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The Zeiss Super Ikonta IV is a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6 format, built from 1956 to 1960 by Zeiss Ikon AG, Stuttgart. Before WWII the Zeiss factory was based in Dresden. At the end of the war, the firm was split into a western and an eastern part. The Dresden plant resumed production immediately in 1945 and even continued  after moving the most of the machinery to the Russian firm Kiev. It became later part of the Pentacon combinate.

The Zeiss Super Ikonta is the top model of a whole Ikonta series, from a simple folder to a coupled rangefinder with automatic film advance and double exposure prevention. The Ikonta series started in 1929. The first Ikonta series (code 520) consisted of three models for 120 film, A, B, and C (D ist for 116/616 film), A=4.5x6 or 520, B=6x6 or 520/16 and C=6x9 or 520/2. By 1938 the 521 series was launched, a 523 series in the early 1950s and a 524 series added an uncoupled rangefinder, it was called Mess-Ikonta.

Models with coupled rangefinder were called Super Ikonta. The series started with the number 530. Then the numbers get a bit mixed up. There was a 532 series, a 533 series had a selenium meter added. The last models, built from 1956 to 1960, were the 531/16 (Super Ikonta III) and the 534/16 (Super Ikonta IV) with a non-coupled selenium meter.

The camera shown is a Super Ikonta IV, the last top model of the coupled rangefinder folders series with a built-in meter. It's a modern camera, a complete re-design of the old series, less heavy.

Size (mm): 137 x 101 x 45
Weight: 715 g
Lens: Zeiss Tessar 3.5/75, closest focus 1,2 m
Shutter: Synchro Compur, B, 1 - 1/500, F 3.5 - 22, light value system
Finder: coupled rangefinder
Film advance: automatic, 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. Top: film advance, shutter release, rangefinder window, meter (closed). opening button, viewfinder window and meter dial.

Seen from the back. On top: meter dial, viewer, film advance. There is no red window in the middle, it's just a hole to have a look, whether there is film in the camera.

Seen from above. Meter dial, opening button, shutter release button, film number indicator, film advance. For metering you have to set the film speed first. Then open the flap of the meter (by slightly pressing the protruding end of the axis), point the camera towards your subject and turn the dial until the white circle matches the needle. The red arrow give you the light value to transfer to the scale around the lens.

Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.

Camera front open. Depth-of-the-field scale around the lens, pointing on distance scale around the lens barrel, light value scale. On top: shutter cocking lever.

Seen from above, camera open. From front: distance scale, speed scale, shutter cocking lever, aperture scale, syncho setting. Dented ring on the left (near the bellows): focusing. As the camera was built for the light value system, aperture and speed are connected (LV scale on the previous photo). Once set to the appropriate light value, there is a choice different shutter speed/aperture combinations, you change the speed and the appropriate aperture is set at the same time.

Left side, camera open.

Right side, camera open.

Camera back open.

Film chamber.

Original leather case.

Leather case open.

Handling a Zeiss Super Ikonta IV is easy, it's just like other folding rangefinders or better: how they should be. Loading film is as usual, very easy because of the spring held pegs at the bottom. They are blocked, if the back is closed. Open the camera back, retract the peg and put the take-up spool into place. Same procedure for the film spool. Insert the film paper backing into the take-up spool and advance it using the knob until it's well engaged. Advance the arrow on the film backing paper to white marks at the beginning of the film plane. Close the camera back. Advance the film via the advance knob until the little window near the shutter release shows "1". It's completely automatic.

Open the camera and the flap of the light meter.
Point the camera towards your subject and determine the light value with the meter. Cock the shutter, set the light value. Set focus by the dented ring near the bellows, focusing moves the lens out. Press the shutter release button. That's it. The release is blocked until you turn the film advance. To close the camera, press the hinges of the struts as usual, it will fold easily whatever distance is set. Turn the film advance, it stops automatically and shows the next number.

The Zeiss Super Ikonta IV is a very nice camera, it feels sturdy, yet it is relatively lightweight, very easy to use, with a good lens and shutter and a light meter built in
. Nothing special to remember, take it into your hands and you know how it works.

The light meter seems to be a weak point of the camera. This is the fourth Super Ikonta IV that I bought. Previous to buying I always asked the seller, whether the meter works. They all confirmed. However, it didn't work at all. When you shake the camera, the needle moves a bit, even with a dead meter, so let's presume that they didn't know. Thanks to the buyer protection by the payment service of a famous auction site, I could return the faulty ones and only lost the return shipping. My current camera has a working meter - nearly. It's a bit too low, 1 LV value. So it is easy to compensate. If you move the pre-setting up, it's usable without further problem. You just loose a bit the low light capacity, which must have been quite impressing in it's time.

A general advice for spacing problems. In "the old days", film and/or backing paper were thicker than now. So the roll would be thicker and hence move film a bit further if the automatic film advance is determined via turns of the roll. If the spacing is too tight on your camera, there is an easy trick to compensate to a certain degree: When you open a new roll, it's held together by a paper strip around the roll. Open it cautiously and leave a part of this strip attached to the backing paper. Insert the paper strip into the take-up spool and wind. The beginnig of the backing paper will follow. Wind, until it's firmly engaged. Your spool core is now a little bit thicker than usual. This might solve your problem, just have a try.

Zeiss Super Ikonta IV715137 x 107 x 45CAuto, DEPZeiss Tessar 3.5/75 | 1,2S. Compur, B 1-1/500 | 22, LVLM