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The Symbolica was an attempt of Zeiss Ikon AG to establish a user-friendly versatile viewfinder camera with original Tessar lens and Prontormat shutter. The first model - Symbolica I - was introduced in 1959, and had the catalogue number 10.0614; the Symbolica II (10.6045) replaced the earlier model around 1960, running until 1962. Early versions have a body similar to the 1956 Contina II; the later Symbolica II is similar to the more automated Tenax Automatic. It has a really bright reverse Galilean optical bright-frame viewfinder with parallax marks. In version II, the match needle instrument of the coupled selenium meter is mirrored into the finder, but also visible through a window in the top. A special connector for cable-less connection of the Ikoblitz flash is placed between the normal flash connector and meter window. The match needle meter depends on a combination of sun or cloud symbol on the lens barrel matching the actual ASA film speed value of the speed setting ring. After setting the combination by turning the unlocked film speed ring relative to the aperture setting ring, further exposure correction has to be made with the aperture setting ring, which has two black plastic grips. Below the lens barrel front is a release to turn the aperture ring also to manual settings without match-needle metering. At the end of the aperture scale is the B setting of the shutter.

Front lens element focusing is aided by symbols which are imprinted onto the front side of the lens barrel. The film advance lever is hidden in the camera back, the rewind knurl is counter-sunk in the camera bottom. On the back is a film type reminder. Around the shutter release on the top is a resetable exposure counter.