Zeiss Ikon / Cosina

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The 21st-century Zeiss Ikon models are manufactured by Cosina in Japan, for Carl Zeiss. It was announced in 2004 and inventory started becoming available in 2005, but many regions began selling them in 2006 when more ZM lenses started appearing. It is derived from Cosina's Voigtländer 35mm Bessa series. The chassis and parts are very different but shares the exposure meter and similar shutter systems.

There are two models one is a rangefinder camera Zeiss Ikon or commonly referred to as Zeiss Ikon ZM, however greatly redesigned compared to the Bessas, particularly in its viewing system. The other is a interchangeable viewfinder camera called Zeiss Ikon SW for Super Wide. Both of them are available in black and chrome.

These cameras are designated ZM for Zeiss M Mount; in other words they can accept lenses originally made for the Leica M bayonet. With this camera, Carl Zeiss introduced a full lens collection in the ZM Mount. Most are made in Japan by Cosina, although some more complex designs may be built by Zeiss in Oberkochen, Germany.

Production of the Zeiss Ikon camera ended in 2012[1].

Zeiss Ikon

The Zeiss Ikon is the official name of the rangefinder model. Since it is a very generic name it is also referred to as Zeiss Ikon ZM, and Zeiss Ikon rangefinder. It was designed as a modernized 35mm rangefinder camera. It has a TTL center-weighted meter with a range of 0 to 20 EV (ISO 100). The meter calculates light based on reflection of the center grey coloured shutter blade. It has a modernized quicker film loading system using a hinged back, this improves efficiency without having to deal with removing the base of the camera. A film reminder window is on the back. The film rewinding crank is designed similar to the Leica CL and is located on the base of the camera. This saves space and cleans up the top plate freeing it for viewfinder improvements.

rangefinders compare
camera mag base equil
Zeiss Ikon 0.74 75 mm 55.5 mm
Bessa R 0.68 37 mm 25.16 mm
Bessa R3A/M 1.0 37 mm 37 mm
Leica M5 0.72 68.5 mm 49.32 mm
Leica M6 0.72 69.25 mm 49.86 mm
0.58 69.25 mm 40.16 mm
0.85 69.53 mm 59.1 mm
Leica M7 0.72 68.5 mm 49.32 mm
Konica Hexar RF 0.60 68.5 mm 41.1 mm
Minolta CLE 0.58 49.6 mm 28.9 mm

The viewfinder has a 0.74 magnification with auto parallax correction. It has a RF base length of 55.5mm a bit larger than the M7. The bright frame lines are automatically set based on the lenses used. This is different from the Cosina Voigtländer Bessa series that are manually selected. It is compatible with the most commonly used focal lengths of 28, 35, 50 and 85mm. 28 and 85mm frame lines are displayed at the same time. There is no 75mm or 135mm lens compatibility with the built-in finder. There is also a manual frame selector lever on the face of the camera. This can be handy to preview frame lines with other lenses. The viewfinder is also friendlier to corrective lens users as the large eyepiece supports diopters with a range of ±2. It uses the same ones available for the Cosina Voigtländer Bessa.

It has an electronic vertical traveling metal focal plane shutter, with speeds from 1/2000 sec to 8 seconds in A mode (Aperture priority) and 1/2000 sec to 1 sec plus Bulb in manual mode. The flash sync is very usable at 1/125 sec. compared to 1/50 of a sec on Leica M6 or M7. It does not recognize DX encoded films automatically. The film speed has a range of 25 to 3200 ISO in 1/3 increments. It is set manually by lifting and rotating the shutter dial.

It supports aperture priority exposure along with manual exposure modes. Exposure compensation is available in A mode at ± 2 EV at 1/3 increments. Rotate the shutter dial so A is pointing to the value desired. Enabling exposure compensation will make the indicator LED blink. A handy AE lock function is available, located on the camera back right below the shoe. It can be used in A mode, but times out after 20 seconds of inactivity. Manual exposure mode is assisted with the light meter. The viewfinder displays the selected shutter speed as well as a blinking metered shutter value. Change the aperture or shutter speeds to match the blinking value. It uses CR 1/3 N, 2x LR44 or 2x SR44 batteries.

