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  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New Jersey (again)
    Shooter
    35mm RF
    Posts
    2,056
    I've owned maybe a dozen of these at one time or another.

    These use the rotating-wedge rangefinder, which is very accurate and shouldn't fall out of calibration unless the camera is damaged.

    The intermediate camera is the folding Contina II with the uncoupled rangefinder. This was my introduction to Zeiss Ikon. Mine had a Novar. I eventually bought one (and a number of others) with the Tessar, which is the same lens as on the folding Contessa and the Contaflex I and II.

    The folding Contessa always has a Tessar. The early version has a Compur Rapid shutter. The second version has a Synchro Compur. It never used the EV system.

    The folding Contessa is a well thought-out camera. It's very easy to use, which is typical of the Hubert Nerwin (the Zeiss Ikon camera designer) approach.

    There are many of these on the used market, and I wouldn't buy one that shows physical damage.

    I've shot with this quite a bit.

    Here's my mini-review of the folding Contessa.

    And here's a little shootout I did with the Contessa and the Contarex. The Contessa was no slouch.
    Last edited by elekm; 03-26-2014 at 03:59 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: My Web host seems to be OK now.

  2. #12
    Truzi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,398
    I have a Contessa that used to belong to a distant cousin. It is a bit worse for wear, and has fungus, but I've still taken some good pictures with it. I like it very much, and have to try to clean the lens sometime.
    Truzi

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    2,286
    Images
    21
    Well, I went ahead and bought one---untested from eBay, but the price was right---and I've just finished developing my smoke-test roll. Based on eyeballing the negatives, things look good.

    What a fun little camera to use! It is quite a bit bulkier than the Ikonta 35, still pocketable but requiring a much larger pocket. The viewfinder is rather nice for the era, though I guess it would be considered squinty now. The little cyclopean rangefinder prism makes me giggle a bit every time I look at it, and the ergonomics of the body are really nice on the whole, especially considering the tight space into which they have to fit. The only thing I've had to get used to is the cocking lever, which is reversed from what I'm used to (push to the left to cock, rather than pull to the right) and kind of crammed up against the shutter release.

    I got lucky and even the slow shutter speeds work, although I don't know how often I'll really use them; if I'm carrying a tripod, I might as well be carrying a bigger camera, but it's nice to know that in a pinch I can rest the camera on a rock for a longer exposure.

    Suddenly I can see how people turn into photographic-history geeks. I can really see how this camera bridges some of the design space between the Ikonta 35 and the Contaxen, and it makes me want to run out and find a Tenax and a Super Nettel, not because I need them but to complete the evolutionary family. I suppose that would be a bad idea from a marital standpoint...?

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

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