A new contax IIa

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Someonenameddavid, May 4, 2011.

  1. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    New to me at least, it looked little used at the yard sale....
    .... and the reason it is little used is because of two things:

    Thing 1: the focussing grates like metal on metal probably lacks some lubrication somewhere

    Thing 2: The shutter goes through episodes of unreliability, it will not fire for several (15 or so) actuations, then Voila! I put it on 1/25 and it shot 80 times without a hiccup......

    Oh it has a Zeiss Sonnar f/1.5 and is really clean and I have an M3 so I needed this and... and.... and... it was cheap...

    Who is the best to service this....?

    David :whistling:
     
  2. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

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    I am going down that same route. I recently purchased a nice IIa that has been sitting for 40 yrs. I'm sorry I didn't get your yard sale deal, but I did get a nice camera in need of service. I have been looking through various threads and found a guy named Harry Sherer that has some kind of a crazy 2 year waiting list but also a fellow named Jerry Sorin, jerrysorin3@gmail.com, 347-275-5999 who has a good reputation on Contax rf repair. Good luck. I can't wait to be able to go out and use mine.
     
  3. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    I discovered that by holding th camera upside down with the wind on wheel at the bottom apex then it winds on reliably. The focussing grind is ok, so I'm going to get some tri-x. And shoot wide open
     
  4. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Jerry Sorin is the guy Eddie Smolov began to recommend after he (Eddie) became very ill last year.

    I haven't sent him any work yet, but Eddie thought highly of him.
     
  5. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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    Essex camera is also a good option
    Nik
     
  6. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Does anyone know if Eddy Smolov has recovered? By the time I got to the third post above I was going to recommend Eddy, but then I saw the comment that he has been unwell. He did a good job on my Contax IIa, and would recommend him.
     
  7. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    I have thought a lot about the differences between my M3 and the IIa. As a happy coincidence they were made within a year of each other... Not so surprising because it also coincided with economic boom years here in Tulsa Oklahoma. I know that the M3 was owned by an engineer in the oil Industry ( I bought some of his engineering goodies at his estate sale). And the first owner of the Contax was an aircraft engineer. It looks like the Contax was passed on to his son who never used it because it was (and currently is) unreliable and creaky.

    However I consider my Leica to be my "princess Grace" camera: flawless, demure and appropriate for elegant situations. The Contax is my "Marlene Dietrich": a little older, angular, very fast in the dark.

    Neither of them would you take backpacking
     
  8. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I do not know. Nor do I really know what Eddy's illness was. I sent him a few emails last year, and when he failed to respond I called the phone number I had for him. He sounded quite ill, and said he wasn't taking in any work. Then he responded to one of my emails with Jerry's contact info.

    I like Eddy's work, too. He doesn't do "museum" restorations, but you get back a very solid, very serviceable user camera that you don't have to worry about. It just works.

    I have sent him a few FEDs, Kiev's, my Pentacon Six TL, and a bag full of FSU lenses over the years. They all work well, and with those the camera is cheap enough that I don't have to worry about it when I take it with me. If I loose one, I buy another and off it goes. I'd cry if I lost a Leica, but I don't worry about a FED. (And I'm not enough of a photographer to claim that the FED is beneath me. It's capable of more than I am.)

    I didn't ever send anything to Jerry, but Eddy did speak very highly of him. So I have no reason to doubt that they are both capable of quality work.
     
  9. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    I used Jerry Sorin to service my Contax II. He was quick, not expensive and did a good job. I will use him again.
    Norman
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The Contax has a much longer bass rangfinder and much faster and accurate to focus than the M3
     
  11. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    In its present condition the Contax is worse in every respect except the lens. The rangefinder, despite its theoretical advantage, is much more difficult to use in low light especially, and the focussing is readful with the painful wheel and the locking device. The shutter is unreliable... But I'm in love with its quirks. When finances allow I will get it restored. I will also get a Contax to leica adapter. Then I will see how good the sonnar is. Inevitably other lenses will follow: the russian 85 f2 and 53 f 1.8 and whatever zeiss lenses I can stumble across

    David
     
  12. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Focusing is actually pretty easy once you learn the "Contax grip" to do it. Assuming there's not something actually wrong with yours that is.
     
