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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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Dating Contax IIa/IIIa bodies???
Old 02-01-2006   #1
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Dating Contax IIa/IIIa bodies???

I've noted the discussion on dating Zeiss lenses lately, with interest. I know there is an approximate chart for dating pre-war bodies, but what about the newer 1950's models?
I own a IIa/IIIa BD, and two IIIa CD, and would like to date them. No, I'm not cheating on my wife. Inanimate objects don't count. Can't really see any "ryme nor reazon" to the letter-number sequence of the 4 cameras. They were all bought with lenses, but unknown if these were original to the body. Again, the numbering does not seem to fit any pattern. Also, 2 are Carl Zeiss, and 2 are Zeiss-Opton. I think the wording was used at different times, but they may have had a period where they were both used.
This is for equipment junkies, and I respectfully acknowledge I am a member in good standing of that group. I'd be happy to furnish serial numbers of cameras/lenses if anyone can be of help.

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Old 02-02-2006   #2
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Yes, there is a chart matching serial numbers to the year of production. I have it published in a book or two, but have not seen it on line. If you like, send me your serial numbers and I will be able to reply when I get home from work. I am not sure I have a lens date of manufacturing chart.

Or, I am sure some other fine folks will be able to help you out before then.
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Old 02-02-2006   #3
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Second what Rover said. I have the info in books, but am currently at work, and unable to look up the info.

Post #10 in the RFF thread about lens had a link to dating lenses by serial numbers http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=15037
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Old 02-02-2006   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dexdog
Second what Rover said. I have the info in books, but am currently at work, and unable to look up the info.

Post #10 in the RFF thread about lens had a link to dating lenses by serial numbers http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=15037
The thread mentioned has a list of lenses, but it only dates the pre-war stuff. Mine are West German from the '50's. There is a pair of reference books, in German but mostly tabular data, but they are pretty pricey, for just 4 lenses. One of the other RF'ers bought the one on Jena material, and the other book is on the West German. Don't know if anyone here has that one. I may buy it, to add to the library, but it isn't really cost effective.

If I can help on anything Canon, RF to FD, just drop a note. I sent a list of my stuff to Rover, and appreciate your offer, also.

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Old 02-02-2006   #5
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I have the body dates. Does anyone have a resource for dating post war Contax lenses?
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Old 02-03-2006   #6
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I remember asking in another thread and was referred to a users' group @ Yahoo's db. No such luck. Happy to have joined, but disappointed to not have found this information.

It's perplexing that this kind of info isn't readily available...is it proprietary or something?
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Old 02-04-2006   #7
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The info is available, evidently, but not on the net. There have been 3 books published last year with both East & West Zeiss lens number info, but they are in German. This is probably not a major issue, since most of it is tabular lists, but it does require work to get the most value out of the books. They are expensive, being limited printings. The web site offering them isn't user friendly to a non-German, and I haven't had any luck with the order form.
They are by Hartmut Thiele. I believe the volume III has the data on the Oberkochen post-war lenses. Volume I covers everything (?) up to WWII, and volume II covers the post-war Jena products. I'm not really a collector of Zeiss lenses, so the books are not an advantageous buy for me. I'd buy the volume III, if I could find one for $30 or thereabouts. Another member has evidently bought the volume II, and is offering the information. Typical of the courtesy that makes this site such a great resource.
I'm also trying to find copies of the 2 volume set "On the Trail of Contax" at a reasonable cost. One guy in Brooklyn wants $155 for just volume 2!!! And, of course, that's the one of most interest to me.
The saga on information, please, continues....

