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Any love for Ziess Ikon Contaflex?
Old 03-05-2019   #1
ColSebastianMoran
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Any love for Ziess Ikon Contaflex?

Buying a camera I wanted, along with it came a Contaflex II. Seems to be working, and trying to decide whether to exercise it or put on shelf.

Any love out there for the Contaflex? How is the 45mm f/2.8 Tessar? Any quirks?
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Old 03-05-2019   #2
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Got a Contaflex Beta myself, with Pantar. Pretty good and fun cameras. Robust as well.

Seldom use it but a complete joy when I do. There a a lot of better cameras that this but it offer a good experience. Feel solid on the hand which help when making the shoot. Light meter not very reliable though.

Definitely give some it some exercise.

Enjoy

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Old 03-05-2019   #3
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They have a decent little Tessar lens, but the cameras are fairly complex and prone to mechanical issues after sitting without use for several decades.

No auto-return mirror, and it can be difficult and expensive to find someone who can work on them. But they are incredibly well made little gems!
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Old 03-05-2019   #4
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Old 03-05-2019   #5
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I've owned several including one very complete kit with case and all accessories. I prefer the super and super BC models. They are exquisite examples of Stuttgart engineering.

Contarama is derived from Contaflex btw.
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Old 03-05-2019   #6
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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I'm very fond of them though I have to admit being distracted by various focal plane shutter devices for some time it has been a while since I have used mine. There were two different versions of the II, early with a dual range meter, later, a single range. They have meters which often actually work, courtesy of a cover flap over the cell to keep the nasty light out when not in use. There are exceptions, but don't be too surprised if the meter is still working and accurate. All of mine are and I have at least a couple of the later single range and one dual range—all still bang on. IV meters aren't bad either, reliability-wise, for the same reason BTW.

They can look and sound like they are working when in fact they are sticking a bit. They are basically a garden variety Synchro-Compur shutter with a few extra bits at the rear to hold the blades open for viewing and stop the aperture blades down etc. If the shutter blades look like they are firing at the correct speeds and the slow speeds and timer sound OK fhe main thing is removing the back, setting the aperture to the smallest f stop (f/22) and then with the lens aimed at a light source watch through the rear of the camera as you for it at 1/500. If you can see only a tiny pentagon of light flash that is a good start, the aperture must close quickly while the mirror and capping plate retract, but if servicing is needed they may stick and run slow, causing overexposure. Also set one second and repeat the test, watching closely. The lens opening should be at f/22 the instant the shutter blades open—if you can see any sign of the aperture reducing in size after the shutter blades part it is not closing down fast enough.

If your example passes these basic checks it's probably good to go. The II has a front cell focus 45mm Tessar. Late 50mm types found in Super B, BC, S, are a bit sharper but for all that it's a good sharp lens and consider the compact dimensions of this Zeiss SLR. and with a lens shutter at that. How did they make it so compact?

Frank Marshman is quite active on one of the Facebook camera repair groups. I don't know how much he is working these days but he has told me he cut his teeth on the Contaflexes in his early days and has worked on many of them. If it did need some attention and he could be persuaded to take it on he'd be an excellent choice in the USA. Our own Phil (farlymac) did a great job of getting one to run again not so many years ago. He had such a good time doing that one he'd probably love to sort another, given half a chance. :-)
I'm a bit too distant here in Tassie but they're not as bad to work on as people say, just different. If you get stuck with anything you are welcome to get in touch and I will do what I can to advise. Look out for a Teleskop and its mounting bracket too. Underwhelming for landscape unless really stopped down but sharp enough in the centre for portraiture (very much it's intended function). But they are worth having on looks alone.
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Old 03-05-2019   #7
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They're really well made and look great on a shelf, but in use the viewfinder is awful. Combined with the big depth of field of a 45mm 2.8, it sort of negates the point of it being an SLR altogether. I'd rather use a plain viewfinder model like the Contina.
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Old 03-05-2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
... They can look and sound like they are working when in fact they are sticking a bit. They are basically a garden variety Synchro-Compur shutter with a few extra bits at the rear to hold the blades open for viewing and stop the aperture blades down etc. If the shutter blades look like they are firing at the correct speeds and the slow speeds and timer sound OK fhe main thing is removing the back, setting the aperture to the smallest f stop (f/22) and then with the lens aimed at a light source watch through the rear of the camera as you for it at 1/500. If you can see only a tiny pentagon of light flash that is a good start, the aperture must close quickly while the mirror and capping plate retract, but if servicing is needed they may stick and run slow, causing overexposure. Also set one second and repeat the test, watching closely. The lens opening should be at f/22 the instant the shutter blades open—if you can see any sign of the aperture reducing in size after the shutter blades part it is not closing down fast enough.
Brett and all,

Thanks everyone for the comments. Looks like mine is going to be a shelf queen. It looks terrific, it clicks and sounds like it's working, but Brett's test is instructive: Shutter doesn't open at all. Aperture seems to be moving fine.
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Old 03-05-2019   #9
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Shoot it with the .700 Nitro Express Elephant Gun. It would illustrate the Mountains of Frustration built up over the Decades for Beautiful Broken Zeiss Cameras.
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Old 03-05-2019   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambro51 View Post
Shoot it with the .700 Nitro Express Elephant Gun. It would illustrate the Mountains of Frustration built up over the Decades for Beautiful Broken Zeiss Cameras.
Do you think that will have higher resolution that shooting with Ektar?
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Old 03-05-2019   #11
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I shot the Contaflex IV for a couple years. Small, light, a bright viewfinder, a bit quirky, but the 45mm Tessar lens was nice. I'm always a bit surprised at the good quality of the old Zeiss optics, both pre- and post-war. No longer have any of it. The last pre-war Contax rangefinder in the house didn't survive 'the Great Camera Sell-Off of 2019,' but nice stuff.
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Old 03-05-2019   #12
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I love my two Contaflexes, but you need to make sure that the camera works because it may not work even when it sounds like it does. I had a third but it crapped out on me and was not worth fixing (compur shutter is complex). The lens is really very good. They are compact, and if yours works, you have a useful gem.
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Old 03-05-2019   #13
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambro51 View Post
Shoot it with the .700 Nitro Express Elephant Gun. It would illustrate the Mountains of Frustration built up over the Decades for Beautiful Broken Zeiss Cameras.
But, typically it won't be broken. It very likely just requires servicing.
Would you shotgun a Leica on the same basis? I suspect not. The main difference between the Contaflex and almost any Leica of the same vintage, however is that it is usually possible to get the Contaflex working well again with zero replacement parts, such was the quality of build (and to be fair, absence of fabric shutter blinds helps). Unwittingly or otherwise, you are helping to perpetuate the myth that the Contaflexes are unreliable cameras, and this is not the case. As found, they're just like any other product of the German industry of a similar age that features a lens shutter which has never been serviced. If you want to damn them for that, then, you'd better damn Eg Rolleiflexes as well, because I can assure you, a 1950s Rolleiflex that has never been serviced won't run very happily, either...
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Old 03-05-2019   #14
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I've had 3 supers, 1 super BC (black), and 1 IV. All cameras functioned however only 1, a super, worked like a watch. I still have the black one...and the instructions to repair it. Sorry cannot share...however there's probably a guy around here that can help you...I think he stills hangs out here....
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Old 03-05-2019   #15
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I have my mother's old Contaflex 126 that took 126 Instamatic drop-in film cartridges and functioned in shutter-priority auto-exposure. This one has the 3-element Color Pantar lens in 45mm. I believe she got it in 1968.


We had to have the shutter repaired, years ago, and it failed again since then. So, the shutter isn't working. According to the manual, it required a "Mallory PX 13 or Mallory PX 625" battery (mercury cell).


It's a lovely chunky old camera with silky controls.


- Murray
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Old 03-05-2019   #16
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Quote:
It very likely just requires servicing. (...) it is usually possible to get the Contaflex working well again with zero replacement parts, such was the quality of build
I agree in principle. But I have three Contaflexes. So, yes, some love. One, Super BC, has a strange problem, so far unsolved: https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...taflex.154829/
The second one, a Super, works fine.
The third one, a Contaflex II, has a shutter that does not open; just a short click, the same at all shutter speeds.

