Contax III ny good

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by sausage100uk, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    I have just been given a contax III with 4 lenses and a close up set by my father in law....is that any good????
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Only as good as the pictures you make with it.

    It really doesn't matter, as long as the gear matches the vision you have for your photographs. If this isn't a match, get rid of it. If it is, happy photography.
     
  3. circlesofconfusion

    circlesofconfusion Member

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    if that's an RTS III then yes its a very good camera. I assume the lenses are all zeiss. If not then perhaps not so good.
    If you don't want it you could give it to me...:wink:
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  5. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    It's junk. Send it to me for disposal immediately.:tongue:
     
  6. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I have a Contax IIIc - they are very interesting cameras. Definitely over-engineered in the "German" way they lack certain "creature comforts" that their then 1950's-era contemporary Japanese counterparts (primarily Nikon*) were introducing.

    They have a complicated, and therefore "touchy" dual shutter system (others here will know more about that than I do) that is rather unreliable - particularly given the "advanced age" at this point. But if yours works - it's a classic shooter.

    Your lenses, however, are probably great (Carl Zeiss) glass. If you have a few dollars to spare (about $600 or so) check Steve Gandy's site (Cameraquest) and see if there are any Cosina R2C bodies still available. They will be a direct fit (C-mount) to your lenses. The Cosina bodies are decent-quality new production cameras and would be a great "fit" for you CZ lenses.

    *BTW: the Nikon RF's from the 1950's used an S-mount that was essentially a "clone" of the Contax C-mount (there is a long, intriguing, but OT story, that deals with Cold War intrigue to explain this). The lenses are compatible up to 5.0cm (50mm). They are not beyond that focal length due to film plane differences in the camera bodies. A visit to the Cameraquest site will be very informative on this point.

    Also note, that the FSU Kiev cameras are compatible with Contax lenses. Their bodies, with some exceptions, are m/l terribly unreliable but it's all part of the Cold War intrigue....:wink:
     
  7. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    Looking at the serial number inside it is a 1938 III. going to get it serviced as the shutter is very lazy and then take it out for a test run.
     
  8. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    You're kidding, right? 1938 Contax II, 50/1.5 Sonnar or 35/2.8 Biogon, Ilford HP5+, taken on my Sept 2005 trip to Germany and Austria.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The camera is relatively slow to use, the viewfinder is dim (and green), the optics are stellar. They are a superb photo taking instrument even 70 years later.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2007
  9. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Smart move.

    I should get my IIIc CLA'd - please let me know who you use and how it works out.

    Nonetheless, as Mike Kovacs's pics show - you have some spectacular "glass". If the III proves too "difficult" to work with after the CLA consider getting the R2C to use that glass (or contact me if you want to off load the lenses! :wink: ).
     
  10. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    What is a Contax IIIc? I never heard of it.
     
  11. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Oh the horrors of having multiple residences! Tonight I'm down here in NYC and the Contax is up in Copake.

    I think its nomenclature is IIIc - I will check tomorrow night and report back. It is post-WWII, 1950's and West German. The "scanty" user manual is in English and importer was in NYC etc.

    Like I said, I'll let you know for sure tomorrow night. I think it was about the last of the line, BTW.
     
  12. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Hey George,

    None of the German Contax cameras were marked with a model designation, other than Contax.

    The II was meterless, and the III had a meter. This was a prewar camera.

    The IIa was meterless, and the IIIa had a meter. This is a postwar camera.

    And of the course the I was meterless and a box.

    Anyone who receives any Contax and Zeiss lenses as a gift should feel very fortunate indeed. Put them to good use.
     
  13. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    You may find that the meter no longer works. If it does, you need to figure out how those exposure factors work.

    Do you know if it is a III or a IIIa? Where was it made? The IIIa was made in West Germany--Stuttgard, I think; the III was pre-war (i.e. WWII) and made in Jena. Is it synched for flash? If so, it is probably a IIIa, although some IIIs had flash synchs retro fitted after the war.
     
  14. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    Its definitely a III, the serial number (trusting to an internet source) relates to 1938. I'm having a hard time finding anyone who will be willing to service it, lots of replies of "we can adjust the rangefinder but wont touch the shutter" :sad:
     
  15. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    You're in the UK? Look-up Steve Ash.
     
  16. sausage100uk

    sausage100uk Member

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    I did and got an e-mail from him this evening, going to be at least Nov before he can do it but I'd rather wait and get it done properly.
     
  17. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The quick way to tell a prewar cameras from a postwar model:

    -- The self-timer and rangefinder window are in vertical alignment on the postwar cameras (IIa and IIIa).

    -- On the prewar models, the rangefinder window is to the left of the self-timer (when looking at the front of the camera).

    The prewar bodies are not marked as being produced in Jena, except for a handful of postwar cameras. The postwar IIa/IIIa camera always has "Stuttgart" engraved in the accessory shoe.
     
  18. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Strauss-Photo-Technical Service, Mount Olivet Road, in Washington, DC USA used to service the Contax. Martin Strauss, the owner at the time I sent my Contax III, had apprenticed with Emanuel Goldberg, the inventor of the Contax.
     
  19. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I agree there's no model number on the camera body - my bad.

    Now that I'm up in Copake, I'm looking at the camera but can't find the manual (bet it's back in the City where I used to keep the camera!).

    Anyway, it's at least a IIIa - has the meter (not working) and the never-ready case indicates it was made in Stuggart.

    Damn, I wish I could find that manual! :mad:

    I guess you can tell I don't use the camera much! :wink:
     
  20. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    These are the meterless models. First is the Contax II, 1938 Dresden production. Prewar, these cameras were made in Dresden and the lenses were made in Jena. There are some very rare postwar cameras made in Jena that are of the prewar design.

    [​IMG]

    2nd is the Contax IIA black dial variant, 1953 Stuttgart production.

    [​IMG]

    What exactly is wrong with your camera? I restore my own but I cannot realistically commit to taking other people's cameras on as extra work. If you PM me, I may know somebody in Europe that could get your camera going much quicker than November.
     
  21. pkrpkr

    pkrpkr Member

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