Joel Dardis, May 1942, Camera

We found this image below tucked away in the 1946 Naranjado yearbook of the College of the Pacific in Joel’s book case. Joel’s name and address are in the yearbook directory, confirming he enrolled in college after his military service in WWII.

The writing on the back of this glossy print indicates May 1942, so quite fitting for the period of negatives we’re discussing. Photographer of this image is unknown but it’s safe to assume a peer SJC or COP photographer.

Unidentified student with Joel Dardis holding lightmeter and camera.

The light meter Joel is using in the above image is a Nuvo Rix, a basic wide angle incident light meter from the 1930’s, manufactured in Germany.

Nuvo Rix Light meter, in original box, made in Germany, circa 1938-1939

Identifying the camera gave me some trouble, as I was looking at US models. When I submitted the question to a Vintage Camera group on Meta, the answer came swift, a Zeiss Ikon Trona camera, equally manufactured in Germany.

And yes, this is a special model for the US and British market for 8.5 x 11 cm film holders, or in US terms, 3 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ press format. In Europe, one would use 9 x 12 cm sheet film, slightly larger than the Imperial press format, but still smaller than the 4″ x 5″ US format. (Press format is quarter size plate format.)

My friends at Pacific Rim Camera shop have a few good close up shots of what a Trona would have looked like at the time on their website. (This is not Joel’s actual camera, which whereabouts are unknown. The image below are from a different camera, same model.)

Zeiss Ikon Trona Camera, image courtesy Pacific Rim Camera.

It’s pretty clear that using a camera requires a different workflow than what we grew up with. But it would be safe to say that this camera would be perfectly usable nowadays, as well as in the future, as long as there is film to fit a holder.

Zeiss Ikon Trona Camera, image courtesy Pacific Rim Camera.

Image above shows the camera open with wireframe “sports finder” extended for quick framing. The original box with carrying case is included and a sheet pack film holder can be seen at front right.

Zeiss Ikon Trona Camera, image courtesy Pacific Rim Camera.

Same camera, just view from the rear. The ground glass with viewer is still tucked in.

The Trona is a metal bodied folding plate camera, with double extension bellows, and screw controlled front rise and shift. We can clearly see on Joel’s camera the dial set Compur shutter, typically fitted with a Zeiss Tessar lens.

It’s safe to say that this camera is pre-1930 as after 1930, the shutter would be a rim set Compur. This particular model would have been the 210/5 in the Zeiss Catalog, somewhere after 1926. ( Earlier ICA models, prior to the Zeiss take-over, had rectangular wireframe, different than the notched wire frame Joel has on his camera in the May 1942 picture.)

This was either a gently used camera or Joel inherited this camera from his father, veterinarian Thomas Lawrence Dardis, who passed away in 1933 and was known to photograph.

The image below is equally a Zeiss Ikon Trone but with the rim set Compur shutter and a Zeiss Tessar lens, this is 1930 and later.

Post 1930 Zeiss Ikon Trona rim set Compur shutter. The rear viewer is folded open.

The image at the top of the post are 5 puppies from Butch, the family dog, sometime in 1942. Not sure how Joel managed to keep them quite and in place, it’s a super power !

Cute !

Pacific Rim Camera Zeiss Ikon Trona Page

Next blog post we’ll look at more puppies and stained glass windows and … al photographed on a Zeiss Ikon Trona !

Cheers !

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