Zeiss Super Ikonta's Novar is a Very Good Lens

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by steve_mareno|1, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. I snagged a Super Ikonta III w/ a Novar lens cheaply, but it has pinholes in the bellows (odd for this model). Here's the one shot that turned out OK. I had been standing in a covered area, and apparently the light didn't get to the side of the bellows where it has a couple of tiny holes. Tri-X, D76, and scanned on an Epson 2450.
    Years ago I owned one of these w/ a Tessar. This particular Novar lens seems to be just as good as the Tessar if it's stopped down. The camera's build quality is superb, and even though it looks very similar to an older Ikonta I have that has no rangefinder, it's much heavier and feels more solid in every way. In theory, whether a camera like this has a rangefinder or not isn't important to me, or so I thought. In practice, I found it a lot nicer to have focus confirmation in the viewfinder. It does add to the camera's weight and size though.
    Has anyone else found these Novars to be good shooters? Everyone says what I said, that if they're stopped down they're fine, but I discounted that . In reality, it looks to be a fine lens.
    00bPNV-523031684.JPG
     
  2. the one keeper
    00bPNX-523031784.jpg
     
  3. Novars were clearly not the "best" lenses made for these various folders, but I have found them to be very "adequate"--as your image shows. I wouldn't avoid a camera because the lens on it was a Novar, that's for sure.
    Was it S.P. who suggested some brands of black fingernail polish to seal up small holes?
    Haven't tried it myself.
     
  4. I use Permatex Ultra Black Silicone Gasket Maker for pinhole repairs JDM. It's just a tiny tube that I bought in an auto parts store, and it looks like it will last me a lifetime! It's extremely resistant to folding, and very durable. If you're careful applying it you can barely see the repairs.
    I read somewhere that Schneider made the Novars, but they're clearly better than the Radionars and other triplets I've used. There's probably quite a bit of sample variation too, as an earlier Novar lensed Ikonta I owned was more like what you described. Adequate. (that old Rolls Royce quote concerning the amount of horsepower the cars had).
     
  5. Those old triplets are very capable from F8 down. Enjoy your find. I have some old AGFA folders with Apotar triplets, and they're great at F11.
     
  6. The Permatex makes sense. I'm sure it's a lot more flexible than nail polish.
    The Novar lens was widely used by Zeiss on various post-war medium format cameras, and apparently the name was a proprietary name owned by Zeiss Ikon, and used (according to the Zeiss Compendium) on products made by "respectable and undistinguished houses" for Zeiss.
    My Kadlubek Objektiv-Katalog surely lists these, but given the rather "unusual" form of organization of the volume (and the complexity of the East-West problem, too), I couldn't find them in a quick search. They are not listed under Schneider, Rodenstock, or Steinheil as such, nor under Zeiss, that I could see.
    I do know that the Novars were certainly used in the "Soviet Occupied Zone" (so-genannte-SBZ) for the Ikontas and later Erconas made there, and at least some of those were apparently made somewhere in the East.
     
  7. Do you put the gasket maker on the outside or the inside?
     
  8. try liquid electical tape
    caution it is thin be careful
    home depot in a screw top can
    also in colors but get black
     
  9. Fine photograph, Steve. I've found the Novars to be at least as good as most of the triplets of the era, and a good example. stopped down to about f/11, will produce results indistinguishable from lenses held in much higher esteem. Because the Novar was so widely used, I suspect it may have suffered from the old "familiarity breeds contempt" syndrome that seems to have afflicted many of the lesser-priced lenses in the 1930's-50's period.
     
  10. I've found Bostick & Sullivan"s bellows patch kit ($15) excellent:
    http://www.bostick-sullivan.com/cart/home.php?cat=16
    I used it to repair 3 sets of bellows. Great results, easy to use.
     
