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Zeiss Contax Forum for the classic Zeiss Contax I, II, III, IIa, IIIa , G series, and if you want to push it, the nice Contax point and shoots. Some spill over from the Kievs, the Soviet copy of the Contax II/III can also be expected. Plus the ONLY production camera ever made in classic Zeiss Contax Rangefinder mount WITH TTL metering ... the Voigtlander Bessa R2C.

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Old 12-21-2016   #441
Mr_Flibble
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The spring of the roller was wound about 7-1/2 turns by the way
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Old 12-21-2016   #442
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The spring of the roller was wound about 7-1/2 turns by the way
My works at 8 turns. I have try 5, but at slow speed the top curtain really slowdown at the end.
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Old 12-21-2016   #443
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Okay.

Drat, first ribbon that seemed to match the thickness of the original installed on the spring drum and threaded it through the clutch, but it feels like there's too much resistance feeding it through the clutch. A few other materials left to try.

Now, for the number of turns the ribbon is wound around the rollers on the spring drum. I take it that's about 1.5 to 2 turns? That leaves a gap size of at least the height of a film frame.
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Old 12-21-2016   #444
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Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
Okay.

Drat, first ribbon that seemed to match the thickness of the original installed on the spring drum and threaded it through the clutch, but it feels like there's too much resistance feeding it through the clutch. A few other materials left to try.

Now, for the number of turns the ribbon is wound around the rollers on the spring drum. I take it that's about 1.5 to 2 turns? That leaves a gap size of at least the height of a film frame.
I did exact 2 turns.
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Old 12-22-2016   #445
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Installed another ribbon (reminds me of Aki-Asahi in material an thickness) after testing the friction through the clutch.

With it in place the Sports group seems to run okay. the mid-speeds group seem a little slow, the slow speeds won't close.

Either I need to give the spring another half or full turn or I need to clean the rest of the mechanism and lubricate the gears and axles.


Here's a Short video of the shutter at 1/100th in the medium speeds group.
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Old 12-22-2016   #446
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Added another turn to the curtain drum spring. That appears to have improved all shutter speeds with the exception of 1/2s and Time. On those settings the curtain doesn't want to close properly.

Still, feeling well chuffed. First time I've done this type of repair on a Contax, never thought I'd be doing it on a Contax I at all.
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Old 12-22-2016   #447
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Well done, Rick, this really sounds great.

Maybe another turn will close the shutter at the slow speeds. The spring must generate enough tension to turn all the gears at this setting. Lubricating the gears with a very tiny amount of sewing machine oil will do no harm. Apply with a needle or your smallest screwdriver and wait a few days until the oil has settled down.

Good luck,

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Old 12-22-2016   #448
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I've already done the oil trick. Will check again in the morning.

But I'm a little wary of removing the screws from the locking plate of the drum again to add another turn of tension to the spring. The aluminum of the shutter crate is rather soft as you said.
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Old 12-22-2016   #449
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
But I'm a little wary of removing the screws from the locking plate of the drum again to add another turn of tension to the spring. The aluminum of the shutter crate is rather soft as you said.
Yes, it is. It is not made to try over and over again. Let's hope the oil does the trick.

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Old 12-23-2016   #450
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Rick, sounds like excellent progress, well done!

If you have it working within a useable range I'd leave well alone. As everyone says the metal is very soft, probably an equivalent of 'Zamak" or similar.

My Contax repair is, by comparison, unsatisfactory. I must have disturbed the gearing in some way and have decided to leave it until I feel emotionally stronger!

