contax iia vs leica iiif

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by randy6, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    The Cantax iia / iiia seems to be way under appreciated I see on the web where people compare contax to a leica m of course th leica M is a better camera But the contax iia/iiia were first made in the early 50s like my leica iiif I never found a contax iia/iiia not working sure they need lubrication and a cleaning and a meter might be dead. I have a leica iiif black dial made in 1951, This one has had the curtains replaced which is expensive to do and now its back in for service only after a few years this time it needs cleaned again and the flash contact no longer works my repairman said the insulating material between the sync has rotted away and can not be fixed. Older contax camera's II/III the the shutter tapes would break once repaired the camera would last along time between repairs. My 1951 contax iia black dial only needed a cleaning. I have the x flash attachment which works without a flaw I can't burn a hole through the metal shutter curtain film is easy to load the contax has a longer base focus length and only one window to compose and focus through. Whats nice you can buy a contax for much less then a leica. What I don't understand Is why accessories are so expensive for the contax. I have a working contax I version d or e with f2.8 tessar, contax iii with a dead meter but the camera works 2 contax IIa with opton sonar f2 and contax iiia with working meter sonar f1.5 all bought for pennies. My leica's on the other hand almost all has had a expensive major overhaul two leica iiif black dials has had curtains replaced one iiif red dial has had viewfinder work done every leica lens I owned had to be cleaned some have coating problems I had not had too many problems with my leica m3 Looking back I had less expense and trouble free operation with my contax cameras. I would like to hear from other contax user's good or bad
     
  2. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Ahh yes. Back before Nikon V. Canon for world domination.

    Like you, I fall into the Contax camp. I have two Contax IIas and a Kiev IIa (Contax II clone). Use the Opton Sonnar 50 1.5 and postwar Jena Sonnar 50/2. Also have an early Jupiter-8 that's a fine performer.

    I have had both of my Contaxes CLA'd. That said, the first one, also built around 1951, I had CLA'd, but it was working fine (the shutter worked fine, anyway, rangefinder was accurate but hazy). The repairman said it looked as if it had never been serviced and he was the first to take it apart. The second one, an even earlier specimen, was fortunately repaired by a very kind and knowledgeable gentleman who roams these forums.

    I've never owned a leica camera although I have two of their enlargers.

    I think the pre-war and post-war Contax cameras are far superior to the Leica III, because of the rangefinder/viewfinder accuracy and ease of use. The shutter design is much more complex, however, so if it ever does stop working, finding someone to repair it and do the job well is a bigger task than it would be to find someone to repair the Leica III. I think the inventiveness and engineering that went into the Contax design is what led Leica eventually to design its M-series.

    The Kiev and Contaxes are my favorite cameras to use. I wish there was some way to take the controls and shutter from a Contax IIa and put them on a pre-war Contax II with its rangefinder and viewfinder and slightly larger body, which seems to fit my hands better.

    Anyway, there's my 2 cents and then some. Maybe 5 cents.
     
  3. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Paragraphs, man, paragraphs! :smile:

    I think Contax is sort of the Saab of cameras; they're good, but they're sort of eccentric in a way that people either love or hate, and when something does go wrong, it's likely to be something complicated and fiddly. It's interesting that you've found them working; virtually all the ones I've seen offered for sale (at the usual sources like KEH, I mean, not private sellers) have been listed as broken, I assume somewhere in the shutter linkage.

    IMHO, the 50/1.5 Sonnar is just about unbeatable as a 35mm normal lens. It's not Summicron-sharp, but it's not Summicron-sterile either. And while they are out there in LTM as well, I think we can all agree that a Contax body is the natural habitat of that lens, right?

    Some days I get GAS for a Bessa-R2C body, though. Contax mount, modern shutter, TTL metering, and framelines! Expensive body with a short rangefinder base, though.

    -NT
     
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  4. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    The contax ii is a solid machine I have a bad habit of covering the rangefinder window with that model. Using the contax model I is a little time consuming mine was made in 1933 I think the rangefinder base is slightly smaller in the model one at least I don't cover the rangefinder window with my finger. I have't used russian lenes with it yet. I bought my contax iia at an estate sale I've gotton a older heavy brass chrome nikkor 35mm f2.5 and 135mm nikkor made for the contax with the camera these work nice. Although I read the wide angle nikkors are made only for the nikon but depth of field is great enough not to notice the focus difference. I wonder what other lens brands are made for the contax?
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Right, same physical mount but slightly different dimensions for the focusing helical. The standard view is that it's close enough for anything wider than standard, though I suppose in a critical-focus application, wide open and close up, it still might matter.

