It feels strong but it is not heavy.
It feels strong but it is not heavy.
After I got to use the Zeiss I sold my M7. Never looked back.
I have black and silver and the top and bottom plates are some real nice metal.
how does the Zeiss Ikon compare to the latest Bessas?
The camera is made by Cosina under contract for Carl Zeiss AG. While Cosina had some input on design and materials, it is not a Bessa clone. Carl Zeiss had the final say on the camera.
The physical dimensions of the camera are markedly different.
The Zeiss Ikon, from what I understand, is produced on a separate line from the Bessa. And each body undergoes testing to meet Zeiss quality control standards.
I haven't handled any of the recent Bessa cameras, but in general the bodies have improved with each successive model.
The Zeiss Ikon is a German camera that is made in Japan. That might be a good way to describe it.
The Zeiss Ikon has a very wide base rangefinder and large viewfinder. The camera has varnished magnesium for the top and bottom plate. The camera doesn't use foam to block light -- the back uses a proper labyrinth design.
All markings are engraved and filled, rather than painted on. The Copal electronic shutter has been modified to meet Zeiss demands. If I recall, the modifications were aimed at decreasing the shutter noise.
Because of the width of the rangefinder and the location of the viewfinder on the extreme left side of the camera, the rewind knob has been moved to the base of the camera.
The camera back can only be released by pushing the slightly recessed button in an "L"-shaped pattern. It's very effective, and accidental opening of the back is nearly impossible.
As I mentioned, I haven't handled any of the recent Bessas. But the sense I got from the Bessa-R and the Zeiss Ikon is that the Zeiss Ikon is a more refined camera with better choice of materials, a more accurate rangefinder, autoselection of viewfinder framelines and overall excellent operation.
The Bessas are good cameras. The Zeiss Ikon sits in a nice market spot by catering to those who want more than a Bessa but can't afford a Leica.
Thanks for the informative response. Now for the follow-up question: how does the Zeiss Ikon compare to the Leica M's?
A different experience. Each has its own merits.
The Leica M is a no-compromise camera. It has an advanced metering and flash-meter system (the TTL models).
Whereas the Zeiss Ikon is totally battery dependent, the Leica M7 offers some manual speeds in the event of battery failure. Other M models use the battery only for the meter.
The body is one piece -- which makes it very rigid. I think it's largely brass and steel construction, which gives it considerable weight. However, a heavier camera can provide a stable shooting platform. Try handholding a plastic point-and-shoot (film or digital) at lower speeds, and you'll know what I mean.
There is a learning curve to loading the film. I think I got it down on the second try. So it's not a huge deal. The flip-up door was a worthwhile improvement to the design.
A Leica is almost a religion -- certainly it seems to generate a lot of love and dislike.
Compared with the Zeiss Ikon, it feels a bit less modern. I liked the viewfinder on my M6 and didn't seem to suffer from the flare-out of the rangefinder patch that users have mentioned.
The cloth shutter of the M6 is quieter than the Zeiss Ikon's metal-bladed unit. My only gripe about the M6 was that I felt the release point for the shutter release was too low. I like a camera that releases at about 3/4 of the way down. I felt that the M6 released at about 7/8 or nearly all the way down. I missed a couple of shots because of this. I added a so-called soft release, and I felt this made a big difference in a positive way.
Both cameras are very satisfying to use, and lenses from Leica and Carl Zeiss are really terrific. You can't go wrong with either a Summicron, Summilux or Planar.
I would recommend that you handle a Bessa, a Zeiss Ikon and a Leica and see which one suits you best. You might find that the Bessa best fits your hands and shooting style. On the other hand, it might be the Leica. Or the Zeiss Ikon.
Yeah I'm looking to get a rangefinder just to try certain wide angle lenses. That's a very informative post. Thanks for posting!
As far as build quality/sturdiness goes, the Zeiss is great despite it's reduced heft. Due to a weird concatenation of circumstances I recently took a spill on concrete while the Ikon was in my hand on a wrist strap. The camera hit the pavement hard on left bottom edge (film rewind side), leaving a decent sized scrape through the paint into the metal. My baby is wounded and scarred! But, there's no dent in the metal and even more to my relief, the viewfinder and focusing are still 100% spot on and nothing else is damaged. Very sturdy despite its lower weight (compared to a Leica). I'm very pleased!
As a proud owner of a Leica M3 I am giving the Zeiss Ikon M some serious thought as a second M mount rangefinder body. I know the Leica crowd trash the camera for not having the Leica "heft" but I don't equate weight with quality. From what I have read those who own the Zeiss Ikon M are very happy owners.