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Old 02-04-2006   #8
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As I understand it, the letter at the beginning of the camera serial number represents a batch of cameras made over a period of time ranging from a few months to a few years. It would be great if someone with that info in a book could post that info in a new Contax RF thread which could them be made a sticky thread. This info does not seem to be available on the internet anywhere to my knowledge.
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Old 02-04-2006   #9
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Frank S, good idea. Data is taken from "On the Trail of the Contax, Volume II" by Hans-Jurgen Kuc. For some reason, the table gets knocked out of format when posted, although it was fine when I typed it up in the message interface. I'll see if I can make it a sticky, too


Contax IIa, mechanical sync

Letter, Serial Number, Production date
P, 97,001-100,000, 11/1949 to 6/1950
S, 20,001-28,000, 7/1950 to 4/1951
T, 5,001-9,000, 3/1951 to 7/1951
T, 28,001-35,000, 8/1951 to 12/1951
U, 1-5,000, 1/1952 to 5/1952
V, 15,001-20,000, 7/1952 to 8/1952
X, 1-3,000, 9/1952 to 10/1952
Y, 57,001-62,001, 11/1952 to 3/1953
A, 43,001-46,001, 4/1953 to 10/1953

Contax IIa, PC sync

Letter, Serial Number, Production dates
A, 46,000-53,000, 11/1953 to 9/1954
B, 90,001-95,000, 10/1954 to 2/1955
F, 20,001-25,000, 3/1955 to7/1956
Q, 30,001-33,000, 7/1956 to 9/1957
R, 33,001-34,000, 11/1956 to 4/1958
L, 85,001-87,000, 4/1958 to 2/1961

Contax IIIa, mechanical sync

Letter, Serial Number, Production dates
T, 35,001-40,000, 3/1951 to 7/1952
V, 20,001-25,000, 7/1952 to 10/1952
Y, 52,001-57,000, 11/1952 to 3/1953
A, 53,001-63,000, 4/1953 to 10/1953

Contax IIIa, PC sync

Letter, Serial Number, Production dates
B, 95,001-100,000, 11/1953 to 9/1954
C, 1-5,000, 10/1954 to 2/1955
D, 76,001-86,000, 3/1955 to 1/1956
F, 25,001-30,000, 2/1956 to 8/1956
L, 75,001-85,000, 7/1956 to 7/1961
O, 86,001-91,000, 11/1956 to 7/1957
Q, 1 to 25, 1960
R, 34.001-38,000, 2/1961 to 8/1962

Last edited by dexdog : 01-14-2007 at 21:15.
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Old 02-04-2006   #10
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Excellent, thank you!
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Old 02-04-2006   #11
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dexdog: You rule! You yardstick!! You GPS!!! Awesome!!!

It's been driving me cray-zee for a few weeks; no matter how I searched, I got the same Pre-WWII data. At first I thought my camera was from 1936 --and my jaw dropped. It makes more sense now to see that it's from 1956.

Thanks again!!
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Old 02-04-2006   #12
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You've helped a few people, and a bunch more will also gain from that post in the future. It also isn't going to reduce the sale of the valuable Kuc book. I'm in the process of ordering that and the CZ Oberkochen lens data book published last year. We may just have more info available on the Contax than anywhere... including Zeiss Historical Society.
Will advise when I have lens book in hand, for those that need data on the post-war West German lenses.

Harry
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Old 02-05-2006   #13
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Dexdog, thanks for that! I was interested in the break between the mechanical link and the PC link. My colour dial IIIa has a serial no A57XXX, and hence according to the table was produced in 1953, yet the flash sync is a PC link, presumably a later modification? The lens is a Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1015XXX. It's fascinating to think that it has been around for 50 plus years and is still working, as indeed I have - maybe I need to be CLA'd too!
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Old 05-26-2006   #14
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Dexdog, big kudos for posting that information - I searched the internet and this posting is the only one I could find that had this information!

(Maybe post it in a clean, new post and make it a sticky in the Zeiss Ikon folder as this is really great info).

(My IIIa has a serial number of D78244 and is therefore made 3/1955 - 1/1956. Cool.)
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Old 05-26-2006   #15
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I made this thread sticky so that it can be easily found in the future.
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dating postwar lenses
Old 05-28-2006   #16
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dating postwar lenses

I've neglected to mention that I have a copy of both the post-war Thiele listing and the book by John Keesing, as well. The dating is very approximate, as the SN's were released in large batches. I would guess some batches were used over a period of several years. Still, it's better than no information.

