Zeiss Super Ikonta IV is a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6
format, built from 1956 to
1960 by Zeiss Ikon AG, Stuttgart. Before WWII the Zeiss factory was
Dresden. At the end of the war, the firm was split into a western and
an eastern part. The Dresden plant resumed production immediately in
1945 and even continued after moving the most of the machinery to
the Russian firm Kiev. It became later part of the Pentacon combinate.
Zeiss Super Ikonta is the top model of a whole Ikonta series, from a
to a coupled rangefinder with automatic film advance and double
exposure prevention. The Ikonta series started in 1929. The first
Ikonta series (code 520) consisted of three models for 120 film,
A, B, and C (D ist for 116/616 film), A=4.5x6 or 520, B=6x6 or 520/16
and C=6x9 or 520/2. By 1938 the 521 series was launched, a 523 series
in the early 1950s and a 524 series added an uncoupled rangefinder, it
was called Mess-Ikonta.
with coupled rangefinder were called Super Ikonta. The series started
with the number 530. Then the numbers get a bit mixed up. There was a
532 series, a 533 series had a selenium meter added. The last models,
built from 1956 to 1960, were the 531/16 (Super Ikonta III) and the
534/16 (Super Ikonta IV) with a non-coupled selenium meter.
camera shown is a Super Ikonta IV, the last top model of the coupled
rangefinder folders series with a built-in meter. It's a modern camera, a complete re-design
of the old series, less heavy.
Size (mm): 137 x 101 x 45 Weight: 715 g Lens: Zeiss Tessar 3.5/75, closest focus 1,2 m Shutter: Synchro Compur, B, 1 - 1/500, F 3.5 - 22, light value system Finder: coupled rangefinder Film advance: automatic, double exposure prevention
Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.
front closed. Top: film advance, shutter release, rangefinder window, meter (closed). opening button, viewfinder window and meter dial.
from the back. On top: meter dial, viewer, film advance. There is no
red window in the middle, it's just a hole to have a look, whether
there is film in the camera.
from above. Meter dial, opening button, shutter
release button, film number indicator, film advance. For metering you
have to set the film speed first. Then open the flap of the meter (by
slightly pressing the protruding end of the axis), point the camera
towards your subject and turn the dial until the white circle matches
the needle. The red arrow give you the light value to transfer to the
scale around the lens.
Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.
front open. Depth-of-the-field scale around the lens, pointing on
distance scale around the lens barrel, light value scale. On top: shutter cocking lever.
from above, camera open. From front: distance scale, speed scale,
shutter cocking lever, aperture scale, syncho setting. Dented ring on
the left (near the
bellows): focusing. As the
camera was built for the light value system, aperture and speed
connected (LV scale on the previous photo). Once set to the appropriate
light value, there is a choice different shutter speed/aperture
combinations, you change the speed and the appropriate aperture is set
at the same time.
Left side, camera open.
Right side, camera open.
Camera back open.
Original leather case.
Leather case open.
a Zeiss Super Ikonta IV is easy, it's just like
other folding rangefinders or better: how they should be. Loading film
is as usual, very easy
because of the spring held pegs at the bottom. They are blocked, if the
back is closed. Open
camera back, retract the peg and put the
take-up spool into
place. Same procedure for the film spool. Insert the film paper
into the take-up spool and advance it using the knob until it's
well engaged. Advance the arrow on the film backing paper to white
marks at the beginning of the film plane. Close the camera back.
the film via the advance knob
until the little window near the shutter release shows "1". It's
the camera and the flap of the light meter. Point the camera towards your subject and determine the light value with the meter. Cock
the shutter, set the light value. Set focus by the dented ring near the bellows, focusing moves the lens out. Press the
shutter release button. That's it. The release is blocked until you turn the film
close the camera, press the hinges of the struts
usual, it will fold easily whatever distance is set. Turn the film advance, it stops automatically and shows
the next number.
The Zeiss Super Ikonta IV is a very nice camera, it feels sturdy, yet it is
relatively lightweight, very easy to use, with a good lens and shutter and a light meter built in. Nothing special to remember, take it into your hands and you know how it works.
light meter seems to be a weak point of the camera. This is the fourth
Super Ikonta IV that I bought. Previous to buying I always asked the
seller, whether the meter works. They all confirmed. However, it didn't
work at all. When you shake the camera, the needle moves a bit, even
with a dead meter, so let's presume that they didn't know. Thanks to
the buyer protection by the payment service of a famous auction site, I
could return the faulty ones and only lost the return shipping. My
current camera has a working meter - nearly. It's a bit too low, 1 LV
value. So it is easy to compensate. If you move the
pre-setting up, it's usable without further problem. You just loose a bit the low light
capacity, which must have been quite impressing in it's time.
A general advice
for spacing problems. In "the old days", film and/or backing paper were
thicker than now. So the roll would be thicker and hence move film a
bit further if the automatic film advance is determined via turns of
the roll. If the spacing is too tight on your camera, there is an easy
trick to compensate to a certain degree: When you open a new roll, it's
held together by a paper strip around the roll. Open it cautiously and
leave a part of this strip attached to the backing paper. Insert the
paper strip into the take-up spool and wind. The beginnig of the
backing paper will follow. Wind, until it's firmly engaged. Your spool
core is now a little bit thicker than usual. This might solve your
problem, just have a try.