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Old 09-03-2013   #161
tunalegs
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What is the Contaflex like compared to other German leaf shutter SLRs? If anybody has owned other ones. I recently handled a Kodak Retina Reflex at a junk sale, and was surprised by how large it was, but it was still in working order. Passed because there was no price market on it and that usually means the seller is going to ask something absurd.
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Old 09-03-2013   #162
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The pre New Super/Super B/Super BCs are very compact, but heavy
Finders are bright and contrasty when clean

I'm tempted to have one redone by Henry, but I'm gonna ask around first
I can slowly save a few bucks every month for this to work
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Old 09-03-2013   #163
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This thread unintentionally prompted me to get a set of my own I love old Zeiss stuff.


My Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super Kit by lamlux.net, on Flickr
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Old 09-03-2013   #164
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Nice looking set Dave. ;-)

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Old 09-03-2013   #165
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Nice looking set Dave. ;-)

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Under the careful ownership of you, the set is great! Thanks again.
I just refreshed the shutter low-speed gearing and all is well now.
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Old 09-03-2013   #166
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Nice a small barrel 1:4 35mm ProTessar! I have the step up filterring to mount S60 filters to this lens. The Super is a fantastic cam ;-)
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Old 09-03-2013   #167
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You know, I always see the 60mm 1132 hoods for the telephoto, but never the smaller one for the 35mm (so I don't know the size or number). Are they that rare?

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Old 09-03-2013   #168
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The Contaflex I was my first "real" camera, and I still have it! I used it via a toilet roll to attach to a microscope when doing my thesis - it worked very well. I also have a Super BC with the Pro-Tessars. Henry Scherer worked on the camera which is excellent. Both are in storage in Perth, as there is a limit as to what I could take on an overseas assignment, preferring to bring the Contax. The manufacturing standards which Zeiss used at the time were very high, the chrome is very good and almost scratch proof. A journey into the past - thanks for the post!
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Old 09-04-2013   #169
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What is the Contaflex like compared to other German leaf shutter SLRs? If anybody has owned other ones. I recently handled a Kodak Retina Reflex at a junk sale, and was surprised by how large it was, but it was still in working order. Passed because there was no price market on it and that usually means the seller is going to ask something absurd.
I haven't acquired a Retina Reflex or eg. an Ambiflex yet but as I like the configuration maybe one day. I do have a Bessamatic (first model) I've put quite a lot of film through. There are a few different types of Contaflex though. This has to be borne in mind when making comparisons. Perhaps we should recap those.

The original had a 45mm Tessar f/2.8 lens and is front cell focus. The II added an uncoupled meter to the design. These first two types are very compact for a 35mm SLR, lens shutter or otherwise. The throw on the focus ring is small, the ring is at the front and it uses setting rings for the aperture and shutter. They fall to hand easily.

The III changed the design substantially in many ways. The lens became a 50mm f/2.8 and it was unit focus. The camera body grew in size a bit. The focus ring moved to the back near the body, with two small grips for thumb and finger (the precise location of which around the "clock" varied through the models). Rings for shutter and aperture worked the relevant setting dials on the S/C shutter. The Contaflex IV added a light meter, still uncoupled, to the design of the III which was essentially unchanged.

When the Rapid and first Super arrived the bodies had grown a little more. They were able to accept the interchangeable film magazines for the first time. The Rapid has no meter fitted. It is the rarest Contaflex, with well under 20,000 made. It is the only Tessar model to feature "Contaflex" in cursive script making it unmistakeable.

The Super is also unique. A thumb wheel on the front left of the camera sets the f stop and the light meter was finally coupled to the exposure controls. It is the most numerous Contaflex type. See lam's photo for an example of the first Super.

A New Super model changed to conventional setting rings and a new selenium meter with larger cell. It's not so common and looks very similar to the Super B which introduced shutter priority auto exposure. Subsequently it was modified to take a battery powered CdS cell for TTL metering and became the Super BC. With changes to badging and finish it became the final model, the S.

Cheaper models with Pantar lenses and Prontor models were also made (the Prima, Alpha and Beta). I've stayed away from these to date, depending on condition they are often little if any cheaper than examples fitted with superior Tessar lenses.

