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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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Hilarious Ebay Contax score....
Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1
Gben
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Hilarious Ebay Contax score....

I thought it was funny when someone threw this up on Ebay yesterday for $159 and free shipping. Of course it said the shutter was not working but I still thought it was a great deal. Now all it has to do is get here through the mail in one piece and I will be all set. I think it is one of the later 30s models. Is it just me or does it look really good?:








Last edited by Gben : 2 Weeks Ago at 10:14. Reason: update
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #2
p.giannakis
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These are beautiful cameras but they are notoriously difficult to repair.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
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For that price! Nice find. The camera appears to be in beautiful condition for its age. And it looks fabulous in the original case.

Yeah, I think it's the first to last type of the Contax I, before they switched the viewfinder and rangefinder window.
Mine's the model prior to this one and I've spent the last two days replacing the curtain ribbons.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p.giannakis View Post
These are beautiful cameras but they are notoriously difficult to repair.
They require skill, but can be repaired as easily as most of the Contax models, and usually only require tapes when found in this condition.

There is lots of information on and off the web on replacing tapes, many of our members, including moi, have done it successfully.

Looks like a really lovely find with little green.

For the price, I would be happy to have it just on a shelf.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
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I know Henry S has a huge waiting list but I might be tempted to use him for such a nice camera.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
Gben
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It came in the mail today well packed. I took it out of its ready-case and put neatsfoot oil on the case and strap, they are both in amazing condition for their age, someone got lucky and stored this thing at the right temperature and humidity for leather.

Then to the camera. The lens looks great and the aperture functions smoothly, the rangefinder is accurate and aligned.

The shutter fires! The only catch is that the speed-range dial is froze in the 25-50-100 range so those are the only three speeds I can access. But this damn thing could actually take photos right now.

So that is it. It will go into storage until I figure out what to do with it. This is a great camera though that looks to have been well stored and has been used moderately. A few times in life you are thrown a fish and I guess this was one of mine.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #7
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gben View Post
The only catch is that the speed-range dial is froze in the 25-50-100 range so those are the only three speeds I can access.
To access the other speeds, you first have to turn the command-dial, that is the thin, nickel ring behind the thick knob. Turn anti-clockwise. The next range of speeds is: 100, 200, 500 and 1000.

Erik.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #8
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Fingers crossed that the high speeds work too! Nice camera, and congrats. Keep exercising it!
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
To access the other speeds, you first have to turn the command-dial, that is the thin, nickel ring behind the thick knob. Turn anti-clockwise. The next range of speeds is: 100, 200, 500 and 1000.Erik.
Oh, you call it the command-dial. Sorry, the Command-Dial is frozen and will not turn......
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
Fingers crossed that the high speeds work too! Nice camera, and congrats. Keep exercising it!
Actually since I have the other Contax I which has been Schererized I will not run this one because without being cleaned and properly lubed I believe it is just injuring itself. I will think about options for its future, but until it has some serious attention I will probably just put it in mothballs.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #11
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That finely aged leather case was worth the price of admission alone, lol!
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chubberino View Post
That finely aged leather case was worth the price of admission alone, lol!
I agree, the ready-case is in remarkable condition for it's age. It has lost a little of it's character now as the neatsfoot oil I applied to it has made it mostly one shade, but the treatment should help it. It is a #1777/8 case which is supposed to be for the Sonnar lenses.

In other news I cut this out of a piece of Zeiss literature for the Contax I so we could all learn what Zeiss called the parts of the camera for adjusting shutter speed:

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #13
Erik van Straten
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How can the command-dial be frozen? If you can tension and set the shutter the command-dial can be turned too I would say. Did you try to turn it (only anti-clockwise) with a piece of rubber (inner tube for instance)?

Erik.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
How can the command-dial be frozen? If you can tension and set the shutter the command-dial can be turned too I would say. Did you try to turn it (only anti-clockwise) with a piece of rubber (inner tube for instance)?Erik.
Erik, it is not my style to use excess force to try and get very old machinery which may have been sitting for many decades to operate, it sounds like one of the surest ways to break something.

