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Need some help with a kit value.
Old 05-13-2017   #1
skopar steve
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Need some help with a kit value.

Hello RFF friends,

There is a Contax IIa Kit listed on craigslist that I'm interested in. It consists of the IIa body(can't tell color or black dial from photo), 50 1.5 , 35 2.8 and 135 4. lenses with finders. Couple of Zeiss filters and original manual.

All are one owner items, but from the photo it's hard to determine condition. They are asking $700. as that was an appraisal they have from a camera store back in 2008. I was thinking $500. would be reasonable it the equipment is in excellent condition. Am I way off the mark in either direction?

Thanks Steve
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Old 05-13-2017   #2
Chubberino
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If it's something you want to use and not resell, I'd pay the $700 which seems like a good deal, but definitely negotiate if they've left it open for that. It looks like on eBay a good condition IIa with the 1.5 sonnar can fetch close to $500, the 35 can fetch close to $400, and the 135 close to $100.
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Old 05-13-2017   #3
Livesteamer
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I suspect the real value is in the lenses. Mostly the 35 and 50. The camera is almost certain to need service. I think $700 is at the high end. $500 would be a much better deal. Good Luck. Joe
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Old 05-13-2017   #4
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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If it is in need of servicing (and most are) $5-600 would probably be closer to the mark assuming the lenses are reasonable. Tip top examples ready for years of use are much less common when it comes to the Contax rangefinders, because most owners who have spent the time or money, (not unreasonably), usually prefer to keep them. When they do become available, the price generally reflects this.

There's also something to be said for acquiring a period kit as it was originally sold and keeping it that way. When vintage kit is sold online inevitably it's parted out, which in some ways can be a real shame. As has been suggested, if you are planning to keep it for a long time and the condition justifies it, you might want to buy it anyway, even if a reduction in price is not forthcoming. $700, whilst a little over the odds, is not outrageously expensive if you cost the individual components separately. And market value and what it's worth to you (or me, or whoever) are not always the same thing, are they?
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Old 05-13-2017   #5
skopar steve
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Thanks gentlemen. Yes it is a kit I wish to keep and use. The kit was purchased by the widows husband when he was stationed in Stuttgart in 1957. Guess I'll travel down to the coast to take a look at it. Not comfortable using aggressive haggling skills on a sweet elderly widow, so I will prepare to spend more if the equipment is in excellent condition.

Thanks again for your input.

Steve
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Old 05-14-2017   #6
David Hughes
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Apologies for this downer but Contax II's can fail and fail quickly and badly/expensively. So I wouldn't pay the top price even if it was in mint condition because I know what it takes to get them working again...

As I said, apologies for the downer.

Regards, David
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Old 05-14-2017   #7
goamules
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Just because she's old, doesn't mean she is vulnerable. She came up with that price somewhere, which is high. Probably ebay. Otherwise, the camera probably was "very expensive" when she bought it, about $175. Why now $700? She looked at the highest asking price on ebay.
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Old 05-14-2017   #8
skopar steve
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No apologies necessary David. I'm looking for as many opinions as I can get. Trying to avoid making a bad decision on a rangefinder purchase. It would really be a downer if I picked up a kit that would require me to spend the same money again to have it function properly.

Having done some research on repairing a IIa, it became apparent that not only is it expensive, but the wait time is over a year at Henry Scherers shop. Albeit his is an overhaul rather than a CLA. Most everything I've read about this camera and lenses has been positive. The glass has a distinct signature, and the body is a fine mechanical machine. However I wish to hear the good, the bad and the ugly to make an informed decision.

Steve
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Old 05-14-2017   #9
skopar steve
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Hey Garrett,

There is a photo of an appraisal of the kit from a photo shop done in 2008 in the ad. It appears they put in in the shop on consignment. At close examination there was a note stating someone offered $575. That's how I came up with $500. for an offer. Appears she is sticking to the appraisal.

Steve
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Old 05-14-2017   #10
rybolt
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Consider the value to be in the lenses and the finder rather than in the body.
Finding a working body is a crapshoot and even if it does work it can fail at any moment.
The value of the lenses is diminished by the fact that adapters for mirrorless cameras are so expensive.
Having said that, I was out shooting with the 50mm f15 Sonnar this morning (on a Fuji XT1 with Amedeo's adapter) and it's a great lens.
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Old 05-14-2017   #11
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skopar steve View Post
No apologies necessary David. I'm looking for as many opinions as I can get. Trying to avoid making a bad decision on a rangefinder purchase. It would really be a downer if I picked up a kit that would require me to spend the same money again to have it function properly.