@ Brett. Could you please point me to a starting point; an outline of dis-assembly; things to know, like little springs that jump on the floor? I am not going to pay for professional repairs. I am moderately proficient in camera repair. I would start with the Contaflex II, since the front-cell focusing presumably leads to a simpler construction. My initial idea would be to dis-assemble the optics and flush the mechanical parts with naphta; I know that is not the fully professional way, but if it works...
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Old 03-05-2019   #17
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The 126 in 2019 dollars is somewhere around a grand. The conta were high end. I've had more people talk to me about my camera when carrying a Contaflex than any other rig...by far. That rubber hood on the 50 just contasteampunkrolls them I think. Like fahrphanugen...
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Old 03-05-2019   #18
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I think you mean Fahrvergnügen.


I didn't realize the Contaflex 126 had been that pricey!


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Old 03-06-2019   #19
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The Contaflex I is one of my great favorites and I put a lot of film through it after cleaning it up.



There was a long discussion about fixing the Contaflex in the old Classic Camera Repair Forum archive which is hosted here. The conversation included the participation of Rick Oleson and Jon Goodman. The main things to look for is the way to get the front of the lens off and to reset the focus, and how to tension the aperture stop-down mechanism after cleaning. It is all actually pretty easy, but the construction is quite unique.
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Old 03-06-2019   #20
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardL View Post
I agree in principle. But I have three Contaflexes. So, yes, some love. One, Super BC, has a strange problem, so far unsolved: https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...taflex.154829/
The second one, a Super, works fine.
The third one, a Contaflex II, has a shutter that does not open; just a short click, the same at all shutter speeds.

@ Brett. Could you please point me to a starting point; an outline of dis-assembly; things to know, like little springs that jump on the floor? I am not going to pay for professional repairs. I am moderately proficient in camera repair. I would start with the Contaflex II, since the front-cell focusing presumably leads to a simpler construction. My initial idea would be to dis-assemble the optics and flush the mechanical parts with naphta; I know that is not the fully professional way, but if it works...
Hi Bernard,
There is a copy of the Zeiss service manual for the Contaflex I to IV available via the web. It used to be hosted at the KY Photo site (now, gone the way of the thylacine) who were the former hosts of the Classic Camera Repair Forum some years ago. If you don't have it, please let me know.

On the topic of the CCRF archives, as I am sure you will be aware that is now hosted right here at RFF in read-only archive form. There are a fair few discussions about various Contaflex models in the archive. Unfortunately the "search function that appears on the pages is no longer functional now the content is read-only and the discussions are divided into several years. But I have found that if you open the various index pages, you can use the find in page function browsers have, to filter through the hits for whatever camera or key word you're looking for. Not perfect but it's not too tedious.

I've done an awful lot of work on most of the different Tessar models over the past eight to ten years. But my problem is I'm better at working on cameras than I am at documenting and illustrating the process. I should try harder at the latter: occasionally I look at a type of camera I've fixed previously, and have to try to remember how I did it last time...I have commented here and there over the years, photonet has a few posts from me about fixing them, a couple of detailed posts at APUG or whatever it is called, now, in years gone by? I think you may have replied to one or two of those possibly. There's some commentary about dealing with the some of the various models by me, here.

Thankfully others are much more organised when it comes to documenting camera disassembly. Phil did an excellent job of photographing a Contaflex II he was asked to sort out a few years ago. You can find that here.

Re: your Super BC.
I recall the discussion you mentioned about the Super BC. I still think the shutter blades are opening too soon (capping plate not shut fully) or sticking a bit and not closing fully after exposure promptly. I have seen various unit focus types do precisely this. Thinking about it the former may be much less likely because, although you might get odd looking fogging across negative frames if the capping plate is not quite seating fully, it will still be occluding the film gate so drastically that anything like a normally recorded image simply won't be possible. When I acquired my first ever lens shutter SLR (a Bessamatic I still have) a previous owner had jammed a pinkie into the capping plate. As a result it wouldn't seat fully and, not knowing much at all about these unusual German SLRs, I only worked this out when my roll of C-41 had been developed. So I am rather familiar with what that would look like (that was an easy fix once I knew it wasn't shutting correctly).

On the other hand, if the shutter blades are contaminated, a particular example can manifest this in several ways. If they are quite stuck together because of an abundance of evaporated lubricant fraction, you might get the behaviour you mention your II is displaying: the release is pressed and the mirror and capping plate will cycle but no exposure occurs because the blades are stuck fast.

