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The camera Zeiss would like all of us to forget: The Ikonette


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The Ikonette is a ZI creation of late 50's early 60's intended for people on a

budget. Actually some


folks are of the opinion that its intended audience were women due to its

cosmetics. Personally I think


it looks like a gadget straight out of an Austin Powers movie. The camera,

apparently was a sales


disaster due to light leaks, so ZI recalled and destroyed many of them(see

McKeown 2001-2002 edition, pg


721). This places this camera in the endangered species list as I find them to

be pretty rare, and when


they show up, they do command somewhat unreasonable prices when one takes into

account what the camera


has to offer.


<P>The camera, seems to be made of plastic however it is not very light which

suggests that its insides


are not. It is a viewfinder camera so an accessory rangefinder or knowledge of

zone focusing would come


in handy. It has a coated Novar(triplet) lens of good quality which focuses by

rotating the front cell.


<P> The huge lever at 10 o'clock is really an ingenious design as it carries

two functions: 1)One push


down advances the film and cocks the shutter 2)Second push, releases the

shutter. There is a red flag


indicator on the viewfinder which indicates that the film has not been advanced

yet. <p>


My camera came from somewhere in New Jersey and it was in a sorry state of

being. The viewfinder was


dirty and the shutter leaves were opening up on the first attempt which was

intended to advance the


film. I emailed Mike Elek who gave me a few pointers on getting to the

viewfinder area(thanks Mike), and


managed to clean up the view-glass and adjust the arm that controls the frame

counter, however the


shutter leaf issue was beyond anything I could muster. I brought it my

repairman who upon inspection


informed me that the problem was being caused by the faulty self timer which

was beyond repair(stripped


gear). He went on to disconnect it and clean the shutter. The camera was

operational in about two hours,


well except for the self timer. I took it out for a spin and had a lot of fun

with it. And as for the


light leaks..... what light leaks?

<p>Well enough talk, here it is with a couple of first roll shots<p>




<img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3185/2295759848_0e1d8f765a.jpg"

width="500" height="364"


alt="Zeiss Ikon Ikonette" /></p><hr>


<p><h3>Children's Joy is Priceless</h2><p>

<img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3204/2295775170_ef9242cfd0.jpg"

width="500" height="337"


alt="Children's Joy is Priceless" /><br><br>

<i>1/125s, F/5.6 on Agfa Optima 100</i>


<p><h3>Waiting the Turn to Paddle</h3>


<img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3119/2294981395_3a605cd3ed.jpg"

width="500" height="337"


alt="Waiting the turn to paddle" /><br><br>

<i>1/125s, F/5.6 on Agfa Optima 100</i><p>




<img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/2294981641_93577e53fb.jpg"

width="500" height="337"


alt="Pensive" /><br><br>

<i>1/125s, F/8 on Agfa Optima 100</i>


<h3>A Warm Smile</h3><p>


<img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3240/2294980931_13f670f39e.jpg"

width="500" height="337" alt="A


Warm Smile" /><br><br>

<i>1/125s, F8 on Agfa Optima 100</i>

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Michael, and the same company that brought you the Mustang II brought you the Pinto... no wait... nevermind. ;) I haven't had much luck with the Contessa LK that I own... the shutter is crap and when I attempted to take it apart to clean or repair it, I ended up stuck at lens elements that would not come out and lots of plastic parts that all too easily break... biggest waste of a Tessar lens that I could imagine. Glad to see that someone has had much better luck out of a post-war era Zeiss!
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Wow, that lens sure makes wonderful images, or is that all the photographer? My expierence is that Novar Anastigmat lenses are all excellent. In most cases they are as good as a Tessar above f:5.6, but not as good at 5.6 and below. That Said, the camera is definately made for the female market, just like the Baby Rollei cameras, and the Funky colored Ricoh Auto-44's. However, that does not mean that they will be cheap or crummy cameras, just that they lack the black and chrome, of the Macho models. Oh, on the post war Zeiss producst, the best, cost the most: Contax, Contarex, Super Ikonta, Ikonta, Ikoflex, Folding Contessa, and Folding Contina, these cameras are most reliable, and give the best results. I would avoid the consumer lines, like the Contaflex, Symbolica...
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I'm real impressed with the lens too! Mark, I avoid political loaded questions or observatuions about the "female market" Seems like you can't win for trying here! YKWIM! I recall seeing these in second-hand shops and thought uuggh Now, I'll see what they want!!

Ralf, I think in your "good hands" this is a real performer!!



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Ralf, there are quite a number of cameras aimed specifically at the ladies. The UK maker Lancaster made a selection including the ladies handbag camera - wonderfully designed to look like a handbag when closed. Kodak of vourse made the Vanity series in the 20's and 30's (which came complete with a powder compact!) and this trend continued right up to the 1950's with white cameras such as your Zeiss model and the lford Advocate.


Many of these cameras are fairly rare perhaps indicating that 'the lttle woman' was quite capable of working a normal camera and needed no pretty colours to become adept at photography. In fact right from photography's earliest times many manufacturers aimed for the female market.


Here is an example of an advert from 1882 from Scovill showing a young woman using her Scovill view vamera with her watch in her hand timing an exposure.<div>00ObD0-41996184.jpg.28474a54659fd519f4acecd41e169e01.jpg</div>

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Looks like the film advance/shutter cocking mechanism was a partial carryover from the Tenax II from the 1930s. Here's Mike's article on the Tenax:




I believe the problem w/the self-timer/shutter link is an issue w/some of the Tenaxes, too.


It was too bad that ZI didn't use it for any of their better 35mm cameras after WWII, as a full-frame "Tenax IIa" would have rocked.

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Thanks for the comments guys. I remember seeign in McK. a Kodak camera which came with mirror and lipstick and it was produced sometime in the 20s. There is no doubt that that targeted the female audience of the time so yes, it was definitely done before.
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Ralf, those are the "Vanity" line of Kodaks... beautiful cameras, they came in an assortment of colors and the "clamshell" case had 4 or 5 different art-deco mosaic patterns which were mimicked on the shutter of the camera itself. Matching off-color bellows comepleted the "look". Today both Kodak and Olympus smartly build compact, easy to use, colorful cameras which are marketed at women and young girls. It's a large market, and I'm guessing that more than a few of the baby photos tucked away in your mother's attic were taken with similar cameras. I know for a fact that many of the photos of me growing up where taken on Olympus P-N-S cameras like the Infinity, which was given elegant "feminine" lines.
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Good point Pat and very true. My baby photos were taken with a small bakelite little beast called Smena-2 made in FSU. I was almost in tears when I re-united with it 3 years ago after 30 years. It smelled heavily of tobaco but I cleaned it and babied until it sparkled again:



<img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2209/2298799391_538036295b.jpg" width="500" height="338" alt="smena-2" />

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Thanks Chris. That's how I like them, the weirder the better :-).<p>


David: thanks for the comments. I have always loved the Agfa Optima 100 even though a roll of it cost 4 times the cost of a Fuji roll and the grain is pretty coarse and visible especially in blue skies. It tends to be a warmer tone then its competition and nice bright colors. I managed to snap a 100 foot roll from ultrafine for 18 bucks a few months after the legendary Agfa went kaput.

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