5 frames with...

5 Frames Skiing with a Zeiss Ikon Nettar – Andy Larner

Zeiss Ikon Nettar

I found my perfect Ski camera. It’s light, small and great for Landscapes oh by the way it’s a medium format 6×6 folding bellows camera from the 1950’s. Obviously! The camera takes 120 film and I was shooting Ilford FP4 Plus 125 to account for the brightness of the snow. The photos were taken in Borovets, Bulgaria ski resort in April 2019.

The slim profile is ideal for sitting under your jacket and simple controls mean you can use it with gloves on. There is a shutter speed that’s maximum 200 and aperture that’s f/4.5 to f/22.  I used a Sunny 16 set it and forget it method meaning I only changed aperture when the clouds closed in and every exposure came out OK!  The camera stops you from double exposing and there is a red window to view your shot number at the back.

The little view finder gives you a fairly accurate view of what will be in the shot but it is essentially just a hole with no focusing or information. This made it easy with goggles on and fun to use for big landscapes.

Zone focusing means that generally you are in for landscapes which suites me. Having set the camera to infinity at the start of the day it does a great job. When you do want to focus on something closer there is a scale which is in feet and can be used fairly easily as long as you are set to f/8 or above. The photo of my friend below seems OK enough to me.


The lens also provides a great creamy quality that screams film. While you won’t be catching any skiing action shots this camera provides character in spades (you can always take something else for the action shots).

All in all I love this camera. It’s compact, fun and takes great shots after a bit of practice! This camera has now been to the summit of Mount Toubkal in Morocco and hopefully will come on many more adventures with me as well!

If you would like to see more of my skiing shots please click here there are a few from my Nikon FM as well. Julian Higgs has also written about his Nettar and that’s well worth a look too.

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  • Avatar
    November 28, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Hi Andy! I read you loud and clear. My folder is a Zeiss Super Ikonta with the excellent Novar lens, and…it is mirrorless, just as the younger generation likes. I use Kodak Tri-X developed in HC 110 to produce fine, sharp negatives. 11 x 14 enlargements are easy.

    In addition to the virtues you describe I might add that these folders are tough as nails and would not attract any self-respecting thieves.

    • Avatar
      Andy Larner
      November 29, 2019 at 9:38 am

      You’re absolutely right I should have titled this ‘Best Mirrorless for Skiing in 2019’! I haven’t started to develop my own yet that’s a step too far at the moment. Folders really are a lot of fun and you’re right about the toughness plus they’re fairly cheap too so it’s not the end of the world if you write one off.

      I don’t think I’ve used an Ikonta but I think I might have one in the box delivery that I mentioned in the other comment so I’ll bare what you saying in mind! I assume you’ve got a few pics with bikes judging from your email?

  • Avatar
    Nick Lyle
    November 28, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    My favorite medium format camera for backcountry skiing and hiking is also a folding 6×6 camera from the 1950s, a Voiglander Perkeo. Mine has a shutter that runs fast enough to stop moderate action and allows me to use faster film. The coated 80mm Color Skopar lens does well with color films as well. I have an older 6×9 Zeiss Ikon Nettar too, but I use the smaller Perkeo more often. The wide-normal lenses typical on these older square format cameras are great for mountain landscapes, not so wide that they shrink the mountains, but generous enough to fill the frame with a good sized mountain.

    • Avatar
      Andy Larner
      November 29, 2019 at 9:25 am

      Strangely I looked at the Perkeo originally and I really like the look of it but I ended up getting the Nettar because my local camera shop had one in. I’m more of a landscape photographer anyway so the increase in shutter speed wan’t a deal breaker for me (I’m also not sure I could afford to mess up any shots!). I’ve never tried any colour films in my Nettar but I think that might be my next project in the spring. I have just received a big box full of folder cameras from a friend which contained a 6×9 Nettar so I will hopefully be back on here with some shots from that once it’s been cleaned up!

      I do love a square format for landscapes though, you’re right, they do give the mountains extra umph! It’s also fun to re-programme the brain from 6×9 to 6×6. I’d like to see some of those action shots if you’ve posted them anywhere?

  • Avatar
    Forrest Rogers
    November 29, 2019 at 2:08 am

    I love this review! These shots are great; I love the James Bond-esque feel with it. I am going to Breckenridge, Colorado in a few weeks and am taking my Pen S (half frame) hoping to get some sweet shots.

    • Avatar
      Andy Larner
      November 29, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Thank you Forrest that means a lot! Bond-esque was definitely part of the aim. I am really fancying a half-frame camera but I don’t have the room, I’m sure GAS will overpower my will power soon. I’d love to see some of those shots when you get them back! You should do a 5 Frames (I’m pretty sure you could get away with 10 on a half-frame). Do you have an instagram?

  • Avatar
    Bryan Costin
    December 3, 2019 at 2:11 am

    These are great! It’s nice to see an old folder get some fresh air and sunshine, and they really are amazingly compact and light for medium format. I used to bring a Zeiss Super Ikonta or a Bessa I with me on day trips, but not on a real scenic vacation. You’ve inspired me to take one for a spin.

    • Avatar
      Andy Larner
      December 3, 2019 at 11:41 am

      Thank you Bryan, they’re a lot of fun I would definitely recommend a spin!

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