If they are not particularly dirty they might run off more or less OK at faster speeds but not at the escapement pallet times or intermediate speeds. Or not, these are not hard and fast rules, merely my observations after close examination of many examples over some years. But the shutter blades can be lethargic to both open and close. I've seen them snap shut after exposure, but not fully, with a small pinhole opening between the blade tips because they're gooed up with years of evaporated lubricant residue.

Now if the above was occurring with your Super BC bear in mind the lens is going to be still open to the film. The capping plate will shield the film from exposure but this won't descend by itself. The camera has to be advanced to activate the capping plate and mirror again, right? Your example pics were tripod based I believe. No matter how smoothly you wind it, the camera position has to alter fractionally as you do. Might explain the ghost image. Meanwhile the shutter blades will be open only a millimetre or two, in this position they'd effectively act as an aperture, hence the secondary image would be offset from the proper, or "normal" exposure due to activating the wind lever, and also, fainter, because it would be recorded at an effective f/32 or f/45 (approximately). Without the benefit of physically examining it I'm afraid it's the best I can come up with, sorry.

The 45mm front focus Contaflex I and II are both easier and harder to work on in certain respects.

For instance if you take the shutter right out of a unit focus type, you can lose the infinity calibration of the lens because the three screws that retain the lens/shutter to the body (accessed from within the film gate) lock the back of the shutter firmly against the brass helicals. Take the shutter out and rotate the helicals, and you're in strife. It's not really that bad of course. The focus will be off, but by adjusting the relative position of the inner helical relative to the outer one and reinstalling the shutter, using the usual methods (ground glass, backsighting etc) you can dial it back in. Not hard. Merely potentially very tedious to get it spot on again by trial and error.

With experience you can avoid this issue of course, simply by leaving the focus ring set strictly at infinity (it has to be, to get those three retaining screws far enough back towards the film gate to get your driver onto them readily in the first place). If you then mark the helicals against each other at infinity immediately the shutter is pulled, subsequently accidentally upsetting the orientation doesn't really matter. Actually, the unit focus models sometimes present with a little play or wobble in the lens/shutter, or might even be hard to focus: this is due to dried grease and the absence of its damping effect on the helical threads. You might well want to separate the helicals anyway, to clean the threads and pack them with fresh grease. Not only will the focus be smoother and nicer to use, but the wobble will either drastically reduce or disappear entirely (depending on thread condition). Alternatively, you can take a height reading of the helicals with a depth gauge (or verniers, in a pinch). Simply restoring this installed height at infinity should see the calibration preserved with the shutter re-installed.

Once nice point is the focus ring infinity position is locked into place via some grub screws. So, unlike a typical helical threaded discrete SLR lens, you can screw up the helical height but the focusing ring thread will always be good for infinity at its stop. Ie set the ring to infinity and tweak the inner helical until infinity looks right: no trying to get the minimum focus of the focus ring coming in with the helicals at the right time, as you can enjoy looking for with Eg certain old CZJ lenses...

On the other hand, the front cell focus types have less parts, but the way Zeiss fixed the front cell into place really was...annoying. You have three small grub or locking screws that fix the serrated focus grip to the cell itself. The infinity stop is part of the grip. Hence...the relationship between the lens cell and its grip, dictate exactly where the lens will focus at infinity. First thing you have to do with one of those is mark the rotational position of the cell relative to the grip at infinity.

That done you can extract the screws that lock the grip to the cell (well to its lens mounting cup). But hang on...these are hidden underneath the distance scale ring behind the serrations of the grip. That's not so bad. A couple (I think) of easily reached very small slotted screws will free that up to rotate freely around the back of the grip. Then, you have to poke a one mm driver through the now open holes for the scale retaining screws and, by feel, find the heads of the screws that actually fasten the grip to the lens mount.

The mount is threaded externally into the inner diameter of the centre lens mount, multiple start. You'll need to note which threads mate with which there, too. With this accomplished, finally you can remove the front lens piece, and move onto extracting the centre cell for access to the shutter.

None of this is especially *hard* to do, merely inconvenient, BUT if the camera in question has been stored in a location conducive to corrosion, you had better hope those grip retaining screws are not corroded into the ring. Because not being able to really see them, if they burr their heads you'll be drilling them out almost blind, by feel. Noice.