Compared to the Bessamatic later Contaflex models have ergonomics that aren't quite as good, in my opinion. The Bessamatic lenses focus rings are where you expect to find them and the exposure setting wheel on the top left, if correctly installed and lubricated, works well as does the accurate selenium meter. The Bessamatic mechanism is beautifully made, and, I believe, essentially reliable, but it is more complicated than the Contaflex equivalent, even the unit focus types. A lot more work is needed to access the shutter of the Bessamatic. But they do sound amazing when you fire them. All those gears, rings and levers make a beautiful noise when they do their job. Occasionally parts of the Bessamatic go out of adjustment due to wear (such as the cocking rack underneath the body).

The different Contaflex types often need attention before they will deliver reliable service, but the main issue is generally only the shutter requiring cleaning. The body mechanism is usually OK. Sometimes the capping plate of later models runs a bit late (the lens shutter blades have just separated before the rear plate has found its seat). Of course there should be no overlap at all, to prevent fogging. I & II models had such conservative timing this is unlikely to ever be an issue for them, but later ones were very tight when new, and I suppose a little wear is enough to delay the capping plate. It's generally an easy fix via the eccentric accessed inside the film gate.

Mirrors can lose focus slightly as well, likely for the same reasons as the capping plate. The mirror adjuster is a cinch to reach from the bottom of the body with the back removed. Once again it is an easy fix, but is frequently not checked and corrected.

III & IV models have a particular issue where the attachment screws for the lens mount tend to loosen. This is not serious in itself, but in order to tighten them a ridiculous amount of the body has to be dismantled to reach them. They're my least favourite model to work on, for this reason.

Like any other camera of similar vintage selenium cells can be prone to failure or inaccuracy but there's still a fair chance of finding Contaflexes or Bessamatics with accurate cells in good order. The II and IV feature cover flaps for the cells when not in use. Although factors such as humidity and storage conditions impact on cell longevity, I think the cover flaps must help, as most of those ones I've handled have good cells. Early Supers dispensed with the cover flap, and my strike rate with these is probably under 50:50 for accuracy. Later models such as Super B tend to be more likely to have good working cells, they are also a little younger, though.

I don't have any personal experience of other makes such as the Retina Reflex or the Agfa SLRs yet. It's hard to say how they stand in terms of reliability because of this. I've read many comments that they are not as reliable but I've read many very inaccurate remarks about Contaflex reliability and quality also. I will say that, whilst they are not admittedly as straightforward as a lens shutter rangefinder, I think they are probably the least complex of the various German lens shutter cameras. The original Voigtlander Ultramatic arguably ranking as the most complex. They were made to the same good standards ZI applied to many of their other cameras, but their reputation for complexity scares people off getting them serviced. In this sense they are no better or worse than any other 1950s or 1960s design that has never had a CLA. Apart from some metering issues, in my experience it is unusual for one not to work well again after nothing more than a CLA, and this is usually limited to the shutter and its actuating components, not the body mechanism itself.
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Brett
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Old 09-04-2013   #170
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Now you opend Pandorras box!

I´m more into Bessamatic/Ultramatic and just have the Contaflex Set shown before.


Voigtländer Madness von Michael Relguag auf Flickr

Compered to the Bessamatic the Contaflex is a heavy unergonomic brick!!!
The range of lenses is very limited 35-50-85-115mm to the long list of lenses which came from Voigtländer or can easy be adapted (Schneider-Kreuznach/Kodak Retina) 28-350mm including the first Zoom lens ever the marvellous 2,8 36-82mm Zoomar!

Voigtländer Zoomar 2,8 36-82mm von Michael Relguag auf Flickr

But there is one point why I keep my Contaflex and still love it - the changeable magazins! No other 35mm camera in an reasonable price range has this. And when you travel with a motorbike and space is limited it is a very strong point!


Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Wechselmagazin von Michael Relguag auf Flickr
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Old 09-04-2013   #171
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*drooooool*
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Old 09-04-2013   #172
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I'm excited! Thanks to a RFF member, I have a Contaflex enroute soon that will be mine all mine. Yea!

