Originally Posted by randy6
I had one, and used it quite a bit. I had no trouble with it, the fellow I got it from was a good technician and had gone over it. Here's what it comes down to with any old mechanism (assuming it's well designed and well made in the first place): How it's been treated. Have hacks got at it? Has it been properly maintained?
The Contax I was and still is a world-class camera. It will be just as good today as it was the day it left the factory if it has been properly treated and maintained.
To elekm great reply on service techs
I collected most my cameras over time through local auction and sales Most things I find have not been touched in decades or since new. I don't buy many cameras from #bay because of possible butchery not to say all sellers are passing something off I just don't want to take the chance. I don't think this contax has been fiddled with much over the years should come out nice. And it sounds like other users had little to no problems with this model.
In reply to elekm I don't think kiev shuttters are replaced in many or any contax cameras either it would seem to be a ridiculous effort on a forger or repairers part. there's not a lot of money in contax II cameras.
OK, I'm on a real computer now.
I get the impression that the first Contax I model was rushed to market. The rangefinder arm rides along the barrel of the lens helical, and it's a bit of a bumpy ride, meaning that the secondary image does not move smoothly.
The tab for the lens lock is too thin on my camera, allowing a lens to unlock itself. As I mentioned, there are no slow speeds, and it requires to much effort to advance the film and tension the shutter. It uses mirrors in the focusing system, and the secondary image is rather dim, despite careful cleaning of all components. Yes, I was very careful with the semi-gilded mirror.
The later model that I have, which has slow speeds, is a better camera - more refined, as I mentioned earlier in this thread. Everything seems more positive. I think this model uses prisms in the focusing system, and the secondary image slides smoothly to and fro. Lenses lock securely, and it just seems like a better made camera.
I need to replace the shutter straps -- the old ones gave way about six months ago. It's a shame, because this camera came with a clean and very beautiful nickel and black f/1.5 5cm Sonnar, which of course can be used with any other Contax. I like the idea of using the very classic Sonnar with its original camera.
Zeiss started making the Contax 1 in 1932, so how reliable can any machine be that could be up to 81 years old that may have never never been serviced ?
I've been using contax I for a while now. I had a problem rewinding film the first time I used it. I had to unload in the darkroom. I had not had a problem since. Two prongs push the film away from the spool while rewinding. A funny system for rewinding. I have a f2.8 tessar perfect shape and f1.5 sonar also perfect shape both nickel plated and uncoated The tessar preformed much better with a lens hood. Camera works well.
What is nice about the Contax is that you can use the Zeiss Ikon film cassette, and it eliminates the need to rewind, although you probably should unload the film in a darkroom or camera bag.
The Zeiss Ikon film cassette can be used in many Zeiss Ikon cameras: All Contax models, Contarex, Super Nettel, Nettax (35mm rangefinder), Tenax II and all of the Contaflex models. In the early days of eBay, you could buy these quite cheaply (less than $10, as I recall).
I think that you'll find that the Contax I, properly serviced, is a fine camera. There are some shortcomings: two viewfinders, a very tiny rewind knob and sort of a quirky way to advance the film and tension the shutter.
However, I think the shutter release is about perfect. And Zeiss Ikon, at the time, liked to point out that there were no spinning dials when the shutter was released - a clear shot at Leica.
The collectors recognize a lot of variations within the Contax I production, the later ones may have no problems as shooters, the collectors have inflated prices, they were real cheap at one time.
A parts Kiev can be got real cheap and if you need to fix a Contax II, the Kiev shutter module is nearly a straight drop in, saves a lotts money as stripping the crate can be difficult, and parts impossible, it is not that Contax II are expensive, to make counterfeiting worthwhile.
The Contax II and III are real nice cameras for shooters and real cheap, early Kiev's arnt a lot different in price or utility, either can be very reliable as shooters but are slow handling.
The J12 (35mm) and Orion (28mm) can need fettling before they mount on a Kiev or Contax II but are nice performers, the Orions are distressingly rare.
The Kiev and Contax II concentric cassettes are interchangeable. the Kiev ones are real cheap.
Some of the Kievs are being scrapped to make Contax and (Nikon) lens to M body adapters, so Kiev parts are readily available, except for the lens panel.
I've got a jupiter 9 85mm Made in about 1962 I only used it once so far seems fine thats the only russian lens I got for it. I was looking for a nikkor 85mm but I need to find it at the right price. I have nikkor 35mm f2.5 early made of chrome and brass I bought with a contax iia I also got a 135mm nikkor "c" with it. I have two f2 sonnar 5cm optons one nickel f1.5 sonnar and 13.5cm sonnar and I have a iia body thats been cleaned works fine
I also have two f2.8 tessars both nickel one has a black front the other is all nickel. Would thes both be the same formula?
I did get a contax film cassette and two kiev film cassettes. Only the contax cassette works in the contax model I the kiev would have to be modified a hole would need to be drilled in the tab at the bottom of the cassette.
From what I understand a kiev shutter crate cannot fit in a contax and the shutter tapes are not the same size. Too bad someone can't come up with a better material for shutter tapes. Maybe a flexible piece of titanium?