Sunday, October 04, 2009

Zeiss Ikonta 520/2

The Zeiss Ikonta was designed by Dr August Nagel shortly after which he left Zeiss to form his own company Nagel Werke who eventually became part of Kodak and made great cameras such as the Retina.
The camera above is a 1932 model with 105 mm F4,5 Tessar lens which because of the age is uncoated, despite this it is a well renowned optic and during the time of manufacture one of the best lenses available.
The shutter is a Compur 'leaf shutter' type with speeds 1/250 down to 1 second plus B & T, in which the T setting is used by hitting the release once to open and again to close and is useful in dark conditions when on a tri-pod, probably would make a nice astro photo 'star trails' setting for several hour long exposures.
The apertures run from F4,5 to F32 and are changed using a lever under the lens.
On the back you can see two red windows, the left is for advancing the film 6x9 (8 exposures) the right is used in conjunction with an insert (nearly always lost) to give '645' (16 exposures)
Also in the picture you can see the Albada view finder which is used for framing only, the focus point being guessed- you needed a Super Ikonta model for rangefinder focus.
Inside the back is an advert for Zeiss 'Pernox' film
Operation
When you consider how old this camera is (it was produced in the year Hitler came to power) it works very well, all speeds seem to work, the bellows is without holes and the Tessar is free of scratches.
The uncoated Tessar is pretty sharp, probably short of Rolleiflex or Hasselblad Zeiss lenses by a margin but impressive considering the age and very useable in but the most demanding conditions.
The camera is quite a challenge compared to modern SLRs as pretty much everything is guessed, the focus distance, the exposure, the shutter is manually cocked before exposure the wind-on has no lock making double exposure a danger should you forget to advance (also nice for some effects). The alabada finder although yellow with age is reasonably accurate for infinity work closer work is more problematic.
The lens has a minimum focus of 5 feet which makes it none to useful for head and shoulder type portraits full length being the best you can hope for:
The above is a shot on closest focus at around F8, note the chopped of feet due to parallax error.
This image was a real test, loaded with ISO 100 film guessed exposure of 1/25 at F4,5 at roughly 25ft distance- actually turned out surprisingly well.
You can clearly see the wires (see enlarged section top right) in this shot of the Jewelers shop proving the old Tessar is quite up to the task for most infinity type work. I'd not be quite so happy to shoot portraits because of the 5ft minimum focus. Finally just a colour shot, Fuji 400H 1/250 at F11

In all I really liked the Ikonta, will probably look for a later Super Ikonta with a coated Tessar ultimately.
I now have quite a collection of folding cameras, and really like the big negative small package they are great cameras available in some cases for very little money (I paid £18 for this one) and despite their very manual operation they can be fun.
© Photo Utopia 2009

19 comments:

vl. said...

Nice. The old uncoated Tessar on my Rolleiflex is quite sharp too I have found, surprisingly so.

I have an unrelated question. I remember you mentioned somewhere you're keeping some Fortepan roll film. Now I'm just curious, since I have some too, did you freeze yours or not? I noticed the foil packets are not perfectly sealed - a bit cracked, and I'm wondering whether that is a problem or not to freeze it.

Regards,
Vladimir.

Photo–Smith said...

Hi the uncoated lenses have a look, lower contrast, slightly more flare which brings up shadow detail (surprised me too).

I'm running a lot of Fuji colour neg though it at the moment.

I have about 7-8 Rolls of Fortepan 100 and 400 which I'm keeping for a project (I like the 100 best)
I only freeze my colour films mono is kept in a cool dry place-which should be fine for short to mid term storage- 2 years or so
have fun
Mark

vl. said...

Ah ok, well I'll keep it as I have been doing then (somewhere under a bed!).

The Fortepan film (400 that is) took me a few rolls to get used to, I've stuck to developing it in Rodinal 1+50 and it comes out extremely grainy, but tonality can be pleasing:
http://tinyurl.com/yfjms6t
http://tinyurl.com/yl9y25h

One film I can't wait for is ADOX AP 400. Any news on availability in the UK, somewhere in 2010?

Vladimir.

Photo–Smith said...

I have a half written review of Forte 400 which I must finish...
You are on the money about grain, if you want less grain rate it a 200 EI and use less agitation if using Rodinal or try D76/ID11.

I use Forte 400 for either camera tests or if I need a 'retro' look film (I may have a small project that will need its character) it reminds me of APX 400 and is similar to Fomapan 400 certainly its old style tech even when compared with HP5+.

vl. said...

I rate it 200 as was recommended by Forte themselves, I think the 400 rating was reserved for tungsten lighting for some reason. Its grainy either way.

Actually I just got hold of a 530/2 Super Ikonta; though oddly the optic seems to have been, at some later date, coated - odd camera. It is really small and light compared to what I thought it would be, after a test roll I can't wait to try it out for real.

One thing I noticed is that focusing is via only the front element? Does this have any effect on the image quality versus whole lens focusing?

-vl.

Photo–Smith said...

Regarding Forte I can't find any info about it being 400 only in tungsten, all the documentation I have suggests ISO 400 in daylight.
Just checked the box- "Ballanced (sic) exposure is in daylight artificial or electronic flash' and the sunny 16 graphic has 1/250 at F22 in bright scenes.
Do you have a link for any other Forte info on ISO rating or spectral sensitivity?

The Ikonta is indeed front cell focus, I'm guessing my Tessar on the Rollei is better if edges are taken into account but that could be a film flatness issue.
Last week I bought a Rolleiflex 3.5F with Xenotar a camera I used for weddings in the 1980s- strange how history repeats :-)

vl. said...

