The dumb little and nice Zeiss Ikon(ta) 521 4,5x6

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antonio_b

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I have been thinking I wanted something small easy to carry, with bigger frames than 24x36, but smaller than my 6x9 folder. 6x4,5 is nice: 16 frames per roll, not too few not too many.
By chance someone around here was selling a Zeiss Ikon 521. It has no rangefinder and I don't trust myself with distance guessing, but i have a Smena and a Blik.

this 521 is from 1952, and pristine, I just repaired the case, top was missing so I made one with thick rigid cardboard, scraps of fabric, leather and neoprene glue.
Lens is a Novar so I am not expecting much. It was late evening, getting dark, I loaded a roll of Fomapan-400, shot at iso 800 and developed in Rodinal 1+50 19mn.

the 521 besides my other camera for 6x4,5 a Bronica S2. The Ikonta is really very small

bronica_Ikon-521.jpg


bronica_Ikon-521-2.jpg





I used the RF as is, but I could glue a shoe. In case I use the camera with the case it must be on the top, and then better the Smena, for the Blik not possible to open the viewfinder, but a finder can be glued on top of the Blik:


med_Smena.jpg


med_blik.jpg



without the case, RF can be attached on the opening latch on the side, which is also convenient in case of shooting landscape

med_blik-side.jpg


so it was late, was not sure about Fomapan-400 at 800 and the triplet Novar lens, but not bad:



f 3.5

raw0001_800.jpg



f3.5


raw0008_800.jpg




f8

raw0012_800.jpg





So I like it very much. I see the ones with the coupled RF, ie. the 531 can sell for 3x or 4x what I paid for this one. But with a carefully adjusted Blik or any Watameter, Pegasus, Voigtländer, etc RF, it's a nice little camera to have in the pocket for this and that.
 

momus

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I once owned a Bronica S2, that shutter could have awakened the dead. Your Novar is a nice little triplet lens, if you stop it way down it will do fine. Better for portraits at f8 and under.

I trained myself to be pretty good at estimating distances by marking off distances w/ tape, then seeing how close I could get. After a while you can easily get close enough, but if you don't shoot the camera regularly you sorta have to do a refresher.
 

takilmaboxer

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You're likely to be pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of the lens, especially if you stop it down and use a tripod. I have three of these little guys - coated Novar, uncoated Tessar and coated Tessar. Wonderful little cameras.
 

Helge

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Don't glue or screw anything into or onto the camera. It will always look bad and you will always regret it in a multitude of ways (and not admit it to yourself).
If you absolutely insist on having an RF on the camera, find a flash bracket to screw into the tripod socket. It has a shoe that will fit your RF units. And you can use the case (or not).
If you have a iPhone 12 or newer it will have a LiDAR that you can use with the LiDAR Measuring app. More than enough precision up to five meters, after which even a casual guess is good enough @ f3.5.
Otherwise cultivate a keen sense of distance. It's a very nice skill to have. I can nail 1.2 meters down to a T. And other distances down to plus/minus ten centimetres.
 
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momus

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Actually, your Foma at EI 800 w/ a MF camera looks a heck of a lot better than the time I tried it in 35mm. That's a film that loves EI 250, at least in D76/F76 developers.
 

pbromaghin

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Don't glue or screw anything into or onto the camera. It will always look bad and you will always regret it in a multitude of ways (and not admit it to yourself).
If you absolutely insist on having an RF on the camera, find a flash bracket to screw into the tripod socket. It has a shoe that will fit your RF units. And you can use the case (or not).
If you have an iPhone 12 or newer it will have a LiDAR that you can user with the LiDAR Measuring app. More than enough precise up five meters, after which even a casual guess is good enough @ f3.5.
Otherwise cultivate a keen sense of distance. It's a very nice skill to have. I can nail 1.2 meters down to a T. And other distances down to plus/minus ten centimetres.

Absolutely this!

Besides, I love my folders but can't believe that the distance scales are anywhere near so accurate that the RF needs to be on the camera. They were meant to be tourist cameras.
 

Ian Grant

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I have a pre-WWII 531, unfortunately it's Novar lens is so low contrast and unsharp, or better put diffuse that it's unusable. It uses a Schott glass for the front element that was very soft, prone to atmospheric pollution, or excessive cleaning marks, the same glass was used for Leitz Summar lenses, a few Tessars, and post WWII Meyer Domiplans.

