Wich old Zeiss camera should I buy?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Richardpaulbeasleyjr, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. Richardpaulbeasleyjr

    Richardpaulbeasleyjr Member

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    Hello all.
    I have always wanted a vintage Zeiss 35mm camera. I just recieved a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I. It has dirt in the lens and that won't do. I don't want to spend a fortune, but figure $500.00 or so the neighborhood to stay in. Does anybody have imput. I know that there many good vintage cameras to choose from but I am only interested in Zeiss. Thank You, Paul.
     
  2. waterkey

    waterkey Member

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    I would say probably a II or III model if you are looking for a rangefinder, but be very careful. The shutter mechanisms are very complicated and expensive to have repaired. The SLR's were very well made and heavy, but many are out of adjustment and have shutter problems. Why don't you get a lens to go along with your Contaflex? The lenses alone for these cameras will probably cost around $500 for a good, clean sample.
     
  3. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Do you mean the Contarex? The lenses for the Contarex are very expensive.

    The Contaflex had interchangeable front elements, like some of the folding Retinas, and these generally cost no more than $150 with many available for less than $100.

    Are you looking for an SLR or rangefinder? You can pick up a nice little folding 35mm camera for about $150 at the most. For Zeiss Ikon, the folding Contessa is an excellent camera. Its siblings, the Ikonta 35 and the Contina II, also are very nice.

    Do you want to stay 35mm or are you considering medium format as well, because that opens up a whole new group of cameras.

    One thing to remember is that most classics you buy are going to need to be serviced, unless they've already been serviced. So keep that in mind when deciding how much to pay.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2006
  4. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Contax rangefinder?
     
  5. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    My favorite is the Contax IIa black dial. Take your time and find a nice one. As for service - Henry Scherer is very good, but his wait list is about 2 years. WW Umbach is also very good - he serviced a Contaflex that I used to own.
     
  6. timeslicer

    timeslicer Member

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    I can only speak from my own experience. I have always liked the idiosyncratic shape and tremendous build quality of the Contaflex 35mm series. In the end I purchased a Contaflex super with the 35mm and 115mm suplementary lenses as well as the standard 50mm Tessar. The camera has been well used but is in wonderful condition for its age. The Selenium meter works very well and well enough for me to take slides with the camera with hardly any duds. I use this lovely old camera frequently, and if truth be told prefer it to the Contax rangefinders!
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Paul,

    Which should you buy? Arguably, none. The best of them are hellish expensive and damnably hard (= expensive) to repair. They are very long in the tooth nowadays and the optical quality is patchy. The best lenses can compete with modern glass on equal terms. Others, such as the 50/1.5 Sonnar, weren't even the best in the 1950s (I'd go for a contemporary Voigtlander Nokton on the Prominent every time).

    I've had a LOT of classic gear, because I started 35 years ago when it wasn't 'classic', just 'old'. I now have no 'classic' (vintage) Zeiss bodies and no old Zeiss lenses (1950s and earlier) that I regard as serious glass.

    This may not be what you want to hear, and I can fully understand if you ignore every word I say; but what I say is based on long experience.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. DBP

    DBP Member

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    The question to your question is "buy for what purpose?" Do you want something neat and interesting that happens to be by Zeiss, or are you looking for a more specific need? If the latter, why Zeiss?
     
  9. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    You're willing to pay far more than necessary. I have the IIIc and with the Sonnar 50/1.5 and paid $175 for it.

    As Roger Hicks notes, these are over-engineered "wunderkameras" prone to all kinds of problems. If you want one to use very occassionally that's fine. But as a regular shooter - go for a good old Nikon S2 etc.
     
  10. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I have a contaflex I that my father bought from Sears in the early 1950s, and it's the first camera that I used. Unfortunately, the lens has some issue in the middle. (I can't tell what it is.) In addition, the auxilary lenses screw on the front of the standard lens, and they're really not very good. In my opinion, this camera is not soft enough to be really interesting, like a holga or pinhole, nor sharp enough to be useful for regular pictures.
     
  11. jnash67

    jnash67 Member

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    I have a Zeiss Ikon Contessa, and it is a great camera. I am lucky in that my dad bought it new. It has a 45mm f/2.8 tessar lens. the meter still works correctly. It takes wonderful pictures, sure teaches you the basics.
     
  12. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Pardon the late response. I spoke with Mr. Umbach a few minutes ago. He told me that he'd retired as of the first of this year (2007) and no longer works on cameras.
     
  13. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Which Zeiss Camera?

    If you think you might be interested in a rangefinder I would suggest that you try another RF camera first. Greg Weber at webercamera.com should be able to set you up with a serviced Konica Auto S2 or S1.6 for a fair price. If after using it for a while you think you like RF cameras then look for a Contax. You should be able to get Ken Ruth at Photography On Bald Mountain to work on a Contax RF. Lenses for the Zeiss Contarex SLR camera are indeed very expensive and difficult to service. You can have some fun with a fully overhauled Contaflex SLR and a few spare lenses. A later model Contaflex is recommended. A Contaflex which isn't overhauled will be all gummed up and no fun at all. The older Zeiss folding and box type cameras are nice to look at but might require a lot of work to be usable.
     
  14. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I have a restored Contax IIa (Henry Scherer) that works perfectly. Shutter speeds are accurate to 1/10th of a stop. And the 1950's Zeiss glass really is superb. The wides in particular. And the 50/1.5 Sonnar has a wonderful signature.

    Great cameras if you can get one that is properly serviced. just be aware that many have been butchered by bad technicians and amateurs over the years.