Contax II is the ultimate camera for me! I'd give my three analog SLR cameras (Ricoh XR-1s, borked and corroded XR-1, Carena CX-300) and four lenses (including two Pentax lenses and two of unmentionable brands), plus Moskva 5 (needs CLA, but the bellows, rangefinder and faster speeds are OK), Zorki 4 and beaten up to death and not quite sharp Industar 61 L/D, for a Contax II (or a Leica II or III, for that matter) in good condition, with a standard lens. I'm serious. If someone is up for a swap and is willing to pay for all the shipping/customs to/from Poland, please PM me. I'll add 1m long Kaiser's release cable and a bag of random spare parts if it's still 2013. I can make photos. Else I'll just continue living with what I have and maybe some day I'll buy one.
Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh
I've been working for some short time on a Kiev 4am with a Helios 103. What can I say... The camera had some clunk-clunk factor to it, and it suffered from uneven frame spacing issues, prolly due to same reason the Zorki puts sprockets into the image (or the other way around...). It's still a "pro" camera compared to amateur-oriented Zorkis, even if it's usually horribly machined and assembled after '60s or 70s.
The lens was good though. I like the Sonnar look of my Jupiter more, esp. how dreamy and soft it gets wide open, but that's a matter of aesthetics, and I guess I don't have the best sample in the world. The Helios looked like every other lens, which is a compliment for something 30 or 40 years older, than "every other lens"... Shooting Helios some years before, I'm kinda used to how Biotar heritage renders the image, that's the norm for me, like a bread and butter.
As for frankensteining some lenses, either it's an exercise in machining your own gear, or just being wasteful in terms of both time and gear, but it sounds like you know what you're doing. Having a lens, I'd rather use it as it is. But if you're skilled and you have a lathe, I guess there's nothing stopping you really. Collapsible Industar barrel is something like 19mm wide, there's no space for anything close to f/2 or even f/2.8 diameter, it''l be interesting to watch how you overcome that issue.