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Zeiss Contax Forum for the classic Zeiss Contax I, II, III, IIa, IIIa , G series, and if you want to push it, the nice Contax point and shoots. Some spill over from the Kievs, the Soviet copy of the Contax II/III can also be expected. Plus the ONLY production camera ever made in classic Zeiss Contax Rangefinder mount WITH TTL metering ... the Voigtlander Bessa R2C.

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My Contax II mania has run its course...
Old 09-01-2019   #1
Philip Whiteman
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My Contax II mania has run its course...

... at least to the point that I am not buying any more bodies (I have three, two restored to working condition and one that continues to function but has corroded in frame mask/film rail securing screws that have defied my efforts to extract them) or lenses - latterly bolstered by a nice post-war 35mm f2.8 Biogon and a 21mm f4 Voigtlander.
I continue to take pictures, using all the cameras - which, once serviced in DIY fashion, work like clockwork - and the 21 - 85mm lenses (but not so far the 135/4 Sonnar) but now I have retrieved my old Leica M6, which has that lovely multi-frame finder and built-in light meter...
So come on people: tell me where I am going wrong - and why, perhaps, I should be looking at a Contax IIA :-)
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Old 09-01-2019   #2
Pan Giannakis
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Give it a break for a while, keep using other cameras and in a few years time it will be like meeting an old friend again. That might re-ignite it.

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Old 09-01-2019   #3
Erik van Straten
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Originally Posted by Philip Whiteman View Post
why, perhaps, I should be looking at a Contax IIA :-)

You shouldn't, a IIa is less reliable than a II. Better look at a nice old Kiev.

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Old 09-01-2019   #4
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Originally Posted by Philip Whiteman View Post
...So come on people: tell me where I am going wrong - and why, perhaps, I should be looking at a Contax IIA :-)
I love my iia, and have a Kiev 4a (close to a ii). I am not sure there is enough of a difference to that it makes that much difference. The Contax iia is fully functional, while the Kiev has some winding difficulties, but I have run a few rolls through it. The Voitlander SC Skopar 21mm f4 is a pleasure to shoot with on the iia, but would likely be the same on a ii/Kiev.

You could play around with the Leica a bit or try something completely different (A 6X9 folder, a 4x5, TLR, digital etc.) to shake things up a little and get the creative juices flowing. Of course just trying different subjects or approaches with the same cameras could do the same.
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Old 09-01-2019   #5
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I'm another Contax shooter/maniac (IIa and II both) and have like 5 bodies of varying models. I have been shooting Contaxes pretty much exclusively for the last 3 years, amounting so several hundreds of rolls and in my experience an overhauled IIa is just as reliable as an overhauled II.

In my opinion the failure mode of a IIa requiring maintenance with gradual blanking of fast shutter speeds, the hanging up of the slow-gear train etc. just makes it seem as if it's failing slowly, whereas in the II the ribbons tear, making it very obvious that the camera is in need of repair.

The IIa models have some advantages with their easier to read shutter dial, smaller size, more even frame-spacing and lower weight. Drawbacks are the smaller finder, especially if you try to frame with 85 or 135 lenses.

What else is there to say? Oh yeah on changing up cameras...
I shoot other cameras in between the Contaxes - mainly to change things up. Some have modern bright frames like the ZI, Hexar RF or the M2 and some others don't - like the Rollei 35, another favourite. But I find that regardless of technicalities my "hit rate" is about the same across all cameras - which was surprising to mye as I often shoot "hectic" street photography.

Ultimately I end up coming back to the Contax bodies because I just love how the Zeiss lenses draw and even with adapters and expensive war-time LTM versions there will be lenses such as the incredible 21 Biogon I'd hate to miss out of by lacking a Contax to shoot them with.
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Old 09-04-2019   #6
RObert Budding
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I shot a Contax IIa for a while. It's gone now, and I've moved on to Nikon rangefinders (and a Mamiya 7II).
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Old 09-04-2019   #7
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I have a IIa and a IIIa, both from my year of birth, 1953 and like them very much. Some time ago I tried a Kiev (II copy) and I got rid of it after shooting 1 film with it. Terrible!
If you want a good companion for your II’s, find a Bessa R2c. They turn up on Ebay occasionally in mint condition. Very nice modern camera with a beautifull finder for all those great Zeiss lenses.
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Old 09-29-2019   #8
Philip Whiteman
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A quick update: I have just spent two weeks in the USA, photographing my son's wedding celebration in Santa Fe, then making a road trip west to Winslow, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Apache Junction.

I took two cameras - a Fuji X-Pro1, for shots of all the dancing in low light and a Contax II, with 50mm f2 Sonnar and 35mm F2.8 Biogon, for those fabulous landscapes, the architecture and people shots in good light.

It's just the mania for more gear that's tailed off
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Old 09-29-2019   #9
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Fun thread and a good conclusion. The moral? You've got the good gear in good nick, now spend the money traveling and USING it! ;-)
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