Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Cameras / Gear / Photography > Rangefinder Forum > Rangefinder Photography Discussion

Rangefinder Photography Discussion General discussions about Rangefinder Photography. This is a great place for questions and answers that are not addressed in a specific category. Take note there is also a General Photography forum.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Zeiss Ikon Contessa - Found My Everyday Rangefinder
Old 01-10-2017   #1
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
Zeiss Ikon Contessa - Found My Everyday Rangefinder

Well, I think I found my new EDC (every day carry) rangefinder, a Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35.

I bought it from eBay for $49.00. The shutter needed cleaning, but everything else was excellent, the meter still works and matches up to my Gossen Luna Pro F. The rangefinder is BRIGHT and contrasty, it's very easy to focus. Has a great Zeiss Opton T Tessar 45mm f2.8 lens. The Contessa is built extremely well also, typical Zeiss quality. It's one of the nicest built cameras I own.

The best thing is its size. When folded, the camera is TINY!

Here it is next to my Gossen Luna Pro F

Canon 50mm F1.5 Sonnar Test 3 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

And next to a can of pop

Zeiss Ikon Contessa by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-10-2017   #2
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
I processed my first roll that I shot through the camera tonight. These are just quick snaps from around the yard and walking around as I was waiting on tires being installed on my truck. I shot a roll of Tri-X and developed it in Pyrocat MC for 13 minutes.

I like what I see! The meter worked well, even shooting directly into the sun. The rangefinder is very accurate. The lens is plenty sharp, even wide open, and there isn't really any flare to speak of.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa Test Roll 1 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa Test Roll 2 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa Test Roll 3 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa Test Roll 4 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-10-2017   #3
unixrevolution
Registered User
 
unixrevolution's Avatar
 
unixrevolution is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Waldorf, MD
Age: 34
Posts: 874
That little guy is awesome! Really makes nice images.

I'd run out and buy one, but the Retina IIa is my go-to itty-bitty, sharp, perfect pocket rangefinder. At least until I find another XA again and can have a shootout.
__________________
Please, call me Erik.
Find me on: Flickr | PentaxForums | Large Format Photography Forum

"I decided to stop collecting cameras and become a photographer."
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #4
steveyork
Registered User
 
steveyork is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 430
Nice find. Steve Grady has a good article on this camera on his website. The only issue I have with post-war Zeiss rangefinders is that the rangefinder patch is small, albeit well defined. But if small is what you want in a rangefinder, maybe consider a Super Ikonta A -- that's both small and big!
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #5
Steve M.
Registered User
 
Steve M. is offline
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,409
I can see why you like it, looking at those shots. They're almost enough to entice me back to shooting again. Tri-X is such a wonderful film. Nothing else looks like it, and the tones in your developer are beautiful. Just the way B&W is supposed to look in my opinion.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #6
Sid836
Registered User
 
Sid836 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,132
You should try a Kodak Retina (I or II). You will like it even more.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #7
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
Thanks everyone.

I do have a Retina IIa, just got it yesterday in fact. Won it for $29.00.

While I like the IIa, the build quality just isn't there compared to the Contessa. The IIa feels kind of hollow, less robust compared to the contessa.

I fully plan on loading the IIa with some film and testing it out once I clean it up, but for right now, my vote definitely goes to the Contessa.

The IIa and Contessa are near identical in every dimension when they are closed though. I'll take some photos of them next to each other and post them here later today.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #8
johnnyrod
More cameras than shots
 
johnnyrod is offline
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Doncaster, UK
Posts: 332
I have just finished CLA on one of these and put a film in it, not even shot a frame yet. They are lovely to behold. I have a few of the later non-folding ones which are very much underrated, and are cheap but a bit bigger and heavier, though they can be easier to use for grabbing a shot. You got a good price too, I think the case from the Ikonta 35/folding Contina also fit if you don't have one, but not 100% sure. Not many with working meters, I held out for that as well!
__________________
How does this thing work?
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #9
KoNickon
Nick Merritt
 
KoNickon is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Hartford, CT USA
Age: 59
Posts: 3,064
I found out about these from Stephen "Grady's" site myself. Lovely cameras, beautifully crafted. But the separate winding and cocking is rather slow, and the shutter release is rather clumsy, being mounted on the side of the lens. All in all, I think the Retinas are easier to use, what with the body-mounted shutter release and rapid-wind lever (even those mounted on the camera bottom).
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #10
Huss
Registered User
 
Huss is offline
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Venice, CA
Posts: 4,247
I like mine but am not that keen on the viewfinder. There are no frame lines so it's hard to know what will be in the photo. I don't mind the separate actions required for cocking the shutter etc. It really is built incredibly well.
And yes, I first heard about it from cameraquest.com i.e. Stephen GANDY!
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #11
Robert Lai
Registered User
 
Robert Lai is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,392
I had one of these in the not so distant past. Mine had been fully overhauled by Henry Scherer. It worked great, but the tiny little focusing dial, and overall tinyness got to me after a while.

