View Full Version : Another bit of Zeiss

12-17-2004, 10:29
So I'm telling the good news to the gentleman that I sold the Leica CL for and he reminds me that he has a Ziess-Ikon he'd also like me to sell.

I picked it up today. It's a battered and well used 1937 Contax III. The everready case is complete but starting to fall apart. The camera itself is in fairly rough shape. Lots of Zeiss bumps, the rangefinder is hazy and dim and the shutter is jammed. Probably a good user after Henry gets through with it, but not especially valuable right now.

OTOH, the lens... A collapsible pre-war uncoated Sonnar 2/50. A few light cleaning marks, but otherwise pristine under 30 years of dust. Even has the metal lens cap still with it. I am currently "testing" :D it on the Kiev 4a and fully expect that _I'll_ buy at least the lens from him and sell the body.

Anyone here want a Contax III in need of repair?


12-17-2004, 13:10
Well, should you decide to pass on the lens I would be interested in that. But in the interest of your friend you should probably consider keeping them as a kit (if you don't buy the lens) as at least in that way the body will have a little value.

Brian Sweeney
12-17-2004, 15:41
How much is he asking for the body and what is he asking for the lens?

The lens: I paid $80 for my uncoated 50mm F2 collapsible Sonnar in similar condition. I have paid $150 for a Mint Nikkor 5cm F2 Rigid. For the work that you are doing selling his gear, he ought to give you a great price!

I suspect that the jammed/ugly body is not going to much. A repair at Henry's will run $200, worth it for a cosmetically clean camera. That much to repair a banged up one is hard to justify. It could be used for parts; or a DIY repair.

Of course people are always interested!

12-17-2004, 15:45
I am considering offering him $100 - 150 for the combination and keeping the second body as a parts source for the III I have that Henry is repairing. The Sonnar appears in decent shape and that's the majority of what I'd be offering it to him for. A broken lens-less body isn't going to bring much on the bay, so this may well be a "what's best for both of us?" kind of thing.


Brian Sweeney
12-18-2004, 05:16
Be sure to remind him about the hard work that you put into selling his gear! I think you hit the right price for what it would sell for on EBay, closer to $100 would be a good price between friends doing each other favors. That is how I got my Contax IIIa with Zeiss-Optoin Sonnar 5cm F1.5 for $200. The shop owner was very happy with the price that I got for some of his stuff on EBay, and offered me half of the take. I took a discount on the Contax instead.

12-18-2004, 07:51
I got back an email from Henry verifying the lower price point. Essentially the body is only good as a parts source and he doesn't consider the lens to be all that great. Myself, I look at it as a good baseline lens for my III and 4a cameras. I'll go with offering him $100 for the pair as that, considering all of what I've found out, seems an honest price.

I stopped by my FLCS (favorite local camera shop) and picked up a 40.5 mm UV filter and a couple of rolls of XP2 this morning. My son has a christmas pagent dress rehersal this afternoon so that'll be a good time to exercise the larger apetures :D


01-04-2005, 20:04
I'm looking at eBay Contax IIa (first model) w/50 f2 Sonar Opton. Sure appreciate comments on this one. New to me.


01-04-2005, 20:37
In my college days I had a color-dial IIa with f/1.5 Opton Sonnar. The lens was terrific and the camera was really nice to use as long as you didn't mind the lack of 'modern conveniences' such as parallax compensation, finder bright frames, lever advance, crank rewind, etc.

(This was in the era when all my fellow students in my photojournalism class lugged huge canvas bags full of Nikon Ftns and lenses. Some of them seemed infuriated at my lack of 'seriousness' in showing up for class with one little camera body and one lens! They would be especially infuriated when I'd come back from exercises with better shots than they had -- with nothing but the IIa to carry, I didn't mind walking all over campus, going anywhere, climbing onto or into or on top of anything that might yield a good shot... I had made a leather belt case to hold the camera so my mobility was basically unlimited.)

I finally had to get rid of it, though, because eventually the shutter got to where it wouldn't fire at any temperature below 70 degrees, and I mean any -- 71 would be fine, 69 would be no go (or so it seemed to me then.) Today, of course, I could bung it off to Henry with a sack of money and get it back in perfect order... but back then (pre-Internet, remember) it was hard to find anybody who would work on them, let alone guarantee the results! So I traded it off for a Leica or some damn thing of that sort, and every now and then I kick myself.

