5 frames with... Medium Format Scale Focus Thoughts on Cameras

5 Frames With A Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16 6×6 Folding Camera – By Julian Higgs

Zeiss Ikon 6x6 Folder

After my dalliances with compact Rangefinder cameras, a very good friend of mine who is also an amateur photographer presented me with a thin strip of brown leather from a certain period in camera history, hung with a larger case and various brown pouches. Investigating further I found a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16, supplied complete with clip on rangefinder, yellow filter with lens hood and an Agfa fan out flashgun, all in separate little cases. Cute!

“What’s this?” I enquired. “It’s my dads old camera from his time in Germany in the ‘50’s on National Service, I thought you would like to have a play with it as I know you like old odd cameras.”

Given its simplicity, and limited settings I wondered how I even shoot this camera with modern film? I knew it should work because I had seen others online get good results, however the cameras shutter speeds didn’t get anywhere near my understanding of Sunny 16 using the ISO 400 Ilford HP5+ I had in stock. So I loaded one in and set out on a short photo walk along Whitstable High Street with no meter or rangefinder, just with my eyes for exposure and my best estimation of focus distance. Thank goodness for the exposure latitude of film.

Below are a selection of the results. It’s been a great pleasure to shoot this camera with a personal connection. I plan a family portrait session with the owner at some point. A fitting use I think for a family heirloom.

Because these images were grabbed in less than an hour, with little time to think about what I was actually doing, I didn’t note the settings, something I need to get better at. Intuition and guesstimation were my meter, fortunately, all 12 frames captured something. No retouching or post production, just straight from the scanner. Developed at home in Ifotec LC29 and scanned at Truecolour Imaging in Luton (I can’t wait to receive my pixl-latr, Hamish). Overall I feel very pleased with the results. Is there room for improvement? Of course! But it’s not a bad start. Always learning.


Mona Lisa Street Art

Mona Lisa Street Art


Shepherd Neame Sign

Shepherd Neame Sign


Oyster Farm

Oyster Farm


High St shops, Whitstable

The Chippy and The Undertaker


Street Shoes

Shoes on the street outside a shop

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  • Reply
    December 27, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I will always love my Nettar. I shot a couple of rolls (HP5+ and Velvia) and then flogged it. The scans came back after the sale and it was the most acute case of seller’s remorse I’ve ever felt. Needless to say I’ve bought 5 since then. That lens is something special and they are really cool to shoot too.

    • Reply
      December 28, 2018 at 8:19 am

      Hi Robert, I agree, there is something very appealing about these old folders, the simplicity I think. The optics too, they have a character. Its not always about sharpness, pin cushioning etc, just make a picture and enjoy the experience and connection with it.

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