Paxina 29

Paxina 29 medium format film camera made by Carl Braun of Nurnberg.

This is a medium format (120 film) camera from Carl Braun of Nürnberg, Germany. This is the Braun that made the Paxette range of 35 mm cameras but the manufacturing standards here are not as high as with the Paxettes. In 1954, the British Journal Photographic Almanac had this paxina 29 camera advertised for sale for £11-1-10 plus £3-12-2 purchase tax giving a retail price of £14-14-0.


lens: Paxar
focal length:  75 mm
apertures: f/2.9 to f/22
focus range: 3 feet to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Pronto
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200
flash: PC socket
film size: 120

This camera measures 140 mm wide by 90 mm high and 70 mm deep when closed (95 mm deep when open). It weighs 475g. The body is made from an aluminium alloy casting with an aluminium fascia. Most of the body is covered in black leatherette with the base and edges painted black (and some small chrome plated details).


As a simple 120 camera, the top plate is uncluttered (particularly compared to a later 35 mm SLR). At either end is a large (30 mm diameter) knob although only the left-hand one turns. This turning knob is the film advance used in conjunction with the red window (more later). Both knobs pull up to facilitate the fitting and removal of the roll of film. The film advance knob has an arrow engraved in the top to indicate the direction of turn. Between the two knobs is a decorative plate with printed legends of maker, model name and place of manufacture.


The Braun logo on here is remarkably like the Carl Zeiss and their subsidiaries logos.

Central on the top plate is an accessory shoe with no electrical contacts (so a cold shoe).

The front of the camera has a square fascia which measures 70 mm wide and 65 mm high. Centrally in this is the lens/shutter assembly. This assembly is housed on the end on an aluminium tube, similar to my Balda Super Baldina and Dacora Digna cameras of the same era. This tube slides into the camera body when not in use. To use the camera, the lens/shutter is pulled out and turned anti-clockwise until it clicks in place.

These sliding tubes are usually fairly snug but the fit on this one is rather sloppy. Looking inside the camera, it is clear that this sloppiness is due to wear of the sliding components all of which are aluminium. When collapsed, the shutter release slides into a cylinder to prevent it moving. Presumably, this is to prevent accidental firing of the shutter but as the shutter needs to be manually cocked I would have thought it an unnecessary precaution.

The shutter is a Gauthier Pronto shutter. This is a cheaper version of the Prontor shutter. It offers four speeds (1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200) and B. It has a delay action lever which barely works on this camera – it is good practice not to try the delay action on old cameras as, at best, they cause problems and can wreck the shutter if they physically break. The shutter has a PC socket for flash with no synchronising setting.  There is also a socket threaded for a standard cable release.


The lens is marked as a Paxar and was made in Bayreuth – this suggests that the lens was made by Steiner (the only significant lens maker in Bayreuth). At this price range for a camera, the lens will be a triplet and is front cell focusing. Steiner were (and still are) a reputable company so I would imagine that this lens will perform well when closed down to f/5.6 or f/8. The lens serial number is 28722 which is a fairly low serial number (Steiner started business in 1947 and this camera was made in 1953 so a low serial number is to be expected). The lens is coated, at least on the front surface. The rear surface of the rear element does no appear to be coated – there is no visible blue tint there.

The iris diaphragm has ten blades which gives a good approximation of a circular aperture. The maximum aperture is f/2.9 which seems to be a strange value seeing that the standard sequence of apertures includes f/2.8. As Schneider also produced a f/2.9 triplet (the Radionar), I assume that there is a technical reason for the f/2.9 maximum aperture.

There is an aperture on the aperture scale marked with a red dot. With this red dot setting (which is slightly larger than f/8) the hyperlocal distance of this lens is 30 feet. This means that with the red dot aperture and the focus set to 30 feet, everything from about 18 feet to infinity will be in focus – ideal for landscapes.

You can increase the hyperlocal distance by setting the aperture to f/22 when the focus range becomes 5.5 feet to infinity. The makers will have chosen the red dot aperture value to match the lens’ “sweet spot” and so give maximum image quality. At f/22, there will be some image softening due to diffraction.

Above the lens is the viewfinder window. This is square (as this camera produces square images) and not very good. Wearing my glasses, I cannot possibly see the whole image and not wearing my glasses I need to hold the camera uncomfortably close to my eye.


The back of the camera is unadorned apart from the viewfinder eyepiece and the red window. The viewfinder eyepiece is very small – about 5 mm diameter – and hard to use.It is flush with the body and has a slightly raised part of the back immediately below it. The red window is central in the back (this is the position of the series of frame numbers for square negatives on 120 film. Cameras that take 6×9 or 6×4.5 negatives will use the series of numbers towards one edge of the film or the other). To avoid light fogging the film, this red window is furnished with an internal shutter. This has a white square painted on it so it is visible through the red window. It is moved by a round metal stud just above the window.

The base of the camera has a central tripod boss – 1/4 inch Whitworth. At either end of the base is a polished, round, raised, aluminium disc. These pull out to facilitate insertion and removal of the film spools.


Inside, at either end, is a chamber for the film. The new film goes on the right and the take-up spool on the left. In each film chamber is a blue-steel spring to help keep the film taut on the spools. between the film chambers is the film gate. This is 55 mm high by 57 mm wide – the nominal size is 60 x 60 mm. The negatives will be not quite square. either side of the film gate is a chrome plated roller to prevent the film getting scratched as it moves across from one side to the other.

Voigtlander Brillant "TLR" camera

This is Voigtlander’s attempt to cash in on the Rolleiflex design. As well as this cheaper model, they also produced a much more expensive model called the Superba. This camera looks exactly like a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex)  – and it is: it has two lenses and the viewing lens is reflex; it looks via a mirror. The big difference is focussing. Rolleiflex and their cousins focus by moving the front plate (with taking lens and viewing lens) back and forth and the user focusses via a ground glass screen which is missing on this model. Here, focussing is via a helical screw thread on the taking lens.

Voigtlander Brillant, front view

This camera was produced in the early 1950s and the lens serial number dates from between 1947 and 1950 – and is probably from 1950. This camera cost, in 1952, £22/11/6 (old money) or £22.57 in decimal money. The case cost a further £2/17/9 (or £2.89). This was seriously expensive –  the UK average salary in 1950 was £100 per year which is £2.00 per week – the camera cost over ten week’s pay for an average person. For comparison, the average salary in 2016 is nearly £28,000 which would make this camera worth £5,600 today.

