Zeiss Ikon Nettar


I bought this really old German Zeiss Camera on Ebay for only 25 Euros. It was built about 70 or 80 years ago in Stuttgart/Germany, and it still works perfectly! Read more about it and see some sample photos after the jump.

When I received this camera I had no idea whether the camera still works or not. So, I decided to put in a 120 (medium format) black and white film to find out more about this old treasure. The camera back can be opened after pulling out the locking bolt. Loading the camera is the same as with any other medium format camera, so it should not be a problem for anyone.
There is a knob on top of the camera. You have to press it for opening the camera’s “front”. The Nettar will snap into taking position! And there’s the lens!

How to focus: Distances are engraved on the lens mount. The Nettar is focused by turning the front-lens mount. It starts with 1.2 m and goes in small and then bigger steps until infinity.

Setting the Diaphragm: For setting the diaphragm on the desired lens aperture, turn the diaphragm setting lever until the diaphragm setting mark points at the desired lens aperture figure.

Setting the exposure time: Turn the milled setting ring until the exposure time setting mark is opposite the desired exposure time. Possible exposure times are B, 1/25sec, 1/50sec, 1/100 sec, and 1/200sec. Prior to every exposure, the shutter must be wound with the shutter winding lever. It took me so long to find out about this! Many many thanks to the World Wide Web!

So I took the camera for a walk through the city and do some test shots. It is a rather heavy camera compared to a Holga or a Diana. But I really enjoyed taking this one out for a stroll and it even was a nice day, not as dark as all the other winter days.

When the film was exposed I couldn’t wait to develop it (with Tetenal chemicals) and was really surprised by the results. The photos are sharp and everything seems to work just great in this old camera! It’s not an everyday camera, but I sure will take it with me every now and then. What a nice old camera!

written by kleeblatt on 2012-02-20 #gear #medium-format #120 #review #zeiss #lens #lomography #nettar #ikon #exposure-time #user-review #diaphragm


  1. jeffr
    jeffr ·

    great photos!

  2. has
    has ·

    My grandpa gave me his. It's 60 years old I think. A really good quality camera. :)

  3. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    great camera, great pictures!

  4. has
    has ·

    great pics too!

  5. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Great lenses on the old folding cameras. Lovely photos!

  6. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Fantastic find!

  7. a1con
    a1con ·

    great photos..

  8. megalithicmatt
    megalithicmatt ·

    Very nice photos! FYI, your Nettar is the rarer version with the f4.5 Novar and double exposure prevention. The more common variant has the f6.3 lens and no shutter interlock system. Both cameras are excellent though.

  9. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    You sure about the age? This looks very much like a post-war Nettar to me.

  10. megalithicmatt
    megalithicmatt ·

    517 series Nettar production started around 1949, so about 60 years old max.

  11. andreas_antonius
    andreas_antonius ·

    Sublime !

  12. eyende
    eyende ·

    I got two of them and they are great to use. Recently enjoy this old fashion slow kinda photography...keep yours going!

  13. duncandeephotography
    duncandeephotography ·

    Great story and pics 😃

  14. tomczykd
    tomczykd ·

    I have model 517/16 and 518/16 and this is my "love". If anyone wants to start shooting with a medium format camera, then no doubt Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/61 or 518/16 is a very good choice and it is a very cheap way into medium format. Just buy one and love your Nettar! Just try it!

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