Zeiss Ikon 35mm Rangefinder Camera: Featured User Review

Film Photography Uncategorized User Reviews Zeiss

Here’s something a little different for a Featured User Review – instead of the usual digital camera or zoom lens review, I chose this excellent review for a film camera – and a rangefinder at that! The fact is, there are still plenty of film shooters and the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder is a truly beautiful piece of camera equipment. Martin’s review gives me a chance to highlight this fine camera. Remember: your reviews are the foundation of PhotographyREVIEW.com. Share your experience with other photographers by writing reviews for your cameras and other photo gear. You don’t have to be an expert – everyone’s opinion counts.

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Featured Review: Zeiss Ikon 35mm Rangefinder

by Martin (Intermediate)

Price Paid: $1000.00 from second hand
Review Date: June 30, 2009
Used product for: More than 1 year

Overall Rating: 5 of 5
Value Rating: 5 of 5

Best in class for the price.

Looking at the feature of this camera it becomes clear it is made for a user. Not for a shelf, a collection or for social standing purposes.

It is light, you can carry it all day, the viewfinder is bright and beautiful, it has aperture priority in 1/16th steps and it is cheap compared to the equivalent Leica system (I’m much less concerned about damage, loss or theft that way and can focus on the picture making).

As a glass wearer it is a joy to use (I use it exclusively with the 50/1.5 Sonnar), but would not count on keeping the glasses on if you want to frame a 28mm.

Exposure compensation is easy, your shutter speed dial is marked with over and underexposure marks (+/-2 stops in 1/3 increments).

The real downside of this camera is its non-Leica brand. There is something about owning a Leica that this camera will not give you. If this is not a factor, then I believe this is the best bang for the buck.

Superb viewfinder with frames for 28/35/50/85 mm lenses.
Great base-length for accurate focusing of fast lenses.
Big viewfinder window, keep your glasses on!
Easy exposure compensation.
Very accurate exposure meter.
Metal curtains: no holes (I hate lens caps).
Easy film loading.
Uses simple batteries.
Window to see if/what film is loaded.
High flash-sync speed (1/125).
Nice preview lever (to select a different frame than the one selected by your current lens).
Uses M lenses.
Price! (Compared to similarly featured Leica M7).

Focusing patch can disappear when first using the camera: your eye is not centered properly!
Needs battery to work.
Bad LED layout: can be hard to see and disappears in bright light.
Less than ideal manual mode (compared to Leica M6).
You can sometimes end up putting your finger over the rangefinder window (making your rangefinder patch disappear).
The finish could be nicer.
It will not give you the satisfaction of owning a Leica.

Similar Products Used:
Olympus 35RD/RC
Minolta Hi-Matic 7
Bessa R3A
Mamiya 6 (medium format rangefinder)

I handled a few Leicas in the shop to help me decide.

Customer Service:
Did not have to use so far.

Related Content:
All Zeiss Camera & Lens User Reviews
All 35mm Rangefinder User Reviews
Film Photography Forum
All Featured User Reviews
All Zeiss News & Articles
Carl Zeiss Camera And Lens Web Site

About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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