This camera is made from Bakelite (an early plastic) which becomes brittle with age. My camera is in very good condition with no visible cracks. The only damage I can see is one of the strap lugs has snapped off.
My usual technique with this blog in describing cameras is to start with the top plate and work my way down. Right at the top is the maker’s name ‘Voigtlander’ in Italic script. Below this in the front panel are two lenses. The top lens is the viewing lens (essentially the viewfinder) – the user looks down on the top of the camera and through this lens via a sloping mirror. There is no focussing screen and this lens is fixed (there was a more expensive version with a focussing screen) – it is essentially a massive brilliant viewfinder.
Below the viewing lens is the shutter assembly with the taking lens. The shutter has the AGC logo telling us that this is a Gauthier shutter – in fact a Prontor II going by the range of shutter speeds.


Gauthier shutter (Prontor II)
As always with older clockwork shutters, it is necessary to cock the shutter before use. There is a lever at the top of the assembly for this purpose – the user pulls the lever down to the right (in use; to the left, in my photo of the shutter) where it stays until the shutter is fired. Just below this cocking lever is the shutter release lever. This release lever pushes down and in. Below this is a threaded socket for a standard cable release.
The shutter has two ranges of speeds operated by different parts of the shutter mechanism. The fast speeds – 1/25, 1/50, 11/100 and 1/175 seconds – are working well on my camera and seem to be close to the marked speed (test film will tell for sure). The slow speeds are usually hesitant or non-functional on old shutters. These are 1 second, 1/2, 1/5, and 1/10 seconds. These do not work  on this camera without the user forcing the cocking lever back to its normal position. In addition to the fast and slow shutter speeds, there are two more. B keeps the shutter open while the user keeps the release lever depressed (or more likely in practice, keeps the cable release depressed). T will open the shutter when the shutter release is pressed and the shutter will stay open until the shutter release is pressed a second time. B and T work well on this camera.
The taking lens is a Voigtlander Vaskar. This is Voigtlander’s cheap triplet (a Crooke’s triplet design as far as I can tell). Triplets usually perform very well if stopped down to f/8 – the test film will show for sure how well this lens performs. The focal length is 75 mm which is ‘normal’ for TLR cameras. The negative is square – nominally 6 cm per side. ‘Normal’ is the diagonal of the negative. Pythagorus gives us a diagonal of √(36+36) =  √72 = 8.5 cm so this lens is very slightly wide angle. Maximum aperture is f/4.5 (very respectable for a cheap camera in 1950) and the minimum aperture is f/16. The aperture is set by a lever on the shutter assembly on the photographer’s left. At the base of the shutter assembly is the delay action lever. As with the slow shutter speeds, these rarely work well on old cameras and the standard advice is to never try them.

Below the shutter assembly is the camera’s model name – Brillant (not Brilliant!).

The left side of the camera has a hinged door with space inside for two filters/close up lenses. My camera has one yellow filter in place – these are a push fit on the taking lens.


Left side showing the filter compartment

The right side of the camera has various controls. The most obvious is the film winder at the top. This winds the film on between shots. he lever to the right of that releases the frame counting mechanism while winding to the first frame.The lever in the middle sets the frame counter to 1 which is displayed in the small window. Detailed instructions on how these knobs and levers work can be seen in the instruction ‘book’ on my Google Drive (one small sheet of folded paper ).


Right side showing controls

On the back there is the ubiquitous red window that medium format cameras usually have. This is covered by an internal blind to prevent the film being fogged while not in use. This is opened by a knurled ring below and to the right of the red window.  The blind has a large white cross on it to make it clear that the blind is in place. This red window is only used to position the first frame. Thereafter, the internal mechanism will move the film the right amount.
Brillant back with red window
The bottom of the camera has a 1/4 inch Whitworth tripod socket. This sits slightly proud of the  base, presumably to give enough plastic for strength. On the front edge of the base are two raised spots. Together with the raised tripod socket, these provide a stable base for the camera to sit on for long exposures or self-portraits.


Base of the camera with tripod socket and place of manufacture
The top of the camera has the viewfinder. In this style of camera, you look down into the viewfinder to compose the picture. In storage, the viewfinder folds down out of the way (see top two pictures above). To open, you lift the rear of the top piece – the other three pieces then  rise under spring power.


There is no focussing screen as there would be with a Rolleiflex (because the viewfinder is not used for focussing) – rather, you look through a large square lens via an angled mirror and through the top lens in the front. This is, basically, a giant brilliant finder. The image is very clear and bright but significantly smaller than the negative size. The image is the right way up but reversed left to right. This takes a bit of getting used to but soon becomes second nature. On the left side of the viewfinder panels is a depth of field table (referred to on the camera as a depth of focus table).

looking down the viewfinder
The front panel of the viewfinder has a fold-down section. This is to allow the camera to be used as an direct vision eye level finder. These were referred to as ‘sport’ finders as the direct view is not reversed left to right, making following motion much easier. this fold-down section is used in conjunction with a punch hole in the read panel.
The back of the camera is opened by pressing together two chrome buttons on the top of the back. The back then hinges down in one piece with the base. The new film goes in a recess in the base, held in place by a leaf spring.
inside the camera


The roll of film is a fairly snug fit in here. The film backing paper is pulled over a small roller, across the film gate, across a second small roller and into the take-up spool. On the right hand edge of the film gate is a recessed toothed wheel. This is rotated by the film moving over it and serves to measure how much film has been advanced between shots – the red window only being used for the first frame.
Film recess in the base

The take-up spool fits into a hinged carriage to make fitting easier.

raised carriage for the take-up spool



Bronica ETRS

 I am a bit of a tight-wad. I very rarely pay as much as £20 for a camera. While this makes for a fairly cheap hobby, it does preclude me from buying many models. For many years, I have been looking wistfully at medium format SLRs – such as Hasselblads, Mamiyas and Bronicas. Unfortunately, you just cannot buy these for under £20.
I have recently retired and this excellent arrangement has bought with it a modest lump sum which has been burning a hole in my bank account. So, one Bronica ETRS has been purchased – at 10x my self-imposed limit (actual cost was £189). This has proved to be a confusing camera to buy. These medium format SLRs are very modular and, looking at Ebay, it is usual to sell each module separately. My problem was that, never having handled one of these before, I was not clear as to exactly which modules were essential and which were optional. I got around this by going to a shop (ffordes in Inverness) and buying a complete system from them with a reassurance that I was buying a complete camera. Probably cost me a bit more this way but I also got a six month guarantee as well as peace of mind.

My camera is a basic set-up. It consists of four modules: a body, a lens, a film back and a viewfinder. The only module that is essential is the body – there are no choices here as far as I can ascertain. The lens I have is a 75 mm lens which is ‘normal’ for the 6 x 4.5 negative format of these cameras. There are other focal length lenses available ranging from 40 mm (equivalent to 25 mm on a 35 mm camera) to  250 mm (equivalent to 150 mm on a 35 mm camera). There are four options for the film back – 120, 220, Polaroid and 70 mm. Only the 120 back is usable as neither the 220, Polaroid or 70 mm film is made anymore.

