5 Frames… On Fujifilm Pro 400H on a Zeiss Ikon Nettar II 518/16 (EI 400 / 120 Format / Novar-anastigmat 75mm f/6.3) – by Dylan Smith

I got into photography back in the film days, first on 35mm format, then gradually moved to medium format. I went from a Kiev 88 to Mamiya 645E and liked my results. This was soon to be replaced by all digital gear when I was both convinced it offered equal or better image quality and I could afford a DSLR. Over the years of shooting I couldn’t help noticing all the hype around the film revival. I did agree that there is a tactile satisfaction from loading your choice of film and from getting it back from the lab. I wanted to get back to those roots but couldn’t justify a whole new film outfit.

Then I came across the Zeiss/Ikon Nettar and thought I would try it out.

Zeiss Ikon Nettar II 518/16 my and its Novar-anastigmat 75mm f/6.3, Dylan Smith
Zeiss Ikon Nettar II 518/16 my and its Novar-anastigmat 75mm f/6.3, Dylan Smith

It is a medium format folding bellows camera. It shoots in 6×6 format. In terms of its technical functions, it’s pretty simple. All of the settings are adjusted with sliding levers and dials on the end of the lens- shutter speed, aperture, and focus. It has a small (dim) viewfinder but it has no rangefinder function, the focus is done via zone focus.

Lastly, there is no light meter. I had to either just go with the sunny 16 rule or use a light meter app on my phone. The app was accurate, but the camera only has three real shutter speeds (besides bulb): 1/25, 1/75, and 1/200, so often the light meter suggested something I was not able to set. The approximation seemed to work though.

The film I used for this particular shoot, Fuji Pro 400H, was basically a litmus test, to see how happy I was with the camera and if I wanted to use that or other films. It was shot over the course of about two months, in late 2019. I live in Spokane, Washington, which isn’t uber scenic, but offers some quaintness if you search.

The use of the light meter app was curious sometimes when I was around other people taking phone photos. We both appeared to take a photo, though I was only metering the scene. Then I would unfold my camera and take the actual photo, which must have appeared nostalgic. But in retrospect, I am happier with my photos than if I had shot them with my phone at first. They have a nice clean, pastel look that does not appear digital. And DIY points for the camera.

~ Dylan

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About the author

Avatar - Dylan Smith

Dylan Smith

I value every opportunity to take a decent photo. When my keeper rate is low, I just look forward to when I can try it again. Then I am glad when I see something good.

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  1. For metering using a phone, I can fully recommend the Photo Friend app. It has a very straightforward user interface with sliders to adjust settings. There is also a quasi-spot metering feature that lets you select a smaller portion of your frame to meter from. I have used this app very successfully to meter with my Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 523/2 in the past. You can either use the free app or pay to avoid periodic ads.

  2. Hi Dylan, I also live in Spokane. I have a new-to-me Zeiss Ikonta, and I’m looking for a local place to source 120 film. Also, which light meter app do you use? Thanks, Basil