Tag Archives: zeiss

Ikoflex as a classic camera

Photoethnography.com – Classic Cameras.



Overview and Personal Comments

The Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex is a twin-lens reflex camera made by the Zeiss Ikon conglomerate in the years immediately preceding and after WWII. The model I have is the Ikoflex II according McKeowns and has the Zeiss-Opton T coated Tessar 75mm / f3.5 taking lens. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

Interesting quirks

Even though the lens is cocked separately from the film winding, the camera has double exposure prevention! This most probably has relegated a lot of units to the “broken” bin since people didn’t realize that you have to wind the film before cocking the shutter. Also, if the film counter has counted past ’12’ then you have to reset it back to ‘1’ before it lets you shoot again as well. Those darn Zeiss engineers, they were too smart for their own good. There are actually four shutter interlocks:

  • Double exposure prevention: make sure the film is wound to the next position
  • No film interlock: if the film counter is past ’12’ then the camera will not shoot. Load film and/or reset film counter to ‘1’
  • Waist-level finder interlock: chimney finder has to be in the open position
  • Shutter cocked interlock: OK, it’s not a real interlock and obviously the camera won’t shoot if the shutter isn’t cocked, but after winding the film it’s easy to forget

Looking at the web at other people’s cameras, McKeowns has a couple of mistakes in his 2001-2002 edition. First he doesn’t think the II came with both a Tessar and a Prontor (1-300) shutter in the same unit, he thinks that the Tessars only came with Compur (1 – 1/500) shutters. Also his photos are a bit odd. I hope he fixes this in the next edition.

Technical Details

Camera Name
Zeiss Ikon
Place of Manufacture
Germany / West Germany
Date of Manufacture
1939-51 (mine is most probably post-War as it is T coated)
Focusing System
Twin-lens reflex design
Lens use bellows focusing

Focusing range 3.6′ ~ infinity
(focus lever on left side, infinity is forward)
Focusing Lens
75mm, f/3.5, Carl Zeiss Teronar-Anastigmat
Taking Lens
75mm, f/3.5, Zeiss-Opton Tessar T coated lens
Prontor (?) shutter 1 sec – 1/300
B setting
X-flash sync at all speeds
X – M switch for flash or timer (can’t do both!)
Metering System
Hah! Handy printed exposure scale on the waist-level finder hood.
f/3.5 – f/16 (stepless)
10 aperture blades
PC cable connection
Film type / speeds
Type 120 film (medium format)
Battery type
Dimensions and weight
A brick
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About Zeiss Ikon

Zeiss Ikon was formed in 1926 out of the merger of five companies: Carl Zeiss/Jena A.G., ICA A.G., Erneman A.G., Goerz A.G, and Contessa-Nettel A.G.

Zeiss-Ikon was a huge corporation with offices in five cities in Germany and it offered a huge variety of cameras. Unfortunately, that was also its downfall. Various divisions competed against each other horribly and there was much, much reduplication of effort. It never really took advantage of its size.

Carl Zeiss, the main company, can actually trace its roots to 1846, to the very dawn of photography and is renowned for such designs as the Tessar and T* coating. Even now, Carl Zeiss lenses grace the very best cameras from Contax to Hasselblad.

In 1972, Zeiss formed into a partnership with Yashica Corporation of Japan. Zeiss now only does lens design and makes a small amount of photographic lenses. Yashica manufactures the Contax series of Zeiss cameras.

Zeiss Ikoflex Twin Lens Reflex – Models Overview

Zeiss Ikoflex Twin Lens Reflex

Zeiss no. model yr built lens shutter comments
850/16 Ikoflex 1934-37 f6.3 or 4.5/80 Novar Compur-Rapid, Klio, Derval “coffee can” model, lever focus 1936, knob focus after ’36
850/16 Ikoflex I 1939-51 f3.5/75 Tessar Compur, Klio, Prontor S same as Ikoflex II from 1937-39 (851/16)
851/16 Ikoflex II 1936-39 f3.8 CZJ Triotar or f3.5/75 Tessar Compur-Rapid lever focus in1937, knob focus after ’37, continued as Ikoflex I (850/16) after 1939
851/16 Ikoflex II 1939-51 f3.5/70 Novar or f3.5/75 Tessar Prontor similar to Ikoflex II of 1937-39
854/16 Ikoflex Ia 1952-56 f3.5/70 Novar or f3.5/70 Tessar Prontor shutter release located on top next to viewfinder
856/16 Ikoflex Ib 1956-58 f3.5/75 Novar or f3.5/75 Tessar Prontor improved version of Ia, shutter release located on side next to taking lens
886/16 Ikoflex Ic 1956-60 f3.5/75 Novar or f3.5/75 Tessar Prontor metered version of Ib
852/16 Ikoflex II/III 1938-40s f3.5/75 Tessar or f3.5/75 Triotar Compur-Rapid or Compur new style Ikoflex II after 1939
855/16 Ikoflex IIa 1950-52 f3.5/75 Tessar Compur-Rapid early version with peep window on each side of taking lens
855/16 Ikoflex IIa 1953-56 f3.5/75 Tessar Compur-Rapid restyled version with peep windows directly over viewing lens
853/16 Ikoflex III 1939-40 f2.8/80 Tessar Compur-Rapid Albada finder
887/16 Ikoflex Favorit 1957-60 f3.5/75 Tessar Synchro-Compur LVS light meter, last Ikoflex