There are several options for the viewfinder of which the most common are the waist-level finder and the prism finder. I have the prism finder which is essentially what all 35 mm SLRs have. I may avail myself of a waist-level finder in due course.

There are many other options options available, none of which is essential. The only module I need that was not supplied is a neck strap. A lot of people do not use straps – even on very expensive cameras – but dropping things is far too easy not to use a strap. I have fitted a cheap and cheerful Chinese strap.


I am going to describe each of the four modules in turn and then describe the complete camera.
First, the body. With the other modules detached, the body does not look like very much. It does, however, contain all the electronic controls.
It is a cube – it measures 90 x 70 x 85 mm (OK, not exactly a cube, but near enough) and weighs xxxg.

The top face is dominated by the focussing screen. This is plastic and measures 55 mm by 42 mm – the 6 x 4.5 in the camera name is the nominal negative size but the actual size is a bit smaller. This gives an aspect ratio of 1:1.3 – 35 mm cameras are 1:1.5 as are most digital cameras and full frame 120 cameras. This means that I shall have some adjusting to do when composing pictures and printing them. I usually print on A standard paper which has an aspect ratio of 1:1.4 – I shall have to either crop the picture or trim the paper.

The focussing screen is removable – several options are available – but this one has a plain field with a split-image centre surrounded by a circle of micro-prisms.
In front of the focussing screen is a row of ten electrical contacts. These are there to allow for the use of a metering viewfinder – by default, no metering is provided meaning I need to use a hand-held light meter which is my default method of working regardless.
Also on the top are the displays for shutter speed and frame counter both in windows on the sides and also a release button for the viewfinder.
The left-hand face of the body has the shutter speed selector. This is a knob and ranges from eight seconds to 1/500 seconds. Whole seconds are displayed in red, fractions in white.. This might seem a b it meagre by modern standards but is more than adequate with careful selection of film speed.
On the top corner of the left-hand face is a battery check button Pressing this lights a red LED in the corner of the focussing screen. half-way down the right-hand edge is a strap lug. below this is a button to release the film back. last item on this side of the body is a cable release socket threaded for a standard release cable.
The right-hand face of the body is dominated by the film advance. This is a large crank handle that you turn one complete revolution to advance the film one frame, lower the mirror and cock the leaf shutter in the lens. Above this is a small lever. This turns through 90 degrees to allow for multiple exposures on one frame of film. Behind the film advance crank is the second strap lug.
The bottom face of the body has the battery compartment which takes a single 6v battery. In front of this is the 1/4 inch UNC tripod boss.
The rear face of the body cube has fitting s for the film back and an exposed cog for the film advance. In the centre is a large hole which is blanked off by a hinged plate – more of this later.

The front face of the body cube is mostly the lens mount. This is huge by 35 mm and digital standards. It has four lugs and is specific to the ETR range of cameras. Inside the mount are six electrical contacts which are a part of the automatic exposure system. Also inside the mount is the reflex lens.

Below the mount are two chrome buttons. On the right (when holding the camera) is the shutter release button. This ass a knurled collar around it which can be turned to lock the shutter release. Turned fully anti-clockwise, it frees both the release button and the cable release. Turned 45 degrees clockwise, it locks the release button but still allows the cable release to fire the shutter. Turned 90 degrees clockwise, both the release button and the cable release are locked.

In the top corner is a PC socket for flash. No accessory shoe is provided as standard so any flash gun must be fitted to the tripod boss – or you can buy the accessory grip which has a hot shoe on it.

On the left is the lens release button. This needs to be turned and then depressed. While depressed, the lens can be turned clockwise for removal.
in order to have a functioning camera, three things need to be fitted to the camera body: viewfinder, film back and lens. Other options are available but these three are essential.
I am going to start with the viewfinder as this is the simplest. There are choices here – none is provided as standard – and I have the prism finder. This is the same as the viewfinder on a 35 mm SLR film camera or on a DSLR digital camera. It means I can see the image the right way up and the right way around.

A second option is a waist-level finder. this allows the camera to be used without lifting it to your eyes – usually on a tripod. With this finder the image is the right way up but back to front. This needs getting used to but I have no trouble adjusting to other cameras with waist-level finders.

The third option is that of a metering finder. This is essentially a prism finder with a built-in light meter to give TTL (Through The Lens) light readings. I am happy with my hand-held meter.
The film back has four versions. I have the 120 back – it takes 120 size film, believe it or not.  Also available are 220 backs, Polaroid backs and 70 mm backs but film is not available for any of these.

The film back holds the film (obviously) and can be removed from the camera with film in it. To do this, you have to insert a thin steel dark slide into a slot in the side of the film back. The film back can be opened to allow for the inserting or removal of film. Inside the film back is a cradle for holding the film in place and advancing it. This needs to be removed to load film, but exposed film can be removed with the cradle in situ.

The cradle has two holders for the film spools, a cog to engage with the camera body for advancing the film and an external knob for manually advancing the film while loading. A nice touch is the presence on the rear door of the film back of a holder for the end of the film carton as an aide memoir.

The lens is quite a heavy lens. mine is a 75 mm lens. As well as containing the actual glass – five elements in four  groups – there is the diaphragm (f/2.8 to f/22) and the leaf shutter. If you have several lenses, each will have its own shutter. These are leaf shutters made by Seiko rather than the focal plane shutters most ‘serious’ cameras have.

In use.

In use, this camera is an anachronism. The shutter system is that used by Zeiss Ikon in their Contaflex cameras in the 1950s. There are actually two shutters in use. Between exposures, the leaf shutter is open, allowing the user to view the image through the lens. To prevent the film being fogged, there is a secondary shutter in the camera body behind the mirror – the hinged plate mentioned earlier. This secondary shutter is crude – it cannot be used for timed exposures.

When you fire the shutter there is a complex sequence of events.:
1) the leaf shutter closes
2) the mirror lifts out of the way
3) the secondary shutter lifts out of the way
4) the leaf shutter opens for a timed exposure
5) the leaf shutter closes again.
When you advance the film, most of the opposite happens:
6) the secondary shutter closes
7) the mirror comes back down
8) the leaf shutter opens for viewing.
All this makes for quite a resounding clunk – compared to my 120 Ikoflex which only has the leaf shutter to move and is nearly silent and vibration free.

Test film.

This is encouraging. The shutter works fine, there are no light leaks, aperture and shutter speed are at least in the right ball park, film advance is correctly spaced. What is not evident on these small scans is the image quality – it is superb.

