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Contax II -- Just Repaired
Old 01-16-2017   #1
steveyork
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Contax II -- Just Repaired

Just got a '36 Contax II repaired by a Zeiss specialist. That camera kicks like a mule at normal speeds -- loud and shake. Is that normal? Louder and more shake than the two early 50's Kiev I currently own. And of course louder then the Leicas I've owned in the past.

I put a test roll through it (which I'm starting to post on flickr) but I don't have any frame of reference for uncoated, pre-war lenses. They're obviously not as sharp as the Leica R lenses I've been using for the past 5-6 years, but not sure if the pictures show any detriment from camera shake.

Not worried about the sound.

Cool shooting experience though. Very different.
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Old 01-16-2017   #2
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Did the camera get correct shutter ribbons from the repair work? I'm guessing it has too much shutter tension in order to compensate the extra thickness of the non-optimal shutter ribbons used in the repair.

Just a wild guess. I've never repaired Contax II but successfully changed shutter ribbons on my Kiev-4As. Mechanisms are the same.

I wouldn't worry about the shake unless it shakes when the first curtain closes. Normally the camera gives a sensible shake when the second curtain closes (since it basically hits on the first curtain), which doesn't affect the exposure, so no blurring.
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Old 01-16-2017   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
Just got a '36 Contax II repaired by a Zeiss specialist. That camera kicks like a mule at normal speeds -- loud and shake. Is that normal? Louder and more shake than the two early 50's Kiev I currently own. And of course louder then the Leicas I've owned in the past.

I put a test roll through it (which I'm starting to post on flickr) but I don't have any frame of reference for uncoated, pre-war lenses. They're obviously not as sharp as the Leica R lenses I've been using for the past 5-6 years, but not sure if the pictures show any detriment from camera shake.

Not worried about the sound.

Cool shooting experience though. Very different.
It should not loud and shake and pre-war Sonnar usually really sharp. Try to contact your specialist and ask (in details) what he has done for this repair. It also could be problem with rangefinder.
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Old 01-16-2017   #4
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As others have already stated it should not be very loud and shaky. I have both Contaxes and Kievs and to me their shutters sound pretty much the same.
There should not be any major shake causing blurred pictures - I've managed to shoot OK shots at 1/10th of a sec handheld both with Contax and Kiev.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
Just got a '36 Contax II repaired by a Zeiss specialist. That camera kicks like a mule at normal speeds -- loud and shake. Is that normal? Louder and more shake than the two early 50's Kiev I currently own. And of course louder then the Leicas I've owned in the past.

I put a test roll through it (which I'm starting to post on flickr) but I don't have any frame of reference for uncoated, pre-war lenses. They're obviously not as sharp as the Leica R lenses I've been using for the past 5-6 years, but not sure if the pictures show any detriment from camera shake.

Not worried about the sound.

Cool shooting experience though. Very different.
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Old 01-17-2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msarkki View Post
As others have already stated it should not be very loud and shaky. I have both Contaxes and Kievs and to me their shutters sound pretty much the same.
There should not be any major shake causing blurred pictures - I've managed to shoot OK shots at 1/10th of a sec handheld both with Contax and Kiev.
It's just noticeably louder at the normal shutter speeds (1/1250 to 1/125) than a pair of early Kiev cameras ('51 and '52) I have in the house. More vibration in the camera too at these speeds, I can feel it, but I don't know if that vibration blurs the film. