Voightlander Bessa II or Ikonta 531/2?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by fhovie, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I am looking at trying a 6x9 folder and am considering as nice as I can afford a later Bessa II or an Ikonta C.

    There is a huge difference in price for Tessars vs Novars and Helios vs Skopars. How much better? They are (that are coated) single coated - I like the idea of a later Tessar and am favoring an Ikonta - I am not sure the rangefinder is useful or not. Any Ideas on which would be the better pick - I would like to stay under $170 if I can - which might be a challenge for the nicer ones. Many are going for $300 or more. Any help will be appreciated - thanks - Frank
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    A Bessa II with Heliar is likely to run over $500, so I think you're looking at a camera with a Tessar or Skopar. A Heliar will be sharper in the corners than a Tessar or Skopar, and it's a nice smooth looking lens, but Tessars and Skopars are decent lenses as well.

    I think a rangefinder is useful, particularly if you photograph things closer than 8 feet away, but of course a coupled rangefinder adds to the price.
     
  3. Christian Olivet

    Christian Olivet Member

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    I recently got a super Ikonta 6x9 on ebay that I have probably over paid at $400. I found lots of light leaks on the first roll. Fortunately there is someone dedicated to repairing this old cameras.
    Mine has the Carl Zeiss Jena tessar 105 mm. 1:3.8. I have looked at the slides I shot with it with a 4x loupe and I have to say that I am very impressed with the sharpness and contrast even though all of the shots were handheld.
    Now I am considering fixing this one and keeping it forever. It is a great little thing that just slips easily into a pocket or funny pack and will let you take all the great shots you would have missed by leaving the big cameras at home.
    Treat yourself!
     
  4. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I bagged a very late Ikonta 523/2 on ebay for $129 - it has a f3.5 Novar and is in great looking shape except it is missing the part that connects the body shutter release to the lens. I am not sure this will be much of a problem - I too want to use it as a travel camera and I am looking forward to shooting 6x9 - Kind of like Ollies hand held 5x7. Thanks for the info.
     
  5. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The thing you need to check with any Voigtlander medium format folding camera is the lens standard. The engineering on these was inadequate, and you must ensure there is no play in the lens -- that is, it doesn't rock back and forth.

    With any of the older cameras, unless they've been serviced, you can be assured they will need the viewfinder/rangefinder cleaned and the shutter serviced. As always, check for pinholes and ensure that the camera appears to operate as it should.

    The Tessar is a fine lens with excellent resolving power. I haven't used the Heliar or Skopar, but both have good reputations.

    With a budget of less than $200, you have to hope for an incredible deal. You otherwise will get cameras that might need a lot of work. I hope you get the incredible deal -- they're out there, but you have to search pretty hard.
     
  6. CZeni

    CZeni Member

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    A guy who works at a local camera shop showed me his Bessa II today w/ the Color Skopar lens. It's in the original blue velvet-covered box, and he has an original leather case in its original box as well...says it takes nice images. But the viewfinder is beyond tiny - it's the smallest one I've ever seen on an old folder...smaller and squintier than the one on my Moscow-5...but I still want it :smile:
     
  7. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, CZeni,

    Nice to see another Koni user added to APUG.

    Konical
     
  8. CZeni

    CZeni Member

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    Keepin' the faith, such as it were :smile:

    Now if I could just find a 60mm for my Omegaflex... :smile:
     
  9. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    Please Do not buy a folder on eBay unless the seller can guarantee the bellows are light tight. The apparent condition is not an indication of reality. I have three folders, Ikonta, Supper Isolette (6x6), and Billy Record. The best coupled rangefinder folder is probably the Super Isolette but 6x9 is rare and the price is prohibitive, 5-6 hundred. The built in rangefinders works very well but the Ikontas have adjustment trouble where the Agfa's are easier to adjust. Rangefinders which sit on the hot shoe work well but are never in the same scale as the lens. The lack of any rangefinder results in...you can guess, but sometimes to pleasing results. The only ebay person i would buy a folder from is Jurgen Krenkel, his ebay name is certo6.
     
  10. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I was considering recommending Certo6 as well. I have not purchased from him, but he has a good reputation. If you email him, he will send you a price list for a large number of cameras--you don't have to wait for things to be placed on eBay.

    I had excellent luck with a Mockba 4 I got from Fedka.com. This is a variant of the russian copy of the Ikonta, with a Tessar-like lens. It is pretty good. Not as good as the 105mm Ektar (Heliar) on my mini-speed, but good.

    Matt
     
  11. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I've had very good luck with the folders off eBay. Of the ones that I've bought, about seven or eight have been dogs. All of them have had to be serviced. The one in the worst condition -- literally falling apart -- was from Russia. Only one has had leaks in the bellows.

    But I agree with Chris' suggestion that you get a guarantee from the seller. A sticky shutter can be serviced. Physical damage isn't worth fixing, and patching bellows is an exercise in frustration.
     
