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  1. #1

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    contax iia vs leica iiif

    The Cantax iia / iiia seems to be way under appreciated I see on the web where people compare contax to a leica m of course th leica M is a better camera But the contax iia/iiia were first made in the early 50s like my leica iiif I never found a contax iia/iiia not working sure they need lubrication and a cleaning and a meter might be dead. I have a leica iiif black dial made in 1951, This one has had the curtains replaced which is expensive to do and now its back in for service only after a few years this time it needs cleaned again and the flash contact no longer works my repairman said the insulating material between the sync has rotted away and can not be fixed. Older contax camera's II/III the the shutter tapes would break once repaired the camera would last along time between repairs. My 1951 contax iia black dial only needed a cleaning. I have the x flash attachment which works without a flaw I can't burn a hole through the metal shutter curtain film is easy to load the contax has a longer base focus length and only one window to compose and focus through. Whats nice you can buy a contax for much less then a leica. What I don't understand Is why accessories are so expensive for the contax. I have a working contax I version d or e with f2.8 tessar, contax iii with a dead meter but the camera works 2 contax IIa with opton sonar f2 and contax iiia with working meter sonar f1.5 all bought for pennies. My leica's on the other hand almost all has had a expensive major overhaul two leica iiif black dials has had curtains replaced one iiif red dial has had viewfinder work done every leica lens I owned had to be cleaned some have coating problems I had not had too many problems with my leica m3 Looking back I had less expense and trouble free operation with my contax cameras. I would like to hear from other contax user's good or bad

  2. #2
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    Ahh yes. Back before Nikon V. Canon for world domination.

    Like you, I fall into the Contax camp. I have two Contax IIas and a Kiev IIa (Contax II clone). Use the Opton Sonnar 50 1.5 and postwar Jena Sonnar 50/2. Also have an early Jupiter-8 that's a fine performer.

    I have had both of my Contaxes CLA'd. That said, the first one, also built around 1951, I had CLA'd, but it was working fine (the shutter worked fine, anyway, rangefinder was accurate but hazy). The repairman said it looked as if it had never been serviced and he was the first to take it apart. The second one, an even earlier specimen, was fortunately repaired by a very kind and knowledgeable gentleman who roams these forums.

    I've never owned a leica camera although I have two of their enlargers.

    I think the pre-war and post-war Contax cameras are far superior to the Leica III, because of the rangefinder/viewfinder accuracy and ease of use. The shutter design is much more complex, however, so if it ever does stop working, finding someone to repair it and do the job well is a bigger task than it would be to find someone to repair the Leica III. I think the inventiveness and engineering that went into the Contax design is what led Leica eventually to design its M-series.

    The Kiev and Contaxes are my favorite cameras to use. I wish there was some way to take the controls and shutter from a Contax IIa and put them on a pre-war Contax II with its rangefinder and viewfinder and slightly larger body, which seems to fit my hands better.

    Anyway, there's my 2 cents and then some. Maybe 5 cents.

  3. #3

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    Paragraphs, man, paragraphs! :-)

    I think Contax is sort of the Saab of cameras; they're good, but they're sort of eccentric in a way that people either love or hate, and when something does go wrong, it's likely to be something complicated and fiddly. It's interesting that you've found them working; virtually all the ones I've seen offered for sale (at the usual sources like KEH, I mean, not private sellers) have been listed as broken, I assume somewhere in the shutter linkage.

    IMHO, the 50/1.5 Sonnar is just about unbeatable as a 35mm normal lens. It's not Summicron-sharp, but it's not Summicron-sterile either. And while they are out there in LTM as well, I think we can all agree that a Contax body is the natural habitat of that lens, right?

    Some days I get GAS for a Bessa-R2C body, though. Contax mount, modern shutter, TTL metering, and framelines! Expensive body with a short rangefinder base, though.

    -NT
    Last edited by ntenny; 11-13-2013 at 11:04 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo
    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_

  4. #4

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    The contax ii is a solid machine I have a bad habit of covering the rangefinder window with that model. Using the contax model I is a little time consuming mine was made in 1933 I think the rangefinder base is slightly smaller in the model one at least I don't cover the rangefinder window with my finger. I have't used russian lenes with it yet. I bought my contax iia at an estate sale I've gotton a older heavy brass chrome nikkor 35mm f2.5 and 135mm nikkor made for the contax with the camera these work nice. Although I read the wide angle nikkors are made only for the nikon but depth of field is great enough not to notice the focus difference. I wonder what other lens brands are made for the contax?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by randy6 View Post
    Although I read the wide angle nikkors are made only for the nikon but depth of field is great enough not to notice the focus difference.
    Right, same physical mount but slightly different dimensions for the focusing helical. The standard view is that it's close enough for anything wider than standard, though I suppose in a critical-focus application, wide open and close up, it still might matter.

    I wonder what other lens brands are made for the contax?
    Besides the modern Voigtlaender wides and the Kiev clones, I think they're all oddballs. There's a partial list at http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Co...efinder_lenses.

    I actually have a Som Berthiot 28/3.3 Angulor in Contax mount; it may be a conversion job. I've never shot a lot with it, but it seems to be a decent lens. The Vade Mecum says it's some sort of variation on the Tessar design, IIRC.

    -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_

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the list link I'll have to look for some of those. Som Berthiot has got to be quite a find.
    Most pre contax II camera's I run into are plagued with rotted shutter ribbons 60 70 years to rot once replaced the cameras work fine. The post war iia/iiia don't use these ribbons most work the slower speeds stick only becuase the oil is dried and old once the camera has a basic cleaning all will be in working order again most likely work for another 50 years

  7. #7

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    I had a Contax II withan f:2 Sonnar, and will probably have either another II or a meterless Kiev in the not too distant future.
    Off on a tangent, my favorite 35 SLR is the Nikon F. The F came about by adding (oversimplification) a mirror box and prism to the Nikon SP, which was basically a Contax clone with a better shutter - the titanium one, although early ones had fabric curtains.
    So the prewar Contaxes are not small cameras - if you want small, get the Leica screwmount. They're both gorgeous cameras in their own ways. The obvious solution is to have both.

  8. #8

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    Yes, I like the Contax IIa viewfinder with integrated viewing and focusing much more than the Leica LTM's.
    I like the Contax IIa so much that I went to the Nikon RF. It seemed to keep the best of the IIa, and evolved beyond to include some of the Leica M features. The spools of the IIa used to just drive me insane.

  9. #9

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    I had an early nikon rangefinder don't remember the model mine was in poor shape I had rotted shutter curtains I didn't think the finish was good I sold it for more than what I paid for the contax cameras I didn't know some model nikons come with titanium curtains

    I had an very early serial number nikon f once sold it very good price

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by randy6 View Post
    I had an early nikon rangefinder don't remember the model mine was in poor shape I had rotted shutter curtains I didn't think the finish was good I sold it for more than what I paid for the contax cameras I didn't know some model nikons come with titanium curtains
    I had an very early serial number nikon f once sold it very good price
    Here: http://imaging.nikon.com/history/legendary/rhnc12ti-e/

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