Medium Format Cameras:
Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:

Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta BX

Original Edition (1937-1952)

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta is a big honking 6x9 medium format folding camera w/ fully coupled rangefinder. The Model BX second version added a selenium light meter. It's been referred to several times (see links below) as the "best medium format folder ever made." Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

What's neat about this camera is that the negatives are very large, 6x6 on standard 120/220 medium format roll film. And yet the whole thing folds up to fit into a large coat pocket. With negatives that large, you can just contact print them without an enlarger, which was the whole point.

The unit I used to own (pictured here) came from an estate sale with a Carl Zeiss Jena lens (serial #2299423) Tessar 8cm (80mm) f/2.8 lens. The shutter was a Compur-Rapid leaf shutter which goes to 1/400 sec. The camera is in good condition. The leatherette needs a bit of TLA in some areas but the bellows are solid and light-tight. The shutter appears to work at all speeds and the cocking/firing mechanism works smoothly. I sold it on February 9th (2003) to a gentleman in France.

Click on any image on this page to enlarge it.

The single-coated Tessar lens appears to be relatively clean and has the faintest cleaning scratches. Not bad for a 50 year old camera.The camera opens and folds nicely. The Zeiss engineers did a great job of making sure the lens stayed parallel to the film surface, it doesn't suffer the "wobble" of my much cheaper Voigtlander Bessa or Zeiss Ikoflex, for example.

Unfortunately the rangefinder half-mirror appeared to be delaminated and knocked out of sync. This should be an easy repair by a good Zeiss repairperson (basically you need to put in a new half-mirror).

Inside the camera it has stamped 'Zeiss Ikon Film B-2 6x9 2 1/4 x 3 1/4" ' but they must have had too many schnapps on that day in Jena because the film gate measures 56 mm x 57 mm or standard 6x6 size.


Interesting quirks

Because the Ikonta uses Compur-Rapid leaf shutter, it can flash-synchronize at all speeds up to its maximum of 1/400. I'm not sure if it is X sync or not, it could be the older M sync.

The German engineers thoughtfully put a steel protective cap on the selenium meter, but unfortunately like most selenium cells of that age, it appears dead.

Did I mention this is a big honking folder? It's the largest medium format folder I have (I also have a Voigtlander Bessa, Agfa Jsolette, and some others). I'm surprised they were able to pack so much into it, though. It really was the highest end model you could buy at the time.

Technical Details

Camera Name
Super Ikonta BX 1st version (533/16)
Zeiss Ikon
Place of Manufacture

East Germany (Jena)

Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Coupled rangefinder design

Lens use helical focusing

Fixed Lens

80mm, f/2.8, Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar lens

Minimum focusing distance = 6 feet

Right focusing (infinity on right side)


Compur Rapid shutter 1 sec - 1/400

B settings

Flash sync at all speeds

Metering System

Selenium cell mounted on top middle of camera body, protected by a flip-up metal cap.
Full manual exposure. Measure EV values from lightmeter then transfer EVs to lens body using EV guide on camera top.

EV 5-40 (these numbers seem high and may not be the EV guide numbers we know of today)


f/2.8 - f/22

Hyperfocal marker at f/11


PC cable connection

Cold flash mount on camera top

Film type / speeds

Type 120/220 film (medium format)
Negative size: 56mm x 57mm (6x6)

Guide has markings for ASA 12to 800

Battery type
Dimensions and weight

5 3/4"w x 4 5/8"h x 4 5/8"d (open)
5 3/4"w x 4 3/8"h x 1 7/8"d (folded)

150mm. w x 118h x 118d (open)
150mm. w x 112h x 57d (folded)

1100g. (38.9 oz)

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About Zeiss Ikon

Zeiss Ikon was formed in 1926 out of the merger of five companies: Carl Zeiss/Jena A.G., ICA A.G., Erneman A.G., Goerz A.G, and Contessa-Nettel A.G.

Zeiss-Ikon was a huge corporation with offices in five cities in Germany and it offered a huge variety of cameras. Unfortunately, that was also its downfall. Various divisions competed against each other horribly and there was much, much reduplication of effort. It never really took advantage of its size.

Carl Zeiss, the main company, can actually trace its roots to 1846, to the very dawn of photography and is renowned for such designs as the Tessar and T* coating. Even now, Carl Zeiss lenses grace the very best cameras from Contax to Hasselblad.

In 1972, Zeiss formed into a partnership with Yashica Corporation of Japan. Zeiss now only does lens design and makes a small amount of photographic lenses. Yashica manufactures the Contax series of Zeiss cameras.


On the Net



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