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Zeiss-Ikon's top product line of folding medium-format cameras were badged Ikonta and were generally of superior quality compared with corresponding folding camera models of Zeiss-Ikon's Nettar product line.

History & Models

Launched in 1929, Ikontas were offered in four models: A, B, C, & D. The A, B, & C sizes took 120 film and produced negatives in 6x4.5 format, 6x6 format, and 6x9 format, respectively. The Ikonta D produced larger negatives on either 116 or 616 film. There was also a Baby Ikonta, which used 127 film. The first series of Ikonta were also labeled the 520 series. The A, B, & C models were also designated 520, 520/16, and 520/2, respectively.

About 1940 the 520 series gave way to the 521 series, which added a shutter release on the body and double exposure prevention. Only the A, B, & C models continued. In the early 1950s the 523 was launched for the B & C models. A chrome top plate with an integral finder and an accessory shoe was added. The 524 series added an uncoupled rangefinder and was also called the "Mess" Ikonta. Hubert Nerwin designed the Ikonta 35, a viewfinder camera, for 35mm film. Nerwin created versions with a rangefinder, the Contina with separate optical viewfinder, and the Contessa with a big optical viewfinder plus superimposed Super-Ikonta-like coupled rangefinder. The Ikonta 35 and the Contina were soon renamed Contina and Contina II.

In the United States early Ikontas were sold under the name Ikomat.

Super Ikonta

Variants which included a coupled rangefinder which were named Super Ikonta. The early Super Ikonta rangefinder cameras especially were copied by competitors and concurrents, as they included an ingenious way to couple the rangefinder by means of one optical element of the rangefinder mounted on the lens standard. An example of such a copy is the Moskva-2.

Super Ikonta model numbers began with a 530, followed by the 531 series.

The final Super Ikonta folders were the Super Ikonta III and Super Ikonta IV. Both were in 6x6 format and had the advantage of a film winding mechanism that allowed the film to be advanced without use of numbers in the red window. The only difference between the III and IV was that the latter had a selenium meter. Their catalog numbers were 531/16 and 534/16, respectively.

After World War II the Ikonta cameras were produced in West Germany's Zeiss-Ikon plant in Stuttgart. The East German Zeiss-Ikon in Dresden continued production of a traditional Ikonta model, naming it "Ercona".

The West German plant launched a 35mm Ikonta viewfinder model which was continued as Contina.

Lenses & Shutters

Ikontas were fitted with a wide range of lenses and shutters, and the cameras were originally priced accordingly. The primary difference between Ikontas and Nettar models was often the lens and shutter combination.

The lenses were f/6.3 Novar f/4.5 Novar, f/3.5 Novar, and f/3.5 Tessar. The focal length was 75mm for 6x6 format cameras and 105mm for 6x9. Novar lenses were a triplet design outsourced to another German optical company, typically Rodenstock or Steinheil. The f/6.3 Novar was dropped after the 520 series. Tessar lenses were a 4-element design made by Zeiss. They were uncommon on Ikonta or Mess Ikonta models and more often found on Super Ikontas.

Ikontas were also provided with a range of shutters, the simplest being a three-speed Klio on early models. Other shutters may include the Vario (3-speed), Prontor (4-speed), Prontor-S (8-speed), Compur (8-speed), and Synchro-Compur (10-speed).

Postwar Ikontas tended to have better shutters and lenses, as the cheaper combinations were relegated to the Nettar line.

Lenses after the war were coated, which reduced light reflections between the elements. Uncoated lenses may flare more often and can lead to distorted colors if used with modern color film. Postwar shutters usually had flash synchronization. Immediately after the war some models were fitted with Schneider Xenar lenses.

On all Ikontas focusing is performed by rotating the front lens (front lens focusing).

Ikonta Models

Ikonta Format 24x36mm

  • Ikonta B 522/24 or Ikonta 35, see Contina

Ikonta Format 3x4cm

Ikonta Format 4.5x6cm

Ikonta Format 5x7.5cm

Ikonta Format 6x6cm

Ikonta Format 6x9cm

Ikonta Format 6.5x11cm

Super Ikonta Models

Super Ikonta Format 4.5x6cm

Super Ikonta Format 6x6cm

Super Ikonta Format 6x9cm

Super Ikonta Format 6.5x11cm

Images Ikonta viewfinder cameras

Images Super Ikonta rangefinder cameras


General links

In English:

In French:

Manuals and brochures