contax IIa erratic shutter?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by puketronic, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I recently bought a contax IIa camera from keh.com. I just opened the box like an hour ago but I think that my shutter is erratic.

    I checked the 1 second shutter speed and sometimes it works and sometimes it is way too fast. The bulb works but the slower shutter speeds (maybe all) seem erratic..they are either seem normal or they are way too fast. Before returning this camera I was just wondering if I was missing something? I don't have experience with contax cameras so maybe it is an operater error?

    Is this "normal" erratic shutter behavior or am I missing something? I've never had a shutter behave like this...usually it is too slow.
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    There's no such thing as "normal erratic"... it's erratic. Send it back.
     
  3. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    Thanks! I guess there is no such thing as normal erratic. I will send it back.
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Good luck! I had a plain II. They're very nice cameras once you get used to the "splayed finger" grip. I used it as a walking-around camera in the late 80s/early90s.

    I've no doubt KEH will take care of you.
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    What did the description say.
    Almost EVERY Contax RF they sell either says Inoperative (snapped shutter cords for the early models) or Speeds Off (for the A series).
     
  6. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    If you buy a precision camera that's around fifty years old that's probably never been serviced, I think it's naive to expect it to be in perfect working order any more than it would be a car of that age to expect take on the road without some attention.
     
  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Yeah, but what the OP describes I would expect KEH to indicate as "speeds off" or "slow speeds inop" or the like. It seems like a return is justified, though they're such nice cameras that it might be worth getting a CLA instead.

    -NT
     
  8. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I agree a return is justified, but well maintained cameras of that type and age with accurate shutters are as rare as hen's teeth, I personally if the camera is in otherwise good condition and I wanted a reliable usable camera I would get it CLA'd, and have the light seals replaced. I have a Contax 11 that I've owned for more than 50 years, and in that time It's been CLA'd 3 times.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2013
  9. jimjm

    jimjm Subscriber

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    KEH usually specifies any shutter problems in the item description, so you have the option of returning or exchanging it. Most of their Contax bodies in inventory now seem to have some type of problem. Contax repair techs seem to be scarcer than those for Leica, so that may be one reason why there are so many bodies in need of repair.

    I purchased a IIa from KEH earlier this year and it has functioned perfectly, so I suspect it has been serviced recently. It's extremely clean inside and out.
    You can also try exercising the shutter a bit to see if the speeds even out, but the camera probably needs to be serviced as other problems may start cropping up.

    They are very nice cameras to shoot with and the postwar Zeiss lenses are great.

    Good Luck!
     
  10. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    thanks.

    it wasn't labeled as slow or inop. and so I would expect it to work just fine. I don't think that is naive thinking. I've bought maybe a dozen 50+ year old cameras from keh.com and most of them have worked fine.

    Well, I understand that things like this happen and so I am not upset at keh.com. I've never had a contax camera so I was just checking if I was doing something stupid. With the Retina IIIc cameras you have to reset the film advance to fire the shutter...maybe this camera had some weird quirk. I have no idea but that is why I asked. I will fire it a few times to see if it will be consistent.

    I'd probably just return the camera or look into servicing it. I sent my TLRs for CLAs in the past but I have no idea who services Contax cameras outside Henry Scherer. I mostly use Leica M but I had the urge to try the Contax, for fun.
     
  11. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    If it was graded BGN or higher then the shutter should be working properly, or at least close enough.

    If it was rated anything less, the KEH descriptions say that there may be things wrong, caveat emptor. In either event, the time I had a problem with something from KEH they were very nice and did a quick exchange.

    Having said that, if you really love the camera otherwise (higher speeds ok? like the camera?) you can have it serviced, but it costs somewhere around $200.
     
  12. jimjm

    jimjm Subscriber

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    If they didn't advertise the shutter problems and you decide to keep it anyway, I would ask about a partial refund.

    I believe Cameraquest will service Contax IIa/IIIa bodies and their info is at http://www.cameraquest.com/repairs.htm . $195 for a CLA isn't bad and if there is no other damage or parts needed, you'll end up with a perfectly functioning camera. Stephen also has a good article on these cameras and lenses at http://www.cameraquest.com/conrf.htm . He states That the slow speeds are the first thing to go when the shutter needs servicing.

    The going prices for the Zeiss lenses seem much more reasonable than comparable Leica lenses these days, plus you can also use any Nikkor RF lens 35mm or wider on a Contax body. Nikon also made longer lenses for Contax, indicated by a "C" on the underside of the barrel. Voigtlander also made lenses in the Nikon RF mount, so you could also use the 35 and wider lenses, which should be great performing lenses.
     
  13. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    thanks! I will call keh.com and discuss this over the phone.

    I checked the other speeds and it is really hard to tell if they are working correctly so I am going to assume that they are not. They sound somewhat similar but not consistent for the specified speed. I might talk to a contax repair person to see how much a CLA would be incase this is a sign of something worse.

    Overall, I like the camera and the build is exquisite. The viewfinder is fine and the patch bright and contrasty but more importantly I quite like the ergonomics.

    My debate is whether I should enter the Contax system or get into the Nikon RF system. Ofcourse that is discussed all over the internet and depends in how vast of a system I intend on building...I wanted to try it out for the heck of it and I warmed up to the ergonomics quickly. I don't think it is better than the M per se but certainly different...
     
  14. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    the "which is better leica or contax" debate very rapidly descends into the realm of "mac or pc" religious war.

    best not to go there.

    (leica :tongue:)
     
  15. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    haha yeah ofcourse not, I didn't intend on going there.
     
  16. ray*j*gun

    ray*j*gun Member

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    I have mostly Leica cameras...... Barnacks and one M2. I also have 2 Contax cameras a IIa and a IIIa that Henry Scherer did. I want to say that a well sorted out Contax is a true joy to use. They are different than Leicas for sure but IMO there is nothing else that has the feel of a nice Contax. I guess the point is don't let a problem like this deter you from the brand.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2013
  17. erikg

    erikg Member

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    It doesn't hurt to try but I doubt they will give you a partial refund. I had a similar case with a barnack from KEH. They will take it back if you choose but they won't take your word for it that the shutter is off. I ended up keeping the camera and getting it repaired. I've gotten great bargains from them over the years so I didn't really mind the bite on this one. I also brought a classic camera back to life and that is a good thing in itself.
     
  18. leicarfcam

    leicarfcam Member

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    I've been watching the Contax and Contarex cameras at KEH for several months now and as yet have not seen one in good working condition. They are either inop of speeds off..
     
  19. elekm

    elekm Member

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    There are no light seals on any Contax.

    Unless it is stated,you should always expect that any Contax will need to be serviced.
     
  20. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Anyone know if Essex is back in biz after the hurricane damage?

    Mike, do you service the Contax rangefinders??
     
  21. artfoto47

    artfoto47 Member

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    A Kiev II is an inexpensive way to find out if you like the Contax as they were made on the Contax assembly line taken from Germany after WWII. Some of the earlier ones may even have actual Contax parts.
     
  22. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    their web site address comes up blank.:sad:
     
  23. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I was hoping someone had current phone digits for them :/
     
  24. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I had been servicing the Contax IIa cameras, but between job changes and relocations, being laid off and then doing some out-of-town consulting work, there isn't much free time.

    The Contax IIa isn't an overly complex camera, and most problems can be sorted out by routine service. I think it's about a four-hour job at most, provided the camera isn't suffering from other issues (bent shutter slats, water damage, etc.).