Photography with a 6x9 Folder Camera
My Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/2 (1937)
Tessar 10.5cm 1:4.5 in Compur
Going Another Way
After starting pinhole photography, I also got interested in LF and MF
photography. LF would be nice, but I don't have a darkroom so MF is
presently the only viable alternative available for me. I have got
a Rolleiflex 2.8E Planar, but for landscape photography I wanted
something larger than a 6x6, preferably a 6x9. Folding 6x9's do have
their problems, and the better ones, especially Zeiss Super Ikontas,
can be quite expensive even at eBay, but I found a 1937 Zeiss Ikon Nettar
model with the most expensive lens-shutter combination, a Tessar 1:4.5
in Compur. I was lucky at the auction and got the Nettar for 30 euros,
which really is nothing at all. I don't yet know how well the camera works,
but the lens at least is clear and the shutter seems to be OK. Cosmetically,
the camera is just fine, especially considering its age of 68 years,
something of an eye-catcher.
The size of a folded Nettar 515/2 is only 160mm x 85mm x 43mm and it weighs
about 720g so it is quite possible to carry it in a pocket, even in a trouser
pocket -- not bad for a 6x9, not bad at all.
The camera is fully manual with front cell focusing, and there is no range
finder. Focusing is critical due to the very limited depth of field of the
105mm lens, especially at wider apertures, and the focusing problems may be
further accentuated by film flatness problems. When using this camera, I'll
miss the ease of pinhole photography, which would have none of these problems.
This type of camera is difficult to use for casual photography except
under very ideal conditions as one must tread carefully between the Scylla
of really miserable DOF at large apertures and the Charybdis of camera shake
at low shutter speeds. A further problem is the suction caused by the
opening of the bellows which almost certainly negatively affects film
flatness. For optimal results, a lot of care and premeditation is necessary.
However, the proportion of good shots might be quite high.
The Rules of the Game
A MF folder camera isn't the most convenient of cameras, and the cost per
frame is rather high compared with 35mm and digital cameras. The large
negative is an advantage, but certain rules must be observed in order
to maximize the obtained image quality:
- advance the film only after opening the camera for a shot - and
don't close the camera before taking the shot. This will maximize
the film flatness during the shot.
- use a smallish aperture except when a very shallow DOF is desired.
- don't, however, use the two smallest apertures except when the deepest
possible DOF is desired as the optical resolution will be adversely affected
- avoid the highest shutter speed as it might cause some camera shake
due to the rather strong extra spring in the Compur shutter even though the
lens mount of the Nettar feels quite stable
- to avoid damaging the shutter mechanism, cock the shutter only after
selecting the shutter speed
About Nettar 515/2 and Folder Cameras in General
Back to my Retro Page
+++ @@@ +++