Nifty Little Box - The Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor 54


This box camera is just a bit more then a simple box.

I got this lovely Box Tengor on eBay a few months ago, together with two Kodak Brownie box cameras. It looked a bit fancier then the Brownies, with its black, decorated face. And, it was made for 120 film.

The Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor 54 was introduced in 1934 and discontinued in 1938 and was one of the later members of the Tengor family.

The Box Tengor 54

It has a Gorez Frontar lens with fixed focus. The focus distance selector offers two options: 3-10 feet (0.3-1 m) and 10 feet (1 m) to infinity. The 3-10 feet mode is achieved by a supplementary lens that rotates into place. It has two aperture settings, 11 and 22. The shutter speed is quite slow, judging by the results of my shootings I would bet on 1/30. Above the shutter release you can find a little tab that when pulled out switches to B (or T as it is marked on my Box) mode. The shutter release has a safety that locks it to prevent accidental release. A cable release is also available and my Box came also with a very short but very cute cable, which I still have to fix. The Box’s dimensions (9.5X8.5X9.5 cm) make it quite compact and easy to carry around.

Fuji Astia 100F, cross processed

As mentioned before, the Box Tengor 54 was made for 120 film, and unlike most of the box cameras then, it shoots 6X4.5 (instead of 6X9), squeezing 16 frames out of a 120 roll. I found the “counter” system simple and brilliant. In the back of the Box there are two little red windows to read the numbers on the back of the film roll. The are aimed to read the 8 exposures (6X9) numbers, and the trick is that each number is read twice, once in each window, which gives you 16 readings. There are two viewfinders, as in many box cameras, one for horizontal position and one for vertical position. The ones on the Box Tengor are quite clear and bright after I gave them a little clean. One thing might be a bit confusing is that the horizontal/vertical positions: when the camera is standing tall you are actually taking horizontal (landscape) photos, and when laid on its side it’s in its vertical position (portrait).

Kodak Ektachrome EPP, cross processed
Ilford Delta 100 expired 1998

I was very happy with the results I got from the Box. The photos have this lovely “aged” feel to them, and if held steady or placed on a surface or a tripod, the lens delivers quite sharp images. This camera was made for very slow film (50 iso and lower) so keep that in mind if you are using higher speed film.

Well, to sum it up: I find it a great box camera, small, 120 ready and economic! Get one if you can…

written by paramir on 2010-12-04 #gear #medium-format #120 #review #box #6x45 #box-camera #zeiss-ikon #tengor


  1. kerpella
    kerpella ·

    So awesome! I want a box camera :D

  2. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    The pictures have this beautiful vintage soft texture... love it!

  3. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·


  4. panelomo
    panelomo ·

    trying to bid for one in ebay now...

  5. stouf
    stouf ·

    She's a beauty ! And great shots too !

  6. mcrstar
    mcrstar ·

    great review!

  7. j_robert
    j_robert ·

    wonderful camera and gallery

  8. dyluzo
    dyluzo ·

    Awesome stuff love the cows !!

  9. sheriff
    sheriff ·

    Hai, I will receive one next week, bought it from our "local ebay" in The Netherlands. Thank you for your review and experiences! At first I wanted a Tengor 6x9 but I changed my mind: not only more exposures but also a more convenient focus with 2 steps instead of 3. In my city I like to walk around with "a box" in crowdy places and therefore I like the setting "3-infinity" instead of 8-infinity and 5-8.
    I think you are mistaken by feet instead of meters because it is European :-) So it is 1-3meters...
    Have fun.

  10. sheriff
    sheriff ·

    Sorry, I am mistaken... Your camera is in feet... (smile, you're on candit-camera)

  11. jay-mcclure-12
    jay-mcclure-12 ·

    I have had one of these for several years, I regret to say I'ts been sold and literally waiting next to me to be shipped. Never the less, I thought I would chyme up that the safety doubles as a shutter lock for bulb mode for very long exposures.

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