Zeiss Super Ikonta

My father bought this camera around 1937, a Zeiss Super Ikonta using roll-film.

It's pretty advanced for the time: it has a good rangefinder (the bit sticking about just above the lens: turning the thumbwheel shows two overlaid images which you have to line up to get focus), a wide range of speeds and one of the best pre-war lenses, the Zeiss Tessar f/3.5. The weakest point is the viewfinder (closed in the photo) which opens up to make two lenses which give a reasonable idea of the field of view (though as always with these it's not entirely accurate).

The negative size is unusual. The film is 1210 size - probably the most popular size for amateurs in the 1930s, though there were some smaller sizes (even apart from 35mm which was very new). Most cameras took 8 shots on a roll, giving a negative size of 3.25 x 2.25 inches (83 x 57mm): the Ikonta takes 16 on 120, giving a negative of 2.75 x one-and-seven-eighths inches (57 x 43mm). This is a very convenient size - 16 is a useful number on a roll, and the size is small enough to be convenient and large enough to give noticeably better quality than 35mm.


Roger Wilmut