The deal involved a little horse trading of some delicious film, so there are "yea!"s on both sides I think.

I figure it will take 2-3 weeks for international shipping and customs. I can wait that long. By the time it shows up I'll have forgotten and it will be a lovely surprise
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Old 09-04-2013   #173
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I'm excited! Thanks to a RFF member, I have a Contaflex enroute soon that will be mine all mine. Yea!

The deal involved a little horse trading of some delicious film, so there are "yea!"s on both sides I think.

I figure it will take 2-3 weeks for international shipping and customs. I can wait that long. By the time it shows up I'll have forgotten and it will be a lovely surprise
Congratulations, looking forward to seeing some photos with it and of it in due course.
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Old 09-05-2013   #174
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Under the careful ownership of you, the set is great! Thanks again.
I just refreshed the shutter low-speed gearing and all is well now.
I found years ago that a lot of kit are ruined by compulsive improper cleaning, and now am likely to offer a lens to one of my expert friends with a lot of experience to clean them. Modern hard lenses resist more abuse of course.

I watched a few years ago when the buyer for a large store in Europe paid peanuts to a widow for a mint black Leica II - with books and accessories, then used his shirt to wipe the lens before he handed it to the service man sharing the office, asking if the lens was nickel.

I think he got lucky, his shirt was clean, and even I could tell the lens was nickel.

Enjoy the camera, glad it has a good home.

John
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Old 01-02-2015   #175
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Reviving the old contaflex thread.
Just by chance was browsing the auction site when I came across a Super BC with a very low BIN. Been in the family since new - works - just want it go to somebody who will appreciate it. It is now on its way to me!
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Contaflex I
Old 01-02-2015   #176
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Contaflex I

Been on the lookout for one for almost a year now. I'm waiting for a Contaflex I model to pop up. Mostly the ones I've seen lack the take up spool. More importantly though most have not been tested and I understand these cameras are hard to service in case the shutter is not fully operating up to spec.

Would still love to have one though
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Old 01-02-2015   #177
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Of all of the Contaflex camera, the Contaflex I and II are the easiest to service. However, the issue with many of these cameras is the pentaprism.

Because most have sat unused for decades, many of the pentaprisms are damaged by mold or fungus or de-silvering.

When servicing this camera, it's best if you don't remove the shutter. If you do, you must retension a "star" wheel that provides the tension used to open the aperture and shutter for focusing.

Aside from that, it's a standard Synchro Compur shutter without any unpleasant surprises.
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Old 01-02-2015   #178
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Hi Lawrence,
they are made of brass. Sending any lighter fluid down there is guaranteed to make it worse and seize it up completely. Any oils would inevitably find their way all over the shutter and aperture blades. No short cuts on this one I'm sorry. The shutter has to come out so the threads can be cleaned, fresh lube applied and re-assembled...

The description of the above probably makes it sound worse than it is, in truth, for a DIYer with some experience it's not that bad, just a bit tedious and fiddly. I wouldn't recommend it for a first time repair process though.
Cheers,
Brett
Geez, Brett, I can't believe I let this thread slip by without thanking you for the detailed procedure for getting at the focus helicoids! I've ruined my share of cameras in my DIY frenzies, but this one might be within my capabilities. Or I may just send it out, since it is otherwise in very fine shape.
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Old 01-02-2015   #179
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Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
Reviving the old contaflex thread.
Just by chance was browsing the auction site when I came across a Super BC with a very low BIN. Been in the family since new - works - just want it go to somebody who will appreciate it. It is now on its way to me!
Congratulations. A Super BC is the model I have been using the most lately and its 50mm Tessar is very sharp. Don't be surprised if the shutter needs a clean, though. I've seen a lot of the cameras you've worked on, you'll be up to the job if it does.
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Old 01-02-2015   #180
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Geez, Brett, I can't believe I let this thread slip by without thanking you for the detailed procedure for getting at the focus helicoids! I've ruined my share of cameras in my DIY frenzies, but this one might be within my capabilities. Or I may just send it out, since it is otherwise in very fine shape.
You're welcome Lawrence. If you decide to do it yourself the best suggestions I can offer are to keep the focus at infinity at all times until the shutter is removed, and then, preferably using a depth gauge, take a reading of the height of the inner helix at infinity before removing it for cleaning and lubrication (after marking the start of the thread on each ring). This may enable you to get it back together with the infinity focus bang on first time (assuming it is presently correct of course). If not it will at least be in the ballpark.

