Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16
Hi guys, I just bought one of the above on evilbay (Vario shutter and 75mm f/6.3 Novar Anastigmat) and was wondering if anyone could give me a bit of background info on the camera, what to look out for etc? I know the usual holes in bellows, sticky shutter etc, I was just wondering if there was anything more specific? Also, what's the general consensus on these? I bought it mainly for the purpose of having a smaller, lighter alternative to the Bronica SQ-A/Canon 1D set ups, whilst still getting a bigger neg than my F3, with the possibility of using it for some landscape work when traveling light.
I suppose I should have asked before I bought it, but hey, it's only £25...
I bought mine for 20 pounds 3 weeks ago. Search Google as 517/16 and photographs would drop your jaw , I prefer it 30 times more expensive Tessar version. Its from 1954 or so. Have an triplet air spaced. It is razor sharp. Triplet have many interesting aspects , MTF suggests it sees the smallest and biggest objects at similar sharpness. Its rare at lens world.
As Umut has stated, the Novar is a surprising lens, which is helped by the rigidity of the Nettar...one of the best aligning folders on the market. The only down side of a triplet is the wide aperture performance, but at 6.3 there won't be any problem at all!
Of course the Nettar was the basic back to bones model in the Zeiss catalog, but just sometimes less is more.
I have the older (and even more basic) 1948 Ikonta 521/16 with essentially the same lens and I love it. You will learn a lot about light. Put it on a tripod with Tmax 100, Ektar, or even Velvia and you will get wonderful, almost 3d negs. I've found a sweet spot using tmax 400 for walking around and shooting handheld. Like you say, it's nice to have those big negs in such a small body. It is a medium format camera that you really can actually carry around with you without a lot of fuss. At its age, the shutter speeds might just be suggestions. You would be well advised to part with another $100 for a CLA. Then you'll have a camera that should be good for another 30 years. After CLA the 65 year old Compur shutter on mine is within a couple thousandths at all shutter speeds.
The Nettars are generally really well-built, robust cameras. I don't know what Zeiss did differently in their bellows manufacturing from other companies, but the bellows on these cameras seem really resistant to developing holes.
The Vario shutter was the low end and relatively simple; if I remember aright there are no slow speeds, which means fewer things to go wrong.
Terrific cameras. The f/6.3 version of the Novar may not go wide enough to show the serious vignetting that happens at wider apertures---it can be a very likable effect (as long as you know to expect it). The 6x6 frame is small enough that the corners won't get seriously blurry, but as with any triplet, you should expect some dropoff in sharpness away from the center.
I have several /16s... Nice pictures. Very sharp. Funny though when I look at the negatives, half of them are sideways! Old habits die slowly.
For a cheap camera, and most of my Nettars were under $15.00, it takes great pictures, and not only in B&W.
tim in san jose