Incorrect speeds with the unit focus models can nearly always be traced back to issues within the shutter itself. They're connected to the body via a short drive shaft that from memory is either splined (early) or keyed(?) (later). That is not particularly problematic, if you think it may be, winding and firing the body with the shutter out will isolate any faults with that from the shutter itself, this is quite safe to do (clean the mirror and focus screen before the shutter goes back in and check the foam for the mirror, it's probably crumbling, it is where most of the annoying spots that get up into the top of the screen, come from).

On the other hand the drive system to the I and II models is completely different. And if you have a *real* early Contaflex I (no timer, ten aperture blades, external filter thread etc) it's different *again* (which is why you have to graft an entire lens/shutter front mounting plate into one of those, if you want to install a donor shutter from a later build I or II).

With the I and II (not the real early original, or Contaflex I version circa 1953) there are large, toothed drive rings rotating behind the shutter which mesh with their counterparts at the back of the shutter. Phil's images linked above probably illustrate those. Even if the shutter itself is cleaned and firing perfectly out of the body, these rings will probably need to be cleaned and lubed because, if they stick, the whole plot won't run correctly. They all have to be positioned so that the shutter will drop in and mesh with everything, just so. Don't be in too much of a hurry to fire off a I or II body without its shutter, until you have had a good look at the parts underneath it when it comes out, and have your head around how they all hook up. And note the shutter and aperture settings before the shutter comes out, too. There is probably a particular combination of settings that are easier, or even, perhaps, essential, to mate it all up happily (Ie B/f22; B/2.8; 1/500/22; 1/500/2.8; one of those). But it's been too long since I've done a I or II. I can't recall offhand.

There is a bunch of other stuff. Tensioning the aperture stop down spring. Cleaning the shutter itself. But as Phil can attest inside the housing it's largely garden-variety Synchro Compur. The reflex bits that hold the blades open for viewing, and then, snap the aperture blades shut on release, all hook in from the back. Inside the casing itself, it is very familiar. (Which is why they tend to run happily again after cleaning them and their drive system, they are very much an ordinary SC, with a couple of extra tricks underneath them).

That ought to give you a bit to start off with. If you get into strife: time is always at a premium but I'll try to assist.
Cheers
Brett
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Old 03-06-2019   #21
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That does it. Taking my Contaflex Beta for a walk tomorrow. Hope you guys are happy .

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Old 03-06-2019   #22
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All right, all right. I just loaded a roll of Portra 160 in my little Contaflex II. I don't know how Zeiss did it but that little 45mm Tessar does a beautiful job with color film.


EDIT - By the way, Chris Sherlock in New Zealand did a marvelous job of rescuing my little Contaflex. He is better known for his work on the Kodak Retina but he can be talked into working on the older Contaflex 1 and II. Unlike Brett, bless his soul, some of us come equipped with a full set of 10 thumbs and should not be allowed to approach any camera with a screwdriver in our hands.
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Old 03-06-2019   #23
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Google "site syntax" can be used to search the Classic Cameras Repair Forum.

Here are instructions for using Google Search for a specific website.

Enter the following into the Google search bar to find all posts in the archive related to the term "Contaflex":

contaflex site:http://www.rangefinderforum.com/classics/forum
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Old 03-06-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardL View Post
...The third one, a Contaflex II, has a shutter that does not open; just a short click, the same at all shutter speeds.
That's exactly the issue with mine.
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Old 03-06-2019   #25
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...Unlike Brett, bless his soul, some of us come equipped with a full set of 10 thumbs and should not be allowed to approach any camera with a screwdriver in our hands.
lol I know that too well Pioneer
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Old 03-06-2019   #26
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Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
That's exactly the issue with mine.
As I mentioned above it is likely the basic cause is simply that outgassed lubricant residues have made the shutter blades sticky, and this has overpowered the ability of the shutter main spring to cycle them. In some cases it can be impossible to look through the finder because the shutter will not open for viewing during wind on, either. But bear in mind that just like a Hasselblad, when the release is depressed the shutter blades must first close (so that the mirror and capping plate can get out of the way) and then, open and close. So even if the blades open correctly when the camera is wound they won't necessarily be making the exposure correctly. If servicing is needed they can simply snap shut when the release is depressed, and stay shut--no exposure! Cleaning the shutter would probably fix this but the actuating rings behind the shutter would appreciate a clean too, so, really, the shutter should come out for this.

