View Full Version : contax iia value?

10-27-2004, 02:11
Hi. I know some of you "collected" quite a few of the contaxes:D so you might know the answer to the question:
there's a contax IIa "red dial"(???i thought there's a color dial version. But red???) offered for sale with a coated sonnar 50/2. The rangefinder and shutter "work perfect" and it's in reasonable good condition (this is all the text says, not much; see photo).

If we suppose that everything works as should, what would YOU pay for it?
Currently the person asks 265 euro which i find way too much (for my budget). I think of more like 200. Am i unreasonable doing so? [I can't really spend more. Otherwise i'd buy the set of Tim here!!!]
It's within the Netherlands so tax/postage/risk does not apply, i can just go there and check it out. I might include a CLA for approx. 75 euro, if needed, that's 275 already...


Brian Sweeney
10-27-2004, 02:31
That is a "good" price with the lens, and all working well. 200Eur sounds too low; he would get a lot more on EBay. You could not touch a Nikon S2 with 5cm F2 lens for that price! If the VF/RF is clear and slow speeds work a CLA is probably not required. The Contax IIa is going for a premium over the IIIa as most Selenium cell meters have died. KEH camera would ask $350US for the body alone.

KEH camera Zeiss Contax Bodies. I WAS CLOSE BEFORE I LOOKED! (http://www.keh.com/shop/product.cfm?bid=CY&cid=02&sid=newused&crid=8993508)

10-27-2004, 07:33
Thanks, guys.

Well, Doug you were lucky (patient, if you prefer) with the deals you mention.
Indeed, i would prefer the f/1.5 Sonnar versus the f/2 (although i'm not sure i'd ever need that extra almost-one stop). And i don't care about flash stuff, i never use one; the meter is obsolete too.
But this is the camera that I've found for sale and it is reachable. My point is, buying internationally from e-bay is quite complicated for me (no credit card etc), and as Brian says, the e-bay prices are higher too (i checked a few finished auctions). Buying from a camera dealer would be even more expensive. Where did you find your exemplars???

In the last year, this is only the second contax in the Netherlands that i've found - the first one sold"as-is" very fast and it was pre-war+uncoated 50/2.

I think i've seen the Scherer page once, but thanks for the link, i'll check it thoroughly.

So far i got no answer from the owner regarding the eur200 offer...

EDIT: i just got an e-mail from him saying, he wants at least 250... :( I guess i'll have to wait for the next deal.

Rich Silfver
10-27-2004, 07:43
Questions about the Contax IIa:

a) Have you ever had any problem getting prints made from the film put through the Contax? I understand that the frames are spaced VERY closely together.

b) How well are you able to frame your subjects as there are no framelines in the viewfinder? (How well does it work with 50 and longer lenses)?

10-27-2004, 11:13
If it were me and I had the coins to hand, I'd snag it and run as it seems like a good price to me. This is presuming that the camera is as described. Good luck!

Thank you for putting this information up here. I've been bitten by the Contax bug I fear and I expect that sooner or later I'll "need" :) to have a IIa color dial. In the meantime, I'll have a nice Fedka Kiev 4a and whatever glass I can find.



Brian Sweeney
10-27-2004, 12:25
Pherdinand, that is a good price. If the CLA can wait a bit, you are unlikely to find a much better price for a usable camera.

D2: I looked at Henry's site closely, and will have to send my IIIa with F1.5 lens up there. It deserves it. Will have to wait a bit, I just sent an M2 and M3 up to Essex.

Cameras tend to go cheap if they need work. I picked up an EX+ M2 that required a $180 CLA and repair to the rewind gear. So for $600 I will have an EX+ just serviced M2. Same with the M3 from Jdos2; ~$350 for the M3 in 8/10 condition+$150 for a CLA. $500 for a perfectly good user M3. Trouble is the Contax IIIa works well; finder is right-on, all speeds work, and meter is accurate. The Leica's had to have the CLA's; the Contax "Gets by". But the finder has some haze, and it will be next on my list. I keep the Sonnar on a Nikon S2 that I changed the shims on the focus mount to better focus with THIS lens. It is good enough to also focus properly with the 8.5cm F2 and 13.5cm F3.5 'C'ontax lenses.

BTW: My Contax IIIa with the coated F1.5 Zeiss-Opton Sonnar ran me $200; but I did the (very friendly) shop owner a favor by selling some lenses on EBay at "no charge". He would have sold me the lenses for $100, and I got $300 for him. So I asked him to knock the difference off of what he wanted for the camera instead of his offer of splitting the money on the lenses.

