80mm Tessar lens found on many examples of these cameras is an outstanding lens. The Tessar design is old but effective. It is very crisp and sharp although Tessars are not the sharpest of lens designs they are quite contrasty. It is a reliable and simple lens design that serves the folder well. Zeiss gives us a nice fast F/2.8 on these late-model cameras as well and that can be handy for separating the subject from the background and for shooting with slow film or in low light conditions.

The next PhotoFair is this Saturday! November 18th and these old Super Ikontas and other cameras like them can be found at the show!

I did a video review on the camera shown in this article, check it out and be sure to visit the PhotoFair!


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