I've had to set the helix right from scratch with these and it is certainly do-able, but requires much installation of shutter, checking, removal and re-installation after tweaking the relative position of the two focus rings until the installed shutter and lens are sitting at the correct distance from the film plane to give accurate infinity focus. It's not rocket science but quite tedious, so better not to have to correct it at all, or to only need minor adjustment to restore proper focus, or you can spend an hour or more ripping out the shutter and putting it back in again until you get them just so. But please don't put any lighter fluid into the camera as it is. You'll only move a lot of lube over other things that will then have to be removed to be cleaned off.

The other thing that can sometimes be an issue is extracting the centre lens cell once the front name ring and bayonet mounting rings have been removed. I've had cameras where this was finger tight, and have also had ones where they simply did not want to budge. Usually some rubber will give the friction needed to unfasten them, but occasionally you will strike one that is quite recalcitrant. A proper collet wrench is the go.

Older unit focus models up to the first Super had a small locating pin to accurately position the centre lens cell, and the serial number was often stamped on the side of the lens mount. This was a nice touch because one could compare this number with that on the removable front 50mm lens and verify they matched. This is something they dropped with the later models, whose centre cells were neither pinned nor stamped with their serial number and they also went to screen printing of the shutter and aperture markings instead of being engraved. Although the later types have the sharpest lenses, in certain respects they were not nearly as well made as the earlier ones.

These cameras do not usually seize their focus rings. What is more often a problem when the grease dries out is that the focus is not as smooth as it should be and there is often some wobble in the lens/shutter. This is simply because the grease that packed the helical threads has dried out and the lens can wobble in the threads. Once the focus rings have been cleaned and re-greased the focus will be smooth and the wobble disappears because it is just lack of damping from the dried grease that causes this. I & II models don't have this particular problem because they have threads that are very fine and smaller, being front cell focus types.

All the above applies to various Tessar models. I have only ever handled one Pantar lens model briefly, and have little interest in Alpha, Beta or Prima Contaflexes. It's not so much a case of them being bad cameras (although I would not expect the Reflex Prontor shutters they use to be as reliable as the Compur equivelent). It's simply that they aren't usually a great deal, if any, cheaper than a Contaflex with a Tessar lens, which is going to make better images. Unless is handed down to you from family or friends, I can't see much point getting a Pantar lens model when you could pick up a Tessar instead.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 01-02-2015   #181
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Been on the lookout for one for almost a year now. I'm waiting for a Contaflex I model to pop up. Mostly the ones I've seen lack the take up spool. More importantly though most have not been tested and I understand these cameras are hard to service in case the shutter is not fully operating up to spec.

Would still love to have one though
I may have a Contaflex I available later this year. But more people than ever are sending me cameras to fix, so it's getting harder to find the time to work on my own...another owner sent me their Rolleicord recently (purchased via eBay, was meant to work, didn't, has this ever happened before?). And a nice American owner wants me to get his Contaflex I going. They keep turning up. But if you want, I can let you know if I have a going Contaflex I to spare at some stage.
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Old 01-02-2015   #182
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I may have a Contaflex I available later this year. But more people than ever are sending me cameras to fix, so it's getting harder to find the time to work on my own...another owner sent me their Rolleicord recently (purchased via eBay, was meant to work, didn't, has this ever happened before?). And a nice American owner wants me to get his Contaflex I going. They keep turning up. But if you want, I can let you know if I have a going Contaflex I to spare at some stage.
Cheers,
Brett
Sure let me know! Would be better buying from here. And i am not really in a hurry

Thanks
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Old 01-02-2015   #183
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Here's a recent one from the Contaflex Super BC. Film was Fujifilm RVP, lens the 85mm f/3.2 Pro Tessar.
Subject is a gorgeous Triumph Tiger 100, seen at Ross in central Tasmania.
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Old 01-02-2015   #184
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Same camera, same film. Lens was Carl Zeiss 50mm Tessar with two dioptre Carl Zeiss close up lens fitted. Subject is a recently restored Ducati 200cc Elite single cylinder that is too beautiful for words really. Had to frame tight to dodge the other bikes and the madding crowd...