I also found one lens that didn't fit the listings, and some info in Keesing. No additional answers on a request for information here several weeks ago. Evidently not a common item.

Will be glad to provide what I can on anything from the 1950's, except the Jena, which are in an additional book that I don't own. I cover the Carl Zeiss or Zeiss Opton's only.

Harry
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Old 07-10-2006   #17
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Hello! Any infos about pre-war bodies? I just received a lovely Contax-III body from FrankS that will undergo overhaul. It's serial number is B 63982

Thanks people!
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Old 07-11-2006   #18
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*bump bump*
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Old 07-11-2006   #19
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Max, sounds like 1936.
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Old 07-11-2006   #20
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That'd be incredible, both lens & body from same year! My collapsible sonnar from summer 1936 snuggles in perfectly with the body, much better than on the Kiev-2A (it tends to unlock if focused by a firm hand).
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Old 07-11-2006   #21
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This type of information can be tricky to come up with. Unless the company kept running records of serial numbers (a la Leitz/Leica), anything else may be at least partly speculation. And going that far back, before recalls and lawyers got into the act, probably makes it even more iffy. Someone would have to be able to delve into company records, undoubtedly the only reliable source.

In the case of Contax, it moved around a time or two, and there were even duplicate companies for a while. Then the Soviets robbed that cradle.

According to apparently reliable info, Soviet cameras' serial numbers started (the first two digits) with the year of manufacture. How reliable the cameras themselves were seems to depend on how much vodka the boys consumed the night before.
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Old 08-16-2006   #22
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ok what's the diif between the Mechanical sync and PC sycn. My IIIa has a T ser number it's the color dial
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Old 08-16-2006   #23
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Hum ok Ser Number T36748 camera is IIIa color dial with PC connection on back below meter adjustment screw. But ser number matches mech sync from 1952?


Contax IIIa, mechanical sync

Letter, Number series, Production dates
T, 35,001-40,000, 3/1951 to 7/1952
V, 20,001-25,000, 7/1952 to 10/1952
Y, 52,001-57,000, 11/1952 to 3/1953
A, 53,001-63,000, 4/1953 to 10/1953

Contax IIIa, PC sync

Letter, Number series, Production dates
B, 95,001-100,000, 11/1953 to 9/1954
C, 1-5,000, 10/1954 to 2/1955
D, 76,001-86,000, 3/1955 to 1/1956
F, 25,001-30,000, 2/1956 to 8/1956
L, 75,001-85,000, 7/1956 to 7/1961
O, 86,001-91,000, 11/1956 to 7/1957
Q, 1 to 25, 1960
R, 34.001-38,000, 2/1961 to 8/1962
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Old 08-17-2006   #24
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The color dial cameras have standard PC flash connections. BD have a proprietary mechanical flash with require a special cable.
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Old 08-17-2006   #25
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ok but the serial number matches a mech sync camera from 1952 Is there cross over between the two models? The serial number is the same on the shoe and inside the body.
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Old 08-17-2006   #26
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Your camera may have been converted to PC sync. No problem.
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Old 08-17-2006   #27
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just wondered if there was agrey area in the models. From what I read there is internal differances between the mech sync and PC sync cameras. Oh the PC does work on my cameras. Oh well it takes nice pictures either way.
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Old 02-13-2007   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varjag
Max, sounds like 1936.
So my new III #E39812 would be from 1939??
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Old 02-13-2007   #29
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According to the Foto Saga book cited by Stephen Gandy:

http://www.cameraquest.com/zconrf2.htm

the E series dates to approximately 1937.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HuubL
So my new III #E39812 would be from 1939??
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Old 02-13-2007   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furcafe
According to the Foto Saga book cited by Stephen Gandy:

http://www.cameraquest.com/zconrf2.htm

the E series dates to approximately 1937.
Wow... Thanks for checking. 70 years old! And still looking like a young lady! I'll try to post her portrait shortly.
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Old 02-14-2007   #31
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Quote:
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Wow... Thanks for checking. 70 years old! And still looking like a young lady! I'll try to post her portrait shortly.
Check out the 'Show off your Contax' thread...
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Old 10-11-2007   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dexdog
Frank S, good idea. Data is taken from "On the Trail of the Contax, Volume II" by Hans-Jurgen Kuc. For some reason, the table gets knocked out of format when posted, although it was fine when I typed it up in the message interface. I'll see if I can make it a sticky, too


Contax IIIa, mechanical sync

Letter, Serial Number, Production dates
A, 53,001-63,000, 4/1953 to 10/1953
Thanks, Mark.
My IIIa dates back to 1953.
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Old 02-02-2009   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry01562 View Post
I've neglected to mention that I have a copy of both the post-war Thiele listing and the book by John Keesing, as well. The dating is very approximate, as the SN's were released in large batches. I would guess some batches were used over a period of several years. Still, it's better than no information.

I also found one lens that didn't fit the listings, and some info in Keesing. No additional answers on a request for information here several weeks ago. Evidently not a common item.

Will be glad to provide what I can on anything from the 1950's, except the Jena, which are in an additional book that I don't own. I cover the Carl Zeiss or Zeiss Opton's only.

Harry
Hi Harry,
I just got my first contax from a fellow RFFer. Would you please let me know the date of this lens: Sonnar 1:2 f=50mm T Carl Zeiss Jenna Nr. 3501328, and it come with a IIIA # L76699.
What confused me that this lens is coated T lens in chrome while people often say only (East German) pre-war lens are chrome and only post war lens are coated.
So I would be appreciate if some one can tell me the relative age of this lens.
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Old 02-02-2009   #34
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Harry specifically noted that he can't help w/the Jena lenses as he doesn't have that book. FYI, Carl Zeiss Jena lenses were "T" coated starting in the late 1930s & during WWII, & were also coated after WWII, when Jena became part of "E. Germany" & were also produced in "W. Germany" in Oberkochen under 1st the "Zeiss-Opton" & later the "Carl Zeiss" labels after the Zeiss empire split up.

As far as mounts, to simplify things, before WWII, the CZJ lenses were all heavy chrome on brass (though early lenses for the original Contax I also had black enamel finish in addition to the chrome). During the war, as brass & chrome supplies were diverted to military use, Zeiss put many lenses into mixed alloy & brass or all-alloy mounts. After WWII, the "E. German" CZJ lenses tended to be put into lightweight aluminum alloy mounts, not that different from the Ukrainian Jupiters, though some in the immediate post-war period can be in a mix of brass & alloy like some wartime lenses. The post-WWII Zeiss-Opton & Carl Zeiss, i.e., W. German Zeiss lenses, were all in chrome & brass mounts (different & not as heavy as the pre-WWII Jena lenses).

Your Sonnar is definitely post-WWII, but for a more definitive answer, you should post your serial #s to the Zeiss Ikon Collectors Group (ZICG):