As remedial therapy I have been working on other devices to rebuild my confidence. Pentinas (x2) now functioning and now a Beaulieu to attend to. I do like cameras with larger screws that have properly threaded holes!
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Old 12-26-2016   #451
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I don't think the problem is so much the spring tension as the the retarding mechanism that slows down the curtains on the longer times. Having added a touch of weapons-grade Teflon-carrying oil there has been some improvement, but 1/2s and Z don't want to cooperate.
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Old 12-26-2016   #452
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1/2s and B (Z) will entail the most friction of all speeds, yes, as the first curtain clutches must, by definition, slide furthest along the ribbons as the curtain opens by itself, and the ribbon pulleys subsequently have to pull the ribbons through the clutches, in order to drag the second curtain shut. Assuming the clearance between the ribbons and the clutches is about right, and the mechanism is clean and lubricated, from my experience with the same situation with the II model, just a little more spring tension may be needed to persuade those speeds to complete. I've previously mentioned intermittent problems with those speeds capping off correctly, and/or capping off OK with the camera held normally (landscape) but failing to latch up fully if inverted with gravity pulling the curtains open, not shut. In each instance the remedy (having, as stated, ensured cleanliness and lubrication was OK) was an additional half a turn or so of spring tension (applied half a turn at a time). This may not be directly translatable to the specifics of the original shutter, not having worked on one of those myself, I can't say—nevertheless, FYI. Of course whether you want to chance manipulating the adjuster again given the fragility you mentioned is another matter. That some lubrication of the escapement has yielded some improvement may also suggest that this may be a part of the problem.
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Old 12-26-2016   #453
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Yes, we must not underestimate the working of gravity in those late Contax I models with brass shutter curtains. I've had the problem that the shutter worked fine in a vertical position, but failed to close in a horizontal position. I had to give the spring some extra tension. Then it closed perfectly. Unfortunately the shutter does not work at the highest speeds: the curtains then run closed.

Earlier models have aluminium curtains.

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Old 12-31-2016   #454
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A first-class thread. I do not have much to add except early-on Micheal asked if anyone had watchmaking experience in regard to repairing springs and that would be myself.

When watchmaker straightens out the very fine balance spring in a mechanical watch, which may be as fine as a human hair, they use no heat but simply bend the spring back into the shape it needs to be in. Of course spring-steel can only be bent in one spot only so many times before it will break.

I was a student of an old watchmaker who learned his craft starting during WWII in Italy, later he went to more schooling in the USA and Switzerland. We used to have benches next to each other in his basement, I remember working on a small woman's watch movement that was probably from the early 1930s and I dropped the balance wheel with it's attached spring onto the floor and bent things up. I tried straightening the spring a bit but it looked like a bird's nest and I thought it was scrap and time to just get a replacement item. The old watchmaker, Ed, asked to take a look at it so I handed it to him and went about some other business. In just a few minutes he handed it back to me and it looked so perfect it was hard to believe, looking as if it had just left the factory because the spacing and roundness of the coils was perfect with no odd bends anywhere to be seen.

Not much help but it is possible to straighten small coil springs without heating them and to put them back into service, but of course you have to have the experience and tools, steady hands and sharp eyes. Ed was a sharp-shooter in WWII and did not need glasses until he was 70 years old.

Re-tempering a small spring at home is going to be very tricky as it has to be cooled down from a dull cherry heat at a certain speed to get it just the right hardness. Too fast a cool and it will be brittle and break in use, too slow a cool and it will be annealed and bend in use, so yes it is a craft in it's own and somewhere out there on a watchmaker's forum there is probably a thread like this with similar characters going back and forth about it.

Ed died a dozen years ago and I got out of playing with mechanical watches and many other things. I just feel burned-out after doing things like this most of my life. I have a few Contax cameras laying around and maybe if I get a bit organized and caught up on some important things I will take one apart and play with it. I am sure if I get stuck I will refer to this thread.

Keep up the great work guys.
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Old 01-02-2017   #455
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Spent a few minutes adjusting the roller spring this evening.
Ended up giving it another full turn after testing it at half a turn first.
1/2s and Z are still a little hesitant on the last few millimeters of travel of the closing curtain. But at least it closes on its own now.

1/100th in the medium speeds group looks and feels much closer to the 1/100th in the sports group now. No way for me to tell without a proper shutter tester though.
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Old 01-02-2017   #456
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Rick, I think you have it now. I would close the camera to see if it still runs when closed. If it does, put a test film in it.

