Ikonta A (521)

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by robert_marvin, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Inspired by Chauncy Walden's post last month, about his 1937 Ikonta A (520), I bought a slightly newer late '40s Ikonta A 521 to use as a back up for my trusty Rolleiflex 2.8E on a forthcoming trip.
    I what appealed to me, besides the quality of Chauncy's photographs, is that the camera is VERY basic, with red window film advance and no rangefinder.This simplicity means there is very little to go wrong, very important in a back up camera. I was also struck by the Ikonta's small (tiny,actually) size and the fact that, since I always crop my Rollei's 6 X 6 negatives to vertical or horizontal, the Ikonta's 6 X 4.5 negatives are functionally (for MY purposes) the same size
  2. I've only shot two rolls, but that's enough to show that everything works right and that the uncoated Zeiss-Opton Tessar is capable of good results. This photograph is of a piece of machinery stored for the winter in the Prospect Park (Brooklyn, NY) parking lot. The thing is nicknamed "Godzilla" by park workers and is used in the summer to remove duckweed from the lake.
  3. Strange, but my photograph wouldn't upload--I'll try again
  4. I bought the Ikonta from Jurgen Kreckel (AKA "Certo6"). His prices are fairly high, but his folders are restored so that everything works. I had hesitated (before seeing Chauncey's post) to get such a basic camera. I WAS going to use my Iskra, a far more advanced folder) as back upon this trip, but I just don't trust it. I had the Iskra CLAed by Eddie Smolov and evedrything workson it, but Eddie warned me that was a lot of internal wear. A couple of things impress me about the Ikonta, as compared to the Iskra. One is that the former is little more than half the size of the latter. More important is the nature of the double exposure prevention.In the Iskra, if I press the shutter release before cocking the shutter, or try to cock the shutter before advancing the film, I loose a frame. On the Ikonta you simply CAN'T press the shutter release with an un-cocked shutter or cock the shutter before advancing the film--VERY full proof (AND foolproof!) . I love it!
    Given airline weight restrictions,I'm ALMOST ready to use the Ikonta elusively onmyh forthcoming trip(to the eastern Balkans). Of course then I'd have to buy a second one, so I'd still haveda back up camera :)
  5. Great sharpness and a good choice for back up. You may find yourself using it more than just for back up.
  6. Nice shot of Godzilla. Now you've done it. I've been using a Moskva 2 for a while as a shooter, and I've been leaving my 1930 Ikonta 520/2 collecting dust. The lens on mine is a Dominar Anastigmat 4.5/105. It also is a real nice shooter. I'm supposed to drive my father out to Kitchener to the Mennonite Farmer's Market. I think I'll put it through its paces.
  7. Rob, The Dominar and the Tessar Option are one and the same! Only the name was changed .
  8. Robert, it looks like you got yourself a good one! These are little jewels, aren't they. Cliff, the Opton Tessars on these are f/3.5. The Vade Mecum allows that Zeiss kept some of ICA's lens names, like Dominar, when ICA was incorporated into Zeiss but that even the Tessar f/6.3 sold for more than the Dominar.
  9. Yes the Dominar was made by Huttig who first incorporated into ICA in the first merger and later into Zeiss Ikon in 1926. The Dominar was so highly prized by photographers( not to mention that Huttig was one of the oldest and respected camera and lens makers around since mid 1800's) that Zeiss didn't want to change the name and loose those sales so it kept the name Dominar well into the 30's even though it was a Tessar design under lease., which may also be why it was less expensive. Anyway it was later renamed Tessar Option but still made in the old Huttig plant, .
  10. Cliff, I believe the Huttig plant (and ICA) was in Dresden which ended up in East Germany after the war. Post war East German Zeiss remained in Jena while West German Zeiss was relocated to Oberkochen. "Opton" is a contraction of "OPTische-werke OberkocheN".
  11. This lens was renamed Zeiss Option well before the War and I believe the old Huttig building was destroyed in the war and there were none after that from that plant! You mentioned the f3.5 on these cameras, and that is correct and also there were f2.8 or 2.9 in the 7.5cm variety for the Ikonta A model. Rob has apparently a C model for 6x9 with a f4.5/10.5cm lens. That is also the Dominar lens on several of my Maximars for 61/2x9cm plate cameras, I also have a Dominar or two in 13.5cm on 9x12 cameras, also f4.5's. I don't believe they made anything faster in the longer lenses.
    If you know me and my posts you wuold know that the Ikonta "A" model is one of my favorite cameras of all time! And really any of the other makers of the same size, I love too! So way to go Robert, and get another one for Backup of the backup! You have two hip pockets!
  12. AFAIK Chauncey is right. Zeiss-Opton was the name used by Zeiss Oberkochen until they determined that they, rather than Zeiss Jena, had the right to call themselves "Carl Zeiss." This battle was fought between the two Zeiss lens making companies and, separately, by the two post war Zeiss Ikons for many years with [surprise] different results east and west.A similar fights took place between Agfa Leverkrausen [west] and Agfa Wolfen [east, later ORWO--Original Wolfen].
  13. "and get another one for Backup of the backup! You have two hip pockets!"
    Tempting, but where will I keep my passport?
    Besides, I love my Rolleiflex more that any other camera I've ever had. I've been using this particular 2.8E since buying it used almost 50 years ago. Still,the Ikonta A is really elegant in it's simplicity!
  14. The first such dilemma over "What are we going to call this thing" was with the Dominar. It was not made by Carl Zeiss Jena but they wanted to market it as a Tessar, and they had a huge stockpile of them, and all camera parts for that matter,so they changed the name to Zeiss Option and that happened in 1932 or 1933 I think! There was such an abundance of camera parts that they were being sold by the hardware stores. You could go and buy up parts and go into business making cameras on your kitchen table. Which is what a lot of people did! Especially easy to assemble plate cameras. There are lots of them out there with no name, built up from hardware store parts! Later the name infringement brought up the same dilemma "What are we gong to call this thing?" Zeiss Opton again was used.