This may be a great camera for children or ladies with fine fingers, but for an average size man with average size fingers, this got to be too fussy to use.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #12
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
I'm 6'4" and weigh 230 lbs.

I really don't find it fiddly.

BUT, I normally shoot large format film, so this little camera is like lightning!
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-11-2017   #13
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
Here's a few comparison photos.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa vs Kodak Retina IIa 1 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa vs Kodak Retina IIa 2 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa vs Kodak Retina IIa 3 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa vs Kodak Retina IIa 5 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr

Zeiss Ikon Contessa vs Kodak Retina IIa 6 by Andrew Marjama, on Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-12-2017   #14
Peter Jennings
Registered User
 
Peter Jennings's Avatar
 
Peter Jennings is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Seoul
Posts: 320
Coincidentally, I just got one last week, too! Excellent condition but the rf needs cleaning and the lens board seems a little loose. I really look forward to shooting with it after seeing your test shots. I think it will be a nice companion for my Retinas. Really solid little camera.
__________________
Peter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-12-2017   #15
Hatchetman
Registered User
 
Hatchetman is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 194
Here's a shot I took a few years ago. not a great scan by any stretch!

Newsprint by Rob F, on Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-12-2017   #16
hilltime
Registered User
 
hilltime's Avatar
 
hilltime is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 91
Classic jewel of a camera. Can't beat the Zeiss-Ikon build quality, and
that Tessar is sharp.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-12-2017   #17
Pentode
Registered User
 
Pentode's Avatar
 
Pentode is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
...the separate winding and cocking is rather slow, and the shutter release is rather clumsy, being mounted on the side of the lens. All in all, I think the Retinas are easier to use, what with the body-mounted shutter release and rapid-wind lever...
I agree. My IIa is definitely more convenient to shoot with.

That said, I really like my Contessa, too, and I like its lens a lot. I just try to stick to subjects that sit still and let me take my time with the fiddly shutter. It's just so beautifully made; it's like a piece of jewelry. And yeah, my meter still works, too. Mine's sitting in my dining room right now with half a roll of long-expired Ektachrome 64x in it. I shot the first half last weekend.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2017   #18
Peter Jennings
Registered User
 
Peter Jennings's Avatar
 
Peter Jennings is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Seoul
Posts: 320
Apologies to the OP, but I have a quick question about my recently-acquired Contessa 35. With camera open and lens fully extended, the lens/shutter assembly wiggles up and down and side to side ever so slightly. Is this normal or should the lens board be rigidly in place when fully extended for picture taking?
Thanks, and sorry again for the hijacking.
__________________
Peter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-13-2017   #19
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jennings View Post
Apologies to the OP, but I have a quick question about my recently-acquired Contessa 35. With camera open and lens fully extended, the lens/shutter assembly wiggles up and down and side to side ever so slightly. Is this normal or should the lens board be rigidly in place when fully extended for picture taking?
Thanks, and sorry again for the hijacking.
Not a problem.

Mine doesn't wiggle at all, it locks in place and feels solid.

You might see of the ring/nut on the back of the lens (inside the camera body) is tightened down.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2017   #20
Peter Jennings
Registered User
 
Peter Jennings's Avatar
 
Peter Jennings is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Seoul
Posts: 320
Thanks.
I was fairly certain it should lock in place, but I couldn't detect any loose bits. I'll inspect it more closely now that I know for sure it's not operating properly.
__________________
Peter
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2017   #21
Colorado CJ
Registered User
 
Colorado CJ's Avatar
 
Colorado CJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 26
I have to take the door and push it down. It then locks in place by the two metal sides.

Are you sure that the bed is locked down all the way?

To fold it back up, you have to press in on the metal sides.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-14-2017   #22
DaveW
Registered User
 
DaveW is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 61
Colorado CJ - An interesting little bit that a lot of the Contessas are missing is a flat disk that screws into the thread mount on the front cover. I seem to have the only one I have ever seen. Question - I am sure you have noticed the thread around the viewfinder. Do you know what screws into that? I have not seen any eye relief device for that and it tends to scratch my glasses which causes me to not use the camera as much as I would like.
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-19-2017   #23
johnnyrod
More cameras than shots
 
johnnyrod is offline
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Doncaster, UK
Posts: 332
Peter, open the back and you will see the notched ring that attaches the shutter to the camera. Waggle the lens around and if you can see movement here then it just needs tightening. It can be a bit fiddly though, and be careful of the bellows as there isn't much space.
__________________
How does this thing work?
  Reply With Quote

Old 01-19-2017   #24
Peter Jennings
Registered User
 
Peter Jennings's Avatar
 
Peter Jennings is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Seoul
Posts: 320
Thanks. I got it sorted out. The shutter/lens assembly was screwed down nice and tight, so that wasn't the problem. The two locking points to the right and left of the rf window were not grabbing the lens board tightly enough. A little gentle pressure with a small screwdriver on the outer edges of the two flanges that catch the lens board were enough to secure it. As I'd never handled a Contessa before, I wasn't sure what exactly the problem was. Now that it's fixed, it seems obvious.
__________________
Peter
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 16:26.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.