In my little camera bag No. 4: Zeiss Ikon Colora F

Zeiss Ikon Colora F front
A front view of the Zeiss Ikon Colora F, with a recently-acquired Kodak Verichrome marked “Develop before 1 Nov 1947.” (Daniel J. Schneider)

Work and the weather have made it tough to shoot the last week or two, but I have added a new camera to the bag nonetheless: the Zeiss Ikon Colora F.

Though it seems a lot of sites call the Colora a rangefinder, it’s really just a zone-focus viewfinder camera. The viewfinder is pretty big and bright, and it does feature a bright-line frame with parallax-correction indicators and a center spot.

The Zeiss Ikon Colora and Colora F share a Gauthier Prontor 125 shutter behind a Novicar 50mm f/2.8 lens. The shutter offers only 1/125, 1/60 and 1/30 sec. speeds. The lens is fairly fast for a budget-oriented camera, and reported to give decent image quality.

Both use 35mm film and use a thumb-type advance lever that sits almost flush with the back of the top cover assembly. On top, the Coloras feature a cold shoe.

Zeiss Ikon Colora F flash reflector
Detail of the Zeiss Ikon Colora F with the flash reflector flipped up and the bulb socket exposed. You can just see the 15V battery cap on the left. (Daniel J. Schneider)

The Colora was introduced in 1960, and the Colora F model was released in 1964, adding just one feature: built-in support for tiny AG-1 flash bulbs.

In the top cover is space for a 504A battery (a 15-volt behemoth!) accessed by the typical coin-slotted bayonet-type cover in the right-hand side. A small switch near the back-center of the top cover pops up the cold shoe, under which is a socket for the “peanut” flash bulbs and a shiny reflector. The rewind knob on the top left features a rudimentary flash calculator on the F model.

The Colora and Colora F were discontinued in 1965 as the 126 Instamatic revolution rocked the budget camera world and Zeiss responded with the Ikomat line.

I loaded the Colora F up with a roll of Ilford XP2 Super which I intend to shoot at ASA 50 and process in E-6 chemicals as an experiment for March, which is cross-processing month (#BelieveinXpro) for #BelieveinFilmers.

Final note: Along with the c. 1945 roll of Kodak Verichrome in the photo at the top, I also recently acquired a worn but serviceable Whittaker Micro 16 spy camera. I may write more about it in the future, but I may never get to test it as it takes 16mm film in its own special cartridges, and I only have one of the required two cassettes.

Whittaker Micro 16
A front angled view of the Whittaker Micro 16 “spy camera,” with the sport finder extended. Reportedly popular with Los Angeles detectives because it could be concealed in an empty cigarette pack. (Daniel J. Schneider)