The Zeiss Super Ikontas are compact folding medium format cameras with bellows built to high quality standards for 120 film (beside one exception with the Ikona C for 116/616 film) and with build in coupled rangefinders. The 30 year production period of these mechanical cameras started in 1929 and ended in 1959.
Zeiss Super Ikonta – A short History
The Zeiss Super Ikonta series was introduced in 1929 with 4 models. The Ikonta A (520), B (520/16), C (520/2) and D. While the Ikontas A-C where made for 120 film, the Ikonta C took 116 or 616 film.
The first number indicates the model series (520/.., 530/.., 531/…, etc.) and the second number the frame format (../14 = 5×7.5 cm, ../16 = 6×6 cm, ../2 = 6×9 cm, ../15 = 6.5 x 11 cm). Models like the 520, 530 without a second number producing images in the 4.5×6 cm format on 120 film.
The Super Ikonta series have all coupled rangefinders with front lens focusing. Later models launched in the 1950s had additionally a uncoupled selenium rangefinder. Considering the condition how these cameras can be found today, the Super Ikonta series was truly a high quality mechanical camera. My current model the Super Ikonta 530/16 was made around 1934 and works like a charm after a small maintenance.
I want to highlight three models in a blog series about the Super Ikonta which I owned and used. The Super Ikonta 530/16, Super Ikonta 532/16 and the Super Ikonta IV 534/16. Today I want to talk about the Super Ikonta 530/16 also known as Super Ikonat A.
Super Ikonta A – 530/16
Let’s start with the oldest one of the three and the one which I’m currently using. Compared to its successor, the 530/16 is a bit lighter and smaller but has separate view- and rangefinder windows. Considering that the camera was produced between 1934 and 1937, my camera was in a very good condition when I received it. The lens-shutter assembly worked well and was almost clean and the body condition was superb. The only problem which I had to solve was with the film winding mechanism and the automatic double exposure prevention system. After opening the top plate, cleaning the mechanical system with alcohol and re-lubricating with watch oil the winding mechanism got back to life.
It’s important to read the manual how to put the film into the camera and reset the frame counter:
- Put the film into the camera and stick the beginning of the film into the take-up spool
- Wind the film until the film sits proper in the take-up spool
- Close the back and open the small window that you can see the film through the red window
- Keep on winding the film until the “1” for the first frame appears in the red window.
- Close the small window with the metal slider
- Push the frame counter on the top of the camera down and rotate clockwise until you feel resistance at the number 1
- Now you are ready to shoot the first frame.
The further numbers of the frames is shown on the top of the camera through the frame counter. There is no need to look again through the red window at the backside of the camera. The double exposure prevention systems avoids that the exposure button can be pushed two times for the same frame. However, if you want to double-exposue a frame, you still can do it with operating the shutter directly at the shutter-lens assembly.
One further issue I had with the camera was the bellow. Although it was still light-tight, small particles of the fabric got loosen inside which caused spots on the negatives. I decided to buy and assemble a new bellow. I can highly recommend Sandeha Lynch if you search a custom made bellow four your camera. Not only that the bellow fitted perfectly, also the production and shipping was amazing fast. If you glue the bellow onto the camera body, make sure that you are using a glue which gives you some time to adjust the final position.
Lens and Shutter
Since the lens was clean and the shutter was working very smooth, I did not have to open the lens-shutter assembly. A measurement of the shutter speeds showed me that the shutter timings where all one stop to slow. No big deal. Knowing that I can consider that with my light meter readings.