View Full Version : Need some Help - camera / lens identification and instructions

1-Dec-2014, 14:09

I'm a total newby to analog and LF photography. I now got an old camer with a lot of equipment. But now I have many questions about type, equipent, functions etc.

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1. It's a ICA camera. But what's the cameratype? I guess it some version of a Tropica, but I couldn't find a picture of a similar one...
What cameratype is it exactly?

2. There are two lenses - both from E. Suter Basel. The first on is an Anastigmat SerieI1 F6.8 No1 F135mm
What type of lens is it? Can I find somewhere more Information about it?

3. The second Lens is a (I guess) Aplanat (it has two lenses in th front and in the back - always gued together. But somebody has put some kind of adapter to it, hiding most information... the only thing beside "E. Suter Basel" I can read is "Engel". Sadly there is no supportingplate to mount this lens - the diameter of the secont plate doesent fit.
Does anybody know what type of lens it is?

4. There is no shutter... does the camera work without shutter (how) or do I need a shutter? And If I do need a shutter could you tell me which shutter was used during this period (best would be name, type and picture)...

5. Could anybody of you explain me how this camera works, how to operate it? A link would be fine too... and for shure I'll read and search the forum... but I guess there is a restriction with the search, I dont get any results searching for "ICA".

6. And if there is somebody out there from near Bern, Switzerland I really would appreciate meeting him / her and learn / exchang in person :-)

Thanks for your help and patiance!

PS: I hav some Problem uploading more pictures... I don't know why. Probably it's because Im a new member...?

1-Dec-2014, 14:25
First, take your camera into a darkened room and shine a flashlight INSIDE the bellows to see if there is any light leaking through. If there is, you will need to patch or replace it before using the camera to make pictures.
ICA is/was a very old camera company which was absorbed into Zeiss in the 1920s.
The best books to start out with are Ansel Adams "The Camera," and Morgan and Morgan's "Graphic Graflex Photography.."

1-Dec-2014, 15:04
Hi Bill

Thanks for your Answer!

I made your test with the flashlight... and there was no light leaking through :-)

I know it's a very old camera - I guess it's from 1890-1900 - at least I read somewhere, that most E. Suter Lenses are from this time.

I did a short search on the two books. There is a reprint of "The Camera" - I'll gona order it tomorrow. But there are many different editions of "Graphic Graflex Photography" and in this tread they mentioned, that they differ from each other - exchange and update some stuff. Which edition would you suggest the best for me?

cheers - Chrigu

Steven Tribe
1-Dec-2014, 15:16
ICA disappeared into the large Zeiss-Ikon company around 1926.

I'll look up this camera. ICA was really large German company, like Ernemann and others.

The Suter lens is a modified Goerz Dagor design with 4 lenses stuck together in both the front and rear lens cells.

More in a minute.

Armin Seeholzer
1-Dec-2014, 15:27

At this time the glass plates have been very slow so you was not really in need for a shutter. A dark hat was used instead a shutter, because the expose times has been around 2-10 seconds in sunlight. Today you can use paper as negativ or use a strong grey filter to get to long times, so you can use a hat!
Better would be to buy at least one newer lens with a shutter and use it. Or do a collodium or other very old process with this camera then you get the long times!
On my ICA its says somewhere Dresden, so mine was made in Dresden Germany. But I don't use mine, its just for dust and to have a look on old cameras in my flat!

Cheers Armin

Steven Tribe
1-Dec-2014, 15:32
ICA was formed by a combination of Hüttig, Krügener and Wünsche. This is a 1890's design which one of these brands "brought into" ICA. It is not in any of the ICA catalogues I have ( from 1910) so it was probably given up as poor seller ( read as - quality/expensive product!). It is in the category "Reisekameras" but has a lot of parallels with the English cameras of the same period.
Suter has been "dead" in Basel since before WWII.

Could be a multi purpose camera - that is, prepared for Stereo

1-Dec-2014, 16:57

@ Steven:
Thx for you effort and your information! The theory that it might be a product of one of the former companies sounds reasonable - that might be as well the reason there is only a small sign showing it's a ICA, but no other lable showing the type. It's in pretty well condition and I couldn't find a spot where could have been an sditional sign... I'll try to do some research on these brands. What surprised me while trying to find some information on this type of cameras is, that it has not only the possability to tilt / lift and lower the Lens support, but there is as well the possability to tilt and pan the Support for the photo-/glasplate. Even more possabilities to confuse me as a total beginner ;-)

@ Armin:
Your information with the fact that glass plate have been very slow is very interesting too! It would be intereto do some experiments with the old techniques... but for normal use I'll try to get a somewhat newer lens with a shutter. Could you probably suggest one which could fit but still have the acient look (but none the less brings reasonable results)?

Which type of shutter would you suggest?
1. behind the lens: http://photobibliothek.ch/Photo028/Reisekamera01.jpg
2. in front of the lens: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationale_Camera_Actiengesellschaft#mediaviewer/File:Plattenkamera_Celle_Bomann-Museum_00.JPG
3. nuilt into the lens: https://www.flickr.com/photos/heritagefutures/8220331201/in/pool-camerawiki/

And which type for the release... cable or airpump?

cheers - Chrigu

Steven Tribe
2-Dec-2014, 02:52
The second lens you describe, and show, sounds like a wide-angled lens - which Suter also made in small quantities.

Shutter 1 and 2 are actually the same construction - placed at different positions. Both these types are easily available - but may need an overhaul/service. This should be no problem for you as the technique is simple and you live in the home of Cuckoo Clocks! I personally prefer the front mount on the lens system - lens boards look a bit ugly with the mahogany-box shutter mounted on them.