Nixon Nixette 120 camera

This is a simple camera. A well designed and well made simple camera. It takes 120 film producing 12 off 60 by 60 mm negatives.
Nixon Nixette (C) John Margetts

lens: Supra anastigmat
focal length:  7.5 cm
apertures: f/5.6 to f/16 (plus, probably,  f/22)
focus range: 3 feet to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter:  Vario
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/200
flash: PC connector, no synch selector
film size: 120

The body of the camera is made from cast aluminium alloy with pressed steel back and lens door. The camera is covered with heavily textured leatherette with an anodised aluminium top plate. Apart from the top plate, the camera is low-gloss black.
The camera measures 140 mm by 95 mm by 50 mm (105 mm when the lens door is open) – two knobs on the base and the accessory shoe extend beyond these measurements. It weighs 477 g when loaded with film which  is sufficient heft to give stability but not too heavy to carry around.
The top plate is plain and nearly featureless. On the left hand end (left as when using the camera) between the top plate and camera body is a recessed wheel to advance the film. About a quarter of the way along the top plate is an accessory shoe – at this age it is a ‘cold’ shoe. Below this is the viewfinder – a reverse Galilean finder. This is small as was usual at this time – the eye-piece is circular and 5 mm in diameter. The other side of the viewfinder is 10 mm square. The only other feature on the top plate is a small button beside the accessory shoe to release the lens door. Press this and the lens door opens with a satisfying ‘clunk’.
Nixon Nixette
The rear of the camera is featureless apart from a circular red window to allow for the reading of the frame numbers when advancing the film. On this camera this window is orange – I am not sure if this is the standard colour used by Nixon or if the original red has faded. The rear door is made from pressed steel. There is a ribbed pressure plate on the inside.
Blog (C) John Margetts 2015)
The front of the camera is plain while closed. there is a central logo stating ‘NIXETTE’ in the middle of the lens door. This lens door is convex. This allows the camera to stand securely and levelly on a flat surface for ‘selfies’ (not as new an idea as you might think!).
Lens supporting struts

When the lens door is opened, the lens comes forward on a die-cast aluminium frame. This is very different to any other folding camera I have ever seen. The lens/shutter assembly is attached to the camera body with a folding bellows. The bellows are also different to any I have ever seen. The bellows are not the usual concertina style and has many less folds which will reduce the likelihood of pin-holes forming.


The shutter is a Gauthier Vario shutter. This is a very simple shutter offering only 3 speeds (1/25, 1/50 and 1/200) and B. The available apertures are from f/5.6 to f/16 Actually, f/16 is the smallest aperture marked, but the adjuster moves significantly beyond f/16 and reduces the aperture size beyond f/16 – judging by eye, at least to f/22.
The lens is marked as a Supra anastigmat. I doubt Nixon made the lens themselves – there were plenty of lens makers in Germany who could easily and cheaply supply lenses. The focal length is 7.5 cm and is marked with a ‘V’ which I assume means that the lens is coated The lens has a serial number but without knowing who made the lens the serial number is not of much use. the focus scale goes down to 3 – I assume feet as 3 m would not be an impressive close focus.
The distance scale has two Happy Snapper settings in red. To use these you must first set the aperture to the red dot (just slightly wider than f/11). The first happy Snapper setting is at 10 feet (just about 3 m) which, with the aperture at the red dot gives a depth of field from 7 feet to 15 feet – ideal for portraits and small groups. The next Happy snapper setting is at 30 feet. Again, aperture at the red dot, the depth of field is from 15 feet to infinity – this is the hyperfocal length at f/11 for this lens. Incidentally, this is a front cell focussing lens. That is, the entire lens does not move to focus, only the the front piece of glass (I suspect this is a triplet lens with three pieces of glass).
Closing the lens door is somewhat different to most folders. Normally, to close folding cameras, you collapse the struts holding the lens/shutter in place. With this camera, the die-cast assembly hinges from the top – first you have to depress a small chrome lever on the right of the lens opening near the door hinge. The tip of the assembly then will move down – the lens door will also move down slightly before folding up.

Shutter and lens

Inside the camera is as would be expected. the new film goes on the right – unusual but from from being rare. The roll of film has to fit under a sharply curved blue steel spring. On the take-up side, the empty spool is put in place by pulling out the chrome knob on the camera base plate. Incidentally, the camera serial number is located inside the camera, just below the film gate.

Camera in use:

The camera is now loaded with Fomapan Creative 200 black and white film. I am going to expose the as 125 ISO as the 35 mm Fomapan I have used has produced very thin negatives – to be on the safe side with checking the camera, the first two frames I will expose at box speed (200 ISO). That way I will know that any over-exposed negatives are down to the shutter, not my exposure.
The camera is easy to use. There is enough room for my hands either side of the lens door. The shutter release falls easily enough to hand – and will be very comfortable with practice. The film advance wheel is easy to move while holding the camera with your left hand.
Pictures will be about another week when I will submit them here.

Voigtländer Bessa 66

This is a medium format folder from the German firm of Voigtländer. It dates from between 1938 and 1940. This model was also made after WWII from 1946 to 1950, but my camera is a very early model – more later. There was also a cheaper version available with a folding viewfinder and no automatic framing.  It is extremely similar to the later Perkeo that replaced it in 1950. The basic Bessa 66 cost £6–10–0 in 1939. My camera is a slightly up-market version – I do not have a price for this.