Erik.
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Old 01-02-2017   #457
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The biggest problem is the fact that the original ribbons are no longer available. One has to rely on alternatives. I've had good results with the ribbons from Aki Asahi, but actually these are too thin, so 1/500 and 1/1000 do not work anymore. Erik.
Maybe someone has already thought of this, but with a ribbon that is thinner than standard, when the shutter is tripped and the ribbon is pulled and wound back up it will be moving slower than the standard thick ribbon because as the ribbon winds up in a coil the diameter of the coil of ribbon at any given point in the shutter travel will be smaller, so with each revolution it will be rolling up less ribbon than if it were standard thickness.

Maybe extra ribbon length would help if that extra length were reduntant except to be pre-wound and coiled up to make the coil of ribbon larger to start with at the instant the shutter is tripped.... Then the shutter speed would be higher as for each revolution of the coil it would be pulling it a longer distance.
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Old 01-02-2017   #458
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Rick, I think you have it now. I would close the camera to see if it still runs when closed. If it does, put a test film in it.

Erik.
I already had reassembled the camera. Adjusting the spring can be done by removing the two screws at the bottom of the frame mask/back cover of the shutter crate. That gives you enough clearance to turn the plate to change the tension.
So yeah, it's back together and it works.

It should get a fresh roll of film soon. Shame the RF is still dim after cleaning. Perhaps I'll change the beam splitter someday.
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Old 01-02-2017   #459
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Maybe someone has already thought of this, but with a ribbon that is thinner than standard, when the shutter is tripped and the ribbon is pulled and wound back up it will be moving slower than the standard thick ribbon because as the ribbon winds up in a coil the diameter of the coil of ribbon at any given point in the shutter travel will be smaller, so with each revolution it will be rolling up less ribbon than if it were standard thickness.

Maybe extra ribbon length would help if that extra length were reduntant except to be pre-wound and coiled up to make the coil of ribbon larger to start with at the instant the shutter is tripped.... Then the shutter speed would be higher as for each revolution of the coil it would be pulling it a longer distance.
It's something thats crossed my mind, yes, and I agree with you that theoretically the thinner ribbon will make for a smaller diameter and hence, less rapid acceleration when the shutter is released, relatively speaking (comparing Eg. the same starting spring tension for a Contax with OEM ribbon, and another with AA ribbon). There's some tolerance for ribbon length at least in the subsequent II & III models. I used Rick Oleson's recommended ribbon length for the first two Contaxes I worked on which run well, even though I removed the ribbons from my second II intact and they measured a few mm shorter. But I installed new AA ribbons the same length as those I removed back into that camera, and I've been using it a lot, and its running very well. Purely on the basis of my own experience to date, I'm not sure if the ribbon thickness is as critical for curtain velocity as one might expect it ought to be, given the points you've mentioned. I'm not dismissing your comment by any means, because I've wondered about exactly the same point myself. Just saying that it may not necessarily be as problematic as one might expect. Of course, I am happy to be corrected by someone with more experience using different types of ribbons. After doing a great deal of research, all roads led to Aki Asahi for me--not perfect, in as much as they're not the same thickness as OEM--but can be made to work very well, and certainly seem to be the most durable, (my main concerns). Don't forget that there's also a relationship between the length of ribbon and how many turns of the tensioner are needed and possible (safe). There's a balancing act involved in making it all work well and absence of friction is probably much more critical than Eg ribbon thickness.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 01-03-2017   #460
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It's something thats crossed my mind, yes, and I agree with you that theoretically the thinner ribbon will make for a smaller diameter and hence, less rapid acceleration Brett
Actually thinner ribbon would give a smaller diameter, more mechanical advantage and more acceleration as it rolled up but a lower top speed than thick ribbon would.

This would produce the exact effect that is being seen, where the low speeds that are governed would not be affected as much as the high speeds. If the Zeiss designers took this into account then the top speeds may not even be attainable with thin ribbon even with a perfectly and completely cleaned and lubed camera.

If the camera still has bearings with dirt and old lube in them on top of thinner ribbon than it is designed for then that would make the effect more pronounced because again the low speeds will be less affected but the high-speeds will be harder to reach because the frictional losses in a machine increase exponentially with speed.

