View Full Version : Zeiss-Ikon Contessa LKE
Hey, Does anyone on this forum use one of these classic 1960's Rangefinders? Have one coming from Ebay, does anyone have/know of where there is a downloadable manual too? How do you like the photos it makes? Thanks in advance.:)
I have a closely related sibling, an SLK. other than some of the controls being in different places, it looks identical to an LKE. Zeiss-Ikon product designations can be really puzzling if you are not famiiar with them.
Mine is in the process of being repaired now, but I have other cameras with this West German Tessar lens. It is very nice. If you find a manual let us know.
I have just recently acquired a Contessa LKE and a Contessamatic E. Have not gotten around shooting film with either of them yet. I am interested in making a lens performance comparison between the two. The Contessamatic E appears to have unit cell focusing (entire lens asy moves), whereas the lens on the LKE is focused by rotation of the front element. Sorry, but I do not have a user manual for the LKE or even the Contessamatic E.
The following is a site where you can download a manual for the the Zeiss Contessamat SE which is a similar model:
The manual is in German.
It just arrived today, I'm impressed. For one of Zeiss's "cheap" models it's built like a "brick sh*#house". Most of the controls seem pretty intuitive, but I can't figure out the grooved lever on the left top-side? The whole camera is very German Precision made and the viewfinder is very clear.
Thanks for the manual URL, wish I understood German.
Hope to put some film through it tomorrow and I'll post a shot. Happy me :D
Is the grooved lever the hinged cover for the flash sync connector? Some of their resated models have them and others do not.
I've tried prying at it with my fingernail, pulling, pushing and twisting. If it's hinged, I can figure out where?
Also, now I've found a sliding switch on the lens that's a mystery too. Has a "Y" , then an "X" in the middle and an "M" on the other end of it's travel.
Are you sure that the "Y" is not a "V" for self-timer? The "X" and "M" on my Retina's are for electronic flash sync and "M" type bulb sync. "V" is the self-timer, borrowed from a German word, which i cannot remember off-hand.
Brian's right. Mine has a VXM switch on the lens for sync and self-timer.
As to the grooved lever, I suggested the switch cover because some pictures I have seen have a sync connector at that same location while others have the grooved lever. In one picture (all on the web) one camera had the lever at a 90 degree angle to where the others had it, and a hole in the top directly underneath.
Mine has a sync connector there, but no lever. Have tried lifting up and rotating at the same time?
I believe the "grooved lever" you are referring to is the release for setting the film speed. Pushing in on it and holding it in allows you to rotate the narrow ring immediately in front. Match the red indicator line to the appropriate speed DIN (on left side) or ASA (on right side).
Oops1 I may be thinking about a different lever. The one I was describing is the one on the top cover next to the flash sync connector. It is described in the German Contessamat SE Manual as being related to the flash. Sorry for adding to the confusion.
Well, here's a photo of the top of the LKE. The film counter/shutter release (going left to right in this shot), flash shoe, exposure meter and the infamous "grooved lever" is on the right. It sits directly about the film cartridge, but seems to have nothing to do with the film release. Hope this helps.
I now understand the"VXM" on the lens lever, thanks.
OK, now compare the top of your LKE to the picture of the top of the Contessa in this link.
Well,while it is somewhat similar, the link is a Contessamat SE, not a Contessa and the photo of the Contessamat shows a "pivot point" in the middle of it's lever. The Contessa LKE has no pivot point, and turning/twisting/lifting have produced nothing so far but worn fingernails - LOL.
Since I haven't tried a flash, I'm not sure what it's for yet. I do know the selenium powered meter is not working, but isn't a problem, since both "Sunny 16" and my Sekonic meter do work.;)
On most Contessas, Tenax etc. that "grooved lever" is actually the cover over the connection points for flash photos. I think you'll find that once you get it open, the pc terminal is on the right, and a port for a pin type connector is on the left. Now as to how to open it,... I honestly believe a finger nail inserted beneath the center of the cap and a considerable amount of force will lift it up. Hope this helps and you don't lose any finger nails in the process. Curt in Canada.
It's off, and it's actually a removable plastic cover (looks like it had never been off) for the flash sync cord. You were all correct, it just comes all the way off and doesn't pivot
Now to go finish this roll of Fuji 400 in it and see what kind of results it produces.
You may have to wiggle it toward the front of the camera then toward the back as you attempt to lift the cap. The cap itself should have two legs: one pin style and one tube shaped to go over the pc terminal. Both my Symbollica and Tenax Automatic have these terminals in this position.
Yes, I had to use a thin knife blade and was very careful not to scratch or break the plastic cover (I first thought it was metal). Being 40 years old, the plastic might be a bit brittle, like my even older bones - LOL.
The RF focus's real easy and the viewfinder is nice and clean. The 50mm f2.8 Tessar lens looks spotless, so I'm hoping the test prints come through sharp :p
I ran the film through the Contessa and had it developed at Kit's 1 hours, just to see if all was well "functionally". YES, sharp prints, from edge to edge! :D
Even with cheap 400asa print film I really like what I'm looking at. I'm a believer in Carl Zeiss now.
Next I'll have to shoot it with Velvia mounted on a tripod and really impress myself - LOL.
And to think it's only slightly taller than my Canonet QL17.
Here's another Contessa test shot- Fuji 400 Superia, scan from print.
I've got a contessa LKE with its shutter stuck open. Is it worth going on with? Can anything be done?
Yep, the shutters of the contessas are pretty easy to CLA
All you need is patience, a good set of mini screwdrivers and a bottle of Ronsonol
Thanks for that Titrisol. You don't happen to have seen any step by step instructions anywhere for this sort of operation do you?
Unfortunately not...... I have done it a few times but have not taken the time/effort to document it.
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