  11. Excellent photograph. I second the liquid tape thing. It's wicked cool to sniff too !
     
  12. I tried a kind of black silicone sealant once, but it was the kind of thing that stays slightly tacky, even when dry. The problem was that after being folded, it took some pulling here and there on the bellows to get them UN-folded...especially in the summer.
    In folding cameras I have repaired and used, whatever the outer layer is made of, the inner-most layer is a thin woven fabric.
    So last time I wanted to seal up light leaks in a bellows, I remembered somebody on one of the forums had recommended using opaque black acrylic fabric paint. So I got some at hobby-lobby, thinned it out a bit with just a very small amount of water, and painted it onto the inside fabric layer (with a paintbrush bent at about 90 degrees).
    That's the best solution I've come up with so far.
     
  13. Novars are fine lenses as long they are stopped down. I had used a foggy 1953 version at 7.1 to get very good images.
     
  14. Novars are fine lenses as long they are stopped down. I had used a foggy 1953 version at 7.1 to get very good images.
     
  15. Novars are fine lenses as long they are stopped down. I had used a foggy 1953 version at 7.1 to get very good images.
     
  16. I have shot with coated Novar through an Ikoflex, and I can tell you that they are great at 5.6 or smaller. I seconf Fred suggestion for the Bostic and Sullivan's bellow patch kit, it is fabulous; I have used it on bellows and two of my Praktina curtains which are light proof now. Nice photo btw, and keeper camera especially with that rangefinder.
    Although the other have recommended it, I have not had luck with liquid electrical tape, I found it quite messy!
     
  17. I put the Permatex stuff on w/ a brush, right out of the tube. It's placed on the outside, usually w/ a little blob of the stuff on a small paint brush, then smoothed out w/ the brush. It dries almost exactly the same color as the bellows, and I've used it to successfully patch Agfa bellows, so you know it's very good. Put it on thin or thick, it doesn't matter, and it's good to go the next day. The inside is usually not a good place to patch because of the cloth inner liner that is sort of loose in there. It needs to be that way, in able to bend a lot when the camera is folded up. I swear by this Permatex stuff, but there are other solutions that people like equally well. Here's a link to show you what it looks like. It's very flexible, and totally OK w/ bending w/o breaking.
    http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3506553&cagpspn=pla
    I'm happy w/ that shot. Too bad the light leak ruined all the others. I'd been having developing problems prior to this, but that's all sorted out from the look of the negs. When I took that shot yesterday, I had my Ikonta 6x4.5 w/ me, as well as an Agfa Isolette w/ Solinar (gave up on the Isola idea). Unfortunately, I somehow reset the focus wrong on the Isolette, so again, only one shot was a keeper on the whole roll. Everything that was shot at infinity was REAL off, and I would love to know how I did that. So, 2 cameras, and I have 3 OK shots out of 24. I had my fingers crossed when I did the 6x4.5 Ikonta negs, and fortunately they came out perfect. Tomorrow I'll go out w/ the Super Ikonta III and it's newly patched bellows, and the Isolette w/ it's properly focused lens, and do it again. When everything is right, I'm curious to see how the Novar does against the "better" Solinar lens.
     
  18. I have a Zeiss Contina 35 (the first
    generation of the 35mm folder) with a
    Novar. I find it is an excellent lens, very
    sharp, good contrast, nice colour
    rendition. So I am not surprised that
    you Novar is also excellent. I have no
    reservations about ever buying or
    using a Novar.
     
  19. According to rumours, Novar lenses were made by Rodenstock and/or Hensoldt. Most, if not all, of the Novar do not have a serial number - much different from all "genuine" Zeiss lenses, so you have to check the camera body s/n for the manufacturing date.
    There are good and not-so-good triplet lenses, and the Novar falls into the first category. I still wonder why Rollei used the Zeiss Triotar lens (sometimes preferred as a portrait lens when used on Rolleiflexes due to its softness wide open) on the Rollei B35/C35, I think the Novar would have performed much better.
    The east-german version of the Novar was called Novonar due to copyright reasons concerning lens designators.
     
  20. My pinhole repair procedure is to push a pin down through the pin hole, then open the back of the camera and put a blob of sealant (black silicone rubber) on the point of the pin, then pull the pin back up out of the hole. Leave the camera open for a day or two while the silicone rubber cures. This has always worked for me.
     