That's a long-winded way of saying that the Contax is a great camera to use, but you probably had best be prepared to budget for a visit to the Scherer Contax Day Spa if you plan to use it seriously! Good luck...

01-05-2005, 01:57
here is a link to henry's web site


01-05-2005, 07:53
I just picked up an Ikon Nettar 515/16 when I was up in Toronto. Only $35, and the bellows are in great shape, shutter speeds seem ok. Took some pics and they look great projected on the easel but i'll have to make some prints to be sure. The viewfinder is accurate as long the subject is no closer than a stones throw. Its a real keeper. I know its not an RF but I had to share. This camera is really cool!

01-05-2005, 08:37
Originally posted by Sawdust
I'm looking at eBay Contax IIa (first model) w/50 f2 Sonar Opton. Sure appreciate comments on this one. New to me.


When I bought my first Contax (IIa) I also had a good assortment of Leica gear. Once my camera came back from Henry Scherer's (along with another IIa and a II) I quit using my Leicas and ended up giving them to my Dad. I wil not get into one of those "my camera can beat-up your camera" arguments and I am also not claiming that Contax is better than Leica -- it's just that Contaxes are "better" for me (I'll also never concede that Leica is better, either -- I've owned and used both). Besides, my brother and father are both "Leica guys" -- it gives us something to argue about at Thanksgiving:D

Here is a portion of an e-mail that Henry Scherer sent yesterday, it might help to explain the Contax appeal:

(snip)...The thing that attracts people to the Contax camera is its "hand madeness" and the fact that it is true art. I think it is the fact the cameras are art makes people want to own them the most. Today its hard to understand just how terribly expensive they were when they were new. Zeiss had a target audience in mind when they made their camera gear and this was a class of people who could afford to have whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it. Such people buy only things they perceive to be art and they are very good at this...(snip)



Contax provides everything I want in a rangefinder, and nothing that I do not need. I never use reflected light meters and consequently TTL or any in-camera meter has never interested me. Likewise with electronic shutters. Again, I'm not railing against these features for those that use them -- they're just not for me. I like simple, basic well-made mechanical cameras and superb optics. Zeiss provides all of this in the Contax and Alpa also provides it in SLR...just my personal opinions and preferences, but to each his own;)


01-17-2005, 00:01
I would be interested in the contax body as a project if you decide to pass it on. I am very nostalgic about zeiss cameras. The first zeiss camera I used as a kid was a 9X12cm Troppen Adoro. This is a plate camera, tropical version, that my dad used in the 1930s as a press camera. It also had an 828 format roll film back. I lugged this camera around while my friends ranted about how superior their the mechanical slrs were. I still have this camera while most of my friends have abandoned their slrs. One of my favorite cameras to use when I am travelling is my early postwar Ikonta B. I can carry it in my coat pocket and still get decent sized negatives.

01-17-2005, 01:43
Whats' a"tropical version" camera? What makes it tropical? Is the bellows made of giraffee skin or something?:)

01-17-2005, 03:35
while I don't know the exact definition, 'tropical cameras' are usually plate cameras from the late 19th/early 20rh c. that are not covered in leather, but are made from painted wood (mahogany and the likes), usually with brass fittings, and are supposed to be more resistant against fungus & mould when used in very humid climates.

01-17-2005, 16:22
Roman's description of a tropical camera pretty much describes my tropen(tropen=tropical auf deutsch) Adoro Zeiss. Specifically my camera is made of varnished honduras mahogany with brown leather bellows,outside of front door and ground glass door. The metal hardware is silver or silver plated brass. Lens is 4.5 13.5cm uncoated tessar in a compur rapid shutter. This camera came fitted with a sport finder, a reflex viewfinder which could be rotated to match camera orientation, and a rangerfinder. My dad, early on, removed the rangefinder because the linkage rubbed on the bellows. I still have the rangefinder. Most of these cameras didn't have a rangefinder.

01-18-2005, 02:30