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120 film RF Folders 120/220 Format Folding Rangefinders, including the various classic Zeiss Ikontas, Voigtlander Bessas, and their Ruskie copies.

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Zeiss Ikonta A 521 Vertical
Old 01-24-2017   #1
wjlapier
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Zeiss Ikonta A 521 Vertical

So, I couldn't resist buying another folder after I bought the Semi Leotax DL. This time around I found a Zeiss Ikonta A 521 Vertical--at least that's what the seller called it and the name is good as a search term.

It seems to work well and we will see how light tight the bellows are--seller said they are light tight. Down to 1/10th of a second the shutter sounds about right, but lower than that it's irregular. Lens is a bit hazy around the edges but the center looks pretty good. All the way for Estonia--to the USA took 1 week. Amazing.

As you can see in the photo below there is piece missing. The tiny screw that keeps the lens from going past infinity--the Leotax has one. No self timer on the Ikonta either.

So, a couple of questions. Shooting the camera using the red dots, does this indeed produce the sharpest possible images? I'm assuming sunny 16 and the shutter speed is 1/ whatever the iso of the film is--is this correct? There are no aperture markings to determine scale focus. Finally, any way to determine the age of the camera by the serial number?



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Old 01-24-2017   #2
btgc
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With this things it's best to check with matte glass over film rollers. One of folders I have were misadjusted focus wise, screwed it one turn in or out. At this age you cannot know all lengths they have gone.
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Old 01-30-2017   #3
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Since the lens says "7.5cm" rather than "75mm", and it looks uncoated, it is most likely it is pre-war. What is the serial number? It will be a letter followed by (usually) 5 digits, on the covering of the back, either where it is normally hidden by the viewfinder, or on the end near the hinge.
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Old 01-30-2017   #4
tunalegs
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The red dots would have been to basically make the camera "idiot proof". For somebody with no idea how to set exposure, or estimate distances, this basically turns the camera into a point and shoot box camera.
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Old 01-30-2017   #5
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Indeed - the Zeiss Red Dot settings are mentioned in most of their manuals. One for aperture, one for distance, you can read off the DoF but I think it is about 10ft/3m to infinity. I think the thinking was you can set it that way in case you want a snap shot, with a suitable shutter speed for the conditions, in case you don't have time to set it up properly.
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Old 01-30-2017   #6
oftheherd
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Without the screw you mentioned, you should still be able to set the lens at the distance on the scale. But as btgc mentioned, you need to check it at least once with a section or ground glass or wax paper, or something like that. It may have been rotated past the infinity (or close up mark depending an the lens) without your knowing it, so that even though you think it is at infinity, it is really screwed too far out.

I think you will like that Novar lens. I have one on a Zeiss 6x9 that is amazingly sharp. As to your slow shutter speeds, if you are up to it, giving the shutter a little bath in lighter fluid should clean things up in the watch-type movements. Be careful about adding oil or lithium grease to areas that may need then, to not put too much to collect more dirt.
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Old 01-30-2017   #7
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The serial number is L 57907.

The lens can rotate all the way on tight and judging from where infinity is and minimum focus is I'm almost certain backing off slightly to infinity and then rotating to minimum focus is the correct position of the lens. We'll see after a roll has been shot and developed.

As for lower speeds. I'm fine with ~1/5th of a second as the slowest speed--knowing this is fine. Bulb works OK--doubt I'll ever use this though.

This and the Leotax folder and new to me types of cameras. Most likely I'll shoot them in full sunlight at sunny 16.

Interesting story about the camera though. I asked the seller if he had any history on it. He wrote back this:

"Hi, I'm glad you enjoyed it, I was a little sorry to sell a camera but I have too many
specifically that I bought in Sweden in one of the old woman kotoroya bought her husband in the full of the anniversary but it has not used since he was a favorite camera, so it will lay them in a closet wrapped in a towel while she did not find again
That's the story
Thank you for your interest, always happy to deal with a person who is interested in such stories"
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Old 01-30-2017   #8
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An 'L' serial puts it at about 1940. Your method of getting the focus in the correct position is right. It looks OK in your first picture.
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Old 02-13-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
Without the screw you mentioned, you should still be able to set the lens at the distance on the scale. But as btgc mentioned, you need to check it at least once with a section or ground glass or wax paper, or something like that. It may have been rotated past the infinity (or close up mark depending an the lens) without your knowing it, so that even though you think it is at infinity, it is really screwed too far out.

I think you will like that Novar lens. I have one on a Zeiss 6x9 that is amazingly sharp. As to your slow shutter speeds, if you are up to it, giving the shutter a little bath in lighter fluid should clean things up in the watch-type movements. Be careful about adding oil or lithium grease to areas that may need then, to not put too much to collect more dirt.
Just curious about "giving the shutter a little bath in lighter fluid..." How does one go about this?