  12. Solinar

    Solinar Member

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    I own three 6x9 folders and my experience has been similar to Mike's. Most are by this day in age are fixer uppers. Both bringing them up to speed and shooting with them are a labor of love, which if you are in the proper frame of mind should be rewarding.

    Both the Zeiss Ikon 531/2 and Bessa II are investment grade cameras. The Bessa II with a Heliar is even more so, but ohhhh what an excellent lens.

    Of my three 6x9 folders, an Agfa Record III, Agfa Billy Record II and Voigtlander Bessa I, the Bessa I needed the least amount of work, while the Billy Record II has been the camera I use most. The Record III by the way needed a total urban renewal and after the purchase of a new set of bellows from camerabellows.com is my most expensive camera in my collection of vintage 35mm and medium format cameras.

    Oddly, the Billy Record II is the least equipped of the three, but with a set of bellows carefully removed from a Franka Rolfix, a lens/shutter combo carefully removed from a later Agfa Record II and an accessory Voigtlander rangefinder, it gets the job done. I get nice constrasty images from the 3 element Apotar and really don't miss the top shutter speed of 1/500 of the Bessa I and Record III.

    Moral of the story is an Ikonta 523/2 or an East German Ercona II will yield truly satisfying photos for hundreds of $ less than a super rare top of the line 6x9 camera that's priced to match their collectability. Accessory range finders aren't as ideal a built-in coupled RF, but they do get you there.

    Except for the Albada viewfinder on the 531/2, expect a smallish viewfinder. My Bessa I has the smallest viewfinder of any camera I own. One reason that I use my Billy Record II the most is that it has largest viewfinder of my three 6x9 cameras, in addition to its being the smallest camera of the group. An external viewfinder, with real framelines, usually sells for nearly what you will pay for non-RF 6x9 folder in good condition.

    Best Regards,

    Andrew in Austin, TX
     
  13. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    I have two late Super Ikonta 111's with coated Novars.
    Initially I wished they had Tessars but to my surprise both these Novars are tack sharp once stopped down some, easily as good as a Tessar.
    The Novars are triplet lenses, mostly made by Rodenstock with a few by Hendsolt.
    I cant vouch for the older uncoated ones, but Ivor Matanle has some photos in his book taken with Novars

    Mark
     
  14. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    You can repair pinhole light leaks in the bellows with either flat black textile paint or a mixture of Elmer's glue and lamp black. If using glue, leave the bellows open until it dries.

    To test for leaks, I wired a lamp cord to a surface mount light socket and inserted a low wattage bulb. Turn out the lights, open the back of the camera, and place it
    on top of the bulb. The pinholes will be obvious.
     
  15. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone - i am encouraged and now armed with a lot of great information!
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Bostick and Sullivan sell a bellows patch kit that I've heard good reports about.
     
  17. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Member

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    It doesn't look pretty, but I have successfully patched swiss cheese bellows with black silicon and black nail polish.
     
  18. Jennyann

    Jennyann Member

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    We have a collection of around 40 folders including the cameras you are interested in. A lot of the collection has been bought from e-bay and some from camera fairs; in both cases we have had some terrific cameras and some that require work to restore them.
    Some of our collection can be seen on our website along with photographs taken with the cameras, if you take a look please remember that the photos have been reduced in quality to keep the file size down.
    The Voightlander Bessa II can be rather pricy but the Bessa I, Zeiss Ikonta C and the Zeiss Ercona can be picked up for the sort of money in your budget and all give good results in both black and white and colour.
    You can view our website at
    www.jennyandernie.co.uk
    You can get to the old cameras from the index page.
    Jenny and Ernie.
     
  19. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Now that I have put a dozen rolls through the Iconta - I like the camera but am unhappy with the lens - the Novar is nice and sharp in the center but even stopped all the way down is only marginal at the edges. I think one day I will sell it and replace it with a 6x9 folder with good edge to edge sharpness. Which one is that ... is it only the Heliar version of the Bessa?
     
  20. luvcameras

    luvcameras Advertiser

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  21. Christian Olivet

    Christian Olivet Member

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    My Super Ikonta has a Tessar 105mm 3.8. I shot some Velvia slide film to test the lens and shutter. Despite huge light leaks that I have solved using the bellows patch from Bostick and Sullivan, I have not noticed a sharpness fall off when inspected with a schneider 4x loupe on a light table. Though the lens is not tack sharp, it has got plenty of saturation and I believe it will make very sharp enlargements up to 20 inches wide. I am happy with that.
     
  22. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Hello,

    here is a rather dull photo taken with a Mockba 4 with an industar (tessar) lens. It shows reasonable sharpness out to the edge of the 6x9 negative. Check the upper left corner. This was handheld at about 1/50th f8.

    If you like, I have somewhere a comparison of this lens against a heliar type. Those were done with a tripod, so it is a good comparison.

    Matt
     

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