Having done some research on repairing a IIa, it became apparent that not only is it expensive, but the wait time is over a year at Henry Scherers shop. Albeit his is an overhaul rather than a CLA. Most everything I've read about this camera and lenses has been positive. The glass has a distinct signature, and the body is a fine mechanical machine. However I wish to hear the good, the bad and the ugly to make an informed decision.

Steve
Steve,
This is not a universally held view but if you really want to shoot with those fabulous Zeiss lenses on a native body, the purest iteration Zeiss ever made was the pre-war (also, mid-war) production Contax II. It's an unconventional design and though ribbons need replacement every decade or so with some reasonable repair skills you can do this yourself. The mechanisms last halfway to forever if their springs are not over-tensioned and the RF alignment, both horizontal and vertical, is so stable that examples can often be found in perfect calibration untouched since being set by the Zeiss technicians eighty years ago. Best of all the great weakness of the postwar models, shutter tapering or capping, just won't happen to a II once it's been set up with decent ribbons.

A number of us here have done ribbon replacement and cleaning of the I/II/III. The I is not for beginners but the II is not as hard to work on as people tend to think—it's simply a unique design that's different to other shutters. We'd be happy to guide you through getting a II going, if you're up to having a crack at it. See here for more discussion on Contax II/III and IIa/IIIa issues. There's much, much, much more in this forums archives so it's just a primer.
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...d.php?t=161062
Cheers
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Old 05-15-2017   #12
David Hughes
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Hi,

I'll go along with you there, mine was a 1936 Contax II and - luckily - the technician had an extremely elderly and new Kiev shutter he'd saved for parts and so my II was saved. FWIW, both ribbons had failed. Anyway, I was using it a few weeks ago and this has reminded my that I ought to get the elderly Kiev out and use it too.

BTW, Oleg at OKVintage etc can repair Contax cameras and probably has a good supply of Kiev parts. My experience suggests they work and work well.

Regards, David

PS What nearly broke the bank was getting an original Contax II instruction manual...
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Recent Puchases for Comparison
Old 05-17-2017   #13
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Recent Puchases for Comparison

For comparison, I picked up two Contax kits recently. A IIa color dial with 50 f2 zeiss lens / case and a IIa black dial with 35 f2.8 and 135 f4 for a total of about $650 with matching Zeiss finders. I cleaned the slow speed mechanisms using lighter fluid (See Rick Oleson's instructions to get to slow speed mechanism.) and I now have a pair of nicely working vintage cameras.

I try to see what the "street" price is on an item.....using Igor's website as well as KEH as price guides. Showing a prospective seller what you can get a similar item for goes a long way to give them perspective on what their equipment is worth. I also try to go from a "win / win" perspective......i.e.: they don't have to go through the hassle of listing and shipping an item, and the I get a reasonable price.

PS - The aperture on the 135 f4 was bad......anyone in need for a Zeiss 135 f4 unassembled lens kit?? ;-)


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Old 05-18-2017   #14
skopar steve
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Hey rybolt,

I have an XE-1 but have never mounted "vintage" glass to it. An alternative if the body craps out. Not that my heart is set on a Contax rangefinder system. Just looking for a rangefinder to shoot film with at a price I can afford. The bargain priced Vittessa T purchased a number of years ago cost me a lot to have repaired. Could have bought a Bessa and lens for what I've got into it.

Good information from Brett and David to help do some repairs when the need arises. But the idea of buying the kit together is attractive to me.

Thanks steevo for sharing your experience with the Contax kit you purchased. I have found pricing all over the place on these items. I low balled someone selling a Nikon rangefinder with 50mm lens on craigslist. Should have done better research before making a bid.

At the end of the day this is about me trying get over the sting of having made a terrible decision selling my Leica gear years ago. Thinking I can find a reasonably priced kit that will deliver similar results. Going to look at the Contax tomorrow. We will see if reason or emotion prevails.
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Old 05-23-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skopar steve View Post
No apologies necessary David. I'm looking for as many opinions as I can get. Trying to avoid making a bad decision on a rangefinder purchase. It would really be a downer if I picked up a kit that would require me to spend the same money again to have it function properly.

Having done some research on repairing a IIa, it became apparent that not only is it expensive, but the wait time is over a year at Henry Scherers shop. Albeit his is an overhaul rather than a CLA. Most everything I've read about this camera and lenses has been positive. The glass has a distinct signature, and the body is a fine mechanical machine. However I wish to hear the good, the bad and the ugly to make an informed decision.

Steve
Other people not named Henry repairs these cameras, as well as the pre-war Contax rangefinder. You don't need a magic wand. And the repairs themselves are not that expensive. Even one of the sponsors of this forum repairs the post war Contax (long as there is no vertical misalignment), and his technician was trained by Zeiss.
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