Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel (536/24) 1934-37

Tomei Collection

The Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel was first produced in late 1934 with the Tessar lens for £20 (equivalent to about £975.00 today), and from 1935-37 with the f/3.5 50mm Triotar as shown here for £18 12s (about £900.00 today).  It was built with a light die cast aluminum alloy and had a detachable back which made it very easy to load and keep clean as well.  It had a reliable metal focal plane shutter with speeds from 1/5 to 1/1000 sec and B which were set by lifting and rotating the film advance knob.  The coupled rangefinder used the rotating wedge design as employed in the Super Ikonta and Contax models.  During its relatively brief three year production it filled an important niche in the burgeoning market for high quality miniature 35mm cameras.



The Super Nettel was introduced almost two years before the Contax II and incorporated the new rotating wedge rangefinder design before it appeared in the new Contax models.  Although it did not have interchangeable lenses, a plate back with ground glass focusing was available as with the Contax models.  At a cost of over $1750.00, the Super Nettel was not cheap by any measure although the far more flexible Contax I could set one back the equivalent of $2700.00.  So, references to being a "poor man's Contax" seem a bit of a stretch but not much.

However, it has been claimed that this model was introduced as an "ingenious hybrid" (as Tubbs comments) of the Contax I and Super Ikonta cameras.  None the less, both the Super Nettel and its successor the Super Nettel II had been discontinued by 1938 eclipsed by the success of the Contax and Super Ikonta designs.

This example appears to have been built in 1935 based on the lens' serial number.  It is important to ensure that the serial number on the body matches that engraved on the separate back.





There has always been some debate over which lens is best, the four element Tessar or the three element Triotar.  Of course, the Tessar lenses are known for their exceptional sharpness.  Whereas, the Triotar is less sharp, being somewhat a soft-focus lens preferred for portrait work.  Both lenses are excellent and have different characteristics depending on their intended use.  The crisp sharpness of the Tessar isn't always desirable.  For the collector, however, performance isn't often terribly important and the cameras equipped with the Tessar still cost a bit more, just as they did in 1935.  It's unfortunate that the lenses are not interchangeable on this model.