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  1. #1

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    Bit of GAS for a folding Contessa

    I've been out shooting with my little Ikonta 35, an incredibly compact little scale-focus camera with a Novar lens, and rediscovering two things. The first is that it's a really fun camera to use, in that "everything you need and nothing you don't" manner---typical Hubert Nerwin design.

    But the second thing is that scale focus is a pain! I end up relying on small apertures to shoot hyperfocally a lot, which means slow film is out of the question in anything but full sun, and anything close-up, even at portrait distance, is dicey.

    So naturally I'm experiencing some GAS for the Contessa, which is basically the same chassis with a meter, a rangefinder, and a Tessar. They don't seem much discussed here---does anyone have experiences of them that I should hear about? (I know the meter won't work; don't care.)

    Thanks

    -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_

  2. #2
    tony lockerbie's Avatar
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    Hi Nathan. I do have one and can vouch for it's quality. Really nicely built camera, and the Tessar on those is really top class...think "honey I shrunk the Super Ikonta". They don't seem to come up for sale that often, and are quite cheap when they do, and that is surprising for such a handy and classy little camera.
    When I bought mine the seller said that it didn't work at all, but of course they need a film inside before the shutter will cock.
    If you find a good one, go for it, you won't be sorry.

  3. #3

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    Don't own one, but have examined a few. They are very sweet looking cameras. They look to be more robust than Retinas, and I'd probably be more serious about buying one if I didn't already have a few Retinas.

  4. #4

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    Lovely cameras, though definitely not as fast in action as a Retina of the same vintage, since you have to cock the film manually. Also, the shutter release (mounted at the base of the lens) is not as easy to use as the body-mounted release of the Retinas. The Retina lenses focus as a unit while the Contessa lens is front-element focusing.

    As a piece of fine phtographic machinery it's a work of art, truly. And regarding the meter, there's a good chance it actually isn't dead, and if you search Mike Elek's website (he's a regular here) he will tell you how to get at it and see if indeed it can be rejuvenated.

  5. #5

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    I used to have the same problem, but no more. The solution is very simple and elegant. Buy yourself an inexpensive Federal rangefinder on the auction site.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-IDEA...item3cde5a117d

    Now go out and shoot the camera (with no film) by first guessing the distance, then checking it w/ the rangefinder. Pretty soon you'll see that 3' is quite a bit different than 6', 10' is different from 15', etc. In a short time you will be very proficient at this. Then, sell the rangefinder for what you paid for it, or keep it around in case you get rusty. Works a treat, and once you get the hang of it, it's as fast or faster than using a camera w/ an internal rangefinder. Also, f8 is your friend, especially w/ the Novar.

  6. #6
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    GAS good is. Force of GAS resist cannot. Dark slide force give in must. - Yoda, Star Wars XLVIII
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  7. #7
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Besides you deserve it.
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  8. #8

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    ugg

    I want a Kodak 35. They are so durned u-g-l-y they make "The Brick" look like a Leica. And I want a Nicca rangefinder with the thumb wind, back that opens and screw-mount lenses. I want to get all the missing pieces for my Crown Graphic and to figure out why my Baby Graphic back won't fit. I want a really good macro lens for my Nikon. What else? Rolleiflex, fisheye lens, oddball batteries for over a dozen cameras and a 2 1/4 SLR with the old Sonnar 180mm f2.8 lens I used to own. When they say "GAS" I say "fill 'er up" just like the Bad Old Days.

  9. #9

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    The shutter release is the same as the Ikonta 35/Contina, right? You cock the shutter independently, and fire with that kind of bulky lever on the upper right? I don't mind that; it's consistent with the MF folders I'm used to.

    If I stumble on a working meter, so much the better, but it's easy enough to live without it. That said, Zeiss does seem to have a better track record than others about meter survival. Does the Contessa's meter have a cover like the Contax RFs, or is that just the bright/dim mask?

    -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_

  10. #10

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    I have a Contessa that works pretty good, though the rangefinder is a hair off. Think 1950's Luxury! Think Jules Verne!

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