Contaflex -gem or garbage?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Wolfeye, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I was given one of these today:

    [​IMG]

    Needs a good CLA, but is it worth it? I've only seen them repaired at Essex Camera and they charge $110 to start. Is this lens amazing or pedestrian?
     
  2. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Pantar lenses were average, not as good as the Tessar.

    The Contaflex is a good camera. Well built and very sturdy. It lacked a lot of modern features, such as lever wind, a rapid return mirror, a meter, a hinged back and a single-push rewind button.

    I see that your camera has some loss of chrome and a Prontor, rather than a Compur shutter. The only downside is that some Prontors don't have a full range of shutter speeds, and in earlier Prontors, the top speed was often 1/300, rather than the Compur's 1/500.

    The value of the camera is probably around $35-$45. You would have to think hard about paying more than twice that to have it serviced.

    By the way, it's not a knock on the camera. I'm a big fan of the Contaflex.
     
  3. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    Should be a good camera. The lens, I believe, triplet by Rodenstock. Stop it down and it should produce good images though maybe not on par with a Tessar lens.
     
  4. jime11

    jime11 Member

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  5. jime11

    jime11 Member

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    only the 1st pic is from the Contaflex
     
  6. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Yours is one of the lower-end models. The Pantar lens is a triplet - more or less P&S quality (i.e. fairly pedestrian).
    Personally, I wouldn't spend much on it, as for the price of a CLA you could get a good example of a top Contaflex model (with better lens & shutter). Unless its gift value (and the person who gave it to you) make it special.
     
  7. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    My first SLR was a used Contaflex with f2.8 Tessar lens, certainly a very nice lens. After 20 years the shutter needed a CLA but other than that it worked fine. It was replaced by a pair of Nikon F's.-Dick
     
  8. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the replies. I put a roll of Tmax 400 in it. To me the shutter sounds about right at 1/30-1/60th sec, so I'm shooting a bunch of unimportant indoor shots at f2.8 to see if I'm right. :smile: I'm not above spending far more than a camera's market value on a CLA - did it recently on two Canon AE-1's - but if this Pantar lens is junky I won't spend anything on this body.


    It's a pretty lil' guy in it's own way. Everything still seems to work.
     
  9. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    A few shots

    I developed the roll this morning and scanned it. I'll print at least the fist image shown here. The lens seems ok, but not stellar, as folks have said. It seems ok at max aperture, 2.8, and a bit better at f8.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All in all not too bad for a free camera with a wonky shutter. No clue what the shutter speed actually is but my by-ear guess of 1/30th to 1/60th seems pretty good based on these images. The aperture is a bit sticky too so it doesn't stop down very fast, so most of these were taken at f2.8

    Now, what to do with it?! I'm a "collector" so I'm happy to keep it, but if someone would really like to use and own this camera, send me a PM. If you could find someone to do a proper CLA on it, this would be a capable and fun camera.
     
  10. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    As I recollect the Pantars were only found on the Alpha, Beta and Prima. Is the front element removeable? Stopped down to f8 they are very useable.
    However the lazy diaphragm is a problem. I have one apart here trying to flush the oil out and it is still lazy.
    Mark
     
  11. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    They are excellent cameras. I have 2. Both with the Tessar f/2.8 I also have the Pro-Tessar 85mm f/4. They are built like tanks. They take beautiful pictures
    The Mirror remains up until you roll the film again.
     
  12. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    Algarrobo-Chile:
    [​IMG]
     
  13. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    yes

    I picked up a mint contaflex with the 45mm tessar lens for $30 with the add-on 75mm converter. Call me stupid but I had mine cleaned becasue of a sticky shutter and yes it was about 4 times what I paid for it. BUT I love it......it feels good in my hands operates flawlessly and the lens is beyond reproach. I had read other threads claiming that the tessar quality was on par with 70's era nikon stuff.....I have an F3 with 35,85 and 135mm lenses and wish any of them was as sharp and contrasty as the tessar on my contaflex. Mindd you this is with black and white film color may be a different matter.
     
  14. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Who cleaned it?
     
  15. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I received an Exakta from someone in a "must CLA", but clean condition, and started searching the line to bring me up to speed. There were other bodies that I would have preferred to spend my money on instead and they were in usable condition. In the end I gladly sold it with some nice accessories. It just came down to too many cameras and an unwillingness to sink good cash into an object I probably wouldn't shoot anymore then the rest of the drawer dwellers that were miles ahead in terms of giving better results. My feeling is that there are just some cameras that will tug at your heart strings, as evidenced by the scores of threads I've read, and it's better to invest in something that you like then the new kid on the block. I say shine it and shelf it if you must and send a check to the food bank instead.
     
  16. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    I love mostly triplet lenses. Rollei produced tens of years of its history with Zeiss Triotar and it is the best BW lens I have ever seen. People think few things ,
    Old lenses have lower contrast
    Triple element lenses are not good and needed to be stopped down
    You mustnt buy above german , american cameras but a toyota.
    These are all wrong , Competition was very hot at these days and people were testing them like a crazy and photograph magazines were thick like a brick.
    Try to find the production date of the camera and than find the same years photography almanacs from that year. You will find extremelly good compositions and best prints at there.
    Try to see the good and different - not bad - points of the camera and train your eyes.
    People love Leicas because it speaks to eye. I always bought my Leicas , Rolleis without asking the people but tracking the old magazines , journals , almanacs.
    If contax made it , there might be a reason.
    If your search is too strange to your view , than put the camera somewhere. Do not sell it , one day you will remember it when you changed your view.

    Umut
     
  17. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    If it were mine, I'd take it apart enough to flush out the shutter with lighter fluid and see what happens.....but then I like to take things apart :smile: I have a Contaflex Super with the Tessar and it is a really impressive camera. It just feels like an incredible piece of engineering.