Because the low speed is governed, the Contax that has the best chance to work at 1/500 and above will be one that has been completely taken apart, all clearances checked, all parts cleaned spotlessly, all lubricant replaced correctly and has the original diameter of the roll of ribbon when it is wound up at the end of the shutter travel.
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Old 01-03-2017   #461
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Actually thinner ribbon would give a smaller diameter, more mechanical advantage and more acceleration as it rolled up but a lower top speed than thick ribbon would.

This would produce the exact effect that is being seen, where the low speeds that are governed would not be affected as much as the high speeds. If the Zeiss designers took this into account then the top speeds may not even be attainable with thin ribbon even with a perfectly and completely cleaned and lubed camera.

If the camera still has bearings with dirt and old lube in them on top of thinner ribbon than it is designed for then that would make the effect more pronounced because again the low speeds will be less affected but the high-speeds will be harder to reach because the frictional losses in a machine increase exponentially with speed.

Because the low speed is governed, the Contax that has the best chance to work at 1/500 and above will be one that has been completely taken apart, all clearances checked, all parts cleaned spotlessly, all lubricant replaced correctly and has the original diameter of the roll of ribbon when it is wound up at the end of the shutter travel.
That's a good point re: acceleration v top speed thanks for mentioning that and it does make sense.

I've taken a number of pics with the higher speeds of the IIs I have used Aki Asahi ribbons in but with few exceptions they're all on black and white negative which is more forgiving of additional exposure. But here are three photos made on colour transparency, which, on the other hand, doesn't give you a lot of latitude for a slower than optimal shutter.

1/1250 @ f/4 Carl Zeiss Jena coated 50mm Sonnar f/1.5 (this is the first shot of the roll, and an incomplete frame)



1/500 @ f/5.6 Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm as above



1/500 @ f/5.6 Carl Zeiss 50mm Sonnar f/1.5 (Oberkochen)


Overall those exposures don't look too bad to me and Provia is not going to give you a lot of room to hide if the shutter's dragging. Granted, the first image of the old truck (a WW2-era Ford Canada 4x4 vehicle as I understand it) shows the light green (faded) paint looking quite bright, but, it was late afternoon winter sun with the sun shining nearly straight at it, so, it's properly going to look quite bright as it is completely front lit. Incident readings were taken with my trusty Minolta Auto Meter III used to expose many rolls of transparency satisfactorily over of a number of years. I should stress these images were not made with the subject of the thread, the original Contax, but with a 36-37 Contax II (C serial prefix I believe) but they're tendered to demonstrate that the Aki Asahi ribbon can nevertheless deliver decent results In a Contax mechanism, even at the faster shutter speeds, if it is correctly cleaned and adjusted.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 01-03-2017   #462
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That's a good point re: acceleration v top speed thanks for mentioning that and it does make sense.
If the camera works it works, but I would still be very interested in empirical measurements of shutter speeds because I have pushed a lot of film with slower shutter speeds than is officially called for and I have never had any disasters. There are a lot of variables with any roll of film such as how it was stored, how old it is and on and on.

Those actual shutter-speed measurements would be the next step for this thread and help figure out what works and what does not. If everything can be gotten into factory specification with the thin ribbons that would be great. If there is still a ways to go I can think of one or two work-arounds to make up for the thin ribbon, and I am sure others here could too.
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Old 01-09-2017   #463
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Those actual shutter-speed measurements would be the next step for this thread and help figure out what works and what does not. If everything can be gotten into factory specification with the thin ribbons that would be great. If there is still a ways to go I can think of one or two work-arounds to make up for the thin ribbon, and I am sure others here could too.
The problem is that we have no idea of what the "factory specifications" were. Best case, they used a cathodic oscilloscope to test their shutters (and they might even use someting less sophisticated, or nothing at all). Of course, none of the electronic shutter speeds testers available today were known by Zeiss Ikon in the 1930s. So if the "factory spec." for 1/1250 was 1/950 at the very best, what would getting 1/850 (with a cleaned shutter and ribbons slightly thinner than the original by a fraction of a fraction of millimeter) mean ? Nothing real. Add to this that 95% of handheld photos are shot at speeds between 1/30 and 1/250, whatever the film is, and the knot is tied out.