  21. That's a good fix for the Bellows Blues Charles. I'll try it. I own a couple of Isolettes, so it will come in handy :(
    There used to be a seller on Etsy that sold beautiful handmade leather bellows for the Agfas, but I don't see him anymore.
    The Super Ikonta is loaded w/ Tri-X, it's bellows are patched, and I look forward to shooting the Novar again. The trouble w/ my Solinar folder was that I got confused whilst shooting the 3 cameras at once. Some focus one way, some another, and whenever I would put the hood and filter on the Solinar, I had thought that it was screwed in to infinity, when in reality I'd screwed it out to minimum focus. I had just turned it until it hit the stop and never checked closely. The shots were pretty fuzzy. So that Isolette is loaded w/ film too, and it's the Novar vs Solinar shootout coming up. Neither of these lenses are as good as the uncoated Tessar on the 6x4.5 camera, but that's not necessarily a good thing because I like that vintage look. I had no idea the little 520/16 Ikonta would be so sharp.
     
  22. Be sure to post your shoot-out. I too have the uncoated 520 Tessar and I've been very pleased with the results. Likes you mentioned ..very surprising that Zeiss bellows had pinholes as they are a cut above the others. Lots of god tips on bellows patching here. I want to patch a very fine hole on a Graflex. It only reveals it's self when the light comes stronly from the side and/or it's racked out for cloeup. It hole is in the first pleat before the lensboard. I always assumed the Novars were Zeiss in-house "capable" lenses. Really, why would they farm this out? Guess it's possible they found it cheaper to outsource.... real evidence or info about this name would be welcome!
     
  23. Yes, don't be discouraged by it's humble appearance, the Novar was and still is a very fine lens. Most Novars were built by Rodenstock, and a few by Hensoldt I believe.
    Coupled with the really well aligned Super Ikonta you will have a good shooter when those holes are plugged. BTW, the model 111 was more prone to bellows failure than the earlier Ikontas, the material seems thinner to me.
     
  24. The east-german version of the Novar was called Novonar due to copyright reasons concerning lens designators.​
    That's certainly true after the law suit in West Germany. There were some pre-suit Novars on cameras from the east, and I am not sure if they might have been still called Novars for models sold in the Warsaw Pact area even later.
    I suspect that any 'Ossie'-made Novars might have been built by Meyer, since that seemed to have become the 'backup' producer for what eventually all became VEB companies. In the pre-law-suit days, some 'importation' of various lenses and shutters from the western-occupied zone took place, as well.
     
  25. During WW2 my dad was in Tobruk (along with the Holy Land, Yugoslavia, Northern India, and Burma for that matter).
    In an advance during the Battle of Tobruk (there was lot of advancing and retreating) he went into a German dugout and picked up a Zeiss Ikonta with uncoated 105mm f6.3 with three shutter speeds. You wouln't exactly call it stealing, there were worse things happening!
    He was in contact later with a photographer who worked for Paramount Pictures who looked at the photographs taken with the little Novar lens, and called it a "freak" lens, due to the quality of the images it was taking.
    I have taken this out with me and shot the same images with a Rollei SL66, which I really thought was splendid. However, it was the shot from the Novar that ended up framed and on the wall. It was noticeably an improvment. This may have been to do with processing later, but still, the end result spoke for itself. There was contrast and sharpness. Perhaps the Paramount Pictures photographer was right in calling it a freak lens.
     
  26. During WW2 my dad was in Tobruk (along with the Holy Land, Lybia, Syria, Yugoslavia, Poona India, and Burma for that matter).
    In an advance during the Battle of Tobruk (there was lot of advancing and retreating) he went into a German dugout and picked up a Zeiss Ikonta with uncoated 105mm f6.3 with three shutter speeds. You wouln't exactly call it stealing, there were worse things happening!
    He was in contact later with a photographer who worked for Paramount Pictures who looked at the photographs taken with the little Novar lens, and called it a "freak" lens, due to the quality of the images it was taking.
    I have taken this out with me and shot the same images with a Rollei SL66, which I really thought was splendid. However, it was the shot from the Novar that ended up framed and on the wall. It was noticeably an improvment. This may have been to do with processing later, but still, the end result spoke for itself. There was contrast and sharpness. Perhaps the Paramount Pictures photographer got it right when he called it a freak lens.
     

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