As I understand you are in the US, why don't you try asking Frank if he can sort this out for you? He knows his way around the Contaflexes very well indeed, and our own Vince (Lupo) has always rated him very highly for his work on all sorts of unusual designs (Exaktas and ALPAs IIRC). So it might be worth asking him for a quote?
Cheers
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Old 03-06-2019   #27
farlymac
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I see my name being bandied about again, Colonel (thanks, Brett), and thought I'd chime in.



The Contaflex II I repaired had been worked on before, and the following photo shows the spring tail that had been over extended so it created too much back pressure for it to be able to release the B lever to let the shutter open.



DSCN0727_2 by P F McFarland, on Flickr


Now this is not a common problem, as it was caused by whomever worked on the camera before me. But it sounds like your issue is just a run-of-the-mill sticky shutter. It's easy enough to fix, but who knows what other issues might crop up once it's been opened up. Zeiss over engineered their cameras back then, and while they usually don't break, things can get out of adjustment. And the gearing set for coordinating the aperture and shutter workings is a complex thing to behold. It's for this reason repair folks didn't like working on them. A lot of time was involved in the tear down and reassembly, and folks balked at the bills they got after the job was done. So it was easier to tell people you didn't work on them, than to lose money over a costly billing.


I don't do much camera work now, just the occasional tune-up or cleaning on a recent acquisition. But it was interesting to do that Conti II. So much so that when the gent I repaired it for asked me one day which camera he had that I might want as he was de-cluttering the place, I jumped on getting the Contaflex back.



Sample photo after the last of the repairs

River Rubble In The Shade by P F McFarland, on Flickr


Lovely camera, good lens, built like a limousine.



Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II by P F McFarland, on Flickr



Here is a listing of all the albums from the repairs and testing:


https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGwBS2D
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGGUAkw
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGFzN9G
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGGUAkw
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGJDajj
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGLoPrN
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGMGJA7
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGNUCUC
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGNnbpP


Someone also mentioned a Prima:



Zeiss Contaflex Prima Group Photo by P F McFarland, on Flickr


https://flic.kr/s/aHskarnWae


I like Zeiss



Zeiss Ikon Cousins by P F McFarland, on Flickr


PF
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Old 03-06-2019   #28
BernardL
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@ Brett, Thank you!
I was hoping ("please point me to a starting point") for a few pointers, and I see you took the time to produce this long and informative text. And, yes, I have the "Contaflex I-IV service manual".

Good pictures in the link you provided. Also informative discussion in the link provided by Mike Connealy. I'm going to print hardcopies of all that, just to be safe. Gives me an incentive to tackle the ContaflexII (as a starter) as soon as... I finish what is on my table: the 9x12cm folder and a Rollei 35XF.

Hmm, thylacine, Sarcophilus Harrisii, would you reside in Tasmania, by any chance?

Lest we should forget what these metal machines are made for, I attach two pictures taken with the ailing Contaflex; at the small size allowed for attachments on this forum, the problem is not apparent.

Contaflex love. Forgot to mention I have gathered (amassed??) the 35/3.2, 85/3.2 pro-Tessars, the set of proxars, and Zeiss filters yellow, green, orange in 27mm and 60mm diameters. A nice kit, even if a little... dense.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2017-09-34_S.jpg (31.1 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 2017-09-33_S.jpg (27.3 KB, 4 views)
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Old 03-06-2019   #29
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Someday I would like to shoot a Contarex. I dream everyday of owning a set of Contarex lenses converted to f mount. Sorry for going ot just wanted to remind everyone there is an even higher level which some say the very best glass ever made for any camera exists.
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Old 03-06-2019   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
I like Zeiss
I do too. Zeiss is Neiss.

When I was a kid my father, who was an optical engineer (he is retired now), did a lot of work for Zeiss Australia. My brother got one of these shirts



I always wanted it, but it was very comfortable and my brother totally wore it out. I have looked for one since but they are pretty rare. There is one on eBay now for $US495 (!!!).

In 1983 I thought it was so cool.

