Zeiss 6X6 Folder

Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16

A new (old) camera has been donated to my retirement home for photographic stuff! It’s a Zeiss Ikon 517/16. I have little experience with folders, so was keen to try it out. My first surprise was how smooth it opened and closed – in the past cameras I have tried like this, have needed help and persuasion to get going. This one leapt to life!

I did a little internet research to learn a little more, spending a good half hour to try and identify which model it was – only to discover it is stamped quite clearly right by the back door catch! From what I gather the camera was most likely manufactured in 1954, pretty much all the models seem to have the slower f6.3 lens, but this one has the f4.5 Novar-Anastigmat 75mm. It features the Prontor-S shutter, which provides speeds B, 1, 1/2, the 5th up to 300th. Slightly odd speeds by today’s standards, but all seemed to work fine, so I set a healthy 100th.

At first I was sad to see that the lens was full of “smear”, I gave the front a good clean, but little better, I considered the option of trying to take it apart, then thought better of the idea, I’m not great at that sort of thing! Opening the back with the camera closed, the rear element is very accessible, I gave it a clean – sorted, all the muck seemed to be on the rear element and now it seems very clean, clear and free from dust etc, for it’s age. How so much muck got onto the rear element in such a clean camera otherwise is a mystery. Poking a torch in the interior didn’t reveal any holes in the bellows, still I didn’t want to “waste” a roll of 120 as a test, so I opted to use up one of my out of date 35mm’s and the panoramic adaptor.

Bradbury Rings, Dorset
Close Focus
Infinity Focus
Trig Point and Rings
Rough Terrain

The “eagle eyed” amongst you will notice my success rate of managing to capture an alien red floating globe in most shots! In fact of course this is a rookie error. I realised the window would let in light and 35mm has no backing paper, and considered sticking black tape over it – instead I figured I’d just keep it closed, which I did, obviously, it still leaks light! Apart from that minor hic-up, all seems well. I will now proceed in using a roll of 120, most probably a black and white. I’ve seen impressive results from these cameras online – so I’m hopeful!

The end of the circular walk!
Another Alien Event!

4 thoughts on “Zeiss 6X6 Folder

  1. I don’t know why, but I find that if a folder’s lens is dirty, it’s the inner rear element every time. How the heck does it even happen? The camera is *closed* most of the time!


    1. Hi Jim, Well this one was filthy! The only answer I can think of is that in use, the opening and closing, even when there’s a film in and it’s “closed”, there must be a certain amount of air sucked in and out like a bellows. Perhaps to a degree it’s acting like an air filter? It’s also “out of sight- out of mind” I suppose. At least in this case it’s clean now. I put a roll of 120 FP4 though it the other day, and will post results once I’ve had another processing session! Cheers and all best wishes, Andy


  2. I have a Zeiss Mess-Ikonta model (with an uncoupled rangefinder). It’s really nice to have a 6×6 medium format camera that fits in a pocket! The lenses on these things tend to be very nice too.


    1. Hello! I’ve seen some of your results and they look great – I hope mine meet the standard!!? I agree heartily that it’s nice to have a 6×6 that doesn’t weigh so much – Amen to that! I’ve put through a roll of 120 FP4 now, so when it’s processed I’ll see! Cheers and best wishes Andy

      Liked by 1 person

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