I am 6'2" tall and about 220 pounds so I do not think I am lacking in strength. My experience operating another Contax I which Mr. Scherer has worked on lets me know what sort of torque one of these shutters requires, also having been a mechanic for many decades and having training in watchmaking also gives me a very good intuition as to when a piece of machinery needs more than simply extra force to operate.

There is either something put of place inside the camera, or some old oil or grease has dried up and cemented a few components together. Sooner or later the camera will be taken apart and when the mystery is solved I will certainly post it here for you and others.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
Yeah, I think it's the first to last type of the Contax I, before they switched the viewfinder and rangefinder window.
It's serial number is AV10856. I think this means that is is from 1933/34. I think the "A" means it was sent back to the factory and repaired/upgraded. So it might be an earlier Contax I, but it looks like the factory might have put some later parts on it like the four-screw accessory shoe and who knows what else inside and out during an overhaul.

Of course this is all just me going by what websites like CameraQuest and Pacific Rim Camera etc. have written about the subject!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
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I'm going by the same sites as well...still have trouble identifying mine with serial number U20xxx. No idea if that is supposed to matches the version I have. Or if it was upgraded at all (It's lacking the "A" in front of the serial number, so I guess it wasn't).

My full case is a different model than your, but the leather is rather dried out and the flap is only attached by the fabric of the liner
Thought about turning it into a half-case, but replacing the strap with something stronger is going to take some hard thinking as it is rivited to the bottom of the case together with the tripod screw.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
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The plot thickens and the wallet thins. Someone was selling a Contax II on Ebay with this1933 f1.5 lens affixed . I just had to get it and swap it onto this camera. I figure if I subtract the value of the Contax II body I now have $510 invested in this Contax I total, so much for doing things on the cheap. Lens looks to be in amazing shape for it's age with no scratches, aperture is smooth and shows little wear cosmetically. Must have been a sock-drawer queen.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gben View Post
Lens looks to be in amazing shape for it's age with no scratches, aperture is smooth and shows little wear cosmetically.
I have the same lens (black/nickel 1628901), also in a near mint condition. However, when I use it on a Contax I, it vignettes in an extreme way, the corners are totally black. When I use the same lens on a Nikon S2 there is no vignetting at all. Maybe this is the reason that the lenses did not see much use on Contax I bodies.

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
My full case is a different model than your, but the leather is rather dried out and the flap is only attached by the fabric of the liner
Thought about turning it into a half-case, but replacing the strap with something stronger is going to take some hard thinking as it is rivited to the bottom of the case together with the tripod screw.
I've tried this way too, but finally found out that using the strap lugs is much more convenient.

Leica M5, Summicron 90mm f/2, 400-2TMY.

Erik.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Maybe this is the reason that the lenses did not see much use on Contax I bodies.

Erik.
I thought the black/nickel 50mm f/1.5 lenses were the standard lens for Contax I cameras? Why wouldn't it have been - what else would it have been made for??

My black and nickel 50mm f/1.5 came on my Contax I, and works just fine, no vignetting. Sounds like there is an issue with your pairing.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
Mark C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I have the same lens (black/nickel 1628901), also in a near mint condition. However, when I use it on a Contax I, it vignettes in an extreme way, the corners are totally black. When I use the same lens on a Nikon S2 there is no vignetting at all. Maybe this is the reason that the lenses did not see much use on Contax I bodies.

Erik.
I have one in black/nickel about 500 numbers before yours Erik. From what I can see in the picture of Gben's lens, his is an earlier version than mine. Mine is like the first one shown on this page at Pacific Rim Cameras:
https://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/zicontax50f15.htm
He calls it a type 3 and dates that to 1935, but with a higher serial number than mine.

I believe I've been misstating the date for mine, and remember being confused by the serial number information that I could find when I first got the lens last fall. It is odd that mine seems to be a slightly newer style than Erik's, but with a lower number.

Gben and Erik, are do yours both have f11 minimum aperture? I assume Erik's does, but don't know the serial number range for Gben's.

I use mine on M's with an Amedeo adapter. I like it a lot, and it has been my most used 50 lately.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #22
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Congrats!! Super nice (and hot hahaha) finds!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
Mine is like the first one shown on this page at Pacific Rim Cameras:
https://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/zicontax50f15.htm
He calls it a type 3 and dates that to 1935, but with a higher serial number than mine.
Thanks for the link. It's weird, he mentions Type 3 has an f/16 min. aperture but the one in the photo and mine as well is still f/11 min.

