Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

New toy. Faulty toy?

I posted briefly about the Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/2 camera I bought recently, and my concerns that the lens might not be correctly aligned. Well it looks like my fears were correct.

I processed the roll of HP5+ yesterday that I’d shot with the camera the previous day and all the photographs show noticeable soft focus on the left side of the frames. It’s perhaps not noticeable here, but it’s quite apparent if you look at them at a larger size. This isn’t nit-picky pixel-peeping type concerns either, unfortunately. While the slightly askew angle of the lens is very minimal (although enough for me to notice straight away) it’s enough to mean that the results are unsatisfactory. Being the owner of another Zeiss Mess-Ikonta (albeit a 6×6 model), I know thet these cameras are capable of very sharp results across the frame, so having one that fails in this regard isn’t any good to me.

Having looked online though, I’ve seen a number of pages detailing the fact that it’s best to wind the film on after opening the camera. Apparently this action can cause a vacuum that lifts the film away from the plane of focus, so it’s better to open the camera and then wind on the film as you can guarantee it will be taut that way. Whether this is a factor in my results or not (I wound on before opening the camera), I’m not sure, but I’ll probably try another roll using this method to see if it makes any difference. Otherwise, I’ll have to return it for a refund.

The shots below are from the initial roll I shot. The photo of the pylons gives the best indication of the problem as the grass at the bottom of the frame, and the legs of the pylon are equally distant from the camera, so should be of a uniform sharpness across the frame. The grass at the left side is clearly softly focused, as are the leftmost legs of the pylon.

Likewise, the mesh sides of the footbridge in the following shot. The right side mesh is sharply defined, the left side much less so.



Beighton Station

Trip-trappin' away

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/2 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 @ 9mins.

Taken on 13 May 2020

5 thoughts on “New toy. Faulty toy?

  1. The Mess Ikonta is a folding camera, so sometimes the mechanism of the lens doesn’t move in the same plane. Is your lens slightly askew? That may also be the problem. Not sure how to align it, but you may check it out if your second round of film shows the same results as the first. Until you pointed it out, I didn’t notice. But, I tend to be a sloppy photographer myself.


  2. Interesting that the opening action could cause enough of a vacuum to cause problems. It does make sense when you think about it a bit, though. Bellows do move a lot of air.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. everything is looking great on these small images, maybe the first one on the left. but i cant say exactly. hope the second roll will be more understandible. maybe try to use some more consistent scenes with the same distance on all the edges.


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