It may be impossible to find out the actual maker of this very nice camera, as pre-1900 makers were not good with catalogues! The same can be said of Suter ( I have half a dozen of his lenses) and if you could locate a 1890's catalogue in French, German or S/Deutsch, a lot of us would be very grateful.

More photos of the open back etc. would be appreciated. I have assumed this is a 13x18cm camera?

2-Dec-2014, 16:02
Hey Steven

I thought that shutter 1 and 2 are the same type... but wasn't shure. I too like the front mount more than the rear mount... But what do you think about the type 3? I've seen, that both types were available during this period... which one ist better or would you recomend (and why)?
In the meanwhile I found a 4th type: a rotary shutter
This one looks pretty fancy... but I'm not shure about it's quality...

Its a 18x24cm camera. Here some more pictures of the camera:

For the lenses I opend a new thread in the appropriate forum: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?118326-two-E-Suter-Basel-lenses&p=1193594#post1193594

cheers - Chrigu

2-Dec-2014, 16:48
lots of questions.

2-Dec-2014, 16:59
Hi Garrett

Everybody starts as a beginner... and I hope that when I'm more experianced I'll be able to give back to the forum... I thought that's what a forum is for.

cheers - Chrigu

PS: I orderd the books mentioned by Bill / Wilhelm, but they are not here yet.

John Kasaian
5-Dec-2014, 07:32
Your camera looks like a very well cared for!

Steven Tribe
5-Dec-2014, 07:58
Your camera looks like a very well cared for!

I didn't find the new set of photographs until to-day. These de-luxe Reisekameras were often a prestige purchase and the man/woman in the house often didn't manage to use them much before the smaller formats bacame popular. Having the original set and the canvas storage bag helps!

You have to be a bit careful with the tripod legs. These have spike ends which are really only stable on earth, gravel - not concrete or wood floors. Some have added chains/rope which restrict how much the legs can move outwards.

Have you checked the plate holders for film sheaths/reduction frames?

5-Dec-2014, 08:48
Shutters 1 & 2 differ very slightly (apart from being different makes), the casing's stronger in the between lens type, often when the front mounting ones are used between the lens & lens board the panel splits, it's usually much thinner wood. In addition the front mounting ones don't take an interchangeable front panel to allow use of different lenses.

In the UK once the Thornton Pickard roller blind shutters became available most new field cameras were sold with them mounted to the lens board. They can vary in size from around 1½" up to 5" although larger ones are much less common particularly over about 3".


5-Dec-2014, 15:35
I know that this is off-topic, and won't affect your use, but the camera looks very much like an English Gandolfi -- the best that you could buy! It might have been bought and re-labeled by ICA as their premier model.

6-Dec-2014, 16:12

@ Steven:
Thanks for the tipp with the tripod... but there is already a fixation by design:

And I didn't check every plate holder after you mentioned it... there is a reduction frame in each of it from 24x30 cm to 18x24 cm:

@ Ian:
I now ordered two roller blind shutters - one which can be mounted to the lens board, the other which is for in front of the lens. :-)

@ Bill / Wilhelm:
Yes, when doing a picture search for "Gandolfi Camera" one can see, they look almost the same... but in many details they differ. All aplication on the ICA are nickel or brass nickel coated, the machanics to open / close the camera is inside of the body by the ICA, etc. But there is no doubt, they coped a lot of each other ;)

cheers - Chrigu

John Kasaian
6-Dec-2014, 18:57
Whoa! That's a big camera! :)
As a practical matter, I'd suggest attaching a plate to the bottom with a 1/4-20 threaded hole to accommodate a modern tripod. I think you will find it more stable as well as keeping the original tripod in pristine condition.
Just a thought.

Steven Tribe
8-Dec-2014, 11:16
I have a name for you! ICA Kosmopolit!

Ian has just posted a link to 3 very large ICA Catalogues. The first one shows a Nussbaum camera which is yours - or a later version of yours. They seem to have given up the large size you have (24x30)-

10-Dec-2014, 05:02

Thx for this Information Steven, Ian and Daniel - it's great to have at least a name for my camera :-)
But it's interessting that google finds no further information for ICA Kosmopolit / Zeiss Kosmopolit :-/

But it slightly differs in some details:
- wood: I'm not a wood-specialist, but the color doesn't look like nuttree (Nussbaum), it is imho to red... but the wood could be stained
- the bellows-fabric of my camera is imho leather and not kaliko
- there is a 3rd hinge for adjustment of the backplate
- the support of the lensboard looks different
- there are some other details which differ... I guess it's a later version of this camera (or an early one)...

Here (http://www.ukcamera.com/classic_cameras/Kamerahersteller/zeiss.htm) and here (http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/zeiss/kosmo/kosmo.htm) they mention the ICA/Zeiss Kosmopolit was sold from 1927-1934 - but this seams strange, because it's mentioned in the ICA catalogue from 1919. But I guess the Kosmopolit was an ICA model continued under the new brand Zeiss and was sold under this label from 1927-1934... but I couldn't find any other Information exept the one mentioned in the two catalogs posted here to the Kosmopolit... I hoped for more, once I know the name... but never mind, I'm now organizing everything to make my first shots between christmas and new year's eve... hope I'll get everything ready until then :-)

cheers - Chrigu

PS: I'll try to take some Pictures of the mentioned details soon...

11-Dec-2014, 02:51
If I get a chance I'll check the BJP Almanac adverts for ICA and Zeiss Ikon and see if the camera's listed in any of them. Some have quite a few pages of Zeiss Ikon cameras.