Thursday, August 25, 2016
Zeiss Ikon Maximar A
The Maximar was not quite so nicely built and finished as it's Kodak competitor, but it did feature the same big Compur shutter with a 1/250 top speed. Like the Recomar, the Zeiss camera also had three viewing/composition options including a wire frame finder, a magnified reflex viewfinder with an attached bubble level, and a ground glass focusing back. The backs for the Maximar and Recomar are interchangable, so the same plate and film holders and rollfilm adapters can be used in both. Lens speed and focal length were an identical f4.5/105mm in the Kodak and Zeiss cameras, but the Recomar had a Kodak Anastigmat, while the Maximar A featured the superlative Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar.
With its double-extension bellows, multiple viewing systems and film or plate back options, the Maximar and its many relatives provided photographers of the 1920's and 1930's with very capable and versatile photogaphic systems in an extremely compact package. It is not hard to imagine why these cameras were sold in the tens of thousands. In addition to offering the convenience of a conventional folding camera or the utility of a press camera, the Maximar's ground glass focusing capability permitted high-precision focusing and framing for close-up work that produced a near 1:1 ratio of subject to image at the film plane. Fully realizing the potential of the little Maximar requires a level of skill and discipline that can be challenging, but also uncommonly rewarding for 21st Century photogaphers.
Some images from the Maximar: