View Full Version : Zeiss Ikon Contaflex value?
06-30-2011, 12:38 AM
I have been offered a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex by a friend. It has a leather never-ready case, hood, and two accessory lenses. I will see it this Friday. Any idea of an approximate value for a kit like this in good working condition? (And how likely is it that the camera will actually be in good working condition?) I want to make a fair offer, but not an overly generous one. Seems like they occasionally crack the $50 mark on E-Bay, but I am not sure about a kit with the extra lenses.
Is this a camera worth shooting? Are they solid with good lenses? Are they reliability nightmares? I am thinking it might make a good compact casual travel camera kit that is a step up from a point and shoot, but not quite to the level of a professional SLR system like the Nikon F. (To me "casual travel" usually involves taking the time for incident metering or sunny 16 exposures and careful compositions, but no tripod or flash, and generally no shooting of action or low light stuff.)
Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
06-30-2011, 01:49 AM
I have one, not sure exactly what flavor. They come in several forms. Mine has a "Pantar 45mm f2.8" lens, and most of the slow shutter speeds are way off. It was in a "free" bin at a local camera shop.
I haven't found it worth much more than that, the lens isn't all that great. What little I did do to investigate getting it CLA'd made me realize it's best as a curiosity. AFAIK there's like one guy out on the US west coast somewhere who may be able to service them. But he has no web site.
06-30-2011, 01:53 AM
First, you'll need to figure out the exact model. There were many Contaflex cameras by Zeiss Ikon.
Second, you can check the Zeiss Ikon camera values (http://collectiblend.com/Cameras/Zeiss-Ikon/) to figure out a price for the specific model.
06-30-2011, 03:02 AM
It's really just the generic name for all the 35mm Zeiss Ikon Reflex cameras.
If it's an original pre-WWII Contaflex then it's quite desirable and sort after, they were 35mm TLR's and available with an interchangeable f1.5 or f2 Sonnar, or a budget f2.8 Tessar lenses. By chance I have a 1936 BJP Almanac open next to the computer at the review of the Contaflex :D
Post WWII Contaflex's were a vaied quite varied SLR's, some a lot better than others, overly complex because they used Compur shutters. I think one model took 126 film from memory.
06-30-2011, 08:32 AM
I have the Contaflex Beta, an SLR with meter but with a non-interchangeable lens. The shutter on mine needs a CLA because only 3 shots on a test roll came out, but the meter worked and the lens is one of the sharpest I've ever seen.
06-30-2011, 08:48 AM
Hi, I have the SLR version with a built in meter (battery availibility is an issue) and a couple of interchangeable 35mm magazine backs (quite handy). It is heavy, but solidly made. Mine too has a shutter which requires a service but have been told the surrounding mechanism's complexity causes many repairers to shy away or charge more as it not a straightforward job. The viewfinder blanks out immediately after exposure (mirror only returns to viewing position when winding on) but I soon got used to this, funnily enough. I still enjoy using the camera mainly because I enjoy using well engineered cameras, and because of the very high quality of the Tessar lens, which is superb. The viewfinder view is very clear too. I have enough "usable" shutter speeds left working on it to make using worthwhile for now, and may consider a full service sometime in the future. I don't think they are particularly valuable, but if you don't mind its idiosyncrasies you might find it very rewarding.
06-30-2011, 05:04 PM
Sounds like if it works, it is worth about $20 or $30 to me. Thanks for the responses.
07-01-2011, 01:44 PM
The bodies do not go for big dollars but the accessory lenses are sought after. As for a user, after a service, they are really a nice carry camera and fin to use. It does take a little getting used as they ar different somewhat from what became the classic 35mm slr. I had one for a few years without the aux lenses and had fond memories and good results from it. As usable today as when it was new but depending on the model, you may want to disregard the meter if it has one. They have an almos ideal balance and weight (at least for me) for hand holding, something many cameras d not have.
07-01-2011, 02:02 PM
I don't have a Contaflex, but I do have two Contessa's and a 520/2 and they are quite nice quality cameras judging by the quality of the Zeiss cameras that I own I would say you probably won't be disappointed with a Zeiss camera.
07-05-2011, 04:19 PM
My father owned a circa-1967 Contaflex with the 50mm f/2.8 and a 115mm telephoto. Nice, impressive-looking, big shiny camera, good ergonomics, great lenses. The meter gave out early in its life and by then fixing it was more expensive than buying a new Canon AE-1. I've since heard the meters were a weak point. The only thing I didn't like about the camera is that the mirror does not return after exposure. The view screen remains blacked-out until you re-cock the shutter.
07-06-2011, 02:08 PM
Peter, the lack of an instant return mirror just takes some getting used to. My Bronica does not have instant return and I've been using it for several decades. The Contaflex sort of got me used to it.
07-07-2011, 07:04 PM
Yeah, my Hasselblad blacks out, but I use it on a tripod and usually lock the mirror up before exposing film, so it's not a big deal. It was disturbing to be looking through the Contaflex viewfinder and have the scene disappear. I think it's one of the reasons the Japanese SLRs became so popular so quickly and muscled the Contaflexes into the dustbins of photographic history. (Besides the Japanese cameras being much cheaper.)
To answer the OP's question, I think my brother eventually sold Dad's Contaflex with both 50 and 115 lenses for under $100. This was a decade ago. I think he got more than it really was worth.
07-13-2011, 11:32 AM
Thirty years ago I came upon a Contaflex alpha that needed a take up spool for just a few bucks. I sent it off to an advertiser in a well known (at the time) photo-newspaper and got it back with a spool and a CLA. This was of course before the internet.
Over the years I've accumulated a Contina III, takes the same interchangable lenses, 30mm and 75mm, bubbles, finder, cases, etc. all at resonable cost compared to other "collectable cameras".
These are inexpensive. No one will pay much so neither do you! Collecting is not about the monetary value, it's about the collecting!