PHOTOGRAPHY   © mike connealy
Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 35 (522/24)
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Pictures from the Ikonta 35

I found my diminutive Ikonta 35, a '50s era folder, at a Las Cruces pawn shop nearly ten years ago. The $50 I paid for it was about average for this camera on ebay at the time, although this one had some unusually nice features. The lens is an f3.5/45mm Opton Tessar. The shutter is a Synchro-Compur with 1/500 top speed. The Ikonta 35 examples most frequently found have the three-element Novar, while a few are equipped with the Xenar which is very similar to the Tessar. Later models of the camera were called the Contina I, but it is the same in every respect but the name.

The Ikonta 35 and the Contina were produced in the Zeiss Ikon plant in Stuttgart from 1948 to 1954. A great many of them were sold in Armed Forces PXs and came home with returning GIs. The Ikonta 35 was designed by Hubert Nerwin, who was also the principal designer of the Contax II. A very nice summary of his design work is available at the Zeiss Historica site.

Like all the old cameras I have, the Ikonta 35 needed a good cleaning when I acquired it. The shutter sounded reasonably accurate at the upper speed levels, but it was a bit scratchy. Two other problems showed up in the course of shooting the first test rolls. The film advanced properly, but the frame counter did not. The lens was about half fogged, producing images which were mostly sharp, but severely flared. Disassembling the lens allowed cleaning the surfaces of all elements and completely cleared the fog; my guess is the problem was due to a combination of dust and old lubricant deposits. The frame counter was fixed by taking off the bottom cover and repositioning one little hair-like spring.

The viewfinder on the Ikonta 35 seems small by today's standards, but one becomes accustomed to it in use and the camera is easy to handle and an agile shooter. The Ikonta 35 shared many features with the others in its immediate family including the Contina II and the Contessa. Mike Elek also pointed out to me that the lens in the Ikonta 35 is the same one on another of my Zeiss favorites, the single-lens-reflex Contaflex. I was reminded of this recently while looking at the manual at the Butkus site which has a table for using the Ikonta 35 with accessory Proxar close-up lenses. I got out the set of Proxars I have for my Contaflex, and sure enough they are a perfect fit on the Ikonta 35's f3.5 Tessar. So, that is something I need to try with this fine little camera.

Ikonta 35 Manual is at the Butkus site.

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