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Thursday, February 16

More from the Super Ikonta

What a good buy the old Zeiss Ikon is proving to be. As a walkabout camera it takes a bit of beating - fairly lightweight, compact when folded and capable of producing very nice results from its (one!) 75mm Tessar lens.

I've been using it a lot more than I thought I would and loving every minute with it. Being a rangefinder, it gives me pretty much the same problem as all other rangefinders: it's difficult seeing the field of view with glasses on. My method is to focus with specs on and then take them off for the final, somewhat blurry, composition.

I'm hoping this lack of clarity at the vital moment of releasing the shutter is responsible for the bloody annoying left-leaning tilt I'm still getting. The pics on this page weren't too bad from that point of view but the latest film I've developed from the Super Ikonta - I'll post some results in a few days - had some hellish horizons. What makes it worse was that I was making a real effort to keep the horizons level! Maybe one leg has suddenly become shorter than the other, or something.

The first pic at the top is another view of Forter Castle in Glenisla. You'll maybe recognise it from a couple of similar pics I've posted previously. This is my first medium format shot of it and the snow makes it a little different from the others.

This (above) is an early morning shot I took just north of Dundee. It was a little frosty, one of those hard, crisp days that make life worthwhile in the middle of winter. The light was lovely and I hid the sun behind the tree to stop it dominating the scene. There's a dry stone dyke nearby that I climbed over whilst on the hunt for other pics. Here's what I found:

There was a full set of clubs in the bag and some balls. Bizarre. I know that secondhand golf clubs don't have a great value these days but chucking them over a wall instead of selling them or giving them away is just weird. Maybe the owner had just had the round from hell and his temper got the better of him. They're probably still there as there aren't too many of us dyke hurdlers around. 

Reminds me of a story about a well-known, club-throwing pro from the 1950s and '60s called Tommy "Thunder" Bolt. It was the last hole of a difficult round and Bolt had a second shot of about 120 yards to the pin. His caddy handed him a 1 iron. "What the hell are you giving me a 1 iron for," asked an angry Bolt. "It's the only club we've got left, boss," was the reply. Incidentally, Bolt grumbled away to the ripe old age of 92, "nursing his wrath to keep it warm", to mis-quote Burns.

On the way home from Glenisla we stumbled across one of those dreich, dismal shots I like. Doesn't look too hospitable, does it? I love these scenes - the puddle makes a more interesting foreground than a ploughed field and the low-lying cloud on the hills adds a bit of mystery and moodiness. Looking at these pics must make you think I'm some sort of intrepid hill walker but they were all taken no more than 20 yards from the car.

Another shot from the Glenisla trip, a nice, gentle one this time. Not much to say about this except that I didn't even have to walk 20 yards - I was leaning on the bonnet.

The final Glenisla pic. Come to think of it, I had to park the car and walk about 50 yards up the road for this one so maybe that does qualify me as a hill walker or rambler or something. The light was going a bit by the time I took it and the branches were doing their best to stop what light there was reaching the ground. I was leaning on a fence post for extra support.

The shutter speed was around 1/30th - probably hand-holdable with the Super Ikonta without the support. There's not enough depth of field for front to back sharpness but I like the overall mood of this one. I can just see a fairy prancing about in the snow. Or maybe that was me making my way back to the car...


Herman Sheephouse said...

Great results Bruce - you've got some keepers there - would be lovely to see them printed.

I'll bet you're chuffed with the camera and I don't blame you.

As for golf, I can sympathise with whoever chucked the bag over . . . .

DavidM said...

You are getting a lovely clarity with these Ikonta shots. Not just the separation of tones but the vision (there must be a less arty word) too. It looks as if, despite your protestations, you do actually perform better with one lens. Might there be some additional influence from having only twelve frames? There might be two effects: firstly that you are more selective and secondly that it's so much easier to finish a whole film on one outing, ready to develop immediately and consequently, get a useful boost to the enthusiasm.

Are there any spiral staircases nearby?
I ask, because Benbo claim that theirs the only tripod that can take photographs on a spiral staircase. You would have choose very robust and sturdy staircases, to carry the weight of a photographer, an RB67 and the solid engineering of the tripod itself. I can see the book already – spiral bound of course.

DougH said...

Beautiful images.Especially like the first - I'm a sucker for rolling hills, stone walls and snow.

Richard Warom said...

Great to see these Super Ikonta shots Bruce as I've just bought one which is at Newton Ellis Liverpool for a clean and check up, but these shots are making me impatient to get it back and try it. Mine is a 531/2 circa 1938 with a f3.5 105 Jena Tessar lens and takes 6x9 or 6x4.5. I also really like your more moody shots they have lots of atmosphere and interest and I'm sure walking 50 yds makes you a hill walker.

Bruce Robbins said...


Food for thought there as usual. I think having only 12 shots does help to keep the enthusiasm going. What the Super Ikonta adds, as any fixed lens camera would, is the ability to just scoop it up as I'm going out the door. That means it's always available and they do say the best camera is the one you've got in your hands.


I'd love to see some results from your Zeiss when you get it back. As far as folders go, 6x9 must be the pinnacle.

DavidM said...

At last, you seem to have a camera that doesn't need a camera-ambulance to follow you around; that's sharp enough, even on a web page; and doesn't need a tripod. Your creativity is clearly not missing the bag of lenses that you used to carry. Lenses are the osteopath's best friend, but not necessarily the photographer's.
I'm almost reminded of Edward Weston. I think it was Charis who asked him why he didn't wait around for a scene to improve, as many LF photographers do. He said that while he was waiting HERE, he was missing an even bette shot THERE. I think the same might apply to lenses; while you wishing you had a different lens to take this one, your'e missing another, better one, that's ideal for the lens you do have.
Incidentally, you can't get peppers like Number 30 any more – all the photogenicity (?) has been bred out of them. Better for stuffing: rubbish for pictures. (How do I know this?)
Edward had Charis to drive the car AND carry the tripod – lucky man.

Heretical thought: Perhaps your leftward lean is your spine straightening out.

Dave Jenkins said...

Here are two great quotes in regard to simplifying your kit:

“Forcing yourself to use restricted means is the sort of restraint that liberates invention. It obliges you to make a kind of progress that you can’t even imagine in advance.” -- Picasso

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” -- Orson Welles

Robert Dungan said...

Nice set of shots from a old folder. I have found that most folders are very capable cameras. I love the big negatives when it comes to printing.