Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ICA Minimum Palmos

Ica Minimum Palmos
CA Minimum Palmos by Raúlm

Some history
This camera has been in my family for, at least, three generations.
My grandfather used it in his honeymoon, he passed it to my father, that never used it, he had it only for display, my father gave it to me on my birthday in 2008.

This camera was produced by ICA A.G. between 1909 and 1926. Before that it was made by Palmos A.G. Jena, a camera company owned by Carl Zeiss Jena, since 1902.
ICA A.G. Dresden (International Camera A.G.) was formed in 1909 by the merger of several camera companies:
Palmos A.G. Jena, Wünsche Dresden, R. Hüttig & Sohn Berlin and Dr. R. Krugener Frankfurt a.M. 
A few years later G. Zulauf and Co. Zurich. merged to ICA A.G.
When Zeiss Ikon A.G. started it's operations in 1926, it was the end of ICA A.G.

Ica Minimum Palmos
ICA Minimum Palmos by Raúlm

Ica Minimum Palmos Model B (#456)
Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar f=15cm 1:4,5

Lens shift and 90º rotation
Helicoid focusing front element
Strut folding camera 

Leather bellows
Vertical cloth focal plane shutter 1/15-1/1000
9x12cm sheet film

This is a very compact camera, for a 9x12 sheet camera. It presents an impressive range of shutter speeds due to it's focal plane shutter

Ica Minimum Palmos
Top view, shutter speeds table

Shutter speed selection 
Using the table, on a brass plaque on the camera top plate, we can read, on the left column, the curtain gap size, and on the top row the number that stands for the tension of the spring. 
The shutter speeds on the table are the result of these two factors. 
Once the shutter speed is chosen we have to read the table to determine the curtain gap size and  the tension necessary to select it.
Using the big black round knob, on top, to wind the shutter and also to chose the curtain gap. 
Behind the big window, covered with an acetate, there is a gear with a series of holes, identified with the curtain gap sizes. Select it by pushing and turning the knob.
Then using the small silver coloured knob, on bottom left, and reading the number in the tiny window above it, we select the tension. It only travels clockwise.
Ica Minimum Palmos
Side view, shutter controls
To reset the tension use the smaller black knob, bottom right, marked M and Z.
The shutter release is that black protruding prong above the reset knob.

This operation must be carried out without the plate holder or with it in place but protected by the dark slide, hence the shutter it isn't self capping.

Composing and Focusing
To compose the picture we can use the magnificent ground glass or the very useful, for hand held pictures, sports finder:

Ica Minimum Palmos
Back view with ground glass assembly and raised sports finder
The ground glass is priceless for precise focusing.
With the sports finder the distance has to be guestimated.

The ground glass assembly includes a set of shades, better viewed in the following picture:

Ica Minimum Palmos

Ground glass shades on display

That folds neatly, when not in use:

Ica Minimum Palmos
Double sided plate holder and folded ground glass assembly

and displays, embossed in the magnificent leather cover, the ICA logo:

Ica Minimum Palmos
Logo displayed in ground glass cover

Plate holders
The camera as two plate holders one double sided, one plate on each side the other is for using with some kind of cartridge. I confess that I couldn't find any info about the latter.

Ica Minimum Palmos
ICA Minimum Palmos kit by RaúlM.
The double sided plate holder is on top of the one using cartridges(?) 

Ica Minimum Palmos
 lens default position
Ica Minimum Palmos
 lens rotated 90º and shifte

Shift lens
The lens that rotates ninety degrees allows, very limited, shift movements.

ICA Minimum Palmos in action
This picture of my grandparents, during their honeymoon, in July of 1929, was taken with this camera:

Help me identify the camera on the bench
My grandparents in their honeymoon, July 1929

I have only a copy of a print that, god knows when, someone partially colourized, with crayons.
On the bench next to my grandmother is, what I think, a movie camera. If anyone can identify it, I would appreciate it.

Edit - Thanks to Fulvue the movie camera was identified as a Pathe Motocamera from 1928, what adds up, this picture was taken in mid July 1929.

This is one picture taken by me to include in my project "I, me and my cameras".

Not a very good one, I'm afraid, but if we want we can squeeze pictures from a centennial camera, like this:

Me and ICA Minimum Palmos
Me and ICA Minimum Palmos by RaúlM.

Stay tuned (o;


  1. Fabulosa, mestre Raúl! Adorei...

  2. Obrigado Raúl.
    Para mim o melhor desta máquina é a história familiar.
    Não é toda a gente que se pode gabar de ter a máquina que o avô levou na viagem de núpcias e fotos do evento.