Where was the aperture in the older versions I wonder? There is no photos of older Type 1 or 2.

He says Type 2 was made up to serial # 1628xxx, mine is serial # 16283xx so I'm right on the edge, but it looks just like the Type 3 in the photo.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #24
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
I have one in black/nickel about 500 numbers before yours Erik. From what I can see in the picture of Gben's lens, his is an earlier version than mine. Mine is like the first one shown on this page at Pacific Rim Cameras:
https://www.pacificrimcamera.com/pp/zicontax50f15.htm
He calls it a type 3 and dates that to 1935, but with a higher serial number than mine.

I believe I've been misstating the date for mine, and remember being confused by the serial number information that I could find when I first got the lens last fall. It is odd that mine seems to be a slightly newer style than Erik's, but with a lower number.

Gben and Erik, are do yours both have f11 minimum aperture? I assume Erik's does, but don't know the serial number range for Gben's.

I use mine on M's with an Amedeo adapter. I like it a lot, and it has been my most used 50 lately.
Thank you Mark. Yes, mine has the maximum aperture of f/11 and looks the same as the lens on the site of Pacific Rim Camera. However, mine is completely nickel (with a black band). The Pacific Rim lens seems to have chrome front parts. I understand that there are quite a lot of decorative differences between the lenses. The lens was available from 1932.

I have problems with vignetting on two Contax I bodies.

I would like to have the Amadeo adapter, but I am confused wich one to take. Wich one do you have? Then I can order the same.

The lens draws beautifully.

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #25
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Erik,

Remember that you can make a cheap adaptor for digital from bits of an old Kiev!

Michael
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Old 1 Week Ago   #26
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran View Post
I thought the black/nickel 50mm f/1.5 lenses were the standard lens for Contax I cameras? Why wouldn't it have been - what else would it have been made for??

My black and nickel 50mm f/1.5 came on my Contax I, and works just fine, no vignetting. Sounds like there is an issue with your pairing.
The other 50mm lenses are more common, except the 50mm f/2. Most often seen is the 50mm f/2.8, not really the best lens around.

As I've said in the other post, the Sonnar f/1.5 vignettes on two of my Contax I cameras, however more on my v7 than on my v4. Actually it came on my v7 and it looked like it was there since 1934!

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
Erik,

Remember that you can make a cheap adaptor for digital from bits of an old Kiev!

Michael
What did I hear? Digital? Me???

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #28
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This lens has a serial number starting in the 145xxxx range, which from the list I have dates it to 1933. It is limited to f11. The first version was limited to f8, so this is the second version. It has not filter threads, so it is the second version.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #29
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Originally Posted by Corran View Post
Thanks for the link. It's weird, he mentions Type 3 has an f/16 min. aperture but the one in the photo and mine as well is still f/11 min.

Where was the aperture in the older versions I wonder? There is no photos of older Type 1 or 2.

He says Type 2 was made up to serial # 1628xxx, mine is serial # 16283xx so I'm right on the edge, but it looks just like the Type 3 in the photo.
I think that was one of the other things that confused me when I was trying to date my lens. He doesn't clearly state that he means all Type 3 have f 16, but that is certainly how I would interpret what he says. Perhaps just an error in writing since he does show Type 3 with f11, and both Erik and I have that combination. Maybe changed sometime before it went to chrome, or maybe not.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
Maybe changed sometime before it went to chrome, or maybe not.
Kuc says in his book about the Contax that only later on in the production of the chrome Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 the range of f/stops became f/16. After the war it became f/22.

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #31
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Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Thank you Mark. Yes, mine has the maximum aperture of f/11 and looks the same as the lens on the site of Pacific Rim Camera. However, mine is completely nickel (with a black band). The Pacific Rim lens seems to have chrome front parts. I understand that there are quite a lot of decorative differences between the lenses. The lens was available from 1932.

I have problems with vignetting on two Contax I bodies.

I would like to have the Amadeo adapter, but I am confused wich one to take. Wich one do you have? Then I can order the same.

The lens draws beautifully.

