The first camera I remember was my Dad’s Zeiss Ikon Contina Ic. It was so cool in late-50’s chrome, the no-bellow look, the extra-wide viewer, fully manual. It’s still good now: but it became impractical and out of fashion when I wasn’t a teen anymore.
My first real camera was a Canon AT1, so I started using almost only Canon FD kit. Then at some stage, I had a harsh case of G.A.S. – mostly looking at Zeiss gear. This included falling in love with gigantic but pocketable Erconas, but I was always looking for something really compact. I looked at the Minox 35, but wanted something more mechanical.
So, after more than fifty years and fifty cameras, I met the Contina’s elder sister, the Ikonta B 522/24; the last and smallest of its name. The circle is closed, and it’s a new love for me.
In these image, you can see its size, near some other small cameras…
… and in this picture, near its fat aunt Ercona – a camera that is same size of Oliver Clarke’s (RF) 524/2.
So why do I love the little one? First, it’s pure beauty. One of the most elegant cameras of all time in my opinion. It’s nice to even just to look at, or to show around as a vintage jewel.
Second, it’s small, compact, and reliable, with a bright Opton Tessar 45/2.8 (although possibly not the best Tessar I have used). With a wrist strap, it’s good for street & candid photo, even without aiming.
On the other hand, aiming through the very small viewer can be a problem if you wear glasses – I find it easy to exaggerate parallax and cut details.
And, among many others strange details it produced 24x37mm frames – this means that, whilst gaining a little on panoramas, you have trouble with archive sleeves and scanning masks.
But, you see, Zeiss Ikon didn’t like simple things…
A selection of photos
Crisp contrast on panoramic and architecture, but beware the tiny viewfinder!
Quiet and discrete for candid moments
Despite an unusual grip, allows quick shots
Clear and fast in dark scenes
Easy to carry in office bag, to be there when you need it
1/500s from a moving vehicle – not so bad
This article is mirrored in Italian at www.kemia.it
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