View Full Version : Contax IIa/IIIa : Black Dial / Color Dial ?
since I wasn't able to find an answer around, I thought I'd ask to our "Contax Connoisseurs Finest" ;)
I was wondering what difference(s) are they between the postwar Contaxes "black dial" and "color dial" cameras. Is it just something aesthetic and that helps people in knowing if the camera is early/late production, or are there any other particularities known between black/color dial versions of the IIa/IIIa Contaxes produced by Zeiss-Ikon Stuttgart ?
The mechanical difference is primarily in the flash sync (color dial is standard PC connection, black dial is a proprietary Zeiss Ikon connector). If you don't intend to use flash, save some money & get a black dial.
Stephen Gandy describes the difference here:
I went black dial as I can't imagine ever using a flash with it, and they are less expensive.
The flash sync in the color dials is rather complicated from what I've been reading, and if not "prone to failure," does present many places for failure to happen.
I've a color-dial myself, and it's never failed me (I'll use flash: heck, I'll use flash on my large format camera!).
The 1366 synchotron schalter for the BD is quite an interesting device, very Zeiss. The pin on the camera fires with a 20 ms delay for bulb flashes. The 1366 solves this in a very pecular, German way - the pin strikes a metal ribbon and a wave propogates along the ribbon to close the flash synch 20 ms later!
Now there's a "Contax connaisseur" factoid...
Thanks to you all for the prompt answer :)
I never used a flash on any camera, so I'm not going to bother about any kind of cord sync, the simpler the better! Now I need to finally make up my mind between postwar/prewar ... seems like I'm leaning towards postwar.... but I know that I'll end up with a postwar AND a prewar... cruel world of GAS!
Oh they look so cute and huggable...
I am not a connaisseur and even less a finest, but I assume you want to speak of the #1361 Schalter ? The #1366 Synchron-Shalter is designed for electronic flashes and used at 1/25s or less on the "BD body", and of course without any firing delay.
Too bad you never saw your #1366 in the flesh... :p
You are mistaken mon ami. The pin on the camera fires 20 ms before the shutter opens. 1361 has no delay since the camera is already firing too early. The 1366 adds another 20 ms of time so the flash fires when the shutter is open.
It has to be this way. The 1361 could not be designed so it fired a bulb before the pin on the body engaged it. Check Rick's notes on the 1366.
It is indeed a pity this German seller disasppeared when I got his 1366 off ebay for a price he didn't like.
What I need to get a mental handle on, is why you set a 20ms delay on the IIIf RD with 1/50 and it synchs. Otherwise 0ms delay and 1/25.
I guess because 1/50 = 20 ms? The shutter is fully open some 20 ms earlier than the next speed?
I enjoy the constructive approach of Contax users :)
Anyway, using an electronic flash at 1/50s rather than at 1/25s doesn't make any difference at all in practical use as for the fill-in concerns in daylight situations.
...except that at 1/25, the background will be even more blown out than it is at 1/50.
Plus, the movement of the subject is "frozen" by the strobe and not by the camera shutter. So, using flash at 1/25s can allow you to get "frozen" movements, as if you had used a very fast shutter speed without flash.
This is true only if there is little to no ambient light. You can get a ghost image or trail, depending on subject/camera movement, in addition to the "frozen" one.
I agree these are not really flash cameras. The Leica Manual 1953 says for the red dial variant of the IIIf:
1/25 set delay 0ms
1/50 set delay 20ms
That's just why using flash with a vintage RF camera is quite uninteresting (beyond personal taste matter) in most situations, and probably why Leica never bothered with changing things re. the X-synchro speed on the M, from the M3 to the M6 TTL.
Non-vintage, even plebian, RF cameras like the Canonet had been sychronizing flash at all speeds up to an indicated 1/500 from day 1. More "exclusive" models like the Contax G, Konica Hexar RF, the current Bessas and Zeiss Ikon, even with their focal plane shutters, still have more reasonable sync speeds than the Leica M, the G2 even did it at 1/200.
The fact is, for the past 30 years, Leica practically "never bothered with" anything that don't cut costs on the M body -- the endless special editions and "a la carte" being major exceptions, of couse.
Oh you got a National PE too ? I've got a PE-2556 but I hardly ever used it, I'll send it to my girlfriend in California (with a Praktica PLC 2, 50mm and 135mm), she's going to enjoy using it :)
Anyway I rather prefer not to use flash, ever. Here is a shot I took at f:2 and 1/5s, handheld, with my Contax IIa and its CZJ Sonnar 50/2 on Fuji Reala in last December. The flash would have ruined the picture IMO.
Nicholas, that is a beautiful image, and in my opinion, really takes advantage of the smooth OOF that the Zeiss Sonnars are famous for. Tricky exposure too, it would have been very easy to overexpose the highligts.
Tres belle, mon ami!
Well Z started the lightrace in 35 mm photograpy, and with better lenses than there compitors. However solving electronic problems was not there big thing.
(Just look on the result of digital trys) My Contax II have a factory built in later flash contact. And it was supposed to works with bulbs only.....and on 1/50 and slower with old and fast electronics. Peter Henning had a fuss to make it work again since it was always on..... But 1:1,5 by 1:2,8 is fast with todays film material.
Stay out of flash and conentrate on the light....
The colour dial versions can suffer from problems with the shutter not releasing. This is because of one of the changes made to include the flash sync and is in the shutter release mechanism (not the shutter itself). It's an easy fix once you've got at it but to get at it requires a complete strip down (removal of the focussing mechanism and rangefinder and pulling the shutter assembly from the housing). I've heard horror stories of people trying to fix the problem without stripping it down - it won't work.
Basically, the BD versions are simpler and more reliable and are my choice. Also post-war over pre-war. The post-war ones can have more problems like shutter tapering but if they are serviced and setup properly (which most aren't) then they are the best bet.
When buying one, assume it needs servicing unless the seller specifically says it's been recently done. Never believe the people who say the shutter 'sounds appropriate' - it's complete b*****ks.
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