RARE! A 1938 Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta, with T Coated Tessar lens, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a very special prewar camera from my personal collection. It’s a Super Ikonta B with a very rare, very early “T” coated lens. The body serial number (H13394) and the lens serial number (2308948) indicate it was produced in Germany in 1938.
In 1938 that Zeiss-Ikon didn’t sell cameras with coated lenses to the general public. Lens coating had been developed by Zeiss in 1935 and three years later in 1938, the coating process was considered a military secret. Coating improved the optical performance of cameras, rangefinders, scopes and aiming systems and was destined to be used in WWII German equipment. In 1938 you would have needed political influence or an important position in the Zeiss-Ikon organization in order to acquire such an expensive camera with a coated lens.
While it’s possible that this lens was disassembled, coated and reassembled a couple of years after it was produced, the red “T” engraving is certainly unusual. Occasionally we come across lenses that were obviously coated sometime after they were produced but we’ve never seen them with a red “T” engraving. To the best of my knowledge, a red “T” appears to have only used on original production coated optics.The lenses on these cameras have serial numbers on the front and rear elements and since all the elements are coated and match and date to 1938, it’s unlikely that something was simply replaced. (If the lens had been exchanged, I would expect it to have a later serial number. ) Also the coating of the lens appears to be the correct color for an early coated Zeiss optic produced just prior or during WWII. (Post-war third party lens coating had different coloring because they weren’t able to use the same patented process.) Although the origin of this camera may never be fully understood, it is without a doubt a very fine, fully functional camera. The beautiful Zeiss lens also insures that the performance of this Super Ikonta will be excellent.
Wherever this camera came from and wherever it's been, it was clearly produced at a time when the world looked incredible different than it does now. This camera is a testament of genius, pride and faith in precision mechanics. It was the cutting edge of photography at that time and it was very expensive. The high purchase price reflected the time, money and effort that went into the design, production and patient hand assembly of each camera. Now holding this camera 80 years after it was produced, I see that the effort did not fade into the darkness of all the passing years… it is still a thing of beauty.
In the 1930’s the Zeiss-Ikon Super Ikonta B was the best 6x6 medium format rangefinder camera that money could buy. (It's original price was also much higher than the technically simpler 6x9 Super Ikonta C.) The quality of construction and finish is exceptional. Simply put, if you’re looking for one of the best classic cameras ever built... then you’ve just found it. It’s constructed of precision die-cast metal, covered with fine Moroccan leather and trimmed in black lacquer and chrome. It also has a sophisticated coupled rangefinder which makes focusing quick and easy. It has an advanced film wind mechanism that counts the exposures for you and automatically stops when you’ve wound far enough. In use this means all you have to do is take a shot, advance the film until it stops and you’re already for another one. You won’t be slowed down by the need to look for exposure numbers through a red ruby window. (There is a red counter window on the rear of the camera but it’s only used when first loading film into the camera.) The camera also folds into a convenient size so there’s never an excuse to leave it at home. It’s the perfect camera for people interested in historical photography or WWII period reenactments.
This camera has been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. It is in excellent condition and works very smoothly. The top of the line, Compur-Rapid shutter works smoothly and all speeds (T, B & 1 sec - 1/400th) are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along smoothly and the fast speeds are clean and snappy. The coupled rangefinder has also been serviced. It works smoothly and accurately. The bellows are in excellent condition and completely light tight.
The lens is a top of the line “T” coated 2.8/80mm Carl Zeiss Tessar lens (a superb design with four elements in three groups). This sharp, fast lens lens is well respected for its very lovely rendition. It’s generally considered as one of the best lenses of its era. The lens is in exceptionally fine condition. There are no scratches, no cleaning marks. The glass is beautiful and its capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all, a wonderful classic camera. Load it with your favorite film and keep it handy for that perfect shot you’ve been looking for. You know the one... the one with the perfect Ansel Adams light breaking through the dark storm clouds that leaves you wishing you had a classic medium format camera with you.