You can find the information right at the bottom of this page:
http://www.fortefoto.ca/Tech.htm
Though I don't know how they arrive at those conclusions in terms of Fortepans spectral response.

I haven't played around with the Ikonta I got enough, but mine seems to be rather sharp - so I was just curious what effect the front cell focus had on quality in general, I've never owned a camera that had that before. The lens was probably serviced at some point after the war and coated, odd combination.

-vl.

Photo–Smith said...

Thanks for the information, I found it more confusing than 'informing' it seems to be from Fortes Canadian Importer. Interestingly enough they claim the film to be super-panchromatic with extended red, the curves seem to drop off around 700nm just like most other films, so no much red extension as far as the curves go.
As for the chart, I noted it said 'sheet film' and continuous agitation so I'm not sure it is the same as the roll film. Anyhow I'll try to track down a proper tech doc I think the film also goes by the Bergger and classic pan names.

Ikonta
You are correct in your thinking that front cell focus is generally inferior. But in my experience most folders use that method. he Ikontas Tessar is a great optic, even my 1933 uncoated version apart from some flare on specular highlights is sharp.
Your coated lens should be very nice and combined with the 6x9 neg size quite usable.
heir are later East German versions of the camera made by Pentacon called an Ercona if you check on ebay.de
These are made in the same Dresden factory as the prewar but have coated Opton Tessar lenses and are much cheaper than 190's West German super Ikontas
Mark

vl. said...

The chart might not refer only to sheet film, but that said, the whole site is a bit dodgy; but as you're doing a post on Fortepan 400, might at least be useful. The red part of the spectrum seems to have more relative sensitivity, so perhaps that is what they mean?

I just realised (after a test roll), that the only problem I have with the Ikonta is frame placement. My problem is that the film spools seem to position too low and hence the bit with frame numbers and whatever on the top is exposed? Is this only my problem or is it just modern spools?

Regards,
Vladimir.

Hadar said...

Thank you so much!
Im a photography student from Israel and I really enjoy reading your posts. I just got a Super Ikonta C myself (pre-war) aand I was wondering about the build. Is it strong enough to whithstand shooting with a tripod horizontall photoes? Also, In realeasing the len structure, should I better hold the front a little to prevent sharp opening? Im not sure.

Photo–Smith said...

Thank you for your kind words Hadar, congratulations on your purchase.
I'm sure that the Ikonta is a strong camera, I certainly don't treat mine with kid gloves, there are so many of these cameras around in working order, that fact alone is testimony to their toughness.
Use you camera and enjoy..
Mark

Photo–Smith said...

Vladimir
my camera seems to load fine, I load the film from the bottom retainer then clip the top spring one in-seems to hold it well. The modern spools (Ilford and Fuji) seen to be OK, does the backing paper look off centre when you load?

angharadeee said...

Hi there,
I am a young, keen amatuer who has recently come into ownership of a Zeiss Ikonta 520/2 with Derval lens/shutter[?]
I have a fairly good grasp of general basics but am still relatively new to this and not very good with the techy business! So I was wondering if you might be able to help me.
Firstly, I'm having trouble loading the film. I've purchased some Ilford FP4 PLUS 125 ASA Black & White 120 film but when I came to load it I found that the spool is not long enough to reach both ends of the spool chamber. It also looks like if I loaded like this the film wouldn't pass behind the lens correctly and so only half the frame would be exposed. Have I bought the wrong film? Am I missing something?
My other slight issue is focusing. I can't figure out where I should be lining the numbers on the focusing ring with. Is it the small piece of metal poking out to the left of the shutter speed dial?
I apologise if my questions are very foolish or my terms incorrect!
I would be ever so grateful if you could help me. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply,
A.

Photo–Smith said...

No question is foolish, so yes you do line up the focus with the little metal piece coming out of the lens, specifically with the straight edge on the left of the metal 'spike'.
Secondly I'm confused why you should have trouble with the size of a 120 spool, I have used FP4 in my Zeiss with no problems, are you sure you have the 520/2 and not the larger Ikonta D which used 616 film
http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/zeiss/sikonta/sid.htm
(you'll have to copy and paste this URL)

Because most Zeiss Ikontas used 120 except the 530 (D)
measure the chamber and film frame with the back open, the frame (hole the exposure is made through) is 5.8cm high on the 120 models it is 6.5x5.5 on the larger 616 models.

If you have problems mail beck, I will help you.

angharadeee said...

Thank you for your reply!
I am 99.99% sure it's a 520. It says on the back at the end and the chamber & frame seem to be the size you specified.
Doing some reserach though I found that other 'varieties' of 120 film are available, specifically in the Ilford range. Is there one that is particularly/better suited to the 6x9 format?
I'm very sorry if I haven't explained my problem very well and I thank you for your help.
-A.

Photo–Smith said...

There is only one 120 film all are the same width, different formats are available you can shoot 6x45 6x6, 6x7 6x9 all from one film.
can you post a link to an image of the camera?
If it is a cm too short its probably a 616.

angharadeee said...

I apologise deeply, the film I had purchsed was indeed 35mm! What a disappointment. it seems there was a mix up in the shop, packaging etc. I have sinced purchsed a 100% certain roll of 120 film!
But I thank you for your patience and helpful replies, you assistance has been invaluable!
-A x

frank1 said...

found on a markeds place zeiss 520/2 camera ...is there current film today on the market..it is marked inside 6x9 BII 2 1/4 x 3 1/4
kind regards Frank

Photo–Smith said...

Frank it should use 120 film, very commonly available on the internet.
something like this:
http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/kodak-ektar-120-5-pack-328-p.asp