Four of the smallest 120 folders ever produced – restored to their former glory over the last year.
Left to right, Zeiss Super Ikonta 531a, Voigtlander Perko 1, Ensign Selfix 16-20 and Konishiroku Pearl III.
All have the infamous Tessar (or derivative) lens – a sharp and contrasty mainstay of most cameras from this era.
The German made 645 Ikonta 531a is an engineering work of art. A satin chrome, black and leather clad (rigid) body with a Synchro Compur MX shutter, Zeiss Tessar 7.5cm f/3.5 lens, separate tiny rangefinder and Albada viewfinder. Purchased for £119 (early 2016) it needed a full CLA and rangefinder alignment.
The German made 6×6 Perkeo 1 is almost as well made as the Ikonta but with no rangefinder (distance focus scale only), small viewfinder, Prontor SVS shutter and Skopar 80mm f/3.5 lens. Its satin chrome, black and leather clad (less rigid) body is noticeably lighter than all the others. Purchased for £95 (early 2016) it needed a full CLA, shutter repair and (wobbly) front standard repair.
The British made 645 Ensign 16-20 is built like a tank and sturdier than all other models, although the front standard is not as rigid as the Ikonta. No rangefinder (distance focus scale only), just a simple but large Albada viewfinder. The body is satin chrome, black and leather clad which houses a notoriously unreliable (but serviceable) Epsilon shutter and Ross Xpres 75mm f/3.5 lens. Purchased for £75 (fall 2016) it needed a full CLA, shutter repair and a missing DOF scale knob.
The Japanese made 645 Konishiroku Pearl III is an evolutionary marvel with its unit focus helical, Seikosha MXL shutter, Hexar 75mm f/3.5 lens, combined view/rangefinder and auto film stop (no red window). Although slightly heavier than the others, it has a satin chrome, black and vinyl clad body with a front standard as rigid as the Ikonta’s. Purchased for £183 (fall 2016) it needed a full CLA, unit focus repair, bellow’s pinhole repair, vinyl repair and rangefinder alignment.
If I were to choose a favourite, it would have to be the Konishiroku Pearl III – plentiful in Japan but rare (read pricier) in the west. Its unit focus design takes the Hexar (Tessar derivative) lens to its optical limit, while the auto film stop and combined view/rangefinder makes it a breeze to use….get one, if you can find one!