120folder.com          Certo Six

The Certo Six a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6 format, first issued in 1953 by VEB Certo Kamerawerk, Dresden. It's a relatively modern construction for a folding 120 film camera.

It has some uncommon features: film advance via a lever, an indicator whether there is a film in the camera, 
a lens opening at F 2.8 and a parallax compensation. Compensation is done by slightly tilting the optics according to the distance.

Size (mm): 146 x 103 x 54
Weight: 880 g
Lens: Zeiss Tessar 2,8/80, closest focus 1.5 m (variant: Meyer 3.5 Primotar)
Shutter: Tempor, B, 1 - 1/250, F 2.8 - 22 (variants: Synchro Compur, Prontor SVS)
Finder: coupled rangefinder, parallax compensation
Film advance: automatic via lever, double exposure prevention

Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.

Camera front closed. Near the top: shutter release lever, rangefinder window, opening button, viewfinder window. Near the bottom: focussing lever.

Seen from the back. Near top: index for film presence, viewer, shutter lock release, thread hole for shutter cable release. Near bottom: 2 folding legs.

Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket, focusing lever in the camera bed, 2 folding legs (folded).

Camera front open. Speed setting ring.

Seen from above. Shutter cocking lever near the speed setting ring, aperture control. Shutter release lever in front of the housing. On top: film advance lever with depth-of-the-field scale, distance indication window, shutter lock indicator, also marks the number of the film counter.

Left side, camera open, legs unfolded. Focusing lever sticks out of the camera bed.

Right side, camera open. The struts are very solid stainless steel.

Camera back open.

Film chamber. Note the tiny lever between the film plane and the roller near the take-up spool. It detects the presence of film and shows it in the indicator window.

In it's genuine leather case.

Case closed.

Handling a Certo Six is not so easy at first, there are several differences to other folding rangefinders. Loading film is quite as usual, put the film roll into its place, there are no pegs, it's firmly held by two springs. To put in the take-up spool, lift the film advance lever, put in the spool in and push the lever back. Insert the film paper backing into the spool and advance it using the lever until the start arrow meets the index mark (in the middle of film plane). Check, whether the tiny film presence lever has been pushed upwards by the film. Close the camera back. (The camera back has a device to be easily unhinged, there were sheet film accessories available.) Now turn the film counter dial counter-clockwise until the little arrow (between 8 and 9) meets the indicator. Then move the film via the lever until it stops at "1".

Open the camera. Cock the shutter, set speed and aperture. Set focus via the lever under the camera bed. Action the shutter release lever. That's it. Do not force the shutter release. Never ever! If it doesn't move, it's blocked by the double exposure prevention. There is a lever to unlock it. You will also need to unlock if you pressed the shutter lever, but forgot to cock the shutter and for double exposures of course. It's one of the weak points of the camera. Some may not unlock the double exposure prevention automatically, so you have to do it every time yourself and some don't lock it at all.

To close the camera, press the hinges in the middle of the struts as usual, it will fold easily. But it will not fold with the shutter cocked. This is another weak point of the camera. The shutter lever will hit the housing if cocked. Film advance is done by two strokes of the film advance lever, it stops automatically.

A third weak point of all Certo Six cameras is the mirror system of the rangefinder. They have all to be replaced. If it hasn't been done yet, the rangefinder will be (at least nearly) invisible. Replacing the mirrors isn't too complicated, there are tutorials on the web. The rangefinder of the Certo Six is very bright.

The optics are very good. You gain one stop in comparison to the rest of the better ones. If you can put your hands on a good Certo Six, it's a very nice camera. Just be sure that everything is working as it should.
So buying from a trustworthy dealer is essential, or - even better - check everything before you buy one.

Certo Six880146 x 103 x 54CLever Auto, DEPZeiss Tessar 2,8/80 | 1,5Tempor, B 1 - 1/250 | 22Film Presence Indicator