Zeiss Accordion

Getting Aquatinted With Ikon Ikonta 520/2

4 min read by Von LaFave. Published in Film & Photography.

Old cameras. Sitting in antique stores. Collecting dust on the shelves, waiting for the next roll of film.

In my hands, they make me slow down and think about every shot, completely digesting what I’m photographing. Especially when there are only a few frames per roll. The cameras take me back, making me feel like a photographer from an early part of the century. It’s incredible what they achieve with no electronics or modern technology.

Rarely can I pass such things without doing something about it.

During my recent visit to a local antique mall I saw a 1930s accordion camera with a Zeiss lens. I didn’t know about the optics of and bought it for the novel look, something fun to try. Until I did some research.

An iconic glass manufacturing company, Zeiss, established over hundred-and-twenty years ago, known for impeccable sharpness and quality built the integral part of a camera I now hold in my hands. It’s simple, no frills at all. Four shutter speeds B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100. It had a roll of Kodak Verichrome which I believe was from the ‘50s or ‘60s left in it. Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 520/2.

I shot a roll of medium format film on a daunting 6x9 format, known to confuse modern photographers used to take images at a 3x2 aspect ratio. I took a broad and obvious approach to my shots, focusing on simplicity and symmetry of the everyday surroundings, hoping to make them unique in my own way. Without expecting much, I developed the film at home.

Low and behold! Eight fantastic negatives. The sharpness and clarity of the exposures seems even better form what I used to see on average from Zeiss’ products.

A forgotten engineering marvel that sat on the shelf, collected dust, waited, is now mine to shoot. My Zeiss accordion.