Erik.
Good eye. I hadn't noticed the chrome, but it seems clearly to be. I wish he had given an idea of serial number on the one pictured. He seems to imply that he believes type 2 went through 1628xxx, which it obviously did not, so I assume his is later and possibly close to the transition to chrome. I don't mean any criticism of the information; he clearly does know quite a lot about these lenses, and a lot of little changes went on.

Mine too is all nickel, with the black band, like the one at Pacific Rim. Gben's looks to be the earlier version with the aperture ring in the middle. Mine is a bit fussy to adjust the aperture, but I do like having the option of focusing with the middle ring. I had the other problem of aperture constantly getting bumped when I was shooting with my 40 Nokton instead last night.

I bought the Amedeo dedicated 50mm adapter from CameraQuest. It was much cheaper, plus is small and focuses like a Leica lens. The only lens I have that would need the other adapter is an 8.5 cm Triotar, which I don't have any particular interest in using.

Oddly, I was having vignetting problems at long distances, but that turned out to be due to the lens shade I was using. I thought it was original issue, but probably not. I haven't seen a picture of the original. I don't know what could cause the camera specific problem you are seeing.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark C View Post

I bought the Amedeo dedicated 50mm adapter from CameraQuest.
Can you say wich one exactly? At CameraQuest I am also confused.

I also thought that it was the shade that caused the vignetting (indeed at long distances). I used the original one from Zeiss. Did not like it because it falls off all the time. Now I have a cheap generic Chinese one, screw in.

I was astonished that there was no vignetting whatsoever on the Nikon S2. Is there no vignetting on the M-Leicas?

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Can you say wich one exactly? At CameraQuest I am also confused.

I also thought that it was the shade that caused the vignetting (indeed at long distances). I used the original one from Zeiss. Did not like it because it falls off all the time. Now I have a cheap generic Chinese one, screw in.

I was astonished that there was no vignetting whatsoever on the Nikon S2. Is there no vignetting on the M-Leicas?

Erik.
I was little confused. If lens make a same covering circle and size of each shut and distance to film is the same, how it vignetting come in one camera but not in another?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #34
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Originally Posted by Deklari View Post
I was little confused. If lens make a same covering circle and size of each shut and distance to film is the same, how it vignetting come in one camera but not in another?
The Contax I and the Nikon S2 are very different and there are differences between the different models of the Contaxes. I think the lenses were not checked on all the bodies. In those years every separate handmade product was different from another. I guess.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
The Contax I and the Nikon S2 are very different and there are differences between the different models of the Contaxes. I think the lenses were not checked on all the bodies. In those years every separate handmade product was different from another. I guess.

Erik.
True, but it sound like a lens didn't fully cover 36mm or back plate has a small tilt or shift (like in large format photography).
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Old 1 Week Ago   #36
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Originally Posted by Deklari View Post
True, but it sound like a lens didn't fully cover 36mm or back plate has a small tilt or shift (like in large format photography).
That may seem the case, but I think that from the inside the aperture of the bayonet is obscured by some object so that the image of very fast lenses is cut off in all the four corners, but only when the lens is focused on an object far away. Close up is no problem. The angle of view is smaller then.

I always print the whole negative. Maybe the people that used the camera and the lens before me did not.

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
That may seem the case, but I think that from the inside the aperture of the bayonet is obscured by some object so that the image of very fast lenses is cut off in all the four corners, but only when the lens is focused on an object far away. Close up is no problem. The angle of view is smaller then.

I always print the whole negative. Maybe the people that used the camera and the lens before me did not.

Erik.
I see. Did you print and scan you shuts or scan negative directly?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #38
Erik van Straten
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This is a scan from such a picture. I always scan the negative.

Erik.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #39
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Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
This is a scan from such a picture. I always scan the negative.

Erik.
That is defiantly from the inside the aperture. Focus is nice and equal no any tilt or shift.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #40
Erik van Straten
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Originally Posted by Deklari View Post
That is defiantly from the inside the aperture. Focus is nice and equal no any tilt or shift.
Yes, in fact the sharpness is stunning. That is why I would like to use the lens. So, maybe with an adapter on a M-Leica. It would be more fun on a Contax I, of course.

Erik.
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