Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16

Neiss Ikon Nettar
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16 - 120 Roll Film Folding Camera
Taken with HTC Kaiser Smartphone - Toned in CS5
The Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16 camera is a 120 Roll Film camera that takes 12 square 60mm X 60mm images.  It has a wonderfully sharp 75mm Anastigmat lens, but only opens to a maximum of ƒ/6.3, which is rather slow for a lens, but for the most part, it works well.  At 75mm it is the most basic of lens lengths for 120 film.
The shutter, at least on my model, is a very basic Vario Shutter with speeds of 1/25 1/75 and 1/200 +B. 
The thing about these cameras is the viewfinder is just that, a view finder.  It is simply used to compose your image, and does not have a coupled rangefinder, although other Nettar models do have one, or you can get one for the accessory shoe.  The distance is set as you "guess" the range from yourself to the subject on the front dial, which moves the lens in or out to set the focus.  The scale focusing of this camera is designed as such so you can accurately "Guess" the distance from yourself to the subject, and get a large (ish) depth of field to get your subject in sharp focus.
This, of course, can easily be really pinpointed with an accessory rangefinder, or if you use another method to accurately focus.  Tape measure?  Another camera with a couple rangefinder, or an SLR with distances marked on the lens would work too.

Minus those minor draw-backs, and limitations to the camera, you can easily get pin-sharp images, great tones and some wonderful photos out of this camera, regardless of how you focus with it.

1956 Mercury M800
Zeiss Ikon Nettar - Plus-X Pan 125 (Expired 1990) @ 125ASA - Ilford ID-11 8:30 20°C

Calm Reflections
Zeiss Ikon Nettar - Kodak TMAX 100 @ 100ASA - HC-110 Dilution B
Vintage cameras will really surprise you, whether shooting with a 35mm Rangefinder, or a large format view camera.

Until next time, check out our Film Photography Podcast friends, and keep those shutters firing!


  1. Hi, I've just come accross your blog...I've just been given a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16 camera, I've just loaded some film in but not sure if I've done it right as I'm not seeing any numbers in the red window despite rolling the film on quite a lot...there is a horizontal line, does this indicate that the film is in the correct position for exposure or when the red window is blank? Please help!! Jo (+44) 7792736690

  2. hah! Hi Jo... Actually, it's pretty crazy, because you can wind on for a fair bit and eventually you will come across the (1) in the window. The HORIZONTAL line is probably the "start" line. :)

    The leader has a lot of paper to keep it light tight..

    Don't worry, keep winding, and you'll get to the first exposure!

  3. I've got this same camera, having inherited it from my grandfather. It is surprisingly good and works anywhere. No electrics/electronics means it's always ready. The focus is easy for distant things, just set on infinity and forget about it. I've been successful at guessing closer distances too. Use a wider aperature for longer DoF and it's hard to screw up. I also use the sunny f/16 rule. Interior shots rarely work, but exterior seldom fail.