View Full Version : Nettar 516?

06-20-2008, 04:09 PM
I just bought a 6x6 Nettar, without paying much mind to the model number, off a well-known auction site; when it arrived, it turned out to be a 516/16. Thinking nothing of it, I did my usual poking around online to determine the history of the model, and found to my surprise that there essentially *isn't* any history of the model. Most ZI model lists go straight from the prewar 515 to the postwar 517.

<http://www.netcontax.com> has a few words describing the 516 as a "scarce" European-only model; the focus scale on mine is in metres, which would be consistent with that. It looks essentially identical to a 515 as far as I can tell, with no top housing, a two-part pop-up viewfinder, and a 75/4.5 Novar with no serial number.

I find, too, that the Zeiss Historica [sic] Journal once ran an article called "Tracking The Nettar 516", so I assume there's some sort of story behind this model. Does anyone know what that story is? And just what *is* the difference from the 515 that justifies bothering to put a second model number on it?



05-20-2009, 02:53 PM
Hi, I've got one as well, a nearly mint condition 516/2, and I also have puzzling over this camera. As you know, it is an oddity in the Nettar line-up, being the first Nettar with double-exposure prevention and the last one with a pop-up viewfinder. Mine was apparently produced in about 1942 (the date of the lens) using a shutter from 10 years earlier, possibly raiding old stock because of wartime shortages.

This week I happened to glance at the more up-market Zeiss Ikonta and - lo and behold - it turns out that the 516/2 Nettar is indistinguishable from the (West German) Ikonta 521/2 first released in 1947. It is also almost indistinguishable from the (East German) Ercona I, which appears to have been the same as the 521/2. The only difference I can make out is that the Ercona and at some (not all) 521s seem to have a button next to the viewfinder which presumably flicks it up.

Beyond that, it is all speculation. I wonder if the 516 was intended as the next generation of Nettars but was redeployed as an Ikonta when Zeiss was casting around for a new look Ikonta in 1946. I can't think of another sensible reason why an original Nettar design would reappear a few years later with the Ikonta badge. There are so few 516s around that I wonder if they were a prototype that never went into full production.

The first post-war Nettar, the Nettar II, didn't go into production until 1949 (according to Camerapedia), two years after the Ikonta 521, and had a redesigned top-plate with the built-in viewfinder but the 517 did not have the double-exposure lock so it was actually a step back from the 516. The 518 "signal Nettar" also came out in '49, and is usually (and we know, wrongly) described as the first Nettar with double-exposure prevention.

I do wonder if the 516 is not mentioned in the lists is that it may never have been produced commercially, perhaps there were a handful of prototypes made before more pressing wartime jobs claimed Zeiss's attention.

IT is all speculation, as I said, but clearly we are in possession of genuinely rare versions of an otherwise common camera.

05-20-2009, 06:29 PM
Thanks---I had given up on ever getting a response!

I continue to think it would be interesting to see the Zeiss Historica article, but I have no idea where to get hold of back issues of the journal. Any Zeiss Historica Society folks around?


05-21-2009, 12:29 AM
Yes, I'd like to know what that says, too (is it in English or German?).
I didn't notice your inquiry was old but, in any case, I wanted to post my observations somewhere in case they were useful to others struggling to understand this strange beast.

André E.C.
05-21-2009, 03:09 AM
I do wonder if the 516 is not mentioned in the lists is that it may never have been produced commercially, perhaps there were a handful of prototypes made before more pressing wartime jobs claimed Zeiss's attention.

Both the 516 (6x4.5) and 516/2 (6x9) were production models between 1937 and 1941.

The 516 came with a 75mm Novar 4.5 and the 516/2 with one 110m of the same kind, both on a KLIO shutter.

Production was scarce due to WWII effort, maybe because of that, not many are seen.


05-21-2009, 06:11 AM
Ok, now I have got some new info. The 516 line - all three models - was marketed in one catalogue for the Finland market more or less as a footnote to the 515. It is in the Historica article, which I now have a copy of.

I bought mine from a vendor in Finland. I wonder if they were sold anywhere else.

If I get your email address I will forward the Historica pages to you.

01-15-2011, 11:43 AM
Hi everyone,
I've recently bought a Nettar 516/2 as well, on an internet auction, from a woman who got it from her granddad.
At first I thought it was a whole other type of zeiss ikon, since I couldn't find anything on my actual camera. The only thing on the internet I found was that it's supposed to be from 1938, which I guess is just a mix up with the 515. I was quite extatic finding this topic, because it's the first actual correct information, I guess.
I was wondering if you could send me the Historica pages as well, if you still have them, because I'm curious to find out more about it.
Kind regards,

01-16-2011, 10:34 AM
I thought I still had it, but I can't find a copy. Paul?

One very interesting thing about these cameras is that they have the "signal" mechanism for double exposure prevention, which is widely reported to have appeared only after the war with the "Signal-Nettar" 518. To me it sort of looks like the 516 was supposed to be the natural successor to the 515, with perhaps some minor changes but mainly introducing the double-exposure lock, and then the war intervened before it had been produced in any numbers.

Mine has been a really stellar user camera over the last couple of years. It and a prewar 6x9 Wirgin are the two folders that I find myself using constantly.


04-22-2012, 05:03 AM
Hi all,

Just bought a Nettar 516/2.
It's nice and works perfectly, but I am not sure it's a "true" Zeiss Ikon with its Kodak pieces.
What do you think about its front face ?
I haven't seen a 6X9 Kodak camera with this face but I don't know a website with many old Kodak cameras...



07-17-2012, 08:39 AM
I suspect it has been repaired with parts cannibalised from a Kodak.

07-04-2015, 02:41 AM
It might be worth mentioning that all 3 , the 516, 516/2 and 516/16 are mentioned in a Dutch Zeiss Ikon brochure from 1940 on page 7.

The brochure is called "Schep vreugde in het leven met een camera van Zeiss Ikon" which translates to "Enjoy life with a camera of Zeiss Ikon".

All 3 models are described as an upgrade to the 515, 515/2 or 515/16 with a Double Exposure Prevention system. Also the lenses are in all cases Novar's instead of Nettar's.

I added these models to the Nettar page of Camera-Wiki :

If somebody knows a 516, 516/2 or 516/16 equiped with a Tessar lens please let me know as the brochure is not very clear if this was an option (my feeling says yes) and I did not find online any image of such camera yet.