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Tuesday, January 31

The Super Ikonta's naked negs

Phil Rogers requested in the comments to an earlier post about my latest acquisition that I show the negs from the Super Ikonta - so here they are. This is the first roll from the camera - Tmax 400 developed in D76 1+1. They were popped on the lightbox and snapped with the iPhone.

I was keen to get out and about with the Zeiss just to make sure it was working properly and the bellows was light tight. So far so good. I wasn't doing any actual "testing" - photographing things close-up, etc, to check the rangefinder's accuracy - rather I just nipped along to my favourite allotment and snapped anything with a bit of detail in it.

A few pics were taken in the countryside as well when we were out for a drive. The compact dimensions of the folding camera are great for this sort of shooting. It's no wonder these cameras were once also known as "car cameras" in some circles.

This was a lovely bit of light that I had to capture. Finding
an interesting foreground was the challenge. This one's not
too bad.

The Tessar lens seems to be well up to the expected standard with good sharpness and contrast when stopped down a couple. Most of these pics were taken at f8-f11. There's a little bit of contrast-reducing flare shooting into the sun but nothing too bad. Reading some stuff on the internet, it seems that the front focusing of the Super Ikonta's lens, where the front element moves in and out, is not as good as the "unit focusing" of the Tessar in the likes of a Rolleiflex where the entire lens is on the move.

Wisdom has it that front focusing lenses have to compromise either close up or at infinity. The Super Ikonta is supposed to be better from 10ft to infinity so it's maybe not the best for close-up, bokeh shots if that's your thing. I can't see me using it like that very often anyway as I prefer a reflex for that sort of thing. I'll have to do a couple of close-ups with the next film to see how accurate the rangefinder focusing is. It seems fine at normal distances.

Yes, it's the famous allotment again! Use the search function
if you want to see more pics like this - I've got a few. :)

The good thing with the allotment is that there's a variety
of shots available, ideal if you want to finish a film quickly
to check the results. I liked the kettle in the window.

One of the other quirks of the Super Ikonta is that it has an automatic loading system like the Rolleiflex Automat. This senses the film as it's loading and stops automatically at the first frame without having to look for the number 1 in a red window. This wasn't a quirk when the camera was made but it is now since the backing paper on 120 rolls is thinner than of old.

This can result in badly spaced or even overlapping frames. It can be circumvented by threading the film at the start as normal but, before closing the back, sticking a post it note or a bit of thickish tape onto the backing paper. This fools the camera into thinking it's been fed the good old stuff and keeps it happy. I used a couple of pieces of tape and the spacing has worked out just fine.

I love this old greenhouse with it's higgledy-piggledy
collection of old bumph. This scan looks sharp and it
was shot through a none-to-clean window pane.

It has to be said that the Super Ikonta IV is a brilliant camera in everyday use. Easy to load, easy to focus, compact, reasonably light and capable of producing very nice negatives. What's not to like? It's much easier to use than the Rolleiflex Old Standard purely because of the focusing.

The Super Ikonta does have one wee problem, though - or maybe I should say that the problem is one I have with the Ikonta. I pride myself in taking photographs that are dead level or as near to it. I hate unintentionally tilted horizons. Sad to say that quite a few of these negs are distinctly leaning to the left - well, enough to bother me anyway. The need to straighten them up meant I had to forego the black film border on most. I'll need to pay more attention when looking through the viewfinder. A distinctly right-leaning view is a lot more acceptable to my way of thinking.


Dave Jenkins said...

Plus 1 on the right-leaning view, Bruce.

P.S. Nice pix.

Herman Sheephouse said...

They're great Bruce - are those allotments the ones off up the back of Lochee Road way?

The lens seems to have the perfect blend of a vintage look mixed with modern contrast, but not too much. It's helluva sharp too - to me it's a no-brainer - keep it.
Anywhere you could mount a small bubble level on the camera?

You could just go for wanders with this and document stuff before it is gone - well worth it. You've got an eye for this sort of thing - keep up the good work!

tjen said...

Hi Bruce your pics are much sharper than those from mine Agfa Isolette . Probably it's the lens from Ikonta mucccccchhhhh better than the Apotar ...Nice try !!! super

Kerstin Jonsson said...

Hi Bruce
I would say this camera seems just perfect for you style of photography. The tilting sounds like a solvable problem to me so I really hope you keep it. I'd just love to see more of your wonderful foggy landscapes through that lens.

DavidM said...

You and this camera do seem to get on well. Marry it and live happily ever after.

Kodachromeguy said...

Gorgeous frames and interesting subject matter. You get along with square framing very well. What film and developer are you using? Also, these are very clean. Do you retouch with a spot or scratch cleaner tool after scanning?

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. As for the clean scans - yes, I try to remove most spots in Lightroom. Depends what sort of mood I'm in, though. :) The film is Tmax 400 2 developed in D76 1+1. It gets 10 mins at 20C with 10s agitation at the start and 10s each minute.