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?)|
focal length: 75mm
apertures: f/6.8 – f/36
focus range: ? to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
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.
|Left-hand side view.|
|Rear view of the inside.|
Blog (c) John Margetts
|Front and right-hand view.|
|ready for winding on.|
|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|
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
|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 – 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:
And this is an advert from the Wallace Heaton catalogue from 1952:
|Adox Golf S|
lens: Adoxar (made by Will Wetzlar)
focal length: 75 mm
apertures: f6.3 – f22
focus range: 1m to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Gauthier Pronto
speeds: b, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200
flash: PC connector
film size: 120
The top plate is uncluttered. The only controls here are the shutter release and film advance. The shutter release is a simple aluminium button, threaded for a standard cable release. The film advance is a knurled knob. Between the shutter release and the film advance is an indicator window for the double exposure interlock. The shutter release will only work if this indicator is red. When you press the shutter release, the indicator changes to white and the shutter is now locked. When you advance the film, the indicator will change back from white to red and the shutter is unlocked. It takes about a half turn of the film advance knob to achieve this.
In the centre of the top plate is a simple accessory shoe. There are no electrical contacts here and flash is connected via a PC connector on the top of the shutter housing. Flash is synchronised for fast flash bulbs. As this camera has a leaf shutter, shutter speed is not so important as with a focal plane shutter. The manual (which I have!) says the camera will work fine with electronic flash as well.
The bottom plate is plain apart from a linear machining and a centre tripod boss (1/4 inch Whitworth).
The back of the camera has no features apart from a red window. The position of this window is dictated by the negative size which is 6 by 6 cm. 120 film has three sets of numbers on the backing paper – one for full frame (6×9),one for half frame (6×4.5) and one for square (6×6). The set of numbers for 6×6 runs down the middle of the length of film, so needs a central window.
|Adox Golf S – front|
When winding on a 120 film, you have to look through the window at the numbers on the backing paper. The numbers are typically preceded by a row of circles of increasing size to show the number is getting closer. For those only experienced in 35 mm film (or digital), when the film is finished, there is no need to rewind. You wind on until all trace of the backing paper has disappeared from the red window – then you open the camera, carefully take out the film and stick the self-adhesive tab around the film to prevent it from rewinding.
Under the window, the legend ‘made in Germany’ is embossed in the leatherette and beneath that is ‘T-YD’
In use, the base board drops down vertically. This is how I prefer it to be as it leaves plenty of room on either side of the lens for my not so small hands. My Franka folder has the base board hinged on the side and this makes it hard to hold securely.
The viewfinder is very small and I find I need to put my eye very close to it to frame the picture. This means I have to take my glasses off and then I can no longer see the picture I am framing. The shutter release falls nicely to my finger.
I am quite impressed with these. They all came out a bit on the dark side (Gimped to get brightness where it should be) but I am impressed with the quality. Perhaps I should not be surprised. The lens was made by Will Wetzlar who also made lenses for Leica.
|Ikonta 520, front view|
So, this Ikonta. It is an Ikonta 520 – more specifically, a 520E. The other variants are
520IT with a f4.5 Novar and a Telma shutter,
520F with a F3.5 Novar and a Compur Rapid shutter and
520L with a f3.5 Tessar and Compur Rapid shutter.
The lens is a Novar which is a triplet and performs surprisingly well once stopped down to f/8 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 f/6.3. 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.
|Detail of rim-set shutter adjuster on Derval shutter|
|Ikonta 520, side view|
|Blues festival in Lincoln Arboretum|
|One of our many buskers in Lincoln – very young but quite accomplished|
|Lincoln Corn Exchange in the Cornhill|
|All three together, oldest on the left, newest on the right.|
|CMF Comet S|
|Lens barrel detail|
|Comet S – rear view|
|127 film spool|
|Kodak SIX-20 brownie D|
This must be the simplest camera that I have. It is a box camera from Kodak made between 1953 and 1957 in London. It was also made in the USA. It comes with two controls besides the shutter release. First control is a choice between “I” (instantaneous) and “B” (bulb). I would guess that Instantaneous is about 1/30 seconds – bulb is for as long as you hold the shutter release in. The second control is a close up lens which allows focussing between three feet and six feet.
|Side view showing both control options|
The camera has two viewfinders, both ‘brilliant’ finders, one on the top for portraits and one on the side for landscapes. Given that the close-up lens allows focussing up to six feet, it is fair to assume that normal focussing range is six feet to infinity.
This camera takes 620 film which is no longer available. However, it is the same as 120 film but on a different spool – so if I wanted to use this camera, I could re-spool some 120 film onto one of my 620 spools. I shall not be bothering.
To load the film, the back is opened, the winder knob pulled out, and the insides of the camera come away in one piece. The film is wound onto the inset and the inset replaced into the camera and the back closed. Now the film needs to be wound on until the number “1” appears in the red window. Negative size is 6 x 9 cm so this camera will take eight photographs on one roll of film.
