Over the last few years I have bought and repaired almost 100 vintage cameras and never have I seen a 65 year old camera in such good condition….until now.
I’ve had my eye on a late Zeiss 6×9 folder for a while. Trawling eBay there’s plenty of pre-war models in so-so condition and occasionally a 1950’s model gets listed at £300-£400 (from the Netherlands), so I was surprised to find a newly listed 1951 Super Ikonta C for £140 in Germany.
I took the plunge and anticipated receiving a typically dressed up camera that would need quite a bit of work.
3 days later it arrived and to my amazement the camera was close to mint. Obviously the camera had received work at some point during its life, as some of the screw heads showed signs of tampering – although it was minimal.
The Super Ikonta C is an incredible piece of German engineering. A 6×9 folder weighing in at a mere 820g, thats almost half the weight of Fuji’s “Texas Leica” (1980’s GW690 series).
If your lucky to find a 6×4.5 mask (as I did for £10) then the Super Ikonta C doubles as a short telephoto Super Ikonta A offering 16 frames v 8 frames per 120 roll.
This Super Ikonta C folds to a very compact 155x81x50mm and houses the infamous Carl Zeiss Tessar 105mm f/3.5 lens in a Compur-Rapid shutter.
The Compur-Rapid offers old speeds up to 1/400s with self timer and flash synchronisation.
The body is a black enamelled steel frame with brass shells, ornamented with black leather and chrome trim.
Similar to the Ikonta A and B, the Ikonta C uses a coupled rotating wedge rangefinder and Albada style viewfinder (with both 6×9 and 6×4.5 crop lines).
Production dates run between 1936 to 1953 with T coated lenses being found mainly on post war models. A 1950’s Tessar model was priced at ~£30, that’s about £1100 in today’s money!
As always, I sanitised the camera with wet wipes to get rid of any lurking grime and bacteria before giving it a thorough inspection.
The lens was very clean, no fungus, haze or scratches, just some minute dust particles in-between the elements. So I left it as-is.
The rangefinder was a little hazy internally so that was disassembled and given a thorough clean.
I then checked the shutter speeds and found all timings were less than a 1/3rd stop fast. However the self timer latch was loose and occasionally dragged the shutter at higher speeds if partially latched. As I very rarely use a self timer, I decided that a small piece of tape would keep it in place and defer the need to strip the shutter. To be honest the timings were so good and the lens so clean I really didn’t want to pull it apart – better to wait until its absolutely necessary.
The leatherette covering and bellows were given a coat of Lexol and a couple of trim edges were re-glued.
I then checked infinity focus and did a minor tweak as it was ever-so slightly front focussed at infinity at f/3.5.
Internally the camera was very clean. The film rails and pressure plate showed no sign of wear. Although the felt light seals on the peep holes had come unstuck. So the pressure plate was removed, checked for flatness and the felt re-glued.
It’s not often one finds a real gem that has barely been used, but this time I may have struck lucky! Now to put some Portra 400 in and go shoot some photos.