I have owned and used many different types of medium format cameras (TLR, SLR, folder, rigid body rangefinder), and I enjoy all of them for different reasons. But this article is specifically about medium format folders, which provide a large negative in a compact and travel friendly form factor. Sometimes they are not much bigger or heavier than a 35mm rangefinder, while producing almost six times the film area.
Medium Format Folder
I was at work one day when a friend/client came in with something in a weathered leather case. At the end of our service he handed me the case with “and this is for you.” This is a particularly gifty friend, he’s previously gifted me everything from a stereo receiver to a pair of socks… and it’s clear that he is dialed into all my favorite things, because today he’s handing me an old film camera.
The Ikonta range of folding medium format cameras complemented Zeiss Ikon’s Contax ‘system’ camera. They combined quality optics with leaf shutters in sophisticated bodies. The ‘Super Ikontas’ even featured a coupled rangefinder. They were made in three formats for 120 film. The A bodies were 6×4.5, the B’s were 6×6 and the C’s were 6×9. Other Ikonta models catered for 127 film (3×4) and 616 film (a huge 6.5×11 negative). The particular camera I’m basing this article on is a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 532/16. One of the ‘B’ models, producing 6×6 negatives on 120 film. This model was first produced in 1936 and carried on in production for nearly 20 years.
My Dad was always a keen photographer. When he bought his Zeiss Ikon Ikonta in the early 1950s, it would have been a substantial outlay for him as a civil servant. While he didn’t opt for the Super Ikonta, he paid for a few optional extras; a leather case, the 75mm 3.5 Tessar lens and …
When I was a young teenager, I was gifted my first ever DSLR for my birthday, a third- or fourth-hand Nikon D3100, arguably the perfect camera for someone to learn photography on. It was fast, could be shot entirely automatically or fully manual, and with the 18-55mm f3.5 lens it was a workhorse in any environment.