Voigtländer Bessa 66 (C) John Margetts
This camera has a lot of 'modern' features that make it stand out from earlier folding cameras. These include a body shutter release and automatic frame advance - no need to look in the red window when advancing the film, the camera spaces the film automatically (more or less, it does not work too well on my camera. I used the red window).
First, a basic description.  The camera measures 125 mm wide by 40 mm thick and 80 mm high when folded and 95 mm thick when open. This is very much a pocket camera even if the pocket needs to be robust enough to take the weight - 524 g without a film. As standard, the top plate is uncluttered. It is made from chrome plated brass  and has a reverse-Galilean viewfinder right at the right-hand end. On the opposite end is the film advance knob. Close to the advance knob is a frame counter - one of the 'modern' features I mentioned. That should be all that is on the top plate but a previous owner has glued an accessory shoe on using a large amount of epoxy glue.
Close to the rewind knob, on both the front and back faces of the top plate are two sliders. Without an instruction manual, it is not clear what these do. The one on the front clearly advances the frame counter and seems to free the advance system to allow the film to be advanced. When the film moves through the camera, a feeler shaft rotates and this serves to measure the amount of film that has moved and the film advance locks when one frame (62 mm) has moved. There is no clear use for the rear slider but I think it might have to do with setting the start of the film once the red window has been used to line up the first frame. I would welcome advice here from anyone who has a better knowledge of this camera. This system only works sporadically with my camera and when using the test film I relied on the red window for all frames.
As this is a folding camera, the lens is hidden behind a door that must be opened before using the camera. This is achieved with a button the the base. Pressing this causes the door to spring most of the way open - it might well have opened completely when new. When open, it locks the lens/shutter firmly in place. To close the lens door again, there is a chrome bar beneath the lens which must be firmly pressed to unlock the struts holding the door in place.
As supplied new, this camera came with a hinged yellow filter ('Moment' filter) but this has long since broken off as is usual for cameras of this age. Also as a consequence of age, the bezel around the lens has come loose and fallen off (it was glued in place). This means I have no lens name or focal length information but I can gather this from information from the interweb. The lens has a serial number (located inside the camera on the rear of the lens). The pre-war versions of this camera were supplied with either a  three element Voigtar or four element Skopar lens. Of these, only the Skopar had a serial number so mine must be a Skopar lens. It is a 75 cm focal length lens (as was the Voigtar option) with a maximum aperture of f/3.5. The shortest marked focussing distance is 1 m, but the lens will move significantly further than this so the closest focus is going to be nearer to 0.7 m at a guess. The lens is not colour corrected (that would be a Color-Skopar) and is not coated but performed well regardless.
The shutter is a Compur shutter with a serial number of 3 751 602 - my records tell me that this dates from between 1935 and 1939. The lens serial number is 2 245 637 and this dates from between 1937 and 1942. (The range of dates is so vague because both Compur and Voigtlander lost most of their records in the destruction of WWII.) I have a piece of further dating information in that the slider on the front of the top plate was removed in 1939 so my camera must be from 1938 or early 1939.
The Compur shutter has a fastest speed of 1/300 seconds (later models had a Compur-Rapid shutter with a nominal 1/500 second speed) and apertures from f/3.5 to f/16. Both of these are very usable in 2015 with modern film. What is missing from this shutter is a delay timer and any flash connectors. For my test film, I used Kodak Portra 160 ISO film in sunny weather in April and shot most of the film at either 1/100 or 1/300 and f/11 or f/16. As is usual for this date, the shutter needs cocking before use. While the primary shutter release is on the shutter housing, the actual release is a lever that protrudes through the lens door. This is strictly left-handed in use, leaving your right hand to have a firm grasp of the camera.  Exacta did things the same way.
The base plate has three items. On the left is a lever with two functions. In the closed position, it prevents the back being opened and when swung out, it acts as a foot to allow the camera to be securely placed on a flat surface for longer exposures (together with a cable release, which the shutter is threaded for). There is no delay timer, so no selfies with this camera. In the centre of this lever is a tripod boss. This is a 3/8 inch Whitworth socket with a 1/4 inch Whitworth insert.  At the other end of the top plate is a depth of field calculator. You rotate the disc to set the distance you are focussing at to the pointer and then read off the depth of field against the aperture you are using.  The third item on the base plate is the release for the lens door.
In use, this is a simple, easy camera to use. The hardest part is the viewfinder which, as was normal in its day, is rather small and not usable while wearing glasses. With the left-hand shutter release, you can get a really good grip on the camera while actuating the shutter release with your left index finger. It is easy to cock the shutter with your right hand while still gripping the camera.
The hardest part is reading the numbers on the shutter speed, aperture and focus scales. They are rather small for my ageing eyes.
As is common of Voigtländer cameras, there are Happy Snapper settings on the lens. These are marked by a small triangle and a small circle. If you set the focus to the triangle and the aperture to f/8 then all between 2.5 m and 5 m will be in focus (ideal for portraits) and if you set the focus to the small circle, and the aperture to f/8 then all between 5 m and infinity will be in focus (ideal for landscapes).
Even though the lens is neither colour corrected nor coated, it has performed well. There is no visible colour fringing (the panchromatic films in use in the 1930s would have needed well corrected lenses) nor is there any significant flare visible in my test pictures. Where I have shot Contra Jour, there is some slight evidence of flare but it is very minor. I have much worse lenses in my collection.
The film I used for my test was Kodak Portra 160, developed and scanned by Snappy Snaps in Lincoln.  Loading the film is easy - both spool holders are hinged. The camera takes either 120 or 620 film (only 120 is currently available). The dark bar along the right-hand edge of some frames is a scanning artefact, not the camera.
Shot into the light – some flare on the right-hand edge

Enfield folding camera

This camera is a British Ensign camera – it was generously given to me by Harry Davies.  It is a folding camera of a very standard design. Visually, it is very similar to both a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/2  and an Agfa Billy Record. Dating it is problematic, not least because I am not sure of the model. The camera has a Gauthier Singlo shutter which was introduced in 1937 so the camera was made in either 1937, 38 or 39 – WWII got in the way of German imports so that rules out the 1940s.
Ensign, folded

It measures 160 mm by 75 mm by 32 mm. Actually, as this is an English camera, I ought to put the measurements into the old Imperial units: 6 1/4 inches by 3 inches by 1 1/2 inches. That is the metal body – the viewfinder, winder knob and catch protrude from that.

As far as I can see, the body is made from pressed steel painted black. The flat surfaces are covered in black leatherette. The name “Ensign” in handscript is embossed on the front near the catch for the back and “Ensign. Made in England” is embossed on the back. There is no model name embossed anywhere. There is the name “Singlo” on the shutter fascia and there are references on the Interweb to an “Ensign Singlo”. The shutter, made by Gauthier, is a Singlo shutter and the “Singlo” refers to the shutter (the same stamping in the metal appears on other camera makes) rather than to the camera model. Of course, that does not preclude Ensign from using the same name for the camera.
The top of the camera is plain black with just a folding viewfinder. This is a very basic double frame with no glass. The bottom of the camera has a chrome-plated film advance knob and a small button to release the catch on the lens door.
Ensign, open, side view

The back of the camera is also plain with a single red window for the film frame numbers. The front of the camera has the lens door. This has the usual folding leg so that the open camera can be stood on a flat surface. There is also a small (3/8 inch) screw. Undoing this leaves a 1/4 Whitworth threaded hole for a standard tripod screw.

When the door release is pressed the door opens about half-way on its springs. This camera has been stored somewhere damp and the door/lens struts have some areas of corrosion. When new, I suspect this door would have opened entirely on its own. When open, the lens/shutter housing is held very securely.
The shutter, as already mentioned a couple of times, is a Gauthier Singlo – this offers two speeds: 1/25 and 1/75 plus B and T. This shutter is an everset type – there is no cocking lever – but there is a cable release socket.
Ensign, open, front view

The lens is an Ensar – Ensign’s own make – which is 105 mm focal length. It focusses down to about four feet – the last marking on the scale is six feet but the lens moves significantly past this. The aperture ranges from f/7.7 to f/32. On the left side of the shutter housing is a Brilliant viewfinder. I always find these next to useless and always use the folding frame finders.