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Old 01-05-2015   #185
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The Super BC arrived today - and it is in excellent condition (the less tasteful of us might be tempted to use the term "minty"). I don't have a battery to test the meter or automatic expo. modes, but using manual settings everything works perfectly. Only issue is the missing take up spool... might be able to use one from an Exakta? Haven't tried yet.

The viewfinder is remarkably bright for a camera with TTL metering.
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Old 01-13-2015   #186
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The Super BC arrived today - and it is in excellent condition (the less tasteful of us might be tempted to use the term "minty"). I don't have a battery to test the meter or automatic expo. modes, but using manual settings everything works perfectly. Only issue is the missing take up spool... might be able to use one from an Exakta? Haven't tried yet.

The viewfinder is remarkably bright for a camera with TTL metering.
Sorry, missed this post. An Exakta spool might work. I use a Varex IIa a little bit and have noted the similarity to the Zeiss one in the past. Certainly worth a try, otherwise one from a spent 35mm canister may also be a possibility.

When one considers the 50mm Tessar is a f/2.8, the brightness of the finder is doubly impressive. All the Tessars fitted to the Contaflex range, right back to the original are decent performers. But in my experience, those late ones are real sharp. You may find yourself using it more than you expected to.

Check the usual len shutter things, but also the aperture stop down to make sure it's not sticking. When you get a battery, cross check that by using a constant light source, and adjusting the shutter speed/ASA to verify that the f top changes accordingly. There's a decent chance it will all be working well. Watch the aperture ring when manually setting exposure. Those markings rub off fairly easily. The little plastic grip at the 6 o clock position is an essential item if you don't want the f stop numbers to disappear!

One point not often inspected is the shutter/capping plate timing. Wind the camera slowly with the back off until the capping plate has only just seated fully. Stop winding but keep a constant pressure on the lever as spring pressure will make the mechanism back off very slightly, otherwise. Then, examine the lens shutter blades. With the unit focus models, especially the later ones, sometimes the plate can run a little late and you'll spot a pinhole opening at the shutter blades. Naturally if the camera is wound in bright light this can give some fogging. Later Contaflexes ran pretty tight timing between the plate and the shutter, so with some use, occasionally, the plate can lag enough to do this. The front cell models had much more conservative timing, and I don't think it could ever be an issue with those. There's an easy-ish fix for the issue if it manifests itself. Let me know, if you need more details.

The 35mm & 85mm Pro Tessars are excellent. With the late cameras, they are at their best, and are worth picking up.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 01-15-2015   #187
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I've since tried an Exakta spool and it does seem to fit and work nicely, although I haven't loaded film yet.
I checked the capping plate when I got the camera and that too seems to be working well. I'll put it through its paces once I've emptied two other cameras that have partial rolls in them.
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Old 01-19-2015   #188
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There's a Super B kit in the classifieds right now! (Pardon the infomercial interruption.) ;-)
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Old 01-30-2015   #189
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The Contaflex II that I spent so much time on repairing for a friend has came back to stay with me.


Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II by br1078phot, on Flickr

I was so happy, I got it a Teleskop to keep company with.


Teleskop 1.7 Mounted by br1078phot, on Flickr

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Old 01-30-2015   #190
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The Contaflex II that I spent so much time on repairing for a friend has came back to stay with me.


Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II by br1078phot, on Flickr

I was so happy, I got it a Teleskop to keep company with.


Teleskop 1.7 Mounted by br1078phot, on Flickr

PF
Brilliant! You put a lot of effort into that one as I recall—it couldn't be in better hands.

I have not found a Teleskop yet, but I will certainly get one eventually.
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