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Jim Lager - Leica Historian Jim Lager is widely considered the best Leica historian ever, having authored arguably the best selection of Leica history books ever written. RFF is very fortunate to have access to his amazing Leica knowledge.

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Zeiss Contax Rangefinders by Jim Lager
Old 05-23-2018   #1
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Zeiss Contax Rangefinders by Jim Lager







Contax I with 5cm f/1.5 Sonnar



Contax I with 13.5 cm f/4 Sonnar and folding Albada viewfinder



Contax I with 2.8cm Tessar and Universal Viewfinder 28 to 1.5



Contax I case with 5cm 1.5 Sonnar
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Old 05-23-2018   #2
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Contax II / III Rangefinder



Transition Contax I and Contax II brochure
Even then the Contax I had a reputation for unreliability. It took some time to sell out of the Contax I.



For its time the Contax III was a technological wonder with its built in exposure meter.
Long past its time, today the meterless Contax II is preferred.



Zeiss Contax II has much better lenses than it smaller Leica III competitor, especially the super fast 50/1.5, 50/2, 85/2 Sonnars and the 35/2.8 Biogon. All were uncoated.








The chrome 18cm f/4 Tessar for the Contax II / III. An earlier black version was made for the Contax I.



40mm viewfinder for the rare chrome 4cm f/2 Biotar





Contax II / III 2.8cm to 18cm universal finder



3.5m f/4.5 Orthometer lens



waistlevel and standard 3.5cm viewfinder



multiple brightline viewfinder



85 and 135 viewfinder mask for Contax II



unusual multiple viewfinder for 50, 85, 135 and 180 lenses



Contameter 1343 for closeups.
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Old 05-23-2018   #3
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Contax IIa IIIA Rangefinder







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Old 05-23-2018   #4
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Contax IIIa with maroon Contax SLR strap and Heavystar vented hood on 1,5/50mm Zeiss-Opton Sonnar
In 2006 Camera had a CLA with repairs by Steve Serota / Camera Care including new selenium meter cell.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg 060822-04big.jpg (47.7 KB, 388 views)
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Old 07-08-2018   #5
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bump for those who did not notice this thread
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Old 07-08-2018   #6
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I did not know that Jim was interested in ... Contaxes??!!?? Does he like this one too?


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Old 07-08-2018   #7
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This one I bought from Ives Mascence, former director of Leica France. My only Contax I that works for 100%.


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Old 07-08-2018   #8
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Shot with a Contax I and a Nikkor 50mm f/2 lens.


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Old 07-08-2018   #9
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Wow, what great technology for the time. They were way ahead of everybody, maybe even Leica.
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Old 07-09-2018   #10
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Contax I , Version 5 and Version 4 respectively (according to Kuc's definitions)

With the Contax II, they definitely gave Leica a run for their money in the late 30s and early 40s.
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Old 07-09-2018   #11
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Nowadays the Contax I is above all a feast for the hobby-repairman.


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Old 07-09-2018   #12
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Greetings Erik, yes, the Contaxes have always been interesting to me. The Zeiss glass is
very fine. As a researcher I have most interest in the reflex housings Panflex, Flektoskop, and Flecktometer. Who is the current specialist on these elusive devices? The long Zeiss optics are so rare that it is an event when one comes into the market. 180,300,and 500mm for the reflex housings. Thanks, Jim Lager.
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Old 07-09-2018   #13
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Thank you, Jim.


Yes, apart from the optics the prewar Zeiss camera technology was also the springboard for the Nikon and Kiev designers, so of great interest anyway.


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Old 07-15-2018   #14
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Too many?

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Old 07-16-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
Too many?

I've never seen a Contax I type A in the flesh, did you, Rick?


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Old 07-16-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I've never seen a Contax I type A in the flesh, did you, Rick?


Erik.
Erik,

Do you mean the one with no slow speeds and the black ring on the speed dial (see bottom left) or something before it?

IMG_2881 by dralowid, on Flickr
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Old 07-16-2018   #17
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I don't recall I've ever seen a dimpled contax I ever.
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Old 07-16-2018   #18
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Do you have the book by Kuc? "Auf den Spuren der Contax" band 1?

The dimple camera is version 2 in this book. Before that one there was a model 1.


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Old 07-16-2018   #19
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I do have the book (since earlier this month) I don't think I've ever seen anything older than a version 4 in real life.

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Old 07-16-2018   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
I do have the book (since earlier this month) I don't think I've ever seen anything older than a version 4 in real life.


Yes, I have a 4 too, my best Contax I in fact. All times work. It even has a flash synch.


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Old 07-16-2018   #21
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I think my version 4 still needs an extra half-turn on the springs as the results at 1/100th setting in the sports group appears a little slow. 1/100th in the normal speeds group is even slower.


The shutter speeds on my version 5 are definitely closer to what they should be after the repair (except that Zeit, 1/500th and 1/1000th cap) (see the Contax I image thread in the Zeiss Ikon section)
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Old 07-16-2018   #22
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I have sold all, I am now Zeissless. This means that all the still cameras I have work on all speeds...as to accuracy, who knows?!
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Old 07-25-2018   #23
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Zeiss also did film:-





This is a daylight loading film; meaning a spool with a black paper wrapper that feeds the film out once in the cassette. Easily dated to 1932/34 according to my notes...


Regards, David
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Old 07-25-2018   #24
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Quote:
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Too many?


Amazing collection you have there. It stirs my interest in these cameras. My only hesitation has been the shutter mechanism, which seems overly complicated and a source of trouble when purchasing these. Have found this to be true, seeing that you have made several purchases ?
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Old 07-25-2018   #25
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Every Contax I & II I own needed servicing when I bought them, either because the shutter was running slow or it needed new shutter ribbons.
Both Contax I cameras I have repaired myself and the Contax II cameras I was lucky enough to have them serviced by an expert (who specializes in FSU cameras).

The Contax IIa worked fine out of the box.




Contax I (v5) with Ross Definex
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Old 07-25-2018   #26
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Beautiful pictures, Rick. This Contax I v5, does it have an aluminium shutter?


This Ross lens, is it an 85mm? f4?



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Old 07-25-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
This Contax I v5, does it have an aluminium shutter?
It appears so




Quote:
This Ross lens, is it an 85mm? f4?
3-1/2" (89mm) f/3.5, though some are marked as 91mm
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Old 07-25-2018   #28
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O, yes, I remember. My v5 has an aluminium shutter too.

Thank you, Rick.

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Old 07-25-2018   #29
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Rick, thanks for the info and again what a wonderful collection.
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Zeiss long lenses
Old 07-25-2018   #30
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Zeiss long lenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Lager View Post
Greetings Erik, yes, the Contaxes have always been interesting to me. The Zeiss glass is
very fine. As a researcher I have most interest in the reflex housings Panflex, Flektoskop, and Flecktometer. Who is the current specialist on these elusive devices? The long Zeiss optics are so rare that it is an event when one comes into the market. 180,300,and 500mm for the reflex housings. Thanks, Jim Lager.
Jim, I have the post-war Panflex, the Panflex Tessar and the 500mm Fernobjektiv in Panflex mount. I had the pre-war Panflex but sold it. Not sure I can answer all your questions,but I can try to answer some.
WES
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