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Thread: Zeiss Contaflex

  1. #1
    ronlamarsh's Avatar
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    Zeiss Contaflex

    I just scored one of these at an estate sale for $30 it is in mint condition, the shutter is a little hesistant at 1 sec. Got the case the manual anda copy of "The Contaflex Way" and the tele-lens with shade with it. Sn is81715 with a 45mm tessar lens. What can you folks tell me about this find? I couldn't pass it up.
    No escaping it!
    I must step on fallen leaves
    to take this path

  2. #2

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    Well, they are beautiful and they have an interesting history and the lenses are old Zeiss classics, but as far as practical picture-takers are concerned, they can't cut it compared to your average Japanese manual 35mm SLR from the '70s.

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    They don't have many of the modern conveniences of later cameras. No rapid-return mirror. Early models had knob wind, rather than a lever. The back was removed to change the film. It uses a simple fresnel screen with a ground glass collar and split image.

    If you can get past the lack of modern conveniences, you'll find that the coated Tessar lens is very sharp.

    It's a small camera. It has a leaf shutter, which means you can synchronize the flash at any speed from 1 second to 1/500.

    Take your time, and you'll be rewarded with excellent photographs.

    By the way, the shutter probably should be serviced.

  4. #4

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    Nice cameras, but it's hard to find anyone who will work on them because of the overly complicated design.

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    "By the way, the shutter probably should be serviced."

    I will second this one. BUt where & at what cost can this be done?
    I had a Contaflex Super & liked it. Yes it is quirky by "modern" standards but when the shutter worked right it produced uniquely appealing results. I'm talking family photos - not professional work here.
    The problem I had with mine is that the exposures were somewhat random. I sold it on ebay with full disclosure & the buyer reported he liked it very much. I would like to have another in "perfect" working order but at this late date I don't think I could get one overhauled for a reasonable price.

  6. #6
    ronlamarsh's Avatar
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    contaflex

    I found a repair place online in New Jersey that lists these as cameras that the work on. Am waiting for a CLA quote.
    I know that not having a lever wind and some other modern convienences make it rather quirky as does the non-return mirror. But I find it feels good in the hands like my M3 did and the Tessar lens intrigues me. I have an F3 if I were to need to do "professional work" but the lenses just don't give a black & white image the way that the Tessar or Xenars do on my Rollei"s.
    Since I don't do professional work per se I am rather excited by its possibilities.
    No escaping it!
    I must step on fallen leaves
    to take this path

  7. #7
    DTC
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    My father has had a Contaflex Super B for over 40 years. It is a nice looking, very solid, pretty heavy camera. It does lack certain modern conveniences like an instant return mirror and the loading of film is a bit cumbersome, with the back having to be removed. However, the camera does take very sharp pictures and the unusual optional back allows you to change films mid-roll using a dark slide. The worst fault of the camera is the battery compartment door, which is poorly designed and made of plastic. The door often fails to remain closed, necessitating the use of unsightly tape.

  8. #8
    IloveTLRs's Avatar
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    The Contaflex SLR, not the TLR, right?

  9. #9
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    My father also had one -- that his father brought back from Germany. It is what I leaned on and I remember reading "The Contaflex Way" in school rather than paying attention in class. This camera is probably why I MUCH prefer an all mechanical camera. It just makes the whole process so pure and instinctual. I hope you enjoy this camera as much as I did.

  10. #10
    ronlamarsh's Avatar
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    contaflex

    Quote Originally Posted by IloveTLRs View Post
    The Contaflex SLR, not the TLR, right?
    Yes the SLR
    No escaping it!
    I must step on fallen leaves
    to take this path

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