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Contarex Gas
Old 10-11-2012   #1
maitani
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Contarex Gas

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Old 10-11-2012   #2
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I've always wanted one too. I love old cameras in general, but can't afford any, and the Contarex has a reputation as a model that usually does not work after all these years. Service for them is said to be very expensive compared to Japanese SLRs.
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Old 10-11-2012   #3
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thanks Chris,

I saw some jaw dropping wet prints at a friends place, he swears by the contarex lenses, he's convinced they're even better than leitz, I'll take it with a grain of salt.

although I find they are similar to contax rangefinder lenses build and quality wise, but they are just beautiful.
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Old 10-11-2012   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maitani View Post
thanks Chris,

I saw some jaw dropping wet prints at a friends place, he swears by the contarex lenses, he's convinced they're even better than leitz, I'll take it with a grain of salt.

although I find they are similar to contax rangefinder lenses build and quality wise, but they are just beautiful.
Everything I have read about them says they were better than Leica lenses in the 1960s. Modern ASPH leica lenses may be better, but they're modern computer-designed lenses. That said, with 35mm gear, there is a real limit to the quality you'll actually get because the films are less sharp than the lenses, especially with higher speed films like Tri-X that most of us prefer.
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Old 10-11-2012   #5
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The Contarex is a joy to shoot, but has unique user ergonomics as well as unique issues for service.

The models are different (of course). I find the Bullseye too bulky, and loved the sleekness of the later models. The EE is a joy to use.

The lenses are great too.

And heavy.

I'd say get one, but pay wisely (i.e. since you are only wanting to try one out, don't pay crazy collector prices). You'll recover your investment although film camera prices are soft.
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Old 10-11-2012   #6
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I think the C Rex experience is very worthwhile. I enjoyed it very much, and regret selling mine.
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Old 10-11-2012   #7
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Naaah, do it. You only live once.

The lenses are awesome. As Chriscrawfordphoto alluded to, they are among the best ever made, particularly for their time period (see Erwin Puts here: http://www.imx.nl/photo/zeiss/zeiss/page67.html) & are obviously capable of producing great results today (which accounts for their current astronomical prices, probably driven by mirrorless users).

The bodies are a little quirky (though some of the quirks, like controlling aperture via a dial on the body, were actually ahead of their time), but easy to use & the interchangeable magazine feature can be handy. The main thing Zeiss Ikon lagged on was the lack of an automatic aperture diaphragm, which means no depth of field preview (after the shutter is released, the aperture diaphragm stays at the chosen aperture & opens up only when the film is advanced & the shutter wound). My favorite models are the most stripped down, the Special & Professional.

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Please stop me before it's too late, and talk it out of me
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 10-11-2012   #8
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Three years ago I saw a collection of about 9 Contarex lenses (including the 85 Sonnar in black as were most of the other lenses) go for $1100 on the bay. Someone was very very lucky that day. The Contarex is one of the cameras I would love to have besides my F2. I have had several Contaflexes in my time and even the lowly Contaflexes are absolutely incredible. I have seen where some folks have converted the lenses to F mount fixed aperture rigs.
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Old 10-11-2012   #9
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I have been using a Contarex Bullseye (first version) with a 50/2 Planar. The colors are awesome in the images, and the sharpness is also very high. You may need to first work out your "wrist muscles" and exercise your back so that the weight is manageable!

I would stick to this combo: camera+50/2. The 35mm is either slow or very costly. Take your pick.
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Old 10-11-2012   #10
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The Contarex series is awesome, and I will not dispute that, so go for it if you have the cash and can get your hand on a camera is good shape.

As a (slightly) alternative view, you may also want to consider the Contax/Yashica line. Some of the earlier "Made in Germany," AE-series lenses are in fact the identical lens formula as the Contarex lenses, although not all of the Contarex lenses are available in C/Y mount. The "plus" on that choice are the more modern camera bodies and the (generally) lower prices for the lenses, and the fact that Zeiss still repairs/services these lenses.
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Old 10-12-2012   #11
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Thanks for all the great input, I'll have my eyes open on some of the flea markets for thos contarex gems (I saw they command hyper expensive collectors prices nowdays.. thought they were cheaper...)

so, thanks for bringing me back to my senses....

...I just fell for an irresistible vintage F (never had a roll thru...) pretty speechless..

have been waiting for this forever

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Old 10-12-2012   #12
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Enjoy your F. It looks beautiful.
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Old 10-12-2012   #13
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wow wow wow, beautiful black F.
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Old 10-12-2012   #14
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Nice, congrats.

My only black F is the complete opposite (used by a photojournalist in Detroit & looks the part), but beautiful in its own way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maitani View Post
Thanks for all the great input, I'll have my eyes open on some of the flea markets for thos contarex gems (I saw they command hyper expensive collectors prices nowdays.. thought they were cheaper...)

so, thanks for bringing me back to my senses....

...I just fell for an irresistible vintage F (never had a roll thru...) pretty speechless..

have been waiting for this forever

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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 10-12-2012   #15
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The Contarex looks lovely...I'd be willing to buy one, but I haven't got that kind of money just sitting around. I'd be better served putting that into 4x5 or 8x10 lenses, personally.

One 35mm SLR I do have GAS for is an Exakta.
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Old 01-07-2017   #16
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I am resurrecting this thread because I too just acquired some Contarex GAS and have been drooling over articles and image in the internet.

I would just love to acquire a fully working Contarex with silver 50mm Planar. I've seen some for sale with the black "blitz" Planar which I think is a later barrel design but am not sure I would prefer that (aesthetically) against the silver version.

Questions:

Should I avoid bodies that come with interchangeable backs only and not the standard back? I heard they are a bear to load and may be susceptible to light leaks.

Also, I can't tell by my research if these interchangeable backs accept standard 35mm film cassettes or do they have to be bulk-loaded with Zeiss film canisters? I've read some online manuals but it's not very clear to me.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 01-07-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raydm6 View Post
Also, I can't tell by my research if these interchangeable backs accept standard 35mm film cassettes or do they have to be bulk-loaded with Zeiss film canisters? I've read some online manuals but it's not very clear to me.
They take any standard cassette or Contax reloadable slide-open cassettes (not Nikon or Leica).
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Old 01-07-2017   #18
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The popular bullseye is the world's most annoying camera to use. Fidling with the aperture control, the crappy meter, the annoying interlock (it locks the exposures beyond the range of the meter) , and it's heavy...
People put up with it because the lenses were awesome
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Old 01-07-2017   #19
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Contarex cameras are not all that reliable,
and its very difficult to find a tech who will work on them.

If you like their lenses, shoot them in a mirrorless.
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Old 01-08-2017   #20
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I had a Bullseye for awhile. Essex serviced it (b4 getting blown away by the hurricane). It was a beast when I got it, remained a best when I put a few rolls through it, and still a beast when I sold it. A camera that demands you to bend to it; not the other way round. This particular model (circa '65) scratched my glasses (earlier ones with a more plastic at the eyepiece will not). The contarex lens (a 50 planar), mechanically, was the best lens I have ever used. So smooth in operation. Optically it wasn't shabby either. A unique shooting experience. I still think the Special is one of the prettiest cameras made.
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Old 01-08-2017   #21
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Since I'm very happy with ZEISS Rolleiflex SL35 lenses, I definitely don't suggest to avoid Contarex lenses, but it's worth mentioning that after more than half a century they're not faultless; particularly the «shin oil» dilemma:
http://www.zeisscamera.com/services_...contarex.shtml
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