    Besides the modern Voigtlaender wides and the Kiev clones, I think they're all oddballs. There's a partial list at http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Contax_rangefinder_lenses.

    I actually have a Som Berthiot 28/3.3 Angulor in Contax mount; it may be a conversion job. I've never shot a lot with it, but it seems to be a decent lens. The Vade Mecum says it's some sort of variation on the Tessar design, IIRC.

    -NT
     
  6. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    Thanks for the list link I'll have to look for some of those. Som Berthiot has got to be quite a find.
    Most pre contax II camera's I run into are plagued with rotted shutter ribbons 60 70 years to rot once replaced the cameras work fine. The post war iia/iiia don't use these ribbons most work the slower speeds stick only becuase the oil is dried and old once the camera has a basic cleaning all will be in working order again most likely work for another 50 years
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I had a Contax II withan f:2 Sonnar, and will probably have either another II or a meterless Kiev in the not too distant future.
    Off on a tangent, my favorite 35 SLR is the Nikon F. The F came about by adding (oversimplification) a mirror box and prism to the Nikon SP, which was basically a Contax clone with a better shutter - the titanium one, although early ones had fabric curtains.
    So the prewar Contaxes are not small cameras - if you want small, get the Leica screwmount. They're both gorgeous cameras in their own ways. The obvious solution is to have both. :smile:
     
  8. vysk

    vysk Member

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    Yes, I like the Contax IIa viewfinder with integrated viewing and focusing much more than the Leica LTM's.
    I like the Contax IIa so much that I went to the Nikon RF. It seemed to keep the best of the IIa, and evolved beyond to include some of the Leica M features. The spools of the IIa used to just drive me insane.
     
  9. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    I had an early nikon rangefinder don't remember the model mine was in poor shape I had rotted shutter curtains I didn't think the finish was good I sold it for more than what I paid for the contax cameras I didn't know some model nikons come with titanium curtains

    I had an very early serial number nikon f once sold it very good price
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Here: http://imaging.nikon.com/history/legendary/rhnc12ti-e/
     
  11. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    Speaking of film loading any contax model I user out there?
    film rewinding: move the lever on the bottom of the camera and hold down the button on the side I still tore through some of the perferation in the film. Should I left some slack in the film before rewinding?

    I noticed on this model two levers would pop out so the film would slide past the perfed wheels
    To get by this I loaded film cassette to cassette I did not bother to rewind
     
  12. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    As an earlier poster said, your experience (all your Contaxes work, while the Leicas need overhaul) is the opposite of the usual experience. They are beautiful pieces of equipment if they're working; if they're not working, they are a bear to repair since the mechanisms are so complicated. And there are not many people who can work on them competently.

    Yes, you can't burn through the shutter, but that's maybe the only thing the Contaxes have over the Leicas. The separate rangefinder and viewfinder windows isn't a significant inconvenience, in my opinion. And once the M Leicas came out, with their superimposed framelines, that was pretty much the end of the competition, at least for me.

    The Carl Zeiss optics are, of course, at least the equal of the Leica lenses. Small wonder that Zeiss lenses in LTM are so much in demand. The Soviet clone lenses are darned good also, as are of course the Nikkor wides (which will work thanks to depth of field, as you mentioned).
     
  13. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    I own Contax rangefinders and Leica LTM rangefinders and I enjoy using them both. Overall neither one has been more reliable than the other. I have had to get my Contax IIa shutter and rangefinder cleaned and adjusted so it worked properly. I also have had to have a Leica IIIc shutter repaired and rangefinder cleaned and adjusted. Besides, lets get real here. All these cameras are pushing 60 or more years old. Some of them will need some work and it is probably a bit of a crapshoot to figure out which one that will be next.

    As for use, I really use either camera interchangeably with two exceptions. My Leica II with the Elmar 50/3.5 is wonderfully small and slides easily into and out of my shirt pocket. As a result it is my preferred travel camera. On the flip side, if I expect to do a lot of low light photography I will bring my Contax ii or Contax iia with the Sonnar 50/1.5 and several rolls of Delta 3200.

    Different needs, different cameras.
     
