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Zeiss Ikon Cameras

The Zeiss Ikon Company was formed in 1926 as a part of the Carl Zeiss Foundation. Zeiss Ikon was a merger of four German camera manufacturers: Contessa-Nettel, Ernemann, Goerz, and Ica. The new company was funded by the Carl Zeiss optical company with the understanding that all new cameras produced by Zeiss Ikon would use Carl Zeiss lenses. Other camera manufacturers soon joined Zeiss Ikon, and the company became a large business in Dresden with plants in Stuttgart and Berlin.

Zeiss Ikon produced box, folding, and 35mm cameras. They were especially known for their folding and folding 35mm cameras, all using high-quality Zeiss lenses. After World War II, the West German branch of Zeiss Ikon continued to operate out of Stuttgart. As folding cameras fell out of favor in the '50s, Zeiss Ikon produced rigid lens versions of its popular camera models including the Ikonta, Contina, and Contessa. Zeiss Ikon merged with Voightlander, another Zeiss subsidiary, in the '60s. Zeiss/Voightlander stopped producing cameras in 1972.

The East German branch of Zeiss Ikon operated out of Dresden. The company became state owned in 1948 and struggled with many lawsuits over Zeiss trademarks. The company was renamed VEB Kinowerke Dresden in 1958 and later became a part of Pentacon.

Quick Facts

  • Zeiss Ikon produced cameras to compete in every area of the camera market. They had models to answer every technological advance by other companies including Leica and Kodak
  • In 2004, Japanese camera company Cosina brought back the Zeiss Ikon name, producing the Zeiss Ikon Rangefinder. Cosina produced cameras under the Zeiss Ikon name until 2012
  • A Zeiss Ikon Contax 1a, the first Zeiss Ikon 35mm rangefinder camera, is worth $1,800 to $1,900 to collectors today

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