Ok, and here it is my first 120mm camera purchase.
I found this beauty on the way home in a shop that sell antiques, I can’t resist to the camera and of course the excepcional low price (after a few minutes of negotiations with the seller). It was a great deal, after checking the price in various websites.
Let’s move in on to the important part, the camera himself…
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16 folding camera made in Stuttgart by the famous Zeiss Ikon company. It used medium format 120 film with negatives measuring 6cm x 6cm. It was, in its day, a very high quality camera that used medium format 120 film, though it was the size of a 35mm.
According this source, this specific model it was manufactured in Stuttgart – Germany, between (month ?)/1949-Dec./1959.
- 120mm film in 6×6 format
- Novar-Anastigmat Lens 1:4.5 f=75mm
- Vario Shutter
- Aperture: f4.5-22
- Shutter: B, 1/25, 1/75, 1/200 sec.
- Double exposure prevention (you can defeat this by using a cable release with the socket on the lens instead of the body shutter release)
- Manual film advance with red window
A 400 ASA film is best advised when using the Nettar 518/16.
Tthat is because the speed range is rather limited by today’s standards. Speeds range from 1/25 – 1/75 – 1/200 sec. plus B. You should always remember that the lens is a 75mm, so shooting at 1/25 involves a risk of shaking the camera. This leaves you with two speeds that you can work safely with, 1/75 sec. and 1/200 sec.
The fully manual operation, with no built in meter and no built in focus/rangefinder forces you to slow down and think before you click the shutter release. You have to run through a mental checklist (estimate or meter exposure, estimate distance, compose, cock the shutter, release) for each picture, and so while You only get twelve exposures, You can be sure that You thought hard about each and every one of them. Hopefully the discipline will help even with more automated cameras.
The Nettar 518/16 has a double exposure prevention mechanism which is very handy. A red flag appears in the finder and you cannot press the shutter button without winding the film.
I have not yet photographed with this camera, so I can not have a proper conclusion of myself, but I can leave here two opinions that I have found on the web.
(…) wonderful piece of old mechanical technology that produces great results once some thought is applied.
If you are looking for an inexpensive entry to medium format photography, this is the way to go. Image quality is really really good between f/5.6 – f/11, it is build like a tank with very few things that can break and you can always have it with you due to it’s small size. My only complain is the limited speed range and the lack of a rangefinder, so it might be a good idea to buy and external one.
All in all, a very nice camera and if you find it for anything less than £50 buy it and you won’t regret.