Inside is as you would expect. The film advance knob pulls out to allow the inserting and removing of the film spool. At the other end, to ease the inserting of the film the lower locating pin falls away – quite literally. I initially thought it was broken. This pin folds in automatically and is held in place securely when the back is closed.

In use.

This camera is quite easy to use.The only difficulty I had was with the positioning of the shutter release – in landscape mode, it is slightly beneath the camera and rather awkward to reach. In portrait mode it is fine. The folding viewfinder is large enough for me to use it while wearing my glasses – something that can not be said for much more expensive cameras of the period.

Test film

In its day, the pictures taken with this camera would have been printed as contact prints. That means they would be 9 cm by 6 cm which is about 1/3 of the size I have them here.  That means the defects would also have been 1/3 as big. In terms of sharpness and distortion, the lens is producing fine results. There is, however, a lot of vignetting – darkening in the corners of the picture – clearly visible in every shot.
The pictures were significantly underexposed. Partly, this is down to my setting on my (old) light meter. The film I used was Kodak Portra 160 which, surprisingly, has an ISO rating of 160. Problem is my light meter does not have a setting for 160 so there will have been a bit of error in my guessed setting. I think the shutter might have contributed as well. Usually with old shutters, they run rather slow causing over exposure but this Singlo shutter is a simple two-bladed device and if the first blade is a bit slow, the second blade will catch-up giving a too-short exposures. Without paying for an expensive electronic test of the shutter, I cannot know for sure.
These pictures are a bit ‘flat’ which I entirely put down to the awfully dull weather we have had in Lincoln recently.
Silver Street, Lincoln


Witham, Lincoln


Broadgate, Lincoln, with cathedral


pedestrian bridge over Broadgate, Lincoln


Stamp End, Lincoln


Marshall’s Yard, Gainsborough


Agilux Agifold

AGI, who made this camera, are an aeronautical instrument maker – still in business – rather than a camera maker and it shows. During WWII, AGI made military instruments and that pedigree is followed in this camera. It is large and heavy and has no small controls so easy to use with cold hands, with gloves on, when frightened . . .
lens: Agilux anastigmat
focal length:  9 cm
apertures: f/4.5 to f/32
focus range: 3 feet to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Agifold
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/125, B, T
flash: two pin connector
film size: 120 or 620
 Outwardly, it is much like any other folding camera – Kodak, Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander, Agfa all made similar. The main physical difference is the large double viewfinder. This consists of one large housing containing both an eye-level finder and a waist-level finder. The waist-level finder is pretty much a pre-war brilliant finder. This viewfinder housing also double as the catch for the lens board – it moves to one side to open the front. This housing is central on the top of the camera. Beside it is a shutter release button. This button links, via a series of links, to the shutter release on the shutter housing – again, standard fare for a mid-twentieth century folding camera. On the other side of the shutter housing is the film advance knob. This is nice and large and easy to use. Being a 120 format camera, there is no film rewind.
The shutter is made by AGI themselves but outwardly it looks much like a Compur or Prontor shutter. The adjustments are in the same place the main difference being the shutter cocking lever which is on the underside of the housing – rather inconveniently. The shutter release is also on the underside where it nicely links to the body release. The actual shutter itself is not in the same league as Compur or Prontor – it has only two leaves and is rather reminiscent of a box camera shutter. The speed selection is non-standard as well. 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 are much as I would expect from 1948 but the next speed is 1/125 – the increase in speed is so small as to be pointless. It is usual for the shutter speeds to double in speed from one setting to the other which is one stop reduction in exposure but this is a 25% reduction and it is hard to see a use for it.
The lens is also made by AGI themselves (at least as far as I can gather from information on the Interweb) and is a 9 cm focal length (or 90 mm in modern parlance). The negative size is 6×6 cm so a normal lens would have a focal length of 85 mm. That makes this lens slightly longer than normal for the negative format, but not seriously so. The lens is coated (not a given in 1948) but I suspect only on the front surface. This has the distinct blue cast of a coated lens but the rear element is clearly not coated – no blue cast.

Being a 120 format camera, there is a window on the back to allow the user to see the frame numbers when winding the film on. Traditionally, these are red – red because early film was orthochromatic and not sensitive to red light – but on this camera you get a choice of red or green. There is a slider to uncover one or the other of these two coloured windows. What there is not is a cover for both windows which would have gone further in preventing fogging of the film. I am not at all clear as to why both red and green are supplied but this is not the only camera I have where this is so.
I have been referring to this as a 120 camera but in fact it is a dual format camera – it will take either 120 or 620 film. The only difference between the two is the spool (the actual film being the same size with the same frame number spacing) and the spool holders here will take both sizes. The camera came to me with a 620 spool in place and I have now fitted a 120 spool to check the fit.
There is no accessory shoe so no way to fit either a rangefinder or a flash gun.  However, there are flash contacts – not the industry standard PC socket but two metal posts on the side of the shutter housing. These can be seen in the photograph of the lens above on the top right of the shutter housing.
When I took delivery of this camera, it was in quite a sad state. It had obviously been in a smokers house – it was covered in a sticky brown deposit – and also stored somewhere damp. Diligent use of WD40 and cotton buds has brought the camera up nicely – not quite in showroom condition but just about presentable. The shutter is not quite as I would like. An hour or so of dry-firing the shutter has it firing reliably and it sounds to be in the right general area speed-wise. One fault it has is that when set to 1/100 seconds and fired a few times the shutter resets itself to 1/50 seconds.
The following is an advert from the British Journal of Photography Almanac of 1950:
1950 001
And this is an advert from the Wallace Heaton catalogue of 1952:
Agifold 1952 005While writing this article, the bellows became detached from the camera body so it is now unusable – I will not be testing it.

Ica Icarette 1 (A)

This is an Icarette camera made by Ica in Dresden, Germany. It is a model 1 which was introduced in 1912 but I cannot tell if it is a type 495 (the original, model A in the USA) or type 496 (later version that can also take glass plates, model B in the USA).