Around 15 years ago I bought a post WWII coated Novar in a Prontor shutter intending to switch the optics to the pre-WWII Compur of my 531. I was living abroad, things happened, and the new lens went astray. Every time I went back to Turkey over the last 8/9 years I searched for it.

This Summer I went to clear our Turkish apartment, bring back my second set of cameras, there was a Balda camera with a loose fitting lens, Bingo there was my newer Novar. So now I finally need to switch the optics.

Ian
 

M-88

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Actually, your Foma at EI 800 w/ a MF camera looks a heck of a lot better than the time I tried it in 35mm. That's a film that loves EI 250, at least in D76/F76 developers.
That's a film that is ISO250, or so, which is wrongly sold as ISO400. Even the data sheet shows that not only D76, but Microphen can't squeeze 400 ISO out of it. It was my worst "fast" film, ever.
 

takilmaboxer

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My experience has been that the rangefinder markings aren't very accurate, FWIW. In the past I always used fast film and stopped it way down. Nowadays I use the hyperfocal red dot and avoid subjects that are closer than 25 feet. They were tourist cameras and I've come full circle - I use them like tourist cameras.
 

Helge

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My experience has been that the rangefinder markings aren't very accurate, FWIW. In the past I always used fast film and stopped it way down. Nowadays I use the hyperfocal red dot and avoid subjects that are closer than 25 feet. They were tourist cameras and I've come full circle - I use them like tourist cameras.

Rangefinders in cameras, coupled or not are never accurate, Leica or not.
It’s a fundamental.

They can be good enough for the vast majority of situations if well calibrated. But they are never dead on, full open, at minimum focus distance.
Which is where a means of establishing exact distance is really needed, because DoF is so shallow.

They are better and worse on a scale of course due to quality and rigidity of the whole construction, but they are never as accurate as a well constructed SLR or TTL AF or even TLR.

Coupled folder rangefinders are accurate enough stopped down and at two meters to infinity.
Whether they are worth using nearer instead of other means is up to temperament and requirements for precision.
For most close up shots you should be on a tripod anyway. So why not use something more accurate for determining distance?
 
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For what it's worth, 531/2 is also lighter and easier to carry around than some 35 mm SLRs. I love mine.

yes, the size surprised me. Moreover I spent last months taking pictures in 8x10 and 18x24 LF, so back to small rolls is fun.

I have a Kodak Retinette 017, so 35mm, and the Ikonta A521 is just a little taller.

that said, I spotted in the local ads website another Zeiss Ikonta, with a Tessar 4.5, in bad shape, and grabbed it with the idea I could tinker and swap lens with the 521/2. When I received it I was surprised by the small size of the parcel, it was just a padded envelope. It is in fact a 3x4 127 film 520/18, the thing is diminutive, i never hold so small camera.

before I considered my 6x9 Moskva, a pocketable point and shot. Here it's on top, then left to right: Ikonta A521, Kodak Retinette 017, Ikonta 520/18, and bottom a Zorki-1 for comparison:

Moskva_Ikonta-421_Ikonta-127_Retinette-017_Zorki-1.jpg





I dated the Baby Ikonta from the lens serial: 1931. it is in bad shape but functional. Have to restore a bit. See how small it is:

IMG_1169_800.JPG


IMG_1170_800.JPG
IMG_1171_800.JPG
 
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antonio_b

antonio_b

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Don't glue or screw anything into or onto the camera. It will always look bad and you will always regret it in a multitude of ways (and not admit it to yourself).

yes in fact I decided there's no point to install a shoe somewhere. The Blik RF is very ergonomic, I attached a wrist lanyard to it, can hold and measure with right hand. And anyway it's not like I would need to focus and shoot fast.
I also found the case to be convenient for carrying around, this excludes attached accessory.
 
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antonio_b

antonio_b

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You're likely to be pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of the lens, especially if you stop it down and use a tripod. I have three of these little guys - coated Novar, uncoated Tessar and coated Tessar. Wonderful little cameras.

I have been playing with it only handhold, I won't carry a tripod with a small thing like that, and yes it's not bad...
All pictures focused as per my home adjusted Blik RF, film is Retropan 320, developed in HC-110-B:

raw0001.tif.jpg
raw0003.tif.jpg

raw0004.tif.jpg

raw0009.tif.jpg





in order to see about some bokeh.... these two are at the closest range, 1st at f3.5, 2nd at f8:

raw0012.tif.jpg


raw0013.tif.jpg
 
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antonio_b

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Actually, your Foma at EI 800 w/ a MF camera looks a heck of a lot better than the time I tried it in 35mm. That's a film that loves EI 250, at least in D76/F76 developers.