  13. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I rarely the focusing wheel. I simply release the lens via the lock and focus as I would any SLR. I don't think that I've had a problem focusing a Contax in low light. I like the smaller size of the IIa, and for me it's the ideal camera.
     
  14. aoresteen

    aoresteen Subscriber

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    About 5 years ago Heny rebuilt my Contax IIa. Back then the wait wasn't that bad (4 months?) and he did an absolutely great job on my IIa. Not sure what his back log is now.

    We need more qualified Contax repair shops!
     
  15. zesbaugh

    zesbaugh Member

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    Wait list is about 3 years now...give or take a year... I've been on it 6 months, think I'm somewhere around number 185. Henry said it's about a week turn-around per camera when I signed up. Latest update though is health issues are slowing him down somewhat.
    Up side is it gives me plenty of time to save up the money to pay for the overhaul!
     
  16. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    That made my day

    Those adapters are expensive :sad: but they show up on the 'bay not that infrequently I think.

    One thing I've found nice about using the Contax system is the lack of lenses. There were/are only 14 original lenses, and not that many 3rd party ones (Russian + Voitlander.) A friend of mine went so far as to say he sees the Contax as a fixed-lens RF. While I don't agree, I'm also a Leica user and there are zillions of lenses out there just waiting for you to mortgage your house for.

    I like to think being a Contax user helps prevent GAS (maybe)
     
  17. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I've thought about the lenses, and really -- how many lenses does one person need? The one downside is the gap in the postwar offerings between 21mm and 35mm. Perhaps, there should have been a 25mm or 28mm. Otherwise, I have no problem with what I have in my lineup: 21, 35, 50/1.5, 50/2.0, 85/2.0, 85/4 and 135/4.

    I've shot with the Contax IIa plenty at night and never had a problem focusing. I would say that the one downside is the lack of parallax-adjusting framelines. Otherwise, I've not really had any problems with this camera.

    But that's why there are so many cameras on the market. Everyone has their own preferences and thoughts about what works best for them.
     
  18. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    I would not use any camera in that condition for fear I would damage something that would be difficult to replace.
     
  19. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I would never wait three years for someone to service my camera. There are other credible alternatives available -- for less money and a much quicker turnaround.
     
  20. zesbaugh

    zesbaugh Member

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    True, but Henry doesn't just service, it's a top to bottom restoration. You get back an as new (or better) camera.
    Everything gets pulled, cleaned, checked for tollerance (down to the individual screws) and reassembled to factory specs (with original Contax parts or ones he fabricates himself - no Kiev bits sneeking in). For that I am willing to wait whatever time it takes.
    Or maybe I'm just a sucker...but since I'm already on the list I may as well stick it out.
     
  21. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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    Worth waiting for. I got a camera and two lenses back from him that look and work like new. Every shutter speed is perfect and even the finger focus wheel works smoothly. Expensive but worth every penny. The case and new leather he put my camera are superb. The lenses he cleaned look and work like new . Sharp at every aperture no focus shift and just a pleasure. All for less than the price of a new sonnar m mount i call it a bargain that wont be around forever Use the sonnar on an Amedeo adapter until you get your camera back

    Nik
     
  22. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    If you remove the lens, then extend the focussing helical. You will be able to see the helical inside. Put a pin sized drop of oil or some grease meant for cameras. Then work the mechanism back and forth til it is smooth. That should hold you until the service.
     
  23. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    After this thread I contacted Eddy about a few items I have been holding to send him over a year now.

    He is still not well. Here is his reply.

    from: EDWARD SMOLOV 123camerarepair@gmail.com
    date: Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM
    subject: Re: Are you taking work again ? Re: Large Format lenses in Compound shutters

    Dear Sir:

    At this time I am no longer taking any repairs because of my impaired health and am currently seeking treatment. As an alternative to me, I recommend you get in touch with a colleague of mine, Jerry Sorin, an experienced camera technician with nearly 30 years experience. He will provide the same service as I do. His email address is jerrysorin3@gmail.com. His phone # 347-275-5999 or cell # 646- 8318757
    Sorry for the inconvenience.
     
  24. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    My IIa had the same problem as the OP, bought it in late 2008. I used white lithium grease, as recommended hither and thither on the intertubes, and lubrication has been good ever since.