Two eyes see more than one: Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex 1c

Ikoflex

Zeiss Ikon does not have the most popular name in the TLR segment. This is unjustified, as the range of models has been great since 1935 with the introduction of the Contaflex TLR. More famous are the 14 successors, all of which appeared under the name Ikoflex. Solid cameras up to the final model, the Ikoflex Favorit in the late 1950s. Before that there was the famous Ikoflex 1c which was the first to have an advanced LVS exposure meter. A complete working model is however hard to find. Something seems always broken.

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The imaginative Agfa Super Isolette

Agfa Super Isolette

There is always much debate as to what makes a camera the best in its class. In the case of the Agfa Super Isolette, made in Berlin, the unanimous opinion is that it is the best medium format folder ever made. A camera that has aroused much envy from Leica and Zeiss Ikon. Yet the success of the camera came decades after its first production in 1954. The rapid decline in sales of 120 film in favor of the many times more popular 135 film and growing market for 35mm cameras was to blame. Not many Super Isolettes have come on the market, which complicates the search for this top Agfa model.

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Praktica FX2: the underdog from Dresden

Praktica FX2 review

There is no German camera brand as undervalued as the East German Praktica. Now, strictly speaking, it is not a brand, but a long-running model name of KW (Kamera-Werkstaetten) and later Pentacon. Once started as Praktiflex in 1939 and ended as Praktica BX20S in 2001. More than 40 models and versions have never brought the brand what it actually deserves: recognition for high quality at affordable prices.

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A forgotten brand: Wirgin Edixa Reflex

Wirgin Edixa Reflex A

Did you know that the Edixa Reflex was world’s first camera with a film wind lever? Such a common thing in use, but where did it came from? Germany, or in this case from a company in Wiesbaden that started in 1920. Only a few people know that the Edixas were one of the first and the best of West-German cameras in technical terms, ending the leaf shutter and one of the first to present the Instant Return Mirror. And the most silent shutter as well, as if using a Leica.

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The day the world stood still: Nikon F

Marilyn Monroe Nikon F

Ever heard of Masahiko Fuketa? He was the main engineer at japanese Nippon Kogaku’s optics manufacturer Nikon. The company that became the biggest copycat player due to their many Leica and Zeiss rangefinder camera copies. Rebuilding Japan after WOII was an almost futile action without the help and knowledge of other countries, but the ambitions in the sixties grew to make Japan economically great again and with own, unique products that could be sold worldwide. A land of creativity and power. In 1959 they launched finally their own imagination with a camera that simply was named with the first letter of the engineer’s last name: F. It would change the world of photography forever.

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Extravagant: Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel

Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel

Something big can be stored in a modest small housing. In the early thirties the Super Nettel from Zeiss Ikon became the little sister of the Big Contax. Cheaper, a fixed lens, but in no means less beautiful, charming and even a little extravagant. Just the right qualities to fit in my personal top 5. What a Barnack is for Leica, is the Super Nettel the derivative for Zeiss-Ikon.

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Icarex 35: the marriage of Zeiss-Ikon and Voigtlander

Zeiss Ikon Voigtlander Icarex 35CS

By the end of the sixties the final battle of the German cameras began. The competition with Japan was killing World’s leading camera manufacturer. Too complicated camera’s, too expensive, far too less innovative. And all that the Japanese cameras offered, producing high tech and cheaper cameras in many brands and designs. Zeiss Ikon and Voigtlander tried one last approach: to combine their strengths with the famous Icares series, the ultimate SLR for 135 film.

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