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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Medium Format

    Contessa 35 loose lens standard

    Hello Everybody, I hope some of you may have enough experience with Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35s to give me some advice. I'm looking at a particularly clean example. It's pristine cosmetically, and the shutter sounds accurate, the meter works, the viewfinder is bright, and the rangefinder is bright and accurate. Also, the lens is clear, i.e., free of fog, scratches, fungus, or "cleaning marks" (which to me is a euphemism for scratches).

    There seems to be only one problem with the little camera; I probably wouldn't have noticed it except I've read that it's a common problem with these cameras. When the camera is open and erected, the lens standard (and, of course, the lens/shutter) can be jiggled sideways (but not vertically) easily. The loose erecting struts are on the right side of the bellows unit (looking from above). The movement is roughly 1 mm or about 1/32". It would seem that there's something loose in the erecting struts or braces, but I can't see into bellows cavity (because of the metal cowling which causes some people to think these cameras don't have bellows) to see what's wrong. Has anyone had a similar problem and, if so, what was the nature of the repair and how difficult was it?

    I do hope some of you can be a help. I don't have any urge to buy a camera that needs an expensive repair or one that I can't do myself.

    And, by the way, I've read about these cameras on the web for some time. They are lovely to look at, but seem awkward to use compared to anything else I own: Leica Ms, Retinas, Hasselblads (which I also find a bit awkward) and my beloved Rolleiflexes. So why buy one? Not sure...


  2. #2
    GRHazelton's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Jonesboro, GA
    Multi Format
    I have a Contessa 35. Lovely machine, as you note not as easy to use as some others, but...

    I wonder how much difference in image quality 1mm of sidewise movement might make? Looking at my Contessa I find no evidence of "slop"; it looks as though the struts are riveted together. Wear, perhaps?

    If all else is fine, and the price is good, I'd be tempted to buy it and find out. You could always sell it later if a repair is too expensive.

    Surprising that the meter is working! Mine barely responds. Ah, well.
    This email is a natural hand-made product. The slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and in no way are to be considered flaws.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Jersey Channel Islands
    Medium Format
    I have and use a Contessa 35 a lot, lovely little camera and great results, although until you get used to it it can be tricky to use, the shutter speed and aperture setting can be difficult, but the rangefinder is one of the best around, but your are very lucky that the meter works, they very often need a repair, Mike Elek has an article about fixing a meter on a Zeis Ikon on his excelent website.as regards a bit of sloppiness in the front standard, mine has no such problem, looking to be rivited togeether, but I wouldn't think that it should cause a problem, maybe just a bit of wear, maybe a screw needs tightning, I can't see much else, and a mm of movement shouldn't cause a problem, so if the price is right I would say get it and enjoy it



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