I can date this camera to within five years by the plastic winder knob and plastic shutter release. These were introduced on the Six-20 Brownie D in 1953 and production ceased in 1957. Kodak also offer flash contacts on the Six-20 Brownie D but these are not present on my specimen. I can refine the date a bit by the fact that the catch for the back was also changed – from a more-or-less rectangular shape to a triangular shape. My specimen still has the rectangular catch so will date from nearer to 1953 than to 1957.
As tiis is such a simple camera, there is not really any thing I can add other than to say that the camera still works well – the shutter mechanism (which is very simple) is as free as the day it was made. For sixty years old that is more than I can say for myself.
|Kodak Brownie Vecta|
This camera was easy for a child to use – I certainly do not remember any problems in using it at age eleven or twelve. There are indentations in the cube to facilitate holding the camera steady – and with a shutter speed of 1/30(ish) a steady hand is essential. I really enjoyed this camera as a child and still found it nice to use. The position of the shutter release and the fact that it is a bar rather than a button takes a bit of getting used to but nothing untoward. It was probably easier for me at age eleven as I had not then become used to using more sophisticated cameras and a bottom shutter release was all that I knew.
Test pictures from this camera:
|Baggholm Road, Lincoln|
|Busker, High Street, Lincoln|
|Busker, High Street, Lincoln – enlarged to show marks|
The first Vintage camera that I bought was a Franka Solida II. The Solida III is basically the same camera, as you would expect, with a different lens and the addition of a non-coupled rangefinder.
The Solida III takes 120 film and produces a 6 cm by 6 cm negative – twelve frames to a roll of film.
lens: Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar
focal length: 80 mm
apertures: f/2.9 to f/22
focus range: 3 ft to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Prontor S
speeds: 1 second to 1/250 + B
flash: PC socket, no X/M switch
film size: 120
The lens is a Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar 80 mm, f/2.9 lens. This is a bit unusual as the aperture sequence usually goes to f/2.8 rather than f/2.9. The minimum aperture is f/22 which is more than small enough coupled with the 1/250 shutter speed. It is probably worth noting that the physical size of the aperture at f/22 on a medium format camera is much larger than f/22 on a 35 mm camera and so diffraction effects are negligible and so give sharper images than an equivalent lens/aperture would with 35mm. With an APS C format digital camera, the difference will be even sharper. The test film showed this lens to be better than adequate, at the least.
The shutter is a Prontor S leaf shutter by Gauthier, offering shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/250 plus B.
Happy Snapper settings are indicated in red and are around f/9 and twenty five feet, giving a depth of field from twelve feet to infinity. There is also a secondary Happy Snapper setting of f/9 and eight feet which gives you a depth of field from six feet to twelve feet – presumably for portraits.
There is the usual delayed action lever giving a delay of around eight to ten seconds. A PC socket is provided but no synchronisation lever so the flash synch could be either for bulb or electronic flash. Given the camera’s age, I suspect it is synced for bulbs but whether for M or F bulbs I do not know.
The rangefinder works well and the two images are nice and clear. There is enough separation between the two rangefinder windows (43 mm) and there is enough movement on the adjusting wheel to make the device effective. Unfortunately, as a non-coupled rangefinder, it is necessary to read the distance off the rangefinder and set it on the lens focussing scale. I find guessing the distance and using a smallish aperture to be fine and I don’t think I would use this rangefinder very much.
The other niggle with the rangefinder is that it uses a separate eyepiece to the viewfinder making focussing and composing totally separate activities and further reduces the utility of the rangefinder.
There is a safety interlock between the film winder and the shutter release meaning it is impossible to make a double exposure. There is a (very) small window beside the film winder which shows red when the film has been wound on. In fact, it is only necessary to turn the film winder 3/4 of a turn to reset the shutter which is not enough to wind on to the next frame. Not having a manual for the camera, I had thought the shutter faulty before I finally twigged the purpose of the small window.
The red window on the back which allows you to read the frame numbers has a sliding cover to prevent the fogging of panchromatic film. Loading is easy. Both the film spool and the take up spool are contained in hinged housings which hold the film securely until the back is closed.
The pressure plate is significantly larger than the frame size (80 mm wide) which means that the film is kept nicely flat – not always the case with medium format cameras. The lens standard pops out nicely when the button on the base is pressed – this camera is fully self-erecting.
In use, this is not anywhere as easy as the Franka Solida II. That camera opens vertically with the baseboard at the bottom under the lens. This Solida III opens sideways so that the baseboard is to the right of the lens when you are using the camera. This leaves very little camera for the right hand to hold on to which is rather awkward. With the fingers of the right hand curled, it is quite usable and the forefinger drops quite nicely onto the shutter release.
Small items – there is an accessory shoe – cold shoe in flash terms – and a single tripod socket on the base which is to UK/USA standard. Lastly, the film winder has a film speed reminder on its top, with DIN/ASA numbers from DIN 12/ASA 12 to DIN 24/ASA 200. On a camera of this age, it is worth noting that the ASA numbers are the “new” ASA scale
|Medieval troubadours, Stonebow, Lincoln|
|Medieval guildhall, Lincoln|