Contessa-Nettel Cocarette

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., Mar 8, 2007.

  1. Hello - I just acquired this Cocarette and I was scouring google and here for a manual and information on it. All I know is that they seem to have been made in the mid 20's and have different shutters/lens combinations. I am trying to figure out how is this camera focused to infinity? Is it when the front standard reaches the end of the chrome tracks? I see no notches to mark infinity position :-(. If you notice on the picture there is a nifty thumb device(white circle on picture 3) that assists in focusing the camera, but only when infinity has been reached. Also, this camera's back is not removable, and I am trying to clean the interior somehow as it very dusty, and some of it has attached to the rear element. The 120 film is loaded through removing the top panel like a drawer so I am puzzled on how to ge inside. The format of this camera is 6x9, the shutter is Derval with speeds from 25- 100 and B and T options. The lens is a Meyer Gorlitz Doppel Anastigmat F6.3. Thank you for your help as always.
  2. Picture 2
  3. Focusing mechanism
  4. Hi, Ralf I've got one of these too, but mine has an f6.3 Contastigmat lens although the shutter is the same dial Derval. Interestingly, mine is also missing the front support leg just like yours! One of the guys in our local Cam Coll Club once brought one in for the show-and-tell, and - yup - his was missing the leg too. Clearly this was a weak point on what was otherwise a nice compact design, which carried on under the Zeiss-Ikon name after the 1926 merger.

    You're right about access to the lens being bloody difficult, thanks to the Leica-like sealed back. However, does yours have that circular inspection porthole thing in the middle of the back door? Maybe entry could be made after removing it, with the bellows folded up which should get the rear lens optics close enough to remove.

    Regarding focussing, mine has the usual scale markings on the right side with "inf-15-10-6" indicating an export "feet" model, I guess. There's a little hinged arm accessable via an elbow under the lens apertures, that slots into the appropriate slits against those markings. There's no knurled wheel to move the lens/shutter assy forward or back as you usually got with more upmarket folders, so as I guess as these were economy models you just moved the whole thing along the tramtracks handraulically.

    I don't have any IB for it, but I suspect that could be a real minefield of misinformation because of the many variations of lens, shutter and film format that were available, if you were lucky enough to track one down. I suppose it's possible that there was just one IB for all the combinations, but it's more likely that there different ones for the cooking models like ours compared to the higher-spec'd exotics with Tessars, rise-and-fall, etc, etc. or example, McK's mentions 64 variations of lens and shutter for the later Zeiss Cocarette alone .........
  5. Pete - Did I mention you are a genius? The port hole in the back does come off. I gave it a nice twist, and voila it came of. It is being held in place by two slotted brackets/tongues. The lens as I suspected is fully covered with dust, yech!!

    I am still unclear about setting it to infinity, but at this point I will just used a piece of ground glass on that port hole and check where the image is sharp at infinity. Thank you for your help. I will post a picture of the back tonight with the port hole open.
  6. You should put the ground glass inside the camera, and look through the hole. But isn't there a stop somewhere along the rails?
  7. Hi, Ralf Well, mate, it was just a shot in the dark about the porthole in the back door, because I've never actually used my Cocarette or tried the porthole access route to clean the lens or whatever. Glad it's done the trick, anyhow!

    I'm just thinking about the wider issue of why Contessa-Nettel (and then Zeiss-Ikon) bothered to use a sideways loading system on the Cocarette, though. It's understandable when used on really compact cameras like the early Leica, Wirgin Edinex and Vest Pocket Kodak where every millimetre was precious. However, when it comes to larger format stuff like the Cocarette, was that precious mm saved all that important? The downside of needing three hands to hold the loading cage steady must have been an ****** exercise in frustration, compared to the alternative of a conventional hinged or removable back door and loading the rollfilm in the usual manner.

    It can't have been because of manufacturing savings either, because that loading cage looks quite a complex item as is the sidecover. Then there's the additional cost of the porthole ........ !!

    Mind you, just to play my own Devil's Advocate, if Zeiss-Ikon carried on with Contessa-Nettel's original design and churned out the 64 variants mentioned in McK's, then clearly the damn things must have sold in large numbers - so who am I to nitpick the design 80 years on? Still, Ralf, you clearly intend to use your Cocarette or you wouldn't be so interested in cleaning the dusty lens. I'd be interested to hear how you find the unusual loading process compared to the conventional one, when you get around to it! ~~PN~~
  8. Ralf

    The design was first used by Contessa for their VP/127 Picolette range (in 1919) where size was a factor, and carried on into the larger Cocarettes. It actually has a big design plus over the 'door'system - it forms a much more reliable and durable light trap and lock. With my other 'standard' folders from the 20's, I always have to tape up the seams before using them, and I'm never quite sure if the catch will hold.

    Brian Price
  9. I want one just to say my camera is a Contessa-Nettel Cocarette. Why don't they name cameras like that anymore?
  10. *ist a mystery to me.
  11. Hello Ralf

    I ran across your note on the Cocarette. I had to get the flash light out and dig back in the closet to find my Cocarette that my grand father gave me about 40 years ago. It is more like Peter's from his discription. It is still in the original box with the classic Cocarette name on the top. The box also contains the cable release and the original instruction manual. The manual indicates that focusing is done by moving the front standard until the focusing lever locks in the appropriate notch corrisponding to 6' 10' 15' or infinity. The only mention in the manual about the port hole on the back is as follows " The disc provided with our trade-mark in the back-wall of the camera can be removed by turning 1/8 to the left (curved arrow) " I have exposed a few rolls of film albeit a number of years ago, but I do remember the images were sharper than expected.
    The manual is titled "Directions for using the Cocarette O and II/O for roll films 3,1/4 x 2,1/4 and 4,1/4 x 2,1/2"

    Hope this helps

    Paul Smith
  12. Hi, Paul That's some sort of rarity you've got, to have all that original Cocarette stuff along with the camera. I've got to ask you, though - does yours have that elusive leg still in situ, or has it long gone west like Ralf's and mine?