Marty

Last edited by Freakscene : 03-06-2019 at 21:49. Reason: Spelling
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Old 03-06-2019   #31
BernardL
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Browsing my files, I came across a illustrated write-up for (partial?) servicing of a Super-B shutter. I had saved it as a local html file; the site does not exist any more, but can be found thanks to the marvelous Wayback Machine. There https://web.archive.org/web/20110901...articles.shtml you can find the Articles section, look down the list for https://web.archive.org/web/20110901...xshutter.shtml

Edit. Should have checked. The archived page on archive.org is without the pictures. If you would like to have that document, please send me a PM.
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Old 03-07-2019   #32
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardL View Post
@ Brett, Thank you!
I was hoping ("please point me to a starting point") for a few pointers, and I see you took the time to produce this long and informative text. And, yes, I have the "Contaflex I-IV service manual".

Good pictures in the link you provided. Also informative discussion in the link provided by Mike Connealy. I'm going to print hardcopies of all that, just to be safe. Gives me an incentive to tackle the ContaflexII (as a starter) as soon as... I finish what is on my table: the 9x12cm folder and a Rollei 35XF.

Hmm, thylacine, Sarcophilus Harrisii, would you reside in Tasmania, by any chance?

Lest we should forget what these metal machines are made for, I attach two pictures taken with the ailing Contaflex; at the small size allowed for attachments on this forum, the problem is not apparent.

Contaflex love. Forgot to mention I have gathered (amassed??) the 35/3.2, 85/3.2 pro-Tessars, the set of proxars, and Zeiss filters yellow, green, orange in 27mm and 60mm diameters. A nice kit, even if a little... dense.
Yes, I'm a mainlander but have been residing in Tassie on a few acres just out of Hobart for many years.

The Contaflex system is still fairly affordable. I've found that wide open the 115mm Pro Tessar can have some distortion but it's quite usable closed down a bit. On the other hand the 35mm and 85mm are surprisingly good. I don't have the M1:1 Macro Tessar yet, or a Monocular, but I'd like these eventually, because I have most of the other accessories including the magazine backs and the tripod adaptor bracket needed when shooting with these, as well as the copy stand Zeiss made for the Contarex and Contaflex. I've got at least one example of all the Tessar Contaflexes too, although if a black Super BC presented itself at the right price I'd be happy to add that to my chrome one.

Re: the Contaflex II. Keep an eye out at discount or hardware stores for some inexpensive small slotted screwdrivers. The securing screw for the aperture stop down tensioning spring and its locking screw are in an inconvenient position inside the back of the camera. It's impossible to get a conventional driver right into their slots. So adding a bend near the tips of a couple of drivers at different angles makes the job of re-tensioning the spring after shutter installation that much more bearable. In fact you may not be able to do it without modifying a driver or two. Cheap ones are usually fine because they obviously won't get a lot of use—as long as they are not made of cheese.
Cheers
Brett
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Old 03-07-2019   #33
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
I do too. Zeiss is Neiss.

When I was a kid my father, who was an optical engineer (he is retired now), did a lot of work for Zeiss Australia. My brother got one of these shirts



I always wanted it, but it was very comfortable and my brother pretty much wore it out. I have looked for one since but they are pretty rare. There is one on eBay now for $US495 (!!!).

In 1983 I thought it was so cool.

Marty
That's still cool, Marty. I love it. Not enough to pay $500 US for it, though.
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Old 03-07-2019   #34
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I'll add my $.02 worth to the discussion. A couple of years ago I was in Pro Camera in Charlottesville, Virginia, and I spotted a camera with the words "Zeiss Ikon" stamped on the front. I asked to handle it, and it worked (as do all of the film cameras in the display case). So, I bought it based largely on the "Zeiss Ikon" label and the promise of a real, live Zeiss lens. The one quirk of the camera is the non-return mirror, which has confused one or two people who asked to try it, and promptly handed it back with profuse apologies for having broken it.

It's the Contaflex Super BC model. The battery chamber was corroded, and I never asked the staff to fix it, since the shutter is mechanical. I use Sunny 16 (or Sunny 11 for B/W film), and sometimes a handheld light meter. Everything works beautifully, it's fun to use and takes very good pictures with the 50mm Tessar lens. I've never had any problems with it. It's like my 1911 45ACP: sometimes I miss. The camera never does.

BTW, I learned later that the name "Zeiss Ikon" has been applied to many cameras in years gone by, so my camera isn't something extra special, except for the fact that it is my only film SLR in my collection. And it runs and is paid for...