Ica was a camera manufacturer based in Dresden and owned by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung.  Ica is an acronym for Internationale Camera Aktien Gesellschaft (the Aktien Gesellschaft part is the German equivalent of the British ‘PLC’ or USian ‘Inc’).  Ica is one of the companies that merged to form Zeiss Ikon in 1926.  After 1926, Zeiss Ikon continued to make Icarette cameras but this one is clearly marked ‘ICA Akl Ges’ (the usual abbreviation is AG rather than Akl Ges). This means it was made prior to 1926. I can date it more accurately (but not very accurately) by the Body Number (E42012). In 1926 when the merger to form Zeiss Ikon occurred, Ica were up to the letter ‘L’. For each letter, Ica made 100,000 cameras so the seven letter difference indicates 700,000 cameras.  After the merger into Zeiss Ikon, production by the much larger business only used two letters of the alphabet each year. The smaller Ica, which was also trading during a much tougher time, is unlikely to have used more than one letter each year which pushes the date of this camera back to 1919 at a best guess. I can also date the lens which was made in 1918. Lenses were made in batches and one batch could last serveral months and it is not unusual for manufacturers to use a lens in the year following the manufacture. The Icarette model was introduced in 1912 so a date of early 1919 (or perhaps late 1918) is more than reasonable.

Further research leads me to believe that the ‘E’ serial number is likely to be 1915 rather than 1919. My dating for the lens was based on my assumption that a Novar  lens with a serial number would have been made by Carl Zeiss and so that I could date this lens by the serial number. I no longer think that this is so. Other owners of Ica cameras have better dating due to their cameras having Tessar lenses and equating the Tessar serial number with well established dates with the Ica body number gives me a much earlier date for this camera. 2022: my most recent opinion on dating this camera is that it was made during WWI and probably nearer to 1918 than 1914.

I also have a later Icarette made in about 1930 by Zeiss Ikon.

Ica Icarette A (or B?)
Ica Icarette A (or B?)

lens: Novar
focal length:  75mm
apertures: f/6.8 – f/36
focus range: ? to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Derval(?)
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B, T
flash: No facility
film size: 117

My particular camera has been ‘well loved’. Although it has the signs of having been used well, it is in quite good condition for a camera that is 100-odd years old. The main defects are: someone has attempted to remove the rear element of the lens. The metal of the securing ring has gouge marks and there are significant scratches to the matt black paint in the area around the lens. The front two elements of the lens are also loose-ish – loose enough to remove by hand. The inside of the back has been repainted in places by hand and someone has added a home-made catch for the lens board.

Ica Icarette A (or B?)
Left-hand side view.
Wear and tear includes the leather (not leatherette) covering starting to peel and fray at the edges in places. The steel parts have some surface rusting. Someone has removed the wire frame from the viewfinder. The only other significant defect I can find is the locating pin for the lens standard. On opening the camera, it is necessary to pull the lens forward by squeezing the two plated lugs below the lens. The lens then pulls forward on plated rails until it locates on the pin mentioned above. This pin is visibly worn and no longer locates the lens standard properly.
Ica Icarette A (or B?)
Rear view of the inside.
I shall now give a general description of the camera.
It measures 125 mm by 80 mm by 30 mm when closed (by 90 mm when open). It weighs 370g. The lens board is central on the front and opens downwards. The outside of the camera is very plain. It is entirely covered in black leather which is minimally decorated with straight line tooling.
Blog (c) John Margetts
The top of the camera has the film advance knob on the left. While the back is on the camera, this is securely held in place. Once the back is removed, the advance knob pulls upwards to release the take-up spool. On my camera, the advance knob becomes completely detached but I am not sure this is as it should be. The knob locates with two pins – one short and one long (6 mm and 33 mm, respectively). The long pin has a flattened part half way along. Inside the camera, besides where the spool goes, is a small hole that aligns with the flattened part of the long pin. I suspect that this hole once contained a screw that allowed the long pin to move the length of the flattened part and no further – about 5 mm. The knob itself contains a ratchet so that the knob cannot turn the wrong way and loosen the film on the spool.
Ica Icarette A (or B?)
Front and right-hand view.
The back of the camera has a red window placed centrally. The camera takes 6 x 6 cm photographs and so uses the middle row of numbers on the film’s backing paper.  The film size is 117 (now obsolete) which is the same size film as 120 but on a smaller spool – a bit like 620 film. 117 has essentially the same size spool as 620 but uses the 120 size key-hole on the end of the spool, rather than the smaller 620 key-hole. I could (but won’t) rewind some 120 film onto the spool that came with this camera and use it. As this camera has a focussing issue, I shall not bother.
Ica Icarette A (or B?)
Camera closed
Ica Icarette A (or B?)
ready for winding on.
Ica Icarette A (or B?)
Ready to use.

Using the rear viewfinder window. When the viewfinder window is all the way down (in the closed position) it covers the red window and prevents any light getting into the camera and fogging the film.  To wind-on the film, you raise the viewfinder part-way to expose the red window.  When taking a photograph, you raise the viewfinder all the way, covering the red window again.  Ingenious!

In order to load the camera with film, the back must be completely removed. This is done by depressing two plated studs on the right-hand end of the camera.

The front of the camera opens downwards and fits into place with a definite click. In the face of the lens board is a tripod boss.  As I mentioned, the lens must be pulled forwards until it locates on a pin to keep it in the correct position. The lens is attached to the body with leatherette bellows. These seem to be in good condition with no visible holes or splits. Focussing is achieved by moving a lever on the lens board which moves the shutter/lens forwards and backwards. Focussing with this camera is not critical – the distance on the scale between infinity and one metre is about one cm.

The lens is a 75 mm Novar lens (inscribed as being 7.5 cm, as was the fashion pre-WWII). It has a maximum aperture of f/6.8 and a minimum aperture of f/36.  The sequence of apertures is not the modern one. It goes: 6.8, 9, 12.5, 18, 25, 36. These numbers are very hard to read as they are behind the mount for the Iconometer viewfinder.

The shutter has no name or other identifying marks but it is either a Gauthier Derval shutter or an Ica Automat X shutter I think it is probably an Ica Automat X Shutter. It has two blades only and offers 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 speeds as well as B and Z. Z (marked as T on export models) opens the shutter which then stays open until the release lever is pressed a second time. There is a threaded socket for a standard cable release.

On the left side of the shutter housing is a Brilliant viewfinder. It was normal at this time to offer two finders – a brilliant and a frame finder. This Brilliant finder is in remarkable condition. the mirror in brilliant finders seem to be plated straight onto steel and in old cameras is usually corroded enough to make using the finder very hard to use. This one is quite usable.

The top of the shutter housing is supposed to mount the wire frame part of the other viewfinder (called an Iconometer by Ica). The mounting is still there but the frame is missing.

The shutter is made with a sideways movement of 8 mm either side of central – a total movement of 16 mm. I think that this is for when you use the camera in portrait format to photograph buildings. The vertical shifts of lenses reduces/removes perspective problems in architectural photography.

