Zenobia 6x4.5

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by kevin_bourque, Jan 3, 2005.

  1. Hi Everyone -
    Over the holidays I had a chance to shoot with a Zenobia 6x4.5 rangefinder, a 2004 eBay acquisition. It has the Neo-Hesper lens, which is a four-element Tessar clone, if you can believe Google (and don't we all?).
    Image quality is quite good, even though it focuses via moving the front element, not the whole lens. It's not as sharp as a modern optic, but the results are impressive.
    The pics below are the camera itself, and a shot out at the beach, and then some indigenous art out behind a strip mall. The scans don't do justice to the prints....someday I gotta get myself a real scanner.
    I really hesitate to post this kind of thing...now I've got to bid against you guys next time one's up for auction!
    Spray- paint Michelangelo.
  2. That's a very cool camera. You can see the Zeiss-Ikon influence in nearly all parts of the camera (except the top deck): Chromed struts and releases down to the grooves, back release, shape of the body, lens door and its small folding support and even the near-identical typeface for the name on the shutter as well as the lens ring. Almost makes you wonder if this didn't roll off a Zeiss-Ikon line somewhere.
  3. Great looking little camera to keep handy in your pocket. I looked for one of those for quite a while, but kept getting out-bid, and I couldn't justify paying for another 645 since I already have two good Certo Dolly cameras that will do both 6x45 and 6x6. That last shot really shows off the special quality of the lens. I think the front element focus issue is a bit over-blown; use a shade and take some care with holding steady and you will be as sharp as anyone. What kind of scanner are you using? I do all my MF stuff on an Epson 2450 flatbed and have no complaints.
  4. I have a Zenobia (actually a Waltax, the Zenobia's nearly identical predecessor) sitting just next to my left elbow on my desk at the moment. The lens is indeed a 4-element Tessar type, and quite sharp. The shutter, of their own construction, is also very nicely made. The weak point appears to be in the material used in the bellows, which are a bit delicate at this age.... my first roll in my other Zenobia was very sharp but ruined by hundreds of little flecks of material shedding off of the inside of the bellows and landing on the film, and shortly after that roll was finished the bellows let go entirely. I'm being extra careful with this one.

    The camera is nearly a clone of the Ikonta A, down to its Compur-clone shutter and Tessar-clone lens. One difference is the die cast body, which is not quite so compact as the stamped body of the Ikonta so it's not quite as pocketable. The Zenobia is worth the effort of making a new bellows for, so that's on my (impossibly long) list of things I need to learn how to do......

    rick :)=
  5. Really nice looking camera and pictures. But you needn't worry- It'd have to have a rangefinder for me to bid.
  6. I don't have a film scanner! I do prints on an old HP Scanjet. Like I said, I need a real scanner....
  7. Congatulations on a great purchase. I love my Zenobia, I also have an Ikonta A with a tessar but my Zenobia is a much better performer. Mine also has the Neo-Hesper lens and it is definitely a four element tessar copy. They also came with a Hesper Anastigmat lens. Does anyone know the difference? Ive been told by some people its the same lens with a different name, and others have told me that the Hesper Anastigmat is a triplet. If anyone knows for sure id love to know.

    I guess now that you have gone and told everyone Im really glad I already have one.
  8. you might be interest in this old thread--


    BTW you said it was a rangefinder- where did they hide the window?
  9. AH, it's not a rangefinder....I typed before I thinked.
  10. I started the thread that Gary references. I find I don't use my Zenobia much anymore because the lens has some internal haze on it (probably oil) that I have been too lazy to clean off. The hazed degrades contrast a lot in the finished transparencies. In that thread someone explained that the difference between the two types of lens found on the Zenobia is that the Hesper is a triplet while the Neo-Hesper is a Tessar-type.

    My friend Chuck Miller, who used to post here, uses a Zenobia with Neo-Hesper quite a bit. He gets great results from it and uses it as a travel camera.
  11. Hi, Kevin Interesting post, and interesting thread you've started, mate! I've got one of these Zenobia Ikonta-A clones too, in very nice condition all-round apart from the bellows which are sagging a bit. Come to think of it, isn't this a typical situation for most Japanese folders? I've owned several of them, right back to a c.1937 Semi-Minolta, and not one of them had bellows that didn't look a bit tired and floppy. Maye something to do with the local diet for Japanese cows back in the 30s and 40s? However, the DOC-Rapid shutter is still spot-on, even at a full second, and the scale focussing is fine although a tad stiff, which tends to suggest that the whole lens is being moved, not just a front element. Therefore I'd suspect that Rick is right about the F3.5 Hespar being a 4-element Tessar clone, seeing as Tessars normally don't focuss via their front elements alone. The Hespar on mine seems to be uncoated, maybe suggesting that it's an early c. 1949 one (59812). You'd have to think later Zenobias would have had coated lenses, surely? PN
  12. Is that lighthouse really leaning? It certainly looks like it as the horizon appears level.
  13. Just for the record, the Hesper Anastigmat f/3.5 lens is a four element lens and not a triplet. I bought a Zenobia on ebay and after cleaning, the rear element showed some obvious separation. After heating it in some water on the stove, the rear element came apart and I was able to clean both pieces. I will re cement them with some Canada balsam later.

Share This Page