The following advert from the 1939 Wallace Heaton minitography and cinematography catalogue show the models available in 1939 together with prices. There 517 and 518 were post-war models so are not mentioned in this advert:
|Left to right: Nettar 515, Nettar 515/2, Bob 510, Nettar 517/16|
This camera is very very similar to the Nettar 515. Indeed, this camera (Bob 510) was sold in the UK as a Nettar 510 – the first of the Nettar line. The Nettar 515 is obviously an update of the Bob/Nettar 510. I am basing that on the dates for introduction I have found on the Internet: 1934 for the 510, 1937 for the 515 and the fact that the 510 is a much lower spec. than the 515. However, Tubbs has the dates of introduction as 1938 for the 510 and 1934 for the 515. This seems unlikely to me as the 510 has hinge on the baseboard that will not allow the fitting of a top-plate shutter release while the 515 hinge does. There would be no advantage in redesigning a perfectly good hinge in order to make a cheaper camera. Also, the lens standard on the 515 has provision to fit an optional brilliant finder while the 510 does not. Again, there would be no commercial point in redesigning the lens standard to prevent the attachment of the brilliant finder in the cheaper camera. The re-engineering would cost needless money and also prevent potential sales of optional auxiliaries. The serial number of the body tells me it was made in 1936
Apart from the lens/shutter options and the differences mentioned above, the 510 and 515 are identical.
The name “Bob” is an estimable one. It is an Ernemann name and dates from 1914. Ernemann was one of the four companies (Goertz, Contessa-Nettal, ICA and Ernemann) who combined under the aegis of the Carl Zeiss Foundation to form Zeiss Ikon in 1926. Zeiss Ikon continued to sell Bob III and Bob IV cameras but were using up stock from before the merger. These Ernemann Bobs bequeathed nothing but the name to the Bob 510.
As I said, the Bob 510 was marketed in the UK as the Nettar 510 but my specimen is clearly a Bob with the name “Bob” embossed in the leatherette and the distance scale is in metres. I am always a bit uneasy when I buy German versions of cameras from the 1930s – they were certainly not retailed here in the UK. I suspect many were taken as war booty by British soldiers or “bought” in exchange for unavailable items. However, that is now fairly distant past and is (always was) beyond my control.
This is a half-frame camera – full frame for 120 film is 6cm by 9cm. This camera produces 6cm by 4.5cm negatives – 16 to a roll of film. This is roughly four times as large as a 35mm negative and most of the defects of an old, cheap lens are off-set by the need to enlarge the pictures four times less.
The lens on this camera is a Nettar Anastigmat 1:6.3 with a focal length of 7.5 cm. This was below the standard for the time and marks the camera as a cheap version. F6.3 is very slow and faster lenses were available, in fact the 515 had a f4.5 lens just a couple of years later. Focussing is courtesy of the front cell only – usual on the lower end of the market, even with upmarket lenses such as Tessars. Focussing is from just short of 1.2 metres to infinity. This lens is fairly soft with a predisposition to flare as you can see from the photographs below.
The shutter is the fairly crude Derval leaf shutter by Gauthier – speeds are 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 plus B and T. There is no delayed action lever. The fascia of the shutter, which was supplied by Zeiss Ikon rather than Gauthier, is a black and chrome Art Deco disc more reminiscent of Agfa of the time than nit is of Zeiss Ikon. The shutter is of the everset variety – there is no need to cock the shutter first as on a Klio or Prontor shutter. The shutter release lever has quite a lot of travel before it acts making firing the shutter a bit uncertain. This is much easier in landscape orientation but in portrait orientation one finger of the right hand has to move well under the lens while the rest of the hand has to hold the camera steady. As is usual, the lens/shutter combination has Happy Snapper settings signified by red dots. These are just larger than f11 and about seven metres. With the slow films of the 1930s, this would have required a slow shutter speed of 1/25 or 1/50 except in really bright light. The resulting pictures would not have stood any enlarging, but the customers for this camera would have been unlikely to have had anything other than contact prints from the 6cm by 4.5 cm negatives.
The viewfinder is a folding Galilean finder. The eye-piece is very small – 3mm by 5mm – and difficult to use while wearing spectacles. To add to this difficulty, the front part on my specimen is very worn and leans forward at an alarming angle. This means that precision of composition is not possible – but if I wanted precision I would not be using a seventy plus year old camera.
There is one tripod bush on the bottom at the end of the film holder. This protrudes from the casing and means that the tripod will not fit very securely. The main boss is 3/8 inch Whitworth but will take a 1/4 inch Whitworth insert – it probably had one to begin with.
|Views along the banks of the Sincil towards Lincoln cathedral.|
The camera is self-erecting – that is, you press the button on the body, the baseboard opens and the lens lines up correctly. You still need to pull the base board into position as it is not spring loaded like the 515 is. The same body button also opens the direct vision finder. There are two tripod bushes – one on the base board near the hinge and one on the bottom in the end of the film holder. This means that this tripod bush will not hold the camera very securely. Both are 3/8 inch Whitworth threads, both with 1/4 inch Whitworth inserts held in place with a grub screw.
The camera is designed to use Orthochromatic film which is not sensitive to red light. The red view hole in the back for noting negative numbers has no cover and if the camera is used with modern Panchromatic film, a degree of fogging could occur through this hole. As you can see, there is a problem with the bellows on this old camera – there is a slight sag where the bellows join the camera body. I am not sure how easy this would be to fix. The many black dots are dirt that has been attracted to static on the film – a good but expensive way to clean the inside of the camera.
This following is adverts for this model from the British Journal of Photography Almanac of 1936:
|Cornhill, Lincoln, August 2011|
|Silver Street, Lincoln, August 2011|
|Stamp End, Lincoln – Fujifilm Provia|
A scanned copy of the original Nettar manual for this camera is available as a download. Also available is Zeiss Ikon’s 1930s exposure guide.
|Lincoln Arboretum, 2011|
|Drury lane, Lincoln – looking north|
|All three together, oldest on the left, newest on the right.|