Voigtlander Perkeo I

This is a nice, medium format camera from Voigtlander. It is a direct competitor to Zeiss Ikon’s Nettar 518/16 – that is, at the lower end of the enthusiasts’ 120 cameras – and is a replacement for the Bessa 66. This is a folding camera which fits nicely in a (large-ish) pocket. It measures 125 mm wide x 85 mm high x 40 mm deep (closed) or x 95 mm deep (open). It weighs 483 g. In 1952, Wallace Heaton were advertising this camera at £22/11/6 for the model I have here (that is in old money and equates to £22.57 in new money. That is equivalent to about £1,400 in 2013 values).
Perkeo I
Voigtlander Perkeo I
lens: Vaskar
focal length:  75 mm
apertures: f/4.5 to f/16
focus range: 3.5 feet to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: pronto
speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200
flash: F synch only
film size: 120
The lens is a Voigtlander Vaskar – 75 mm focal length and maximum aperture of f/4.5. The Vaskar is Voigtlander’s cheaper lens (a more expensive Perkeo I came with a Color-Skopar lens) and has a triplet construction (again, comparable to Zeiss Ikon’s Nettar on the 518/16). I have yet to see the result of using this camera, but it has a reputation for having soft focus in the corners. This is not a fatal flaw for me as I have no need for sharp focus in the corners although I am aware that others find this unacceptable.
The shutter is a Gauthier Pronto – four speeds being available of which only 1/100 and 1/200 are of any interest. This shutter has a delayed timer (Vorlaufwerk) which, unusually for a camera of this age, works well. Flash synch is provided for fast flashbulbs – I intend to try this camera with electronic flash to see if this works as well.

The shutter release is standard for the early 1950s – primary release on the shutter housing and a secondary release button on the camera’s top plate, linked to the primary release by a lever.  There is also a cable release socket which is between the two – on the hinged door.  The secondary release has a double exposure prevention mechanism fitted requiring the film to be would on before the shutter can be released a second time. On my camera, this does not work very well at the moment. When I had a similar problem on my Franka Solida II, it sorted itself out after a few shots.


Blog copyright by John Margetts, 2014


Being a folding camera, there needs to be a mechanism to bring the shutter/lens forward, ending with the lens exactly parallel to the film. On my camera this is defective – a small strut has snapped half way along its length. When I received the camera, this folding mechanism barely worked and then very badly – the lens ended up at quite an angle to the film plane.  This needed attention with naphtha to flush out dust and dirt, lubricating with clock oil and repeated folding/unfolding to free up the many joints in the struts.
Perkeo I
Perkeo I – folded

It now unfolds easily and seems to put the lens parallel to the film plane, judging entirely by eye. The test film will tell me how parallel things actually are. The broken strut does not seem to matter here. What does not work too well is closing the camera. to close properly, the lens must remain parallel to the camera body otherwise it will not fit into the available space. I suspect that the broken strut is there is achieve this. Without this strut, my thumb has to do its duty.

As an aside, I have tried a new technique with this camera. When lubricating small parts, it is quite hard to apply a small enough amount of oil to exactly the right place. Getting that small amount of oil into the linkage is a matter of working the linkage and hoping. This time I have diluted the clock oil two parts of oil to one part of naphtha to produce a very runny oil. Because the oil is diluted, once the naphtha has evaporated I am left with 2/3 of the amount of oil I applied. Also, because the oil is now very runny I am hoping that the oil will run between the surfaces of the linkages more easily before the naphtha evaporates to leave a very small amount of oil in place. So far, the only downside I have seen is that the naphtha is very good at wetting surfaces and has carried a small amount of oil over all the surfaces around the linkages. I am not convinced that this is a bad thing.

Perkeo I
Perkeo I – showing top plate

Before loading the test film, there are two things I need to do. The first is to use compressed air to blow dust out of the inside. Moving film through a camera generates a small amount of static electricity and this will pull any dust onto the film. After that, I need to check the bellows for light leaks. To do this, I wait until dark (about five PM at the moment) and shine a torch onto the bellows at close quarters. Viewing inside the camera, any light leaks will clearly show.  I have found one very large one. That broken strut I mentioned earlier has scored the bellows material and created a line on pin-pricks. These will need sorting before I try the camera. Otherwise, the camera is good to go.

The following is an advert from the British Journal of Photography Almanac 0f 1953:

1953 007

And this is an advert from the Wallace Heaton catalogue from 1952:

Perkeo  1952 004.jpg

Comparison between Ikonta 520, Bob 510 and Nettar 515

Comparison between Ikonta 520, Bob 510 and Nettar 515:

These three cameras from Zeiss Ikon share the same aluminium casting for their bodies.  This makes them very similar cameras.  They all take 120 film and they all produce half-frame negatives of 6 x 4.5 cm.  The details, however, are different.  I shall give the differences between them one model at a time, starting with the oldest.

Comparison between Ikonta 520, Bob 510 and Nettar 515
Ikonta 520

This camera was produced from 1931 and is using the old fashioned dial set shutter – the disc at the top with the word ‘Derval’ on it..  The adjuster for the aperture is at the bottom of the shutter housing and requires the user to turn the camera around so that the scale can be seen.  The lens is a Novar triplet lens.  There is also a leather hand strap on this camera and the catch to close the back is solid.

Blog copyright by John Margetts, 2014


Bob 510

Next is the Bob 510 (sold in the UK as a Nettar 510).  This is a slightly later camera first produced in 1934 and has a more modern rim set shutter – the dial is now replaced with a ring around the shutter housing.  Shutter speeds and apertures are the same, but the aperture adjuster is now on top of the shutter housing, behind the speed selector.  This means that the user can adjust the aperture with the camera pointing at the subject.  Perhaps not a major advance  but will have been less frustrating to use.  The lens is now a Nettar rather than the Novar – still a triplet but a different design.  There is no hand strap on this camera and the catch for the back is less secure than on the Ikonta

Comparison between Ikonta 520, Bob 510 and Nettar 515
Nettar 515
Comparison between Ikonta 520, Bob 510 and Nettar 515
All three together, oldest on the left, newest on the right.

Last is the Nettar 515.  This is later again, 1937, and also has the rim set shutter.  The shutter is now a Klio (on non-Zeiss Ikon cameras known as Prontor) with more shutter speeds (up to 1/175 and a few slow speeds).  The aperture adjuster is still on top, behind the speed adjuster, and there is now a delay setting lever below the shutter housing.  As with the Ikonta, the lens is a Novar triplet.  This shutter requires cocking before use  and there is an ancillary shutter release button on the camera body.  There is also provision to fit an optional brilliant finder on this camera although mine does not have this.  This model also has no hand strap and it has the same catch as the Bob 510


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