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  15. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    I have two Contax ii rangefinders and three Leica M film cameras. I have other Contax cameras as well but the pre-war Contax ii is more similar to the M3 than the post war Contax iia. My M3 has indeed been a very reliable workhorse and I have nothing but praise for that camera. Likewise, the two Contax ii rangefinders have been very reliable workhorses and I use them extensively as well. However, my other M cameras have had rangefinder adjustment problems, viewfinder flare, shutter holes, shutter timing, and film advance problems at various times. In fact, though the Leica M design is more convenient, I do not find it any more reliable than the older Leica LTM and Contax rangefinders.

    I do agree however that repairing a Contax is far more difficult now days than repairing the Leica rangefinders. It may run very reliably for 20 years or more. But if it does break it will be more difficult to locate a reliable repair person. And if parts are needed that may turn out to be impossible. I will say though that these cameras, if they are regularly used, usually work reliably for a very long time. It is not using them at all for many years that causes most of the problems. Even then, if you get the old grease and lubes cleaned out and replaced with modern lubrication it will almost certainly run for 50 years or more if you take reasonable care of it. If my two Contax ii cameras and Leica M3 last that long they will almost certainly outlive me and my son. :D
     
  16. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    As usual, everybody talks about repairability and nobody talks about lenses. I owned two IIIf one front lens uncoated Summitar other coated Summitar and two IIIC with Elmars and I did not buy them because they are expensive and Leica but as I see their superior performances to all other cameras in photographic annals. I saw better lenses on 8x10 Wollensak and Ektar but in 35mm world I did not see a better rendition compared them. I believe all SUM familiy is better performer than all other lenses of Leica. But Telyt and Hektor is stellar also. I owned an Leicaflex with Summicron and Leica Mini Zoom with Vario Elmar. All because of Lenses.
     
  17. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Zeiss vs Leitz lenses is something of a religious divide. To my eye, the character of the 50/1.5 Sonnar just looks "right", whatever that means; but basically it's a matter of taste. Some people claim to be able to discern general differences of character between the manufacturers---Zeiss is better at X, Leitz is better at Y---but I'm agnostic on that part.

    It is, though, a whole lot easier to find Zeiss lenses in Leica mount than the other way round!

    -NT
     
  18. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    This goes back to the 1930s, there was a divide even then. Zeiss lenses were adapted to Leicas and vice versa, to give the owners the best of both worlds.
    My position is that both cameras are gorgeous, but different - same for the lenses.
    As for Zeiss-made lenses in LTM, the only ones I'm aware of were made during WWII and are vanishingly rare.
     
  19. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    I prefer my sonnar over the Summitar
     
  20. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    :laugh::laugh: Well, at the moment, I have a 'Sonnar' (Jupiter 8) on a Canon clone of a Leica. I'v seen only a couple pictures from it so far, but it looks like a keeper - it behaves very similarly to the echte Sonnar I had on a Contax II.
     
  21. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Why ?
     
  22. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    I think the Summitar looks soft low contarst even with the hood. The summicron I like. The elmar and tessar look similar to me I don't mind either. I just hate leica summarit so I sold it . I like summaron 3.5cm I tink its a little soft but I still like it.
     
  23. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    I have sonnar on rollei 35s and indeed they are very different. I bought the rollei after fall in love with low price and saturated colors.
    But I think Summitar is like an old painting , I agree with smoothness and low profile colors but its degrades , so long degrades and relief effect and night performance is not with sonnar. If you took intense colors film , a slide film and sonnar is so good but not classical feeling , its like wall mural modern.
    I love with Contax , Biogon.
     
  24. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I'd agree with that description about the 6-element 50/2 Sonnar design, from my limited experience (mostly with the Nikkor-HC version in LTM), but the 7-element 50/1.5 with slide film strikes me as very "classical"-looking. It depends greatly on the lighting, though; looking quickly over the shots I've used it for, I find that my favorites are either from hazy days or in oblique lighting. On a bright sunny day, the Nikkor seems to handle the contrast in a more "right"-looking way. All IMHO, of course, and with a lot of other confounding variables.

    -NT
     
  25. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Nathan,

    I saw a polaroid shot of a garden angel at the last page of Ansel Adams catalog with Hasselblad Sonnar and it was very elegant and classical.
    I bought rollei with mixed feelings but it was not that. I took my lifes strongest colors with that lens on fuji. Densest blacks and colors. But it gives a noise in dark very beatiful.

    Extremelly opposite lens with Leica.

    Its good to know your 50/1.5 is very good.

    Umut
     
  26. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    I read elsewhere that the f1.5 sonar renders a different look then the f2 sonar. I don't see it but I rarely shoot wide open.
    The f2 is six elements and the f1.5 is 7 elements added in the front right?