Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/2

Zeiss Nettar

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When I first recieved this little folder I could only describe it as a little piece of magic. Unlike the Kodak ‘Pocket Camera’ series, this little folder could actually fit in your pocket. Slimmer, lighter, and smaller than the vast majority of my cameras, it exposes the largest negatives – 6cm x 9cm. That’s like the size of a playing card, just the negative! Sure, it’s a Novar, not a Tessar, and the shutter is a Vario not a Compur, but it’s still a nice little folder.

The newer Nettars seem to be more popular with collectors, having chrome tops and a landscape format rather than the portrait (upright) format of the 515/2 – they look just like Isolettes – but having the bellows fold the long way gives this camera a classic look, like a miniature version of the classic bellows cameras rather than the more modern hybrid folders. It fits in the palm of your hand, you wouldn’t believe it.

I’ve seen this model with and without the angle finder (see the Plenax for example), I think it must have been an available option when they were originally sold. There’s no evidence that this once had one but there’s a spot where one would obviously attach.


I’ve used it a few times now and see that even after I’ve learned much about proper exposure all my negatives are very consistently overexposed. I’m thinking I’ll need to get in and clean the shutter, which is probably running slow. Followup: I was right, the 1/200 speed was running about the same as the 1/75 speed which was really more like 1/30. Some ether in there cleared that right up (required coming in from behind, popping out the rear element, which was held in by a snap ring, and cleaning the shutter with the aperture on ‘B’, something I don’t like to do but there ya go). I’ve had to do it twice now, it continued to gum itself up, so I had to drop this from the ‘gem’ category. Maybe you have better luck with yours.

Tips & Tricks

Uh, learn zone focusing and estimating exposure. Also, remember that 6×9 means only 8 frames on a 120 roll, and that if you don’t turn carefully and keep your eye on the red window you can skip right past one of those little digits and end up getting oh, five. Not that I’ve done that, of course. A couple times.

Shutter release is on the left (from the back) not the right, odd but not awkward. The button on the right is the bellows release and it’s easy to get caught pushing that one and wondering ‘why won’t the shutter trip?’

Found out after overlooking it many times that this beauty has two tripod mounts – one in a spindle end (awkward) for landscape and one in the actual door that flips out for the bellows, also awkward as it’s offset perpendicular to the body by only about an inch. It’s definitely more stable in portrait format than in landscape, if you can get it on your tripod. Some of these older cameras’ tripod mounts are in awkward spots and don’t accept the large square plates of newer tripods, which is exactly why I went and bought myself an ancient Agfa tripod. The Plenax also falls in this category. Or you could get a small ball head.

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