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The Sirene is series of plate cameras produced by ICA in Germany. All models are of the folding plate design. They were made between 1914 and 1926. The most common model is the Sirene 135. In 1926, when ICA merged into Zeiss Ikon, the Sirene line was continued with some new and improved features. The Zeiss Ikon models are rare, according to McKeown.

Lens and shutter

The Sirene 135 has a two-element Extra-Rapid-Aplanat "Helios" lens, with both elements screwed into either end of the shutter. Its focal length is 13cm with a maximum aperture of f/8. A small lever under the lens allows a stepless setting of aperture. A series of 8, 12.5, 18, 25 and 36 is marked on the front plate. This is the old, so-called "German" aperture series. Even at full aperture and in bright sunlight, the lens gives a rather dim image on the ground glass. The image is of course brightest in the center, almost completely dark in the corners, and upside-down.

The unnamed two-blade shutter has Z, B, 1/25-1/100s setting: the Z (Zeit) setting corresponds to the T (time) setting on other cameras. ICA's company logo was a five-pointed star, and the two five-pointed stars at either end of the shutterspeed series may suggest it was made by ICA itself. The shutter can be tripped by a lever or by cable release.

Viewfinder and focus

There are two ways to focus the Sirene: ground glass focusing through the hood, and scale focusing. You guestimate the distance to the subject and set de distance on the bed of the camera. The folding bed automatically locks the front plate on the "infinity" setting. This can be unlocked by slightly moving this scale towards the center of the camera. The distances marked on this scale are 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12m and infinity.

Similarly, there are two ways to compose the image. For total control, you can use the ground glass back. The image of course is upside down and mirrored. Because of the limited lens aperture, f/8, the image is also very dim, even on a sunny day. The viewfinder is made of two small plano-convex lenses with a 45 degree mirror between them. It gives an image as shown in the first picture. Since this viewfinder can be used from the top of the camera and from the left side, images can be composed portrait and landscape.

Body and plate holders

The Sirene folds to a rather compact box. The body of the box is made of wood, covered by embossed black leather. The bed is a leather covered plate of metal. To open the camera, one needs to push a hidden release button on the top. The Sirene 135 name only appears once on this camera: on the leather carrying strap.

The back, with the ground glass and folding hood, can be shoved off after pushing the small lock lever on top of the camera. In the leather of the hood, the ICA company name is embossed. The body has two tripod mounts, both with the larger German screw thread.

The camera was supplied with a black doubled leather camera bag. The style of the leather is the same as on the camera. The bag can be locked by key and has enough room to hold the Sirene 135 and at least five glass plate holders.


The front plate is upheld by two columns. Two screws allow for some lens movements. The maximum rise and fall are 1.6 cm and 0.5 cm respectively. The "normal" position is indicated on the right column by a small dot. Tilt is very limited and upward only.


The Sirene was made in two formats: the Sirene 105 for 6×9cm and 6.5×9cm, and the Sirene 135 for 9×12cm glass plates (When actually measuring the inner size of the 135's glass plate holders, 9.1×11.6cm would be the image format). McKeown notes that economy models were delivered with an f/11 Periscop or f/6.8 Eurynar lens, set in an Ibsor shutter. Another model has an Extra-Rapid-Aplanat "Baldour" 1:8/130mm lens in an ICA shutter.

A further version has an Ica Novar Anastigmat 1:6,8 Foc. 13,5cm lens in a similar ICA shutter as described in section "Lens and shutter". Of course this lens gives a more convenient image on the ground glass. The shutter is called "Ica Automat shutter" on one of the web-links below. Apertures for the f/6.8 lenses are f36, f25, f18, f12.5, f9 and f6.8. A variant of the Sirene 135/1 has a similar Ica Nostar Anastigmat 1:6,8 F=13,5cm lens instead.

The budget versions of Sirene 105 and 135 had simpler slower lenses of the type Periskop "Alpha" 1:11 .

Ica's versions:

  • Sirene 105
  • Sirene 135
  • Sirene 135/1

From 1929 Zeiss Ikon offered three variants of the Sirene 135:

  • Sirene n°135/3 , 6.5×9 cm
  • Sirene n°135/5 , 8×10.5 cm
  • Sirene n°135/7 , 9×12 cm