For a while now I’ve wanted a lightweight medium format camera for when I’m travelling. I thought I’d try something from the Super Ikonta series, and eventually settled on one of the 6×4.5 models – the Super Ikonta A 531.
I purchased one quite cheaply which turned out to be in quite bad condition when it arrived. The moving parts (e.g. shutter, rangefinder, bellows) were all clean and working but the bodywork was tatty. The leatherette covering was cracked and peeling, the chrome trim had turned green with corrosion and the bodywork was rusted in several places. For less than the cost of two cinema tickets, I found a repair man who was able to restore the camera to somewhere near its original condition.
This camera dates from 1937 and its lens is not coated. These days we take lens coatings for granted, but before the Second World War they simply didn’t exist. Photographers of the time had to be careful not to shoot into the sun, otherwise the images may be spoiled by flare, ghosting or poor contrast.
As part of the first run with this camera, I took photos in a few situations to test the shutter, aperture and lens.
The photo of the log shed was taken in favourable conditions, with the sun behind me. The photo of the bramble was taken looking towards the sun. You can see a sort of pale area in the middle of the photo where it ought to be shadowy – this is caused by the lack of lens coating. Finally the photo of the steps was taken in low light with the aperture wide open. It is astonishingly sharp even wide open, especially given that it was designed 77 years ago using pencil and paper, and lots of trigonometry! Those clever Germans.
I’m extremely pleased with this camera – it is fun to use, very portable, and produces fantastic photos. Now I know that it works properly, I can start using it when I travel 🙂