The Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 520/2 is a german made 6x9 camera that takes 8 frames on regular medium format 120 film. It was produced between 1929 and 1937 meaning that the model I acquired on eBay last year must be 80+ years old. My appreciation of Zeiss Ikon folding cameras was started when a a relative gave me an old 517 6x6 camera they found in the closet. It was in immaculate condition and my first time using 120 film - I was hooked, not only on medium format but also the compact size of these nifty folding cameras.
I think it was on Reddit's analog channel that I saw an inspirational 6x9 image of the great wall of china taken with a folding camera which prompted intrigue for me to see what folding 6x9 cameras there were available on eBay. Mint condition Ikontas appeared to go for several hundred pounds, too much for me to try on a whim, but if I was willing to take a risk on one that looked pretty beat up it could be mine for a tenner. So I took the chance. Maybe the bellows would actually not have any light leaks after all?
The first roll of film I put through this camera was interesting (see here) - it actually worked! I mainly took portraits of family, which broadly failed due to poor judgement focusing, but it was cool to see the sharpness of a landscape shot on the roll. One thing I noticed from this test roll was a red light leak onto the film in the bottom corner. The 520/2 has a red window to view the frame number on the film backing, but unlike the later produced 517 I own it does not have a shutter window to close. I guessed this must have been the culprit and so deduced that the test roll was promising enough to try another roll through the camera and going forward I would tape some card over this red window in an attempt to limit the light through this hole.
So this camera accompanied me on my Scotland road trip as a third camera. Getting the negatives back from the lab I was excited. The negs looked pretty well exposed in most cases and after scanning them in with my Epson v500 many were also pretty sharp too! The red light leak was diminished compared to previously, but still present on most images. As it was more pronounced on some images, and almost invisible on other, I guess that the time taken to take the shot after removing the camera from the leather case must have been an issue. A few shots appeared to be blurry due to camera shake. Although all shots were taken on a tripod with a cable release, the tripod mount on the camera is awkward - it needs an adapter to change a 3/8 inch thread to a standard 1/4. Then the tripod mount needs to be at 90 degrees to normal, otherwise the mount blocks the base plat of the bellows from folding out completely. The tripod mount screw does not go in all the way and left the camera a bit wobbly, which I guess must have been the reason. It was also likely exacerbated if I didn't use the maximum 1/100 shutter speed of the Telma shutter (this model has 100, 50 and 25th of a second settings along with bulb). The example below shows this and also illustrates how it is somewhat had to frame the image with this camera. You have a small ground glass framing screen just above the lens of the camera. It was be hard to really get a good appreciation of how the framing is lining up. As can also be seen by the poor framing of the below image.
So overall I like the 6x9 format, the convenience of the compact size and also the way that this 80+ year old camera is still working. Of the images in the roll I really like the the Quaraing shot (top) and its pretty remarkable a camera of this age can produce a shot like this today. I was lucky that the bellows on this camera don't appear to have any significant light leaks and although I need to research it more I wonder if the light leak from the red window is because the camera was designed for orthochromatic film (not sensitive to red light) and although covering the window is a good step, I just need to be more diligent in how long I have the camera out in the light. Trying old cameras and their quirks is one of the fun things about film photography and this certainly was no different to normal. It might be some time before this camera gets another roll and next time I think I'll try some low speed B+W film instead which should mitigate the impact of any light leaks.