August 26, A Couple of Exposure Tests, or More Than You Wanted to Know About My Old Ica Icarette

The old (probably 1920) Ica Icarette 6×6 that I recently acquired is in incredibly good condition for a camera this old, but it’s not perfect as you might expect. I wasn’t terribly surprised to find out that the slow speeds (those below 1/100th) are way off.

Circa 1920 Ica Icarette 6×6

On first shooting the camera, it seemed like the faster speeds (1/100th and 1/300th) were pretty close. Yesterday I tested just the 1/100th shutter setting using Arista (Foma) 100 on a bright sunny day in Reno and it seems spot on. The f/16 shots were pretty perfectly exposed. The f/18 shots were slightly underexposed and the f/12.5 shots were slightly overexposed.

The aperture stops are not discreet and are infinitely variable, not only that but some of the stops are about a millimeter apart and the font size is about a millimeter tall. Nonetheless, I’m fairly certain that I hit the stops pretty closely.

The Icarette was made for 117 film not 120. 117 is the same size film as 120 but the spool has narrower flanges. To use 120 film in it I just cut down the flanges of the spool until they fit. I was a little confused when I found it very difficult to wind on the film past shot 10 or so until I learned that 117 film is only 6 shots of 6×6. These days I usually just shoot to shot 10, but the Foma 100 is pretty thin. I probably could have got 12 shots to this roll. You gotta love hindsight.

I’m only presenting a few shots here, as most of the roll was even less interesting than these. Still, I’m very impressed with the design, build quality, ease of use and condition of the camera. The 7.5cm Hekla f/6.8 seems quite nice, a real step up from the not bad lens in my almost as old Kodak Hawkeye. It’s probably too nice a lens for me, considering the lo-fi-ness of most of my shots.

I’m not sure yet what I think of the Foma 100. I don’t hate it, but I’m not yet very impressed with it. Nothing wrong with it, it just seems a little boring. I do enjoy that the highlights have a nice glow to them. I have a few more rolls of it that should tell me more.

Oh, this was developed in Artemisianol that I reused from developing another roll. I was under the impression that Artemisianol like I thought with Caffenol, doesn’t keep well. This is from a jar of Artemisianol that I had in the fridge for about a week. I did extend development time by 2 minutes to 17 minutes instead of 15. I’m going to keep trying to reuse artemisianol and see how many rolls I can develop from one batch.

1/100th at f/18
1/100th at f/12.5
1/100th at f/18
1/100th at f/12.5
1/100th at f/16

6 responses to “August 26, A Couple of Exposure Tests, or More Than You Wanted to Know About My Old Ica Icarette”

  1. Did you scan these on a regular (non-film) flatbed scanner with a lightpad over the negatives, as you said you have been doing for other rolls of 120 in recent posts? If so, I’m interested in your process. Are you scanning with the emulsion down (facing the scanner glass) or up (facing the lightpad)? Is the film touching the flatbed glass or do you have it elevated sightly? Likewise, is the lightpad surface touching the other side of the film, or do you have it raised above it a bit? Thanks for the information. I’m very curious how you’re doing this as your results here show it to be a promising method to scan medium format film for basic web resolutions, without needing to invest in a dedicated film scanner or some convoluted DSLR/mirrorless macro setup.


    1. Hi, Yes. I’m scanning with a Canon TS8220 flat bed scanner not designed for transparencies. The emulsion is usually facing up away from the scanner bed because I tape the pieces of film to a piece of white translucent acrylic. The film is resting on the glass.

      I’ve evolved this process over time and this is the way that seems to work best for me. I have taped the film to the acrylic the other side up and it works about the same. I use blue painters tape that doesn’t damage the film.

      I’ve noticed an unwanted texture in some scans. It may have to do with the emulsion side facing away from the scanner glass or it might be scratches in my acrylic. I may try a piece of glass soon.

      I do have a camera scanning setup that works well, I just don’t enjoy using it and the resolution difference isn’t noticeable for web stuff.


      1. Thanks for the detailed reply!

        Very interesting…

        So, the way you’re currently doing it, if I understand correctly, is you’ve got the film sandwiched between a piece/sheet of acrylic (I’m assuming smooth and clear, not opaque and/or textured) and the scanner glass, with the emulsion side towards the acrylic and the base towards the scanner glass. The film is not isolated from either the scanner glass surface or the acrylic, the latter of which it’s actually taped to; it’s in direct contact with both (i.e. truly sandwiched). And then on top of the acrylic is where you place the lightpad, obviously facing downwards, backlighting the film through the acrylic. Do I have all that right?

        I have a question about the scanner’s own internal light source. Do you have a way to turn it off, or is it always on when scanning, as though it’s scanning normally, like it would be if you were scanning a normal piece of paper?

        I think I see the “unwanted texture” you referred to, a kind of hatch mark/striation sort of thing. I agree with you that it might be scratches in the acrylic. It might also be an artifact caused by the scanner’s own light source, if it is indeed always on when you scan and can’t be turned off, which I imagine is the case. What I’m surprised by is that I don’t see any evidence of Newton rings, which is awesome.

        I’m going to keep a close eye on how you continue to evolve your process making scans with a regular, reflective flatbed. I’m already impressed.


        1. My pleasure!

          Probably pretty soon, and spurred by your interest, I’ll write an illustrated article on my process for scanning.

          You’ve got everything correct except that the acrylic is white translucent plastic, which may (or may not) work to my advantage.
          If I go to glass, I’ll try both clear and frosted.

          The light source in my scanner is not defeatable. I suspect now, that you’re correct and the textures are caused by the scanners light source.

          If I had the room, I would buy a separate dedicated scanner for transparencies and a printer that uses archival inks, but I don’t see a clear way to make room for both in our tiny house.


  2. I appreciate the additional info.

    If you do end up writing a post illustrating your process, that would be great!

    I think the translucent white acrylic is probably beneficial in that it better diffuses the lightpad’s LED array more evenly, but detrimental in that any imperfections on the side that’s directly touching the film will likely be much more apparent than an optically clear piece would be. With your scanner’s internal light source being illuminated during a scan, this issue is likely exaggerated as the bottom surface of the acrylic is being illuminated through the film base by the scanner’s light source and scanned reflectively, as though it were a piece of paper. I think this may be the root cause of the unwanted artifacts/texture you’re getting. Any scratches on the base side of the film itself, even if they’re tiny, could also be refracting light from the scanner’s light source, causing additional issues, but I think the acrylic is of greater concern in this regard.

    To possibly remedy part of this, it would be interesting to see what would happen if you put a piece of clear glass (preferably anti-Newton glass, if you’ve got some) between the film strip and the acrylic, effectively elevating the acrylic surface away from the film (and scanner glass) enough so it’s no longer in the focal plane of the scanner, thus eliminating (hopefully) any texture/imperfections in the acrylic from showing up in the scan. Of course, this might very well introduce a slew of other unforseen issues. It’s difficult to say without trying it. It’s just a thought… Eliminating the acrylic altogether and replacing it with a sheet of glass that’s smooth/clear on one side (the side that touches the film) and frosted on the other side (the side the lightpad sits on) would probably accomplish pretty much the same thing, assuming the piece of glass is thick enough.

    Even if you had the space, why buy more stuff if you can make what you’ve already got work? That’s where I’m at. And I think you’re well on your way to making this work.

    This is interesting stuff…

    Thanks again.


    1. Great points, thank you! I have lots of food for thought now.


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