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Zeiss Ikon 6x9 – the Vintage Folding Camera in Your Pocket

Using vintage cameras like the Zeiss Ikon 6x9cm model can transport you back to another era. It can be helpful to know which viewfinders go with different models, what film to use, and other details. Here are some pointers about the particulars of this vintage folding camera.

What's helpful to know when operating Zeiss Ikon Cameras?

These features are useful to keep in mind:

  • Film: An unusual detail about the Zeiss Ikon cameras is that they all use 120 roll film with the 6 x 9-centimeter exposures.
  • Exposures: The 120 film did not have backing paper or a counter telling you the number of exposures left on it. This allowed for a thinner film that weighed very little. It was smaller overall, so you could fit two rolls of film in your pocket along with the folding camera.
  • Position and aperture: To attain the desirable film flatness sought by photographers, you can open the camera to prepare for the shot before advancing the film, and you can be careful to avoid closing the camera before taking your shot. For the highest optical resolution, use a small aperture; however, reserve the two smallest apertures for shooting where diffraction does not matter.
  • Shutter speed: Using all but the highest shutter speed should produce pictures free of any shaking from the camera. The camera’s extra spring is quite strong and gives an enthusiastic response, so capturing the clearest views requires the lower shutter speeds. Select your shutter speed before you cock the shutter to minimize the response from the extra spring.
Which viewfinders are used with a Zeiss Ikon?

From 1933 through 1951, the Ikonta and Nettar used variations of a two-frame indirect, reflecting, or integrated optical viewfinder. In the early 1950s, Super Ikonta C 523, 530/2, and 531/2 helped to revolutionize the photography industry when they introduced a chrome top plate with an integral finder as well as rangefinders with separate windows. The range assembly has a folding viewfinder on top called an albada finder. This reduces weight and size, making it a desirable feature for both amateur and professional photographers.

What are some unique qualities of a Zeiss film camera?

Generally, Zeiss folders are among the best made during a time when lack of folder rigidity and keeping the film in line with the lens prevailed. Few folding cameras could combine a large negative with such a compact package. With extremely sharp images and contrast in a 6x9cm format, similar to that of a telephoto lens, it provides a much larger angle of view at the same depth of field. Other features include:

  • Folds up: An unusual quality is these devices' ability to fold up from a fully extended camera with vintage bellows into a small package you can slip in your pocket.
  • Shutter quality: It has a reliable shutter that does not need constant cleaning.
  • Simple construction: It is easier to clean the lens on vintage cameras because of their simple build.
  • Clear picture: Postwar lens coating softened light reflections, resulting in high picture clarity, and postwar shutters have flash synchronization.
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