10-27-2004, 17:33
You might want to check this one out - quite a bit of time left, but it's currently at a low enough price... (and I'm too broke to try for it)



10-28-2004, 02:27
Hmmm. Thanks for the confusing advices:)
I think i'll take a ride to the guy's place in the weekend and try the camera out. If i really really like how it handles, i might get it. But if it shows more damage than on the pictures, of if it acts funny, i certainly won't.

Thanks william for the link, looks interesting. I also see a few coated 1.5 sonnars on e-bay. Maybe i should try my luck there.

Doug, that is a very generous offer, thanks. By the way, do you know how much can a full overhaul at henry scherer cost? i know, it depends on the original condition, but just to have an idea about the order of magnitude. Couldn't find it on his page.


Brian Sweeney
10-28-2004, 02:45
The website must have been re-arranged, and with some typing into the address field and then pointing and clicking, I got here.

Henry's Price List (http://www.zeisscamera.com/ContaxIIa/Prices.html)

Long Story Short: You are looking at $205 for the camera and lens. A good price considering the level of effort, but something that your budget will have to defer. If the camera is in good working order, get it. If some marginal things like some haze in VF are there, have it CLA'd later. There is no doubt in my mind that my IIIa in present condition with the J-8 (I bought for $2 from Woodmere camera, perfect condition) on it would fetch at least $200 on EBay. 250Euro for the camera and lens, assuming it does not need a repair to operate, is a good price. Shoot some pictures with it, show it operates well, you can always resell it for at least that price.

10-28-2004, 08:30
Pherdinand, I'd say that 265 euro for the whole package, having in mind you can inspect the camera in person and you'll save the shipping (and possible customs) trouble, is a good price.

Pay it a visit, at worst you'll have between your hands a Contax IIa for a while, and that's worth a small trip on its own ;)

10-28-2004, 11:34
mmmm, to buy or not to buy, what a question!

10-29-2004, 01:00
:Dthanks, i appreciate.

As to Kingslake - well, i've found an even better book, applied photographic optics or stg like that, by Sidney F. Ray. It's from 2002, and it is very very thick:) but it's all very practical and well written. I do enjoy reading it as literature...you know, one or two hours in the evening... One can learn alot from its chapters.

10-29-2004, 05:03
Heh, I've found this http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=30028&item=3849298948&rd=1. I can't figure out what mirror is he talking about saying " the shutter release button is stuck down (this means I can't wind or fire the release) and the mirror is stuck up. The good news is, that the rangefinder is ok."


10-29-2004, 05:15
Seeing that the release looks like the Kiev's (for some funny reason... :) ) it's been turned while down and won't come up till turned the other way. It also means he's an idiot who knows nothing about what he has. I'm tempted to bid myself, but I'd rather avoid a bidding war with you. PM me; perhaps we can figure out what to do.


10-29-2004, 05:19
so you mean it's a fake contax? or a hybrid?:)
william, you know what's funny: it's from the same woodmere camera that sells the body you linked above in this thread:)) And which sold Brian a contax, if i remember correctly.
By the way, i checked - they have a SuperIkonta BX as well. With a 2.8 Tessar. 125 or 150 or something $.

10-29-2004, 06:05
Doug, check a library maybe...Or a mate having access to a university library...

10-29-2004, 07:12
:( the body-only contax IIa from woodmere camera, suggested by william, is already at $137.

Sorry guys for the whining and boring you with all these. I'll stop now and only report final results (if any).

RObert Budding
11-08-2004, 13:04
I bought my IIIa "through" Henry Scherer, and it is spectacular. He has a program, through which he will locate and purchase a camera, or lenses, for you. There is no charge for this service - you pay the price of the camera and shipping and agree to pay to have Henry overhaul the camera and lense.

Henry found me a camera that really is mint - it had probably had fewer than 20 rolls of film pass through it over the years. He performed an overhaul and it performs like a new camera. I can't recommend his services highly enough!

I have no connection with Henry, other than being a totally satisfied customer.

11-08-2004, 13:48
Well, I won the "stuck mirror" III, so 1) we'll see if it really is munged and 2) save the pennies for Henry. Now I just need to find myself sanely priced collapsable Tessar and Jupiter 9s and I'll be a happy little photographer.