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ZICG/

It is my understanding that because of differences in trademark enforcement & incentives to get around price maintenance rules (in the U.S., camera bodies often couldn't be sold @ a discount unless bundled w/a 3rd party lens, which would include an E. German lens @ the time), the E. German Sonnars were more commonly sold/found in the U.S. than in Europe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Letien View Post
Hi Harry,
I just got my first contax from a fellow RFFer. Would you please let me know the date of this lens: Sonnar 1:2 f=50mm T Carl Zeiss Jenna Nr. 3501328, and it come with a IIIA # L76699.
What confused me that this lens is coated T lens in chrome while people often say only (East German) pre-war lens are chrome and only post war lens are coated.
So I would be appreciate if some one can tell me the relative age of this lens.
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Last edited by furcafe : 02-02-2009 at 13:23. Reason: Clarification
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Old 02-02-2009   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Letien View Post
Hi Harry,
I just got my first contax from a fellow RFFer. Would you please let me know the date of this lens: Sonnar 1:2 f=50mm T Carl Zeiss Jenna Nr. 3501328, and it come with a IIIA # L76699.
What confused me that this lens is coated T lens in chrome while people often say only (East German) pre-war lens are chrome and only post war lens are coated.
So I would be appreciate if some one can tell me the relative age of this lens.
According to Hartmut Thiele's book, you Sonnar is part of a batch completed/delivered January 25, 1951
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Old 02-02-2009   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Letien View Post
Hi Harry,
I just got my first contax from a fellow RFFer. it come with a IIIA # L76699.
As mentioned, I don't have the data on the Jena lenses. Your body was part of a group of 10,000 released to production between 7/1956 and 7/1961. Those numbers ran from 75,001 to 85,000, so your body was among the early ones in the group. Your Contax is one of the colored dial later model. A very nice camera to use.

Harry
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Old 02-03-2009   #37
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Thank you all for the valuable info. Now I am looking for a place to CLA. There is a camera shop near my home that can handle classic cameras but I have to wait until Monday to know if the tech still want to work on Contax IIIA.
Thanks
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Old 02-03-2009   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Letien View Post
Thank you all for the valuable info. Now I am looking for a place to CLA. There is a camera shop near my home that can handle classic cameras but I have to wait until Monday to know if the tech still want to work on Contax IIIA.
Thanks
Don't know where you are, but if the USA, Eddy Smolov in NYC works on Contax cameras. I think that Raid Amin had a camera CLA'd there, and was quite happy with the service.
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Advice Request: Contax Model and Value
Old 02-19-2009   #39
Tim San Francisco
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Advice Request: Contax Model and Value

Advice requested, opinions welcome:



I ran into this Contax RF at an estate sale auction while overseas. Sorry for the lousy image, I'm stuck with only a cell phone camera. Can anyone advise what I am looking at (I, II, II or other model), and the reasonable market value. The body is good - excellent shape, with some minor bright marks and scratches, but no dings or dents. The lens is a Sonnar 1.5 50mm and surfaces looks nice, except for dots inside, which I unfortunately suspect is fungus.

I confess ignorance here, as I'm shooting a Leica M and Hexar AF, and have no experience with Contax or Zeiss cameras. The only number I can find in stamped on the accessory shoe "30056" and inside the lens rim "Nr 716217" Am I correct in assuming the lens is fixed to the body?

Compared to my used M, the lens movement is loose and rough, as it makes sound when moving.

Reasonable price range for this? Or would you simply take a pass, given the apparent fungus inside the glass?

Thanks, Tim SF
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Old 02-19-2009   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim San Francisco View Post
Advice requested, opinions welcome:



I ran into this Contax RF at an estate sale auction while overseas. Sorry for the lousy image, I'm stuck with only a cell phone camera. Can anyone advise what I am looking at (I, II, II or other model), and the reasonable market value. The body is good - excellent shape, with some minor bright marks and scratches, but no dings or dents. The lens is a Sonnar 1.5 50mm and surfaces looks nice, except for dots inside, which I unfortunately suspect is fungus.

I confess ignorance here, as I'm shooting a Leica M and Hexar AF, and have no experience with Contax or Zeiss cameras. The only number I can find in stamped on the accessory shoe "30056" and inside the lens rim "Nr 716217" Am I correct in assuming the lens is fixed to the body?

Compared to my used M, the lens movement is loose and rough, as it makes sound when moving.

Reasonable price range for this? Or would you simply take a pass, given the apparent fungus inside the glass?

Thanks, Tim SF
it is a Contax IIa from the photo.
since you did not post a rear and top view photo, the body serial # will be used to ID it further.

the serial # place it as a colour dial from 1956/57, going by dexdog's list.
these had the normal PC socket for flash sync.
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