Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta C 531/2 versus Mamiya 7

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by vuthy_chrun, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. I took a few rolls of Velvia 100 with my Super Ikonta last January
    while vacationing in South of Spain. I was very pleased with the
    resolution of the Zeiss-Opton Tessar 105mm/3,5 and the vivid color
    of the Velvia 100 positive film. Now that the price of film cameras
    is dropping on a weekly basis, I am wondering whether I should get a
    Mamiya 7 or 7II, and want to know if I would find noticeable

    Has someone tested these cameras? I need a medium format camera that
    I can carry with me all day, visiting places.
  2. Hi VC. Yes - I own a Zeiss Super Ikonta (in fact each model) with the same wonderful lens.

    I have also used my friend's Mamiya II with its 80mm and 40mm lenses (the 40mm is so good it is probably evry bit as good as the famed Hasselblad/Zeiss Biogon 38mm used on the Hassy SWC cameras).

    The direct answer is that (for general modern day photography demands) the M7II is a long way superior - in optics and in mechanical functionality.

    BUT - it really makes no sense at all to compare a 1940/1950s camera with a 2000 camera - different horses for different courses.

    Also I LOVE my Super Ikontas (6x4.5, 6x6, 6x9) and I also LOVE my earlier Ikontas (non-Rangefinder version folders). They all give me lovely images and are so easy to use and convenient to carry.

    BUT, the M7II is a truly modern metered rangefinder with excellent lenses available - Mamiya makes outstanding MF optics that are super sharp with high resolving power and excellent correction of all aberrations.

    That Zeiss Tessar lens is truly wonderful - evn my colour images are good. BUT it is single coated and does not have the full advantage of today's coatings and glass and computer aided design assisting correction of aberrations. You cannot expect it to have the same resolving power, nor the same colour renditions, nor the same sharpness, nor the same resistance to flare etc. etc.....

    So, while the Zeiss Super Ikonta is still an excellent camera (especially to those who appreciate its classic status) it is not a modern camera so it does not have the features that the M7II has - overall the M7II will give better images if you define better as: sharper, more detail captured off axis, higher colour saturation/contrast, more resistance to flare etc etc...

    So, while I do not own a Mamiya but use one a bit, I own Hasselblad 6x6 gear - I would not be using any of my Ikontas for the images I take with my Hasselblad. The same would apply if I owned a Mamiya 7 II.

    If you buy a Mamiya 7, I strongly recommend you buy the 7 II version. It has very desirable features not available on the version I - as you'd expect with the second version. If you have the budget use it on the later model. But, if you don't there is no need to worry - just check the specs and see if the extra features are useful to you before you buy either model.

    The lenses are all excellent - just pick the focal length you like and don't worry about other issues as they won't disappoint you.

    Finally the Mamiya 7 / 7 II are wonderful for travel and hiking - ideal as they are relatively compact and light - a good choice. An SLR MF camera can be a bit inconvenient on hiking trips or days of lots of foot work unless you keep the number of components very limited.

    Good luck.
  3. I must admit that I have not used the Super Ikonta, but I have a good Soviet folder (the
    Iskra) in addition to my Mamiya 7II. I will say I think you will see a difference in optical
    performance, as well as in use. The Mamiya is using fantastic, multi-coated optics in a
    very rigid body, and its design allows for holding the film much flatter than the old
    folders. The Mamiya will have higher resolution, better flare control, a built in meter, AE
    operation, interchangeable lenses. It is a whole different league. That's not to say you can't
    get great results out of folders, but it is a different type of shot. For example, I took this
    with the Iskra on Delta 100: <P><img src="http://www.stuartrichardson.com/iskra-tree-
    door.jpg"><P>Here is the detail at 100% (center) of a 3000dpi scan: <P><img
    src="http://www.stuartrichardson.com/iskra-tree-door-crop.jpg"><P>For comparison,
    here is a shot I took on the Mamiya 7II with 43mm lens, scanned at the same resolution on
    Velvia 100. <P><img src="http://www.stuartrichardson.com/jozankei-fall.jpg"><P>and
    the 100% detail (lower right)<P><img src="http://www.stuartrichardson.com/jozankei-
    fall-crop.jpg"><P>I will be the first to say this is not an apples to apples comparison here,
    but I think it is pretty safe to say that you will see a difference...both optically and in ease
    of use. Of course, the Mamiya is still bigger and heavier.
  4. I have shot with two Super Ikonta C's, coated and uncoated versions of the Tessar as well as
    routinely shot with an older rolleicord with a Tessar style Schneider Xenar. I also used to own
    a Mamiya 6 with both a spectacular 50G lens and a so so 75m lens(the normal lens). I have
    also compared all these lenses to my 80c planar on my Hasselblad. Concerning sharpness-
    resolution, the Tessar can be an amazingly sharp lens when stopped down about three stops.
    All of the examples I have used were every bit as sharp as both the Planar and the Mamiya
    lenses when stopped down in the center and not too far behind beyond center. A sinngle
    coated Tessar has only 4 elements so multi-coating does not make that huge of an
    improvement compared to some of the more modern 5-7 element normal lenses.
  5. IMO, the Tessar is very good, but the mechanics of folders make it unlikely that you'll get all the performance the lens is capable of. Both focus and alignment are likely to be worse than the Mamiya. Though I don't have one, I suspect the Mamiya lens has to be superior, and the mechanics of the camera allow you to take advantage of that last little bit of lens performance. Still, I love the folders.
  6. The only Folder which seemed rigid enough to take advantage of lens quality was the Zeiss
    Super Ikonta's. That's after trying many examples of Voigtlander Bessas and Agfa Super
    Isolettas. Personally, if your just going to use a normal lens, then there are plenty of
    cheaper options than a Mamiya 7 with as good on film quality. But, if your interested in
    wide angle, then the choices become much fewer with more trade offs. The Mamiya
    Rangefinder lenses are top notch in my experience. No better though then the much
    much cheaper Koni Omega 58mm and Koni Omega M or Omega Rapid 100 or 200. But,
    what a heavy, ungainly beast that is. If you can live with the size/weight, it has to be the
    best performance per dollar anywhere. Not something you might look forward to carry
    with you all day though. For that, the best bargain/weight/size would have to be one of
    the 645 rangefinders such as the Bronica 645 or a fixed lens Fuji 645. Both will give you
    what you ask for. If money is no object, then go for the Mamiya. The Super Ikonta is a
    slow camera to actually use(Remember, your winding the film while looking through a little
    red window for a number to show up after each shot!) and that may or may not be
    important to you.
  7. The latest Super Ikontas had automatic film advance, so no need for observing film via red window. But still Mamiya 7 is obviously in its own class if compared to Super Ikontas that were designed for advanced amateurs and were never used by professionals. More fair would be to compare Mamiya 7 with Plaubel Makina or Rolleiflex and still Mamiya 7 would be the winner. In optical quality and ergonomics. I am not saying that these classics are bad but there is 50 years difference in design date and it obviously can be seen. In structure too, classics are of solid metal and Mamia 7 mostly of plastic.