Chances are, that Robert Capa's Contax II cameras hadn't super accurate shutters. But the photos are still there.
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Old 01-09-2017   #464
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The problem is that we have no idea of what the "factory specifications" were. Best case, they used a cathodic oscilloscope to test their shutters (and they might even use someting less sophisticated, or nothing at all). Of course, none of the electronic shutter speeds testers available today were known by Zeiss Ikon in the 1930s.
Opto-mechanical shutter testers consist of a pair of spinning discs (with patterns respectively slots) or are zoetrope-like. These must have been around by 1900 or even before. I've seen a similar tester still in use in the mid 1980s in a Nikon service centre - they can't have been much inferior to electronic testers. We can probably assume that Zeiss were technically capable of testing Contax shutters to a higher accuracy than the shutters themselves...
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Old 01-09-2017   #465
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We can probably assume that Zeiss were technically capable of testing Contax shutters to a higher accuracy than the shutters themselves...
Absolutely. And we cannot know what the "factory specs" were for the Contax shutter highest speeds. Obtaining a true 1/500 and a true 1/1000 (or 1/1250) with a vertically travelling focal plane shutter became casual in the late 1960s. Before that...
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Old 01-09-2017   #466
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Absolutely. And we cannot know what the "factory specs" were for the Contax shutter highest speeds. Obtaining a true 1/500 and a true 1/1000 (or 1/1250) with a vertically travelling focal plane shutter became casual in the late 1960s. Before that...
I did test 1/1000 on my Contax I (1935) after curtain adjustment.
from 10 test only two give me 1/500. It is rally good. But I can't get 1/1250 on Contax III (1937) it always show 1/1000 or 1/500.
But what is the "factory specs" no idea. It is possible what after spending so much time on Contax I, I finally got 1/1000, what never been the case for this camera. Also after close the camera and loaded a film, I will not warranty it will still shut at 1/1000.

and 100% agree, "that 95% of handheld photos are shot at speeds between 1/30 and 1/250, whatever the film is" (!) Best solution used f11 and forgot about 1/1000 :-)
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Old 01-16-2017   #467
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Got about 15 Frames in on a roll of film before the film transport started to sound weird. Sounded like the film was skipping the sprocket teeth.
Could've been a loading error or something. I've rewound the film and developed half of it (the unused half went into the IIa).

I still see a difference in exposure of the images shot between the 1/100th in the medium speed and the sports group. I'll post some results from the scans later today.
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Old 01-16-2017   #468
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Got about 15 Frames in on a roll of film before the film transport started to sound weird. Sounded like the film was skipping the sprocket teeth.
Could've been a loading error or something. I've rewound the film and developed half of it (the unused half went into the IIa).

I still see a difference in exposure of the images shot between the 1/100th in the medium speed and the sports group. I'll post some results from the scans later today.
Same happens to me for first time. I replace a film spool (I don't have original). I have used old plastic spool from Kiev. I have cut a little from the top of spool. No problem after film cassette and spool alignment. It could be a different issue of course.
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Old 01-16-2017   #469
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and this link, just for everybody who want a really fast repair :-)
http://www.hermes.net.au/bayling/repair.html
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Old 01-16-2017   #470
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Thanks Deklari, I'll look into it.

Meanwhile

1/100th medium speed group


1/100th sports group


Film is Fomapan 100, shot at the same aperture on the CZJ 5cm f/2.8 Tessar.
Film was developed in HC-110, Solution B for 6 minutes by 20C
Scans were down-scaled from 4800dpi with an old HP Scanjet G4050, auto levels , but no other post-processing.
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Old 01-16-2017   #471
Erik van Straten
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Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
I've rewound the film and developed half of it
In my opinion it is better after exposing not to rewind the film. The "rewind mechanism" of the camera is very primitive. The film is easily damaged during rewinding. When the film is exposed I open the camera in the darkroom, take the spool with the film out and develop it right away.