    I was looking in my 1924 BJPA Alamanac the other day and found a 6-page advert by the UK Contessa-Nettel importers, Hunters' Ltd of Doughty Street London WC1, which included references to a Cocarette Model O, 1 and De Luxe. From the lens and shutter descriptions it seems our models were the basic "0" type, although not the cheapest version thereof. Our f6.3 models cost GBP 3-7-6d in 3 1/4 X 2 1/4" format, but GBP 3-17-6d in the larger 4 1/4 X 2 1/2" format. The El Cheapo version had an f11 Rapid-Rectinilear lens
    and cost GBP 2-10-0d for the smaller and GBP 2-15-0d for the larger format. So we weren't quite at the Bargain Basement end, mate!

    BTW, how did you get along loading yours up when you tried it out a few years back? Was it more straightforward than it seems, when looking at the setup on mine?
  13. Hello Peter

    I had to laugh when you mentioned the leg missing. Mine is gone as well and I do believe that my grandfater mentioned that it had been missing for a long time. I would imagine that the true rarity would be a camera with the leg still in place. I don't remember having any problems loading the camera. Like you said, pretty straight forward. I grew up using cameras that used roll film with the paper backing. The view finder was the only challenge that I can remember. I have enrolled in a photography class at the local community college. When we get to the medium format lesson, I think I'll use the Cocarette "O" for the assingment. If I am lucky enough to get a few good images. I will post for your approval.
  14. Hi, Paul So yours is suffering from Missing Leg Syndrome, too! This is amazing - it seems like some kind of disease, eh? The leg design must have been really crappy because although mine is missing the leg, the rest of the camera is almost mint. I doubt that there's been more than a couple of films put through it since 1924 or whenever. I'm trying a few new things out with my Canon Pixma scanner/copier, so here's a part scan of that page from the 1924 BJPA Almanac advert. You'll notice that the big selling point was that the unusual loading method supposedly kept the reel film very flat, something that former users of glass plate cameras would have been wary about with these comparatively new-fangled reel cams. Looking forward to seeing your pics with the Cocarette, when you get around to it.
  15. Hmmmmm - if at first you don't succeed, .............
  16. Damn thing still doesn't want to play! I'll try one more time, with it converted to greyscale. God, I hate you, Bill Gates!
  17. Hi Peter

    Thanks for the efforts. I know it can be frustrating to get these D@#%& things to work like you want them to. You have handed me the challenge now. As soon as I can get a fairly good print from the dark room, it is on this string. It may be harder to get it posted than getting the split filtration just right. Any way, it will be fun to get the old camera out to use again.
  18. Well, wash my my mouth out with soap and all that .......... it seems it wasn't Bill Gates' fault that my pics wouldn't post, so here goes again with the greyscaled advert scan.
  19. Wow, didn't excpect additional comments on this thread. Well just to follow up, I cleaned the cocarette and took it out with my daughter to the park. After I processed the negatives, I found out the darn thing was leaking light badly, right where the bellows attach to the body. I will see if o can use liquid electrical tape as suggested in one of the threads here, but so far was to get two "acceptable" results:
  20. "Quick grab" with the Cocarette if there is such a thing. Yes I know the light pole is sticking out, behind her head, but you can try and take a picture of a 2 and half year old with an 85 year old camera, and then tell me if you would fare any better ;-). Notice the light leak on the upper left...
  21. Here we go yet again .............
  22. Peter, Ralf

    Great Pictures. I took mine out last week and put a role through it to see if I could remember all the trials and tribs. Took a while to remember how to use the view finder. Advancing the film brought back memories. I did manage some fair negitives. There was an interesting effect with the negitive that I had not noticed before. I will scan the neg or better yet make a contact print and scan to file so I can post. I'll try and get this done this week.
  23. Eagerly waiting to see your results Paul. Thanks
  24. Ralf / Peter
    I now have a fair print from the Cocarette. Thought I would scan the print and reduce to a file to upload for the post. I am new to posting prints. Would you share the steps needed to place the image on this string? What format, What file size works well for this?

  25. when you post a message you are asked whether you want to upload any images, you can do so as long as the file is 100K (100000 bytes) or smaller, and the longest side of your picture is 500 pixels or smaller. If you have photoshop, fist scan the image, then go to Image menu, then image size. Change resolution to about 72 dpi(pixels/inch), and change the longer side of picture to 500 pixels or less. Save image as jpg, quality 8, and voila, you are ready to upload.
  26. Just found the site. Interesting forum.
    I have a Nicorette same as shown here but it has a wire frame that swings out from the right hand side - not sure what it is for.
    It also has the elusive 'leg' in good working order. The camera seems light proof and in good working order.
    Will try it out eventually and post results
  27. I have one of those and am still not clear how to load film into it?
  28. Hello-
    I found a Contessa Nettal Cocarette today at a flee market, however, upon purchasing it and bringing it home I am having trouble figuring out how to open the film bottom thing. Is there a button I should be pushing to release the bottom film thing..? HELP!
  29. Hi
    I also have a Contessa Nettal Cocarette with the illusive leg!
    I'm trying to remove the lens in order to clean off some cloudy marks. Turning the whole lens housing counterclockwise does loosen it but it doesn't want to budge any further.
    Or can I just remove the front lens?
    Is anyone able to help please?
    Many thanks

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