Using the camera the other day 1/100th seem slow to me--and probably was. At home with the film out of the camera I went over the shutter speeds again. They started to slowly work--as close to the right speeds as I can estimate. Sticking at 1 and 1/2. B stays open but doesn't shut upon release. From 1/5th on up they seem fine.
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Old 02-15-2017   #10
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A few pics from the camera and one of the negative. I'm not too keen on light leaks and what they look like in the photo so if someone could let me know what they see that would be great. First pic would be close to 1/100th shutter speed, but the others might be slower than 1/100th--they sounded slower to me. I'll probably send this in for a CLA eventually. Too nice to put away.

2017-02-15-0001 by wjlapier, on Flickr

2017-02-15-0006 by wjlapier, on Flickr

2017-02-15-0005 by wjlapier, on Flickr

A picture of the negative:

Untitled by wjlapier, on Flickr

And then there is this thing in the middle of all the photos but more obvious in some than others.

2017-02-15-0002 by wjlapier, on Flickr

Shining a flashlight through the bellows I could see a tiny pin hole lower left side if you hold the camera as you would normally do for a vertical shot. Would a tiny pin hole cause issue above?

I appreciate all the comments so far and feedback. I'd like to get this camera working again producing some nice photos.
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Old 02-15-2017   #11
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If you see some of what looks like discoloration on the front or rear element (most likely front), don't try to polish it off. It's called "blooming" and happens on old uncoated lenses when they aren't messed with and it improves IQ by acting as a bit of a coating. Seems like an old wives tale but I can vouch for the accuracy, I polished it off once and sure enough, photos got worse.

I had one of those with the Tessar. Very sharp when focus was correct. Someone had added a cold shoe to the one I had, so I was able to mount an accessory rangefinder to it and confirm focus and then transfer it to the lens setting. Great compact little rig, but I sold it after I got a Super Ikonta 532/16 which isn't too terribly much bigger and works faster for me due to coupled RF.

You could try liquid electrical tape for the pinhole in bellows. Seems like the lighter areas (just to the left of center) are in the same spot or nearly so for each frame.

Also, there is light leaking into the edges of the film and burning the edges of the neg black. That would be failure of the seals near the back door or film not being wound tight enough once back on the spool.
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Old 02-15-2017   #12
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I'm not sure what you mean by not having any aperture markings to determine the scale focus. The aperture markings are on there, and they determine, well, the aperture settings. The focus distance is determined by the markings on the lens that you twist one way or the other, and it appears that the distances are clearly marked on your lens.

You give the shutter a bath by giving it a little (not too much) squirt of lighter fluid at the seam where the shutter speed dial rotates around the shutter assy. It will readily soak into that seam, and just as readily evaporate out, so after you give it a little squirt, fire the shutter on all the speeds and see if the slow speeds get better. You can't hand hold the camera at anything below 1/10 anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much over this.

If by accident or intention you unscrew the front lens all the way out (easy to do since you don't have the infinity stop screw there to prevent this), make sure you mark the point where it comes off the threads, as it needs to go back at exactly that starting point, even though it can go back at many other points, all of which will give you wonderfully out of focus shots except that one correct point to start the threads.

Here is what I use for bellows repairs below. It is the best thing I have ever found, and inexpensive. As it is silicone based, it will remain pliable, and the black colour means it will be light fast for many, many years to come. Just brush it on w/ a tiny brush and let it sit overnight. This stuff also has the advantage of not being thick, so you can open and close the camera normally w/ no issues from the bellows. If you patch it carefully, it blends in so well you will almost not be able to find where you patched it after it has dried.

My method of checking for light leaks is to either shine a light into the bellows while holding the camera in a dark closet, or cram your eye into the film opening and take the camera out into bright sun and turn it in different directions to the sun. If you have the camera tight up against your face you will readily see where the leak is at.

https://www.amazon.com/Permatex-8218...MR1ZVJZD6WCX9K
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Old 02-15-2017   #13
kuzano
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjlapier View Post
So, I couldn't resist buying another folder after I bought the Semi Leotax DL. This time around I found a Zeiss Ikonta A 521 Vertical--at least that's what the seller called it and the name is good as a search term.

It seems to work well and we will see how light tight the bellows are--seller said they are light tight. Down to 1/10th of a second the shutter sounds about right, but lower than that it's irregular. Lens is a bit hazy around the edges but the center looks pretty good. All the way for Estonia--to the USA took 1 week. Amazing.

As you can see in the photo below there is piece missing. The tiny screw that keeps the lens from going past infinity--the Leotax has one. No self timer on the Ikonta either.

So, a couple of questions. Shooting the camera using the red dots, does this indeed produce the sharpest possible images? I'm assuming sunny 16 and the shutter speed is 1/ whatever the iso of the film is--is this correct? There are no aperture markings to determine scale focus. Finally, any way to determine the age of the camera by the serial number?



