Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Zeiss Ikon Ermanox and Ermanox Reflex

The Ermanox was the pride of the Ernemann line. It was not the cameras that were special. It was the lenses, massive pieces of glass with speeds of f/2 or f/1.8. With their focal plane shutters, they made available light photojournalism a real possibility. Erich Salomon made the camera famous by shooting candid pictures of famous people and events that were inaccessible to those with larger cameras requiring the use of flash. The entire line was carried over into the Zeiss catalog. They can be broken down into three models:

The Ermanox 858 is a rigid bodied camera for 4.5 x 6cm plates, the 4.5 x 6cm size not carrying a suffix in the Zeiss numbering system. It was fitted with a 85/2 or 85/1.8 Ernostar lens. It has a focal plane shutter with speeds from 20-1200, and the lens focuses using a large helical. Focus is by scale focus, quite a trick with the limited depth of field provided when the lens is wide open, framing is done with a folding optical finder. This model was discontinued in 1931, made obsolete by the Leica and the soon to be released Contax.

The second model would also carry the Ermanox name and 858 catalog number, but was a strut folding camera very similar to the Ernemann Klapp, but with the monster Ernostar 1.8 lens. They were available as 858/3 for 6.5 x 9cm, the 858/7 for 9 x 12cm, 858/9 for 10 x 15cm and the giant 858/11 for 13 x 18cm. None of these models are common today, production ceasing in 1927, but the larger sizes, especially the 858/9 and 858/11 are extremely rare.

The final model of Ermanox was the Ermanox Reflex. It was like the 858, except it had reflex viewing. The top of the camera had a folding viewing hood. It was the same format, 4.5 x 6cm, and had the same focal plane shutter 20-1200 as the 858. It was fitted with a slightly longer 105/1.8 Ernostar in the same style focus helical used on the 828. It could also be had with a 2.7 lens for a lower cost. This model was discontinued in 1929.

The Ermanox, with a Zeiss Ikon name tag. Note the finder still carries the Ernamann name. Probably from parts made before the 1926 merger.