  15. Of course then I'd have to buy a second one, so I'd still haveda back up camera :)
    Buying a second was really not my idea, I was just confirming what you already knew, you need another!
  16. So,Zeiss used the "Opton" name twice, first, in the early '30s as a namefor a lens type and second, in the late '40s as a name for the new W. German lens making company in Oberkochen--OPTische-werke OberkocheN? (I love those strange German acronyms!).
  17. But Cliff; if I added a second Ikonta A, I'd be in danger of transitioning from being a photographer who uses old cameras to being a COLLECTOR and we can't have that :)
  18. I was just reading over this and in all cases my spelling checker changed Opton to Option, so anyway Opt for optical + ON from IkON = Zeiss Ikon Optical or Zeiss Opton. "what are we going to call these things"... a Zeiss Opton.
  19. Well If I'm paying attention here then, the late 40s Opton you have would be from Oberkochen and is likely "coated" My understanding is there aren't any post war lens without some form of coating. My late 30s 520 is uncoated but a Tessar
    design nonetheless. Cliff if I understood correctly the ICA/Dominar was a Tessar design under license prior to ZEISS AG? The Opton was merely a marketing name to keep loyal ICA customers thinking they were buying something else?
  20. Chuck, The Dominar was under license by Huttig prior to the establishment and the merger of the companies into ICA . It very well may have been one of the best lenses Huttig made, I don't know for sure. After the ICA merger many of the ICA cameras came with them on them. Then in 1926 the second merger into Zeiss Ikon happened. Zeiss Ikon now owned the rights and production facilities at Huttig. The loyal customers continued to buy the Dominar lenses so they kept the name for quite a long time and put them on the Zeiss Ikon cameras. When they decided to change the name and market it as a Zeiss Tessar Lens, they needed to dupe the new customers into thinking it was a CZJ lens, but it wasn't. So all they really wanted it to have on it was Zeiss and Tessar, the Opton was the word that people didn't understand was not actually a Carl Zeiss lens, but a product of the Zeiss Ikon merger. So they weren't trying to keep the old Huttig and ICA customers at that point, they were trying to get new unknowing customers to buy them. And they did! Back then there was no internet or even very many publications on photography. It was mostly word of mouth that spread rumors on what was good and bad. The tactics used especially by Zeiss to smear and belittle other lens companies was quite in fashion. People would hear a rumor (usually started by Zeiss themselves) that a Rodenstock lens was no good and it would spread to the point they would say "nobody would use a Rodenstock if they were a good photographer" or something like that. Many of the other makers needed to rebrand lenses just to be able to sell them! And the fact is that the camera industry had grown so out of proportion, all the companies were starving, thus the mergers just to try to stay alive! But they were devious and cut throat to say the least, in trying to market these items to whomever would buy them, The later Opton lenses were the same deal, trying to get people to think they were CZJ lenses because they said Zeiss on them which by then caused the big legal battle of the companies that were now split .
  21. Chuck,
    The Opton Tessar on my Ikonta 521 definitely isn't coated and, for that matter, the Compur Rapid shutter isn't synchronized. It's postwar, since it's made in Oberkochen.There's no red "T", so it's not a case of the coating having been polished off. I imagine it's fairly early production, soon after Zeiss Oberkochen started making lenses. I think there are some wartime Ikonta 521s, but they'd have Zeiss Jena lenses. I vaguely recall reading that some VERY early postwar Ikontas have Xenar lenses because JSK resumed production early, so my camerais probably not the VERY earliest postwar production.
  22. Anyone have a picture of a cm Zeiss lens marked Opton on an old camera? As far as I can find, Opton marking began at Oberkochen in 1946 and lasted until serial 1100000 in 1953 for sales other than to the Eastern Bloc. Apparently West German lenses sold in East Germany continued to be marked Opton to distinguish them from Jena lenses. Robert, your lens should have a pretty low number, right? Here's my (somewhat dusty;-) 521 with its folding reflex viewer attached. The 600,000 range serial number of its coated Zeiss Opton Tessar puts it around 1951. Notice also that while the 520 had a 70mm (7cm) lens the 521 has a 75mm.
  23. The serial number of the uncoated Tessar on my 521 is 574**.Your camera differs from mine in that it has a depth of field scale,something I miss on mine. That WL finder is an interesting accessory; I hadn't previously noticed the place to mount one on my Ikonta A
  24. That should make yours a first year production in 1946 which probably explains the no coating. The reflex finder has its own little pouch inside the leather case and, of course, it rotates 90 degrees for portraits.
  25. Chauncey,
    Do you know the model number for that folding reflex finder?I don't imagine it's the same as the 437/2, for the Ikonta C,which I found at a fairly reasonable price. It looks like the finder would be very handy when the camera is on a tripod.
  26. Yes, it is a 437/2.
  27. Thanks for that information;I just bought one on eB**. I think the finder will be good when I use the camera on a tripod, which, I think, will be quite often. It might seem strange to use this tiny camera on a tripod, but I'll mainly be using it at f11, or smaller, with a fairly slow shutter speed and I recently bought a very light weight Benro tripod that will be good for making landscape photographs while hiking.
  28. I received my "brilliant finder" today and think it will indeed be handy when my Ikonta is tripod-mounted. I've been amazed at how easy it has been to find accessories for this camera. The seller had a push-on lens hood and yellow filter and I was able to obtain an orange filter from a UK (Welsh) eB** seller. I think that's about all I need--maybe a green filter too--I almost never use a red one.

Share This Page