Meet the Cameras: Certo Super Dollina II and King Regula IIb, Part II

In Part I, Your Humble Filmosaur looked at the two latest additions to the camera pile, erm, collection. Now here in Part II, we will take a gander at the photos these two cameras produce.

Why, you might ask, am I bothering with this sort of comparison? Well, the reason is that I decided to test both cameras out on the same day, taking the same photos under the same conditions with the same settings on the same film. I even developed them together in the same tank. Put simply, it is a relatively rare chance to compare photos from two different cameras without all the variables that often make such exercises of rather limited utility.

The conditions were generally sunny with a bit of haze visible at longer distances and a few clouds; as I was hiking in the woods, lighting was mixed and tended to be high contrast in areas under the trees. All the photos were taken between 11.00 and 16.00, so the sun was relatively high. The film was Kentmere 100, developed in Caffenol. Both cameras were disassembled and cleaned prior to use, and appeared to be working properly.

Focus was determined with the rangefinder on the Certo, then the range setting was transferred to the King. I did have to recollimate the lens on the Regula after cleaning (the front cell focusing design requires collimation any time the front element is removed), but the photos suggest that the focus was set correctly, so this is not a factor. Exposures were based on a shutter speed of 1/200, with all adjustments being made by opening or closing the aperture.

I selected four frames to use for the comparison. I will post them as pairs, with the photo from the Regula first, then the same scene taken with the Super Dollina. The photos have had dust removed and been straightened and cropped very slightly where necessary, and a few light scratches were removed from the Regula photos, but no other adjustments whatsoever have been made. As always, I suggest clicking the images to get a larger view.

Frame #1:

King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100

The basic character differences are fairly apparent in this shot. The Tessar on the Certo seems to transmit more light than the Ghenar. The Regula is considerably softer and shows substantially less contrast. The Super Dollina is tack-sharp and more uniform across the frame, whereas the Regula is sharpest on-center with significant softening in the corners.

Frame #2:

King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100

Again, the sharpness of the Tessar lens is pretty obvious. In this shot you can also see that the Ghenar lens on the Regula vignettes a fair bit. This was probably taken at around f/5.6, so it’s far from wide open. The Certo seems to reproduce a wider tonal range – look at the shadowed area on the rocks.

Frame #3:

King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100

The vignetting and softness of the Regula are apparent once again, but the overall darkness of the shot compared with the Super Dollina is surprising. The silhouette of the central tree is not exceptionally sharp in either shot – it was heavily backlit – but it is more well-defined in the second shot due to the greater contrast.

Frame #4:

King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
King Regula IIb, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100
Certo Super Dollina II, Kentmere 100

The last shot from each camera makes clear that the Certo produces a more modern looking, sharper, higher contrast photo, with greater separation between the in-focus foreground detail and the background. At the smaller aperture at which this was taken (f/8 or f/11), there is no apparent vignetting with the Regula. The quality of the out-of-focus areas is similar in both.

So what to make of all this? Well, it’s not exactly like I split the atom here; there are no great discoveries to be had by comparing a couple of cameras. But it is still pretty interesting if you happen to be into old cameras and film photography, I think. The look of these two lenses are rather distinctly different, and that means you can tailor the look of your photos by choosing the more appropriate equipment.

Impressive as the Zeiss Tessar on the Certo is, I’m oddly drawn toward look of the Ghenar on the Regula. The softness and imperfections of the latter are the sort of thing you just don’t get with modern lenses. Photos from the Super Dollina could be mistaken for something taken with a modern camera; that is not likely to be the case with shots from the Regula.

The simplicity of using the Regula, combined with the look it produces, suggest it might be a good camera for street photography; with ISO 400 film and set to f/8 or so, it could be easily set for zone focus and used as a point-and-shoot in mixed daytime lighting. The Certo seems better suited to the more methodical process of landscape photography, where the ergonomic weaknesses would be minimized and the lens could shine; the slow shutter speeds available mean that slow, fine-grained films could be utilized to maximize the resolution of the images.


2 thoughts on “Meet the Cameras: Certo Super Dollina II and King Regula IIb, Part II

  1. Great set of posts on these two cameras. I agree that the Ghenar lens has a charm to it that modern lenses lack. Thanks for doing the side by side. Few of us take the time to do this sort of comparison.

    1. Glad you found it useful. It’s the first properly formal test I’ve done; like many people, I’ve compared lens performance before, but never with the necessary rigor in controlling the variables. I was intrigued by the results, enough so that you might just see another test of some other equipment coming along sooner or later. Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.