11-08-2004, 15:12
Robert if you check back, would you mind sharing the final cost of the Contax camera you bought through Henry's program? It seems like an excellent way to get a fully serviced and working piece of history.

back alley
11-08-2004, 15:34
Originally posted by rover
Robert if you check back, would you mind sharing the final cost of the Contax camera you bought through Henry's program? It seems like an excellent way to get a fully serviced and working piece of history.

so now rover is thinking contax, hhmmm...


11-08-2004, 15:36
I just survived an ebay trip. No Contax or Kiev heading my way. Alex Photo has 3 nice black Kiev 4as listed.

back alley
11-08-2004, 15:47
i want a contax / kiev but think that i'm crazy for thinking it.
do i really want to start another whole different system? different mount?
why would i do that to myself?
and i think that move would put me in the dreaded collector category.


Brian Sweeney
11-08-2004, 16:41
Don't let the Canon "P" hear you talk!

And whatever you do, DON't Let the Canonator see a Non-Canon camera or non-LTM lens in the House! The real reason that I had to let it go...

I keep hearing "I'll be Back!" coming out of the drawer that it is locked into. The Nikons have broken out the 500mm F4 to keep it at bay.

back alley
11-08-2004, 17:05
mums the word!

11-08-2004, 23:30
Originally posted by rover
I just survived an ebay trip. No Contax or Kiev heading my way. Alex Photo has 3 nice black Kiev 4as listed.

I don't know about Contax.. I've handled one a few days ago, and it is a bit smoother than either of my Kievs, but the price.... :(

I don't know... Actually, ever since my M2 went to CLA, I've been shooting with my other cameras - a bit with Yashica Lynx 14e (nice and bright VF/RF, but big and heavy), a bit even with my Nikon EM and 50/1.8 (light, but I hate the automation and mirror slap!), and lately just my Kiev 4A.

I find the Kiev closest to the "feel" I get from my Leica - sounds preposterous, I know, but it's actually not big or heavy, fits into a bag/backpack nicely, and is very quiet. The only drawback is the squinty finder - although the RF focusing is very precise, due to its long RF base.

So, to anyone contemplating a Contax, I'd recommend trying out a Kiev first, as see how you like it. Buy them from trusted sources (some were already mentioned here on RFF, like Fedka), and see how you like them. I prefer the ones without the meter, since they make for a more compact street shooters.
I sincerely recommend also doing the DIY modification of the leather case - makes a world of difference once you can detach the top part, which no longer dangles from the bottom when you shoot....

I also think that the general opinion is that Russian lenses in Kiev mount are usually a bit better than their LTM counterparts, and you can indeed find some gems in Kiev mount. In short, you can have a very nice RF shooter for way below $100. And, compared to Canonets and other classic fixed-lens RF cameras of the Seventies, this one has interchangeable (and cheap) lenses.
BTW, Jupiter 12 is generally cheaper in Kiev than in LTM mount... And a late Jupiter 12 (black finish) can be great! BTW, look for one with blueish/violet colored coating...
The only drawback I noticed with my Kiev glass (i.e. J12 and J8) is that it has rather strange bokeh - "pointy" OOF sources of light are rendered as triangles instead of circles towards the edges of the frame :(

In short, as funny as it may seem, it took a Leica M2 to make me appreciate my Kiev 4A more :)


11-08-2004, 23:36
What model Kiev is that Denis? I am guessing 4a?

11-09-2004, 00:49
Originally posted by rover
What model Kiev is that Denis? I am guessing 4a?

Yes, Ralph - A Kiev 4A, with custom leather(ette) job. I'm quite proud of it - my first Kiev, which I tweaked in various (non-destructive) ways :)
Works quite fine, and looks nice, too...


11-09-2004, 01:07
well, just to add one thing, i'm trying hard not to become a collector. It's a too expensive hobby for me. (Stamp collecting was still affordable...)

This means, if the contax thing will work out for me (read: if i will like USING it out there), something else will have to leave...
Probably i will sell my yashica TLR (although i worked alot on it to align it perfectly and produces unbelievable picture quality), keeping only the CLA'd rolleicord; probably i will sell also two of my three compact RF's. Either both GSN's or one GSN and the CC with 35mm f/1.8 lens will go.

11-09-2004, 02:16
William, congrats and good luck with the "stuck mirror" body :)

Have any lens for it already?

11-09-2004, 03:28
Only my Jupiters (8m, 11, 12). They'll do for the meantime. My 4a is a really nice camera and will keep me quite happy till I can pay for Henry to fix/overhaul the III.