Camera, 'Super Ikonta III' 120mm, metal / plastic / glass / leather, made by Zeiss Ikon, Germany, 1954-1958
35 mm film was first introduced for Edison's Kinetograph film but was not of sufficient quality for still film until the early 1900s. Another factor which limited the uptake of 35 mm film was the competition from Kodak's multitude of film sizes. It was not until the 1930's that this smaller film size started to become a popular and it was from this time that 35mm cameras began to dominate the market.
A number of camera manufacturers had attempted to market the format but it was not until 1923 and the introduction of the 'Leica' camera that 35 mm challenged other larger film sizes. This success was due to the high design, construction and lens qualities of the 'Leica' which allowed quality enlargements to be made from the small 35 mm negatives. In 1934 Kodak produced its first 35 mm camera, the 'Retina' and in 1936 the International Radio Corporation made the 'Argus model A' camera the first to be mass-produced in the U. S. A. After the Second World War Japanese manufactures started producing quality 35 mm cameras which became the de-facto standard for film negatives throughout the rest of the century.
This Zeiss 'Ikonta' 120mm camera has a folding range finder, and the hinged back flips open to reveal the film chamber.
Unusual by modern standards, the prime feature of the Zeiss Ikontas (in all versions and film sizes) is their ability to fold up flat into a very small package making Ikontas the highpoint of small camera, large negative. No modern camera boasts such a large negative for its size. Of course the bane of all folders existence was lack of rigidity and keeping the lens parallel with the film. Zeiss skilled engineers turned these problems into Ikonta strong points, elevating Ikontas to be generally considered the best folders ever made.
Zeiss Super Ikonta C's have a large 6x9cm format. Made from the early 1930's to the middle 50's, they came with a bewildering combination of different shutters and lenses. Its best lenses were the 105/3.5 or 105/4.5 Tessar. The best Tessar was the post war coated version. The best shutter is the post war synced Compur. Simplified versions without the range-finders, were "Ikontas" as opposed to "Super Ikontas."
This camera is a part of the Jock Leate collection acquired by the Powerhouse in 2004. Jock managed a chain of 'photography, recording, Hi-fi and optical equipment' stores across Sydney from the late 1960s to 1988. The collection spans the period from the 1870s through to the 1980s.
Coe, Brian, Cameras, from the daguerreotype to instant pictures, Marshall Cavendish, London, 1978
Geoff Barker, March, 2007
Unusual by modern standards, the prime feature of the Zeiss Ikontas is their ability to fold up flat into a very small package and still produce a large negative. The problem with this and all folding cameras was the lack of rigidity and being able to keep the lens parallel with the film. Zeiss skilled engineers turned these problems into Ikonta strong points, elevating Ikontas to be generally considered the best folding cameras made.
Zeiss Super Ikonta C's have a large 6x9cm format. Made from the early 1930's to the middle 50's, they came with a combination of different shutters and lenses. Simplified versions without the rangefinders, were "Ikontas" as opposed to "Super Ikontas."
In 1846 Carl Zeiss (1816-1888) started his instrument making business in a small town of Jena in Germany. He quickly became interested in optics and by 1848 was making and designing microscopes. By 1866 Zeiss realised that to expand his business he needed someone with a greater understanding of optics. Zeiss found the right person in Ernst Abbe (1840-1905) and by 1870 they had devised a new way for computing the manufacture of optical lenses which would improve performance by eradicating much of the colour and spherical distortion of the lens.
In 1879 they produced the homogenous immersion objective but the flint and crown glass which they used to make their lenses needed to be improved before they could perfect their lenses. Optical glass made from silica, soda and potash was supplied by manufacturers who used the same recipes for much of the nineteenth century. It was only after Zeiss and Abbe teamed up with the glass maker Otto Schott in 1881 that they were able to produce a better quality glass without so much of the characteristic green or yellow tinges.
In 1886 Zeiss and Abbe produced the apochromatic (achromatic) microscope lens. Consisting of ten lenses it effectively removed secondary spectra distortion and spherical aberration. Using the new glass and Abbe's formulas the Zeiss factory began producing their famed anastigmatic photography lenses in 1890. It was around this time that the Zeiss works began constructing eye pieces and objectives for telescopes.
These eyepieces were used with the 11 1/2-inch refractor telescope, and were sold by Hugo Schroeder whose name is on the label in the wooden box.
Auerbach, F., The Zeiss Works and the Carl Zeiss Foundation in Jena, W. & G., Foyle, London, England, about 1925?
By Geoff Barker, November, 20074