Zeiss Ikon Ikomat age?
I've just bought what seems to be a working Zeiss Ikon Ikomat 520/2, it's loaded with Ilford FP4 and ready to go but I'm wondering if anyone can say how old it is?
I tried Camerapedia and while they have a Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 520/2 listed (with the same lens and shutter as mine) there's no mention of the Ikomat. I understand that Zeiss used the Ikomat brand for cheaper cameras but it seems odd that mine has the same fittings as the Ikonta 520/2. My camera looks identical to their photo apart from "Ikomat" where theirs says "Ikonta" and an all-black flip-up viewfinder rather than the black with chrome surround on theirs. Any thoughts?
I'd been after a nice old folder for a while, main requirement being that it use 120 film for obvious reasons. This popped up for £20 from a reputable seller, even included the original cable release! It's definitely a user rather than a display example as there are plenty of paint rubs on the metal bits of the casing, but the bellows seem light-tight, the shutter works, the lens is in good condition and everything turns as it should.
The lens is an 105mm f6.3 Novar-Anastigmat with Derval shutter, camera shoots 6x9 on 120 film. Camerapedia has 1938 for the same package with the Ikonta badging.
I just hope I can get results as good as those from mine! Obviously you have to guess the distance to subject and either carry a light meter or use Sunny 16, I'll be doing the latter as I can generally get close enough for negatives.
Ikomat and Ikonta are the same camera, Ikomat being the earlier name. Neither the Novar lens nor the Derval shutter have serial numbers which makes dating the camera harder. There should be a serial number consisting of a letter and four (five?) digits - the letter gives the year of manufacture. I don't have a list for year letters but you might find them on the Interweb. It is definitely between 1931 and 1938 (the years they made the Ikomat/Ikontas.
The lettering I have around the lens is "Novar-Anastigmat 1:6.3 F#10.5cm Nr.1140383", no other serial numbers or lettering other than the shutter speed and aperture markings, unless it's on the pressure plate (I didn't look that closely, was too keen to get a film loaded and give it a try after checking the bellows!)
Interestingly for a German camera the distance markings are imperial rather than metric.
Earlier Novars did carry a serial number. I've yet to see a postwar Novar with a serial number.
In any case, you can sometimes tell if you have a very early camera by the shape of the camera. The earliest Ikomat/Ikonta cameras had sharp chiseled edges, while the later models had more rounded edges.
The Novar was the budget lens, while the Tessar was the premium lens.
Even so, stopped down, the Novar is a very capable lens.
For the most part, Zeiss Ikon didn't make cheaper cameras. The lens was always the factor in determining price. That changed in the 1960s and 1970s.
If the camera was exported to the UK or the USA then the distance scale will be in feet. It will also have the smaller tripod boss via a screw-in adaptor.
With that lens serial number (I have never seen one on a Novar lens before) the lens was made in mid 1930. That indicates a date for the camera of 1931 - as they didn't start making the Ikomat/Ikonta until then. Lenses were made in batches and it was usual for the lens, shutter and body to be made in different years.
Here's a 1931 Zeiss Ikon advert, there's 3 different 520/2 versions listed, no Ikomat though. By 1936 there were 4 different 520/2 models - only one the same as in 1931. See attached
Just out of interest, is the shutter the older dial set or the newer rim set type?
The dial set type has a small circular dial above the lens to set shutter speed, the rim set type has a ring around the lens to do this.