    Kerkko K.
  8. NO Super Ikont C 6x9 format camera(the one the original poster mentions) ever had
    Automatic Film positioning. The Later B 6x6 versions did I believe. A Rolleiflex with a
    Schneider Xenotar or Planar is at least the equal of any Mamiya normal lens, if not better.
  9. Two of the latest ones had automatic film transport, Super Ikonta III and IV. They were the last Super Ikonta models manufactured. On the other hand that automation is sometimes difficult mith modern film and back paper thickness, frame spacing can come rather limited. It helps a little if film is turned an inch or two further than indication marks do suggest to make the taking spool slightly thicker.

    Kerkko K
  10. Kerkko,
    I think the models you are refering to are 6x6, not 6x9. At least thats what it says here:

  11. Tariq -- Have you seen this page? http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/test/fourcameras.html
    <P>Because that is a straight test of the Rolleiflex lenses and a Hassie against the Mamiya 7
    (which winds hands down). I am not saying that it is the absolute truth, but it is an actual
    test, as opposed to just user impressions...
  12. Hi Stuart,
    Yes, I have seen that page and I think its a very good test, but it is only one sample point
    for the Hasselblad and the Mamiya. The particular sample of the normal lens I had on my
    Mamiya 6 was not that good. I do think that your statement that the Mamiya wins "Hands
    down" is a bit optimistic given this statement from the conclusion drawn in that test:

    "This test proved to me several things. First, c.1956 Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex cameras
    can keep up with modern photographic equipment. Let me put this another way; I'm blown
    away by the fact that a 50 year old single coated lens camera can produce large prints that
    show as much fine resolution and detail as the best modern multicoated lens that I
    currently own. Both Rolleiflex tested at 96 lines per mm against the USAF Resolution test

    That's basically what I have found through practical everyday use.
  13. I'm just repeating what he said at the end of the test: " In this test, the Mamiya 7 is the
    hands down winner on all accounts. On this day, there was none better. But there were
    these two little 50 year old cameras that gave the young pups on the block a good run for
    their money. I knew there was a reason I needed to give Rolleiflex twin lens reflex a third
    try. I'm glad I did." <P>I don't have a Rolleiflex (though I would love to have one), so I
    cannot do anything but compare the Mamiya 7 to my Hassleblad stuff, and I think the
    Mamiya comes out ahead, but I am pretty certain that is more due to the rangefinder
    design and film flatness issues than to the lenses. They are all so good, and there is so
    much negative space that it really doesn't matter much to me. The usage differences are
    what makes me choose one for the other. For the studio I am definitely going to grab the
    hasselblad, but if I am going out to shoot handheld stuff or ultrawide shots, then I will
    pick up the Mamiya.
  14. Point and quote well taken! Alll these cameras we are talking about are so good it comes
    down to use and preference. And as in another thread, there is much more to image quality
    than just Sharpness/Resolution and even contrast which is one reason I take issue with the
    authors "hands down" coment. If he had shot some color transparency film in all the tested
    cameras, it would have provided more useful information than B&W. The mamiya is a great
    camera....and so is the Rollielex and Hasselblad.

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