Zeiss Ikon SW

The Zeiss Ikon SW is a viewfinder camera that does not have a built-in finder. It has two shoes; one in the centre for attaching a finder and another one for attaching accessories like a flash or level. It shares similar specifications to the rangefinder model with an electronic metal focal plane shutter, with speeds from 1/2000 sec to 8 seconds in A mode (Aperture priority) and 1/2000 sec to 1 sec plus Bulb in Manual mode. Flash sync is 1/125 sec. There is a light meter, it is a LED based meter system with three lamps, red, orange and green.

Meter (A mode)
LED status
Red (blinks) underexposure
Red 1/8 ~ 1/15
Orange & red 1/15 ~ 1/30
Orange 1/30 ~ 1/60
Green & orange 1/60 ~ 1/125
Green 1/125 ~ 1/2000
Green (blinks) overexposure
Meter (M mode)
LED status
Red (right) overexposure 1+ EV
Green & red overexposure 1 EV
Green correct exposure
Red & green underexposure 1 EV
Red (left) underexposure 1+ EV


  • Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/15 ZM Made in Germany
  • Carl Zeiss C Biogon T* 4.5/21 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 2.0/35 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.0/50 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 4/18 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss C Biogon T* 2.5/35 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Tele Tesser T* 4/85 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/21 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/28 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1.5/50 ZM Made in Japan
  • Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 2.0/85 ZM Made in Germany


  • 15mm (6 elements in 6 groups)
  • 18mm (6 elements in 6 groups)
  • 21mm (5 elements in 5 groups)
  • 25/28mm (5 elements in 5 groups)



In Japanese:

Japan Camera Grand Prix
Camera of the year

1984: Nikon FA | 1985: Minolta α-7000 | 1986: Canon T90 | 1987: Canon EOS 650 | 1988: Kyocera Samurai | 1989: Nikon F4 | 1990: Canon EOS 10 | 1991: Contax RTS III | 1992: Pentax Z-1 | 1993: Canon EOS 5 | 1994: Minolta α-707si | 1995: Contax G1 | 1996: Minolta TC-1 | 1997: Nikon F5 | 1998: Pentax 645N | 1999: Minolta α-9 | 2000: Canon EOS-1V | 2001: Minolta α-7 | 2002: Canon EOS-1D | 2003: Canon EOS-1Ds | 2004: Nikon D70 | 2005: Konica Minolta α-7 Digital | 2006: Nikon D200 | 2007: Pentax K10D | 2008: Nikon D3 | 2009: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | 2010: Olympus Pen E-P1 | 2011: Pentax 645D | 2012: Nikon D800 | 2013: Sony DSC-RX1 | 2014: Nikon Df | 2015: Canon EOS 7D Mark II | 2016: SONY α7R II | 2017: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II | 2018: Sony A9

Special Prize
1990: Konica Kanpai | 1991: Fuji Cardia Travel Mini Dual-P | 1992: Konica Hexar | 1993: Nikonos RS | Sigma SA300 | 1994: Olympus µ[mju:] Zoom Panorama | 1995: Ricoh R1 | 1996: Fujifilm GA645 | 1997: Canon IXY | Contax AX | 1998: Olympus C1400L | 1999: Nikon Coolpix 950 | Tamron AF28-300mm F3.5-6.3 LD Aspherical IF MACRO lens | 2000: Nikon D1 | Konica Hexar RF | 2001: Bronica RF645 | Fujichrome 100F/400F film | 2002: Minolta DiMAGE X | Nikon FM3A | 2003: Fujifilm GX645AF | Hasselblad H1 | 2004: Canon EOS Kiss Digital | Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM lens | 2005: Nikon F6 | Epson R-D1 | 2006: Ricoh GR Digital | Zeiss Ikon | 2007: Sony α100 | Adobe Lightroom software | 2008: Sigma DP1 | Fujichrome Velvia 50 film | 2009: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 | Casio EXILIM EX-FC100 | 2010: Sony Exmor R sensor | Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM lens | 2011: Fujifilm X100 | Epson MAXART PX-5V (R3000) printer |

2012: Sony NEX 7 | 2013: Canon EOS 6D | Sigma DP1 / DP2 / DP3 Merrill 2014: Olympus OM-D EM-1 | Canon EOS 70D | Ricoh Theta