Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B 532/16 – 1951

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Just finished a CLA on this 64 year old Super Ikonta B.

It turned out to be a little bit more than just a spruce up. The rotating prism bracket was bent and the lens wouldn’t rotate smoothly.

Delving inside, this one turned out to be a lot different to the Contessa 35, I had previously serviced. They may share similar looks but the rotating prism assembly is a lot more complex on the Super Ikonta B. There are two sets of gears, one for focus adjust and one for prisms.

The Synchro Compur was also sticking at slow speeds and the B setting didn’t work.

The second and third lenses were fogged and both aperture and shutter had oil on their blades – the most likely cause of fogging. The body’s rangefinder prism and eye piece were also fogged.

The leather trim was intact although a couple of Zeiss bumps were evident on the back and front.

The lens and shutter were first removed from the camera body. The second lens housing was extremely tight on the Synchro Compur front plate, so I had to use a few drops of PlusGas and let it penetrate before taking a makeshift wrench to it (a rubber band and cable tie).

Once off, the shutter mechanism was cleaned and lubricated with Moebius oil and left overnight. Each lens was carefully cleaned and readied for re-assembly. The aperture and shutter blades were also cleaned of oil.

The B setting fault was due to a spring not being in the right place to apply tension to a pawl. Obviously, someone had taken the shutter apart and not assembled it correctly.

The shutter tested OK at all settings including B!

The rear and middle lenses were re-assembled, mindful that I didn’t want to introduce any dust / lint into the aperture / shutter air space, only to re-appear on a lens after a few actuations.

I made a custom matte screen out of a CD case, marked it with a central X and taped it to the back of the film rails. The front element helical was given a tiny dab of white lithium grease and assembled.

The rotating prism bracket was straightened and gear train pivots cleaned and lubricated.

I set up a couple of tripods, one with a Fuji XT-1 with 200mm set on infinity (at 10x magnification on the LCD) and pointed straight down the lens barrel of the Ikonta’s Tessar on the other. A steady focus adjust of the Tessar helical had a perfect infinity set point with the rotating prisms infinity matched.

Not surprising, the newly acquired focus ring’s grub screw lock points were adrift of the original marks. So, going by the lack of wear on the film rails and pressure plate, I suspect this camera was hardly used, as it probably didn’t focus accurately. I rechecked both near and far distances (rangefinder and film plane) and all seemed good.

Next up, address the fogged rangefinder prism in the body!

The top shell removal requires one to peel back the leather trim and I was a little worried – 64 year old leather normally disintegrates at the first sign of removal. Being careful, I managed to peel enough back to get to the shell screw. All other top components were removed and the top shell popped off.

The prism, glass and eyepiece were cleaned, along with all the other parts. I also cleaned and renovated the leather trim and lubricated all visible pivots and components before re-assembly.

The peeled leather trim was stuck down with leather glue before giving the camera a final polish and functional test.

Unfortunately the film auto counter was out. I soon realised that the two screws not only affix the counter but also clamp the film marker disc to a boss. I therefore had to set the camera to the first frame and align the marker disc accordingly before tightening the two screws. The auto counter now works as intended with proper disengagement after frame 11.
The Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B 532/16 was the second iteration of the Super Ikonta 6×6 folder, made in Germany over a 20 year period (1937-1956) and is becoming quite sought after. However, most samples are in similar or worse condition than this one, so a good CLA is vital.

It’s a compact 6×6 but weighty folder – over 1kg with film. The Super Ikonta B has a coated Zeiss Opton Tessar 80mm f/2.8 lens – the very same lens as found in the Rolleflex 2.8A.

Unlike other 6×6 folders of this era, the Super Ikonta B only yields 11 frames on a 120 roll, has a top shell mounted shutter button and a automatic frame counter.

Its tinged rangefinder is a little small and awkward compared to later designs and can be susceptible to flare and reflections, which makes accurate focussing quite a challenge in difficult lighting situations.

Now its had a full CLA, I’m hoping to put a film through it shortly!

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