This is the camera that the little Zenobia 645 from Daiichi Optical Company made (copied) post war.... That's a great little camera that came in three different lens/shutter combinations and also the Zenobia R rangefinder (can you say hen's teeth)

I've owned a bunch of Zenobia's and one of the R models. They were identical to this camera you posted.... shot 645 in landscape orientation, sitting with the door on the table.

Don't know about yours but the little Japanese Zenobia shot EXCELLENT shot. The lenses were Hesper Anastigmat and Neo Hesper.
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Old 02-15-2017   #14
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You're learn a lot more about your light leaks if you run a roll of color through it.

I'm guessing the edge fogging is just light getting through the red windows and around the pressure plate edges. Very common issue if the red windows are left uncovered.

The light leak through the center of the frames is much stranger since it runs the length of the film rather than edge to edge. It doesn't look like a pinhole leak to me, but I'm not sure what it is.
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Old 02-15-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by not having any aperture markings to determine the scale focus. The aperture markings are on there, and they determine, well, the aperture settings. The focus distance is determined by the markings on the lens that you twist one way or the other, and it appears that the distances are clearly marked on your lens....

I believe he was talking DOF indicators for any given aperture, like these on a Pentax lens:

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Old 02-16-2017   #16
oftheherd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjlapier View Post
Just curious about "giving the shutter a little bath in lighter fluid..." How does one go about this?

Using the camera the other day 1/100th seem slow to me--and probably was. At home with the film out of the camera I went over the shutter speeds again. They started to slowly work--as close to the right speeds as I can estimate. Sticking at 1 and 1/2. B stays open but doesn't shut upon release. From 1/5th on up they seem fine.
Sorry I haven't gotten back in this thread sooner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by not having any aperture markings to determine the scale focus. The aperture markings are on there, and they determine, well, the aperture settings. The focus distance is determined by the markings on the lens that you twist one way or the other, and it appears that the distances are clearly marked on your lens.

You give the shutter a bath by giving it a little (not too much) squirt of lighter fluid at the seam where the shutter speed dial rotates around the shutter assy. It will readily soak into that seam, and just as readily evaporate out, so after you give it a little squirt, fire the shutter on all the speeds and see if the slow speeds get better. You can't hand hold the camera at anything below 1/10 anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much over this.

If by accident or intention you unscrew the front lens all the way out (easy to do since you don't have the infinity stop screw there to prevent this), make sure you mark the point where it comes off the threads, as it needs to go back at exactly that starting point, even though it can go back at many other points, all of which will give you wonderfully out of focus shots except that one correct point to start the threads.

Here is what I use for bellows repairs below. It is the best thing I have ever found, and inexpensive. As it is silicone based, it will remain pliable, and the black colour means it will be light fast for many, many years to come. Just brush it on w/ a tiny brush and let it sit overnight. This stuff also has the advantage of not being thick, so you can open and close the camera normally w/ no issues from the bellows. If you patch it carefully, it blends in so well you will almost not be able to find where you patched it after it has dried.

My method of checking for light leaks is to either shine a light into the bellows while holding the camera in a dark closet, or cram your eye into the film opening and take the camera out into bright sun and turn it in different directions to the sun. If you have the camera tight up against your face you will readily see where the leak is at.

https://www.amazon.com/Permatex-8218...MR1ZVJZD6WCX9K
I have found that usually it is better to remove the lens/shutter from the camera, then remove the front and rear elements. I think that gives more control over where the lighter fluid will go. If you want to go further you can also remove the front or back covers of the shutter and diaphragm for even better cleaning. That also allows for re-adding a small amount of lithium grease if needed because too much was washed out with the lighter fluid.

You would want to ensure you don't get too much lighter fluid in the diaphragm as moving around old grease may affect them. Then you have to go deeper. If your diaphragm blades are really badly gummed up, don't keep using it hoping to loosen things up. While that may indeed work, it may also loosen one or more pins that hold the blades in.

If someone knows how to get a pin back in, I would love to hear it.

I don't know where you are at Steve M., but where I am at, Liquid Electricians Tape applied sparingly works well. What you are referring to is probably the same thing. I couldn't get to the web site you linked.

To be doubly sure if you unscrew the front lens, also count the number of turns.

I expect it all sounds dauting, but if you are the least bit handy at fixing things, and lay our any removed parts in a row so you have a better idea where they go, and take lots of photos as you remove things, you will probably be alright. It not, then probably it is best to seek out a repair person.
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Old 02-17-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjlapier View Post
And then there is this thing in the middle of all the photos but more obvious in some than others.

Is that possibly daylight leaking past the shutter leaves? I get that sometimes if I've had the camera out in daylight for awhile. I suspect the shutter leaves don't necessarily for a perfect light-tight seal. Particulalry with that sharp edge on the left; no way that's coming from the bellows. I've since found a lenscap for it but haven't shot anything yet to see if I've licked the problem.
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