Ikonta 520 novar

Friday, June 28, 2013

This is a medium format camera (i.e. takes 120 film) from Zeiss Ikon.  It is a half-frame camera - 6 x 4.5 cm negative - which is half of a standard 120 frame of 6 x 9 cm.

Ikonta 520, front view
lens: Novar
focal length:  75mm
apertures: f6.3 to f32
focus range: 4'6" to infinity (that is the scale, actually about 4 feet)
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Derval
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B, T
flash: n/a
film size: 120

The body is made from cast aluminium.  This body casting is shared between the Ikonta 520, Bob 510 and Nettar 515. It is quite hard to understand why Zeiss Ikon shared the body between three different camera lines instead of calling them all Ikonta (the oldest name) seeing as Bob, Ikonta and Nettar all come with a range of lenses and shutters and can be considered to be one range in effect if not in name.

So, this Ikonta.  The lens is a Novar which is a triplet and performs surprisingly well once stopped down to f8 or smaller.  Ikontas were also available with Tessars at a higher price and wider aperture Novars.  The Novar on this camera is quite a slow lens with a maximum aperture of f6.3.  The focussing is front cell only, rather than the whole lens moving (giving not quite so good image quality) and the focussing scale is in feet indicating that the camera is an official import into the UK.

The shutter is an everset Derval (everset means it does not need cocking before firing as a Klio or Compur would).  This is a fairly crude (and so cheap) shutter with two blades only and only offers three speeds: 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100.  With a slow lens like this camera has, faster shutter speeds would have been superfluous, particularly with the slow, by modern standards, films available in the 1930s.

Detail of rim-set shutter adjuster on Derval shutter
The shutter is a dial set shutter which means that the speed adjustment is by a dial set above the shutter housing.  More modern shutters have a rim set adjuster which is a ring around the shutter housing.  This shutter does not have a V (=Vorlaufwerk) setting for delayed action and as is usual with cameras made before the late 1940s, there is no flash connection or synchronisation.

As I mentioned, the maximum aperture is rather small at f6.3 but the minimum aperture is surprisingly small - f32 - so the range of exposures possible is still respectably large.

A standard photograph with this camera (as with the Bob 510 and Nettar 515) is in portrait format and in this orientation the shutter release is underneath the camera and is uncomfortable to use.  To take landscape pictures, the camera must be used on its side and the shutter release is on the side and easy to use.