I never used D76, always develop Foma films in HC-110 or Foma Excel or Adox XT-3 ie. Xtol-likes, (but Retropan mostly in Foma own Retrodev). the first pictures here in the thread was first time I developed with Rodinal because having a look at Massive Dev charts Foma 400 @800 is listed there with Rodinal 1+50 for 19mn, HC-100 listed 10 mn with B dilution, and in this case I decided better to opt for a dilution with longer dev time and since HC-110 in dilution H isn 't list I was unsure about trying it with twice the time of the B dilution listed (B 10mn -> H 20mn ???).
 

Helge

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I have been playing with it only handhold, I won't carry a tripod with a small thing like that, and yes it's not bad...
It’s exactly the small size that makes it ideal for a tripod.
That tripod can be very small. A table tripod is fine if you don’t need the hight.

You can even hold it on windows, walls, a tree and you own chest for stabilization.

A tripod opens a world of low light shooting.

yes in fact I decided there's no point to install a shoe somewhere. The Blik RF is very ergonomic, I attached a wrist lanyard to it, can hold and measure with right hand. And anyway it's not like I would need to focus and shoot fast.
I also found the case to be convenient for carrying around, this excludes attached accessory.

If you have an iPhone 12 or never, there is a LiDAR in it. The LiDAR measuring app will let you use it for measuring distance.
The Light Meter app will let you meter as well.
A laser rangefinder like the Leica ones are also nice for use. Especially indoors.

What is really needed is a small spot meter like thing with rangefinder build in, to wear as a necklace.
Doesn’t exist as far as I know.
 
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antonio_b

antonio_b

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If you have an iPhone 12 or never, there is a LiDAR in it. The LiDAR measuring app will let you use it for measuring distance.
The Light Meter app will let you meter as well.
A laser rangefinder like the Leica ones are also nice for use. Especially indoors.

What is really needed is a small spot meter like thing with rangefinder build in, to wear as a necklace.
Doesn’t exist as far as I know.

I am a minimalist: the less electronic the better. A Blik RF is really nice and needs no battery. For metering I use an old Sekonic L-228 with zoom, angle of view 28 to 8, I use it mostly at 8, and measure couple areas, so not spot yet very convenient, and it has a calculator dial. And much smaller than a spotmeter. I also have a Polaris with the 10 degrees additional eye.

I have seen often in Germany old Entfernungsmesser mit Belichtungsmesser, under name Combimeter. They look like the Watameter or Pollux RF but chunkier. They have a 3rd eye, and another wheel with f values, times and din values, on top. But I never was interested to buy one, they must use of course a chunk of selenium (no battery).
 

JPD

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Use the rangefinder when you have time, and guesstimate the distance when you don't have time, and use a small aperture (11 or smaller). 🙂
 

pbromaghin

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Nothing wrong with any of those photos! Folders rule.
 
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antonio_b

antonio_b

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Nothing wrong with any of those photos! Folders rule.

yes, the Novar lens seems capable. Basically that's the point about how worth this Ikonta is. Have in mind I bought this because 1) I was curious about 4,5x6 in such a small size, instead of my Bronica S2 2) it was selling near me for cheap, I could have a look before buying, no postage, no toll.
But Ikon(ta) in my mind meant Tessar or Xenar, I didn't know at all of Novar and there's not much online about it. On auctions sites, the Tessar models sell at 2x to 3x times more than the Novar ones. So probably yet another instance of market speculation out of control around a known name.

I have been searching online about similar folders, most of them have coupled rangefinders, in Germany the Baldaxette and the Weltur, and in Japan with or without RF,Konica, Minolta, Petri. In case I would buy another folder in this size I would decide as per the shutter. These Novar Ikonta seem to have been produced all with 1 to 1/250 or 1/300 shutters, only the Tessar come in faster Compur 1-1/500.
 

Helge

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I am a minimalist: the less electronic the better. A Blik RF is really nice and needs no battery. For metering I use an old Sekonic L-228 with zoom, angle of view 28 to 8, I use it mostly at 8, and measure couple areas, so not spot yet very convenient, and it has a calculator dial. And much smaller than a spotmeter. I also have a Polaris with the 10 degrees additional eye.

I have seen often in Germany old Entfernungsmesser mit Belichtungsmesser, under name Combimeter. They look like the Watameter or Pollux RF but chunkier. They have a 3rd eye, and another wheel with f values, times and din values, on top. But I never was interested to buy one, they must use of course a chunk of selenium (no battery).
If you have the phone with you, which you have, bringing something extra is less "minimalist".
Google "rangefinder card", or "human rangefinder" to have your mind blown in a minor way.
Easy to tape to the top of the camera.
Also: https://expomat.tripod.com

Extinction meters are at best as good as just using a simple exposure chart or experience. They are if not useless then a proxy for something better.
These Novar Ikonta seem to have been produced all with 1 to 1/250 or 1/300 shutters, only the Tessar come in faster Compur 1-1/500.

Most 500 speeds are really something like 450 to 350 today. And anyway the 500 speed was not meant to be used willy nilly by bokeh masturbators like seems to be de rigueur du jour. It's meant for the very occasional use, to stop very fast motion or to deal with more light than you where expecting.
 

pbromaghin

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yes, the Novar lens seems capable. Basically that's the point about how worth this Ikonta is. Have in mind I bought this because 1) I was curious about 4,5x6 in such a small size, instead of my Bronica S2 2) it was selling near me for cheap, I could have a look before buying, no postage, no toll.
But Ikon(ta) in my mind meant Tessar or Xenar, I didn't know at all of Novar and there's not much online about it. On auctions sites, the Tessar models sell at 2x to 3x times more than the Novar ones. So probably yet another instance of market speculation out of control around a known name.

I have been searching online about similar folders, most of them have coupled rangefinders, in Germany the Baldaxette and the Weltur, and in Japan with or without RF,Konica, Minolta, Petri. In case I would buy another folder in this size I would decide as per the shutter. These Novar Ikonta seem to have been produced all with 1 to 1/250 or 1/300 shutters, only the Tessar come in faster Compur 1-1/5

The Novar isn't any specific design, but were generally triplet a-stigmatics purchased from 3rd party lens manufacturers throughout the years. The Novars on the 1952 523/16 are of postwar build and much better than the Novars of the 1948 521/16, which I suspect were pre-war leftovers. They do seem every bit as good as the Tessar within a stop either way of f/8, but get a bit mushy in the corners as they open up. At larger apertures the 521 shows a lot of vignetting which isn't present in the 523. Some people say Tessars don't perform well in the corners wide open, but I haven't shot any of mine that way often enough to form an opinion.
 

henryvk

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The Novar isn't any specific design, but were generally triplet a-stigmatics purchased from 3rd party lens manufacturers throughout the years. The Novars on the 1952 523/16 are of postwar build and much better than the Novars of the 1948 521/16, which I suspect were pre-war leftovers. They do seem every bit as good as the Tessar within a stop either way of f/8, but get a bit mushy in the corners as they open up. At larger apertures the 521 shows a lot of vignetting which isn't present in the 523. Some people say Tessars don't perform well in the corners wide open, but I haven't shot any of mine that way often enough to form an opinion.

The 521s with an asterisk at the end of the serial number are supposed the be the ones with pre-war parts and Zeiss didn’t make a 523 (no more pop-up finder) in 6x45 but produced the 521/0 until 1956.

Wonder if that means the non-asterisk 521/0s all have post-war Novars.
 

henryvk

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I shot a roll of Fomapan 400 back with my post-war Novar Ikonta 521/0 up in Bremen a few weeks ago.

A few things to note:

  • The shutter release is on the left. This is unusual for me and made it a little difficult to hold the camera still. I think this caused shake in some frames.
  • Uncoated lens. I shot without a lens hood or yellow filter, so unless I was ideally positioned there was some loss of contrast/veiling especially with diffuse/bright sunlight.
  • Sharpness. When everything comes together (I guess this can be said for any lens) the Novar performed well with good contrast and sharpness.
  • Viewfinder. The VF is a reverse Galilean pop-up finder which is sturdy and surprisingly accurate even up-close. The catch is that you have to put your eye *right* up to the eyepiece to see the whole frame.
  • Film advance. I really like the film advance. The spools sit snug, there's no wiggle in the winding mechanism and the double exposure protection lets go with an audible "snick" in addition to the indicator turning red.

Here's a shot from Bremen's old town "Schnoor" quarter:

ir1QhJ1.jpg


Crop:

JiKWgi4.jpg



Early morning on the Wümme river. A beautiful moment but not a great scene for the BW Fomapan with lots of diffuse bright light to boot:

GIOJdEL.jpg


Crop:

i011GrG.jpg
 
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