With best regards, Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 03-07-2019   #35
farlymac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfreddee View Post
I'll add my $.02 worth to the discussion. A couple of years ago I was in Pro Camera in Charlottesville, Virginia, and I spotted a camera with the words "Zeiss Ikon" stamped on the front. I asked to handle it, and it worked (as do all of the film cameras in the display case). So, I bought it based largely on the "Zeiss Ikon" label and the promise of a real, live Zeiss lens. The one quirk of the camera is the non-return mirror, which has confused one or two people who asked to try it, and promptly handed it back with profuse apologies for having broken it.

It's the Contaflex Super BC model. The battery chamber was corroded, and I never asked the staff to fix it, since the shutter is mechanical. I use Sunny 16 (or Sunny 11 for B/W film), and sometimes a handheld light meter. Everything works beautifully, it's fun to use and takes very good pictures with the 50mm Tessar lens. I've never had any problems with it. It's like my 1911 45ACP: sometimes I miss. The camera never does.

BTW, I learned later that the name "Zeiss Ikon" has been applied to many cameras in years gone by, so my camera isn't something extra special, except for the fact that it is my only film SLR in my collection. And it runs and is paid for...

With best regards, Pfreddee(Stephen)

I used to take my film to Pro Camera, but the round trip from Roanoke once a month was getting a bit wearing. I still like to go there every once in a while to see what Bill has in the front case. Last time I bought a Trioplan 100mm for my Contax IIa, and some gaffer tape for my Soviet cameras.


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Old 03-13-2019   #36
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Just to show that I do actually use a Contaflex occasionally, and not just talk about what ails them, here's a shot I made a couple of years back that is slightly unusual, given that it was made with the Zeiss Teleskop additional lens for the Contaflex I and Contaflex II. The Teleskop in this case was fitted to my immaculate early type Contaflex II with dual range light meter (still in perfect working order in my own example). Film was Fuji Acros 100 processed, as usual for me, in Ilford ID-11 1 + 3 dilution. I don't typically bother recording shutter/aperture settings, but considering the ample depth of field evident, it was stopped down a bit for this image, at which apertures, the Teleskop can be surprisingly sharp.



The subject is SY Preana, a 19th Century steam yacht that is especially beautiful. You can read about it here if you have an interest in such things.
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Old 03-13-2019   #37
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They're really well made and look great on a shelf, but in use the viewfinder is awful. Combined with the big depth of field of a 45mm 2.8, it sort of negates the point of it being an SLR altogether. I'd rather use a plain viewfinder model like the Contina.
Why judge the usefulness of an interchangeable len SLR system based on a single lense. there are short telephotos in the system, too (85/4 and 115/4).

I did own a Contaflex that had been serviced. It worked well, and the lenses were very good, but I do prefer rangefinders, so I sold it.
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Old 03-13-2019   #38
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They're really well made and look great on a shelf, but in use the viewfinder is awful. Combined with the big depth of field of a 45mm 2.8, it sort of negates the point of it being an SLR altogether. I'd rather use a plain viewfinder model like the Contina.

You must have owned something different than I do. The viewfinder in my Contaflex II is very nice. Certainly bright enough for easy focusing even indoors.

And I could be wrong but I was never aware that the Contina had anything faster then a 45/2.8 lens.
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Old 03-13-2019   #39
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Brett, very nice shot!

In an apparent gas attack, I ended up buying a Contaflex Super B w/2.8 50mm Tessar but haven't shot with it yet. It's been back a few times for repair and I think it's working ok now but just need to find some time to shoot.

I also purchased the supplementary lenses (all in their original lens bubbles):
  • Pro-Tessar 35mm f3.2
  • Pro-Tessar 85mm f3.2
  • Pro-Tessar 115mm f4
All in beautiful condition and exquisite build quality.

During my gas attack I also purchased a Zeiss Contina-matic III w/removable 45mm f2.8 Pantar lens, and a Zeiss Contessa (45mm f2.8 Tessar).

The engineering in these cameras is very admirable.

I also bought some accessories; hoods, filters, and really need to stop now! ....and go out and shoot...
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Old 03-13-2019   #40
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Ty for sharing the Preana with us sir.. when I come across stories like this I sometimes wonder if we are missing something better nowadays
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