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Contaflex TLR
Old 12-26-2014   #1
KoNickon
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Contaflex TLR

Does anyone have one of these? How is it to use? I'd love to get one (in proper working order) at some point -- it was a remarkable engineering achievement in its day. I have read that it probably is the most expensive camera ever made, taking inflation into account.
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Old 12-26-2014   #2
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I've never been able to get my hands on one.
Incredibly beautiful cameras. It reminds me of the Plaubel Makina iis in some way.
That chrome trim and extra luxury. Is it actually practical in use?
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Old 12-26-2014   #3
Vince Lupo
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An old thread, but I had one for a couple of years:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...=Contaflex+tlr

Loved the camera, and you definitely need some money behind you to run this thing (or to find a good one). Lenses are scarce and expensive. the 35mm lens is particularly tough to find (and its separate viewfinder almost impossible to find). I had a 28mm lens for it (probably the only one of its kind), and fashioned my own viewfinder method. If you have a look at that thread, it will give you a better idea.
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Old 12-27-2014   #4
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Do you still have it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
An old thread, but I had one for a couple of years:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...=Contaflex+tlr

Loved the camera, and you definitely need some money behind you to run this thing (or to find a good one). Lenses are scarce and expensive. the 35mm lens is particularly tough to find (and its separate viewfinder almost impossible to find). I had a 28mm lens for it (probably the only one of its kind), and fashioned my own viewfinder method. If you have a look at that thread, it will give you a better idea.
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Old 12-27-2014   #5
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No I sold it a few years back. Please note the word 'had' in my post!
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Old 12-27-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
No I sold it a few years back. Please note the word 'had' in my post!
Oh i'm sorry you seem to be so happy with it. What made you let it go? It was a big investment judging by what you have amassed in that old thread
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Old 12-27-2014   #7
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Borrowed one once. The Fabergé Egg of 35mm cameras: beautifully made, beautiful to look at, lovely to play with, but unfortunately only slightly more useful than a Fabergé egg for taking pictures.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-27-2014   #8
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Reason I sold it was that I wasn't shooting film as much as I had, and it was just money sitting there that could have been put to better use. So I put the money to better use (and I believe I made a bit of a profit on the sale of the kit too)!

And here again, as far as shooting with it went, I didn't have any troubles once I got used to its quirks. It was probably one of the most satisfying cameras to use -- true, I wouldn't want to shoot a basketball game with it, but I think using it made me a more 'deliberate' photographer, if that makes sense. If I could have afforded to keep it and also felt compelled to shoot more film, I would have.
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Old 12-27-2014   #9
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Just found this one on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/EX-Zeiss-Iko...item3a92508f01

Considering the nutty prices that others are asking for a TLR, this one actually seems reasonable!

The key is to find the best one you can in working condition. My overhaul cost $600 when Frank Marshman did it. I don't know how much Henry Scherer charges for a TLR overhaul (or if he even works on TLR's), and I'm not sure who else would be willing to tackle it.
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Old 12-27-2014   #10
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Thanks, Vince, I'll read your old thread. I believe Henry Scherer works on them -- there is a most extensive writeup on his site about these, and how complicated they are to work on (I figure he'd know). Good to know that Frank Marshman knows and works on them also.

I got for Christmas the Hove book on Zeiss Ikon cameras 1926-39, which renewed my interest in these.
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Old 12-27-2014   #11
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It's not so much a camera with quirks, as a collection of quirks with a camera hiding behind them. If I want a slow, baulky, unreliable camera, an Exakta is much easier, cheaper and more reliable. Or go for a bigger format...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-27-2014   #12
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Of course, if it was made by Leica...well...that would be different even if it was big and bulky!!
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Old 12-27-2014   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Rees View Post
Of course, if it was made by Leica...well...that would be different even if it was big and bulky!!
Can't tell what yours are like but my Leicas are neither large, bulky, or hard to use.
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Old 12-27-2014   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
Can't tell what yours are like but my Leicas are neither large, bulky, or hard to use.
Nor indeed as hard (read: expensive) to repair nor one-tenth as "quirky" as the 35mm Zeiss TLR. But hey, some people can never resist a snipe at Leica.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-28-2014   #15
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No swipe intended...
Perhaps John Wade's description in Shutterbug, July 2013 is less provocative than "quirky, and bulky".

John Wade writes..."Few cameras can truly be temed unique, in that their specifications are unlike those of any other camera. But when all the various aspects of the Contaflex are put together, it's one camera that deserves that title.""n
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Old 12-28-2014   #16
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No swipe perceived Gareth. I do realize and acknowledge - as some have pointed out - that it's not a camera that will be enjoyed by everyone.

However, I didn't buy and use my Contaflex for its convenience, 'ease of use' or weight-saving svelteness. Heck, if that's what I wanted, I could just as easily used my iPhone to take a photo. For me, using this camera extended beyond merely pushing a button -- as I mentioned in that other Contaflex thread, even loading the film felt like a 'religious experience'. Almost like I was walking in the footsteps of a distinctive history, and with every adjustment of the focus lever, the setting of the shutter, peering down onto the ground glass and depressing that shutter lever, I was adding to that history (and to my own personal experiences as a photographer).

So yes, it is unique and 'quirky' -- it also means that taking photographs is that much more special. And challenging!
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Old 12-28-2014   #17
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I have one that needs new shutter straps. I shot several rolls before the straps broke (damn!).

It's a heavy camera. The body is heavy. The lenses (even the 50mm Sonnar) are heavy.

As a user, it's slow to take a photo. You're peering through a somewhat dark viewfinder. Focusing is accomplished by the lever on the side of the lens.

You trip the shutter using another lever on the right side of the camera.

Despite its heft, I rather liked using the camera. Taking a vertical photo was much easier than you might expect, although you obviously had to focus beforehand and then use the (dim) Van Albada viewfinder to frame your shot.

I will either replace the straps myself or I will pay someone (not Henry Scherer) to replace the straps. I probably will also replace the viewfinder mirror.

It's a massive and exquisitely built camera, and there certainly are better choices for photography. But you will use a camera that likely no one else in your city will be using.
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Old 12-28-2014   #18
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Frank Marshman replaced my straps at the time -- he used plastic ones, so they'll never break!
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Old 12-28-2014   #19
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It is indeed a beautiful device. For those of us who have a masochistic streak and less money the Contax I can evoke the same emotions, the more dimples the better (or worse). If one wants to be almost pain free the Super Nettel can conjure up similar feelings for even less.
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Old 12-30-2014   #20
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Interesting about the straps that Frank Marshman installed. I wonder what material he used.

As I said, I'm planning to tackle strap replacements on mine soon. It's not a job that I'm relishing, but I want to use the camera again.
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