Monday, August 16, 2010

Zeiss Super Inkonta - unacceptable lens flare

Coza1 digital

In the shade performance is impressive

I recently acquired a Zeiss Super Ikonta A in beautiful condition. The serial numbers indicate it was made in around 1938 and it is truly a beautiful piece of machinery.
There is plenty of information about the history of these particular camera elsewhere on the web so I won't rehash it other than to say it is a medium-format, folding camera that genuinely can fit into the back pocket of a pair of jeans -- well my jeans anyway. I'm not sure about if that would apply to Heidi Klumm. My particular model is in 645 format with 16 exposures to a roll. The B and C models shoot negatives that are 6cm x 6cm and 6cm x 9cm respectively.
The moment I saw the camera I fell in love with it. What's not to love about a medium format camera that fits in your pocket!
On the day I got the Super Ikonta I took it, loaded with Ilford XP2 Super black and white film to the 1 000 bike show in Germiston. My first outing did not go as smoothly as I hoped.
It's a quirky camera and takes some getting used to. First of all you have to ensure the film is wound to the correct spot inb one of the two red windows on the back of the camera. Then shutter speed and aperture must be set on the 3.5 Tessar lens which is somewhat of a fiddly process. Then you must flip up a front rangefinder focussing lens and, looking through a tiny rangefinder viewfinder you turn an awkward focussing wheel next to the lens. When the two images match the camera is in focus. Once that is done the shutter must be manually cocked and you must move your eye to the external viewfinder to compose and take the shot which in itself is awkward as the shutter-release button in on the left hand side of the camera.
I was prepared to put up with it's quirks as I figured I was unlikely to ever be in any particular hurry when using the camera and the small package would produce a large negative.
But I have been disappointed. The uncoated lens, while undoubtedly very sharp, produces flare that is second to none. If the sun is shining and the sun is not directly behind you there is flare and even after fashioning a lenshood the problem remained.
The fact is I am a camera user, not a collector and if the equipment does not perform then I am not interested in it. Though I like the style, the build quality and the unlikely fact that it is a chick-magnet (I could not believe how many pretty women came and struck up conversation with me when the saw the camera) I probably will not keep it. In all likelihood it will be swapped for a post-war camera with a coated lens or else put up for sale.


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