Erik.
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Old 01-16-2017   #472
Deklari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
In my opinion it is better after exposing not to rewind the film. The "rewind mechanism" of the camera is very primitive. The film is easily damaged during rewinding. When the film is exposed I open the camera in the darkroom, take the spool with the film out and develop it right away.

Erik.
Agree. I really like my Contax I, even more then my Leica (sorry for Leica user, I still not get it, why Leica so "iconic"). But unlikely I will use it as a main camera for shooting or at list without any backup camera.
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Old 01-19-2017   #473
Erik van Straten
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I found this little card in a Contax I neverready case.



Seems that Zeiss themselves thought that 1/100 was the ideal speed.

Corresponds to my experience.

Erik.
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Old 01-19-2017   #474
Deklari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I found this little card in a Contax I neverready case.



Seems that Zeiss themselves thought that 1/100 was the ideal speed.

Corresponds to my experience.

Erik.
Interesting, thanks Erik. I don't know how everybody shutting with they own Contex I. I just sett to 1/100 and lower the group (without changing speed), if I need increase exposure. in my Contaxt 1/100 given me 1/50, 1/10, 1/5 in different group. I have only move to 1/500 1/100 (in sport group) if bright light outside.
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Old 01-20-2017   #475
Mr_Flibble
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Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
The film is easily damaged during rewinding. When the film is exposed I open the camera in the darkroom, take the spool with the film out and develop it right away.
Something to keep in mind.
I did not think the surfaces the film runs across were that much different from the Contax II (or Leica LTMs) in design. Might be they're more coarse (or there's some aluminium-oxide), causing the scratches.

My take-up spool is supposedly an original that came with the camera. And in my case of the failing transport I suspect the leader might have come loose from the spool.

Ah well, at least now I can have a go at replacing the half-mirror.
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Old 01-20-2017   #476
Highway 61
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Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
My take-up spool is supposedly an original that came with the camera. And in my case of the failing transport I suspect the leader might have come loose from the spool.
The 1930s' films were thicker than our modern ones. Folding the leader before sliding it into the original take-up spool slot is a technique to consider.

Also, I'd recommend to chamfer and polish the edges of the cassettes tensioning springs in the film chamber. Those can scratch the film, particularly on the take-up spool side. The tensioning spring on the take-up spool side can even be removed with no problem. But you'll have either to put the screws back (after having shortened them a little so that they don't make bumps under the front cover leather piece) or to fill the screws holes with black paint. There is s risk of light leak there if the screws are missing and the front cover leather piece is quite thin and not 100% lightproof, particularly in bright light conditions.
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Old 01-20-2017   #477
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The 1930s' films were thicker than our modern ones. Folding the leader before sliding it into the original take-up spool slot is a technique to consider.
Good point. Sometime we forgot what live is a little different back to that time :-)
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Old 01-29-2017   #478
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Ahh,.. have trouble today. Contax stop shutting at 1/100 (in sport group)
Shutter frizz. After switching group a few times it start "working" as "self timer", shutter respond only after 3-5 second. 1/200 works fine, but I can't really test all other speed I have half film inside.
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Old 01-31-2017   #479
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Originally Posted by Deklari View Post
Ahh,.. have trouble today. Contax stop shutting at 1/100 (in sport group)
Shutter frizz. After switching group a few times it start "working" as "self timer", shutter respond only after 3-5 second. 1/200 works fine, but I can't really test all other speed I have half film inside.
Maybe bat weazer izz too cold in terrrrible land you live ?

More seriously : bad news, and best wishes for fixing it without having to spend many hours at it once and again. You should remove the film even if it's not finished. You may then find some film debris trapped in the shutter mechanism, or something like that.
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Old 01-31-2017   #480
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Sounds like something is sticky. Could be due to cold temperatures as Highway 61 says.

If you've got a darkroom or a change bag you could just open the camera and cut the film. Put the exposed part in a canister or a film tank.

Anyway, I hope it's nothing too serious.
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