The Zeiss Ikon Nettar makes medium format photography simple and possible!
I got my Zeiss Ikon Nettar after my Grandad died. My family found it in his things and, knowing that I’m into photography, they gave it to me.
When I was first given it I found it really very hard to get open. I think this is just a problem with my one, as it does seem to have a release button on top, but I’ve found a way to get around this problem; I just give mine a bit of a shake and the front pops open. I know this isn’t the right way to go about it, but it seems to work.
Since my family were unsure if it worked or not I decided to give it a go and ran through some black & white film as I guessed this would be the most forgiving.
This camera takes 120 film and unlike my Holga it loads on the right and gets wound up on the left. This means that all the numbers on the back of the film are the right way up when viewed through the red window at the back! Hooray! I chose to tape up my camera a bit with some black electrical tape as the edge where is closes was a bit loose and I didn’t want to completely ruin the film with light leaks. Of course the super cool leather case also helps to keep out too much unwanted light (and got my college friends asking where I got my awesome new handbag!).
Now I’m not the most technical person in the world so I have a few problems in getting ‘perfect’ shots with this camera. For one I have to guess the exposure levels; the aperture ranges from f6.3 through to f22 on a sliding scale and has a red spot just next to the f11. I don’t really know what this red spot is for but I guess that’s where is best? The shutter speed is also on a sliding scale from B with marks for 25, 75 and then a jump up to 200. I tried to use this on sunnier days so that I could keep the shutter speed fairly fast to try to eliminate camera shake but it does have both a tripod thread and cable release thread so I guess this is why it could cope with slower shutter speeds.
The other problem I had was with the focusing. As you don’t look through the lens as with an SLR I had to guess how far away everything is in feet. Clearly I’ve not yet completely mastered this! Although the lens does have a handy system to show the depth of field for each f-stop with a mark on either side to show how much should be in focus. Or at least I guess this is what it’s for!
Finally! To take the actual picture! To cock the shutter there’s a lever on the lens which is then released either with the button on top of the camera, or if you use a cable release then it’s screwed in right next to it. This is something I love, you can’t accidentally take a picture without making sure you’re all set up for it, meaning that you’re less likely to have some wasted frames. It also means that as the shutter cock and film winder are uncoupled then you can get some cool double exposures. I didn’t on this first roll as I wanted to make sure the camera actually worked before I started playing with it properly.
So… after all these problems, what do I think of this solid hunk of camera? Well, I’m really pleased with how the pics have come out. I recently shot a roll of Provia with this and I really like them (I’ll get them up as soon as I can! Promise!). When I get the focus right they come out really sharp and I love the square format. This has become a real fave to take out with me, partly because it’s so portable with it’s folding front, but also because I’m really enjoying finding out more about it.
The other thing I love is the fact that there’s a photo of my Grandad with this camera from when he was about my age, about 60 years ago, and I feel so happy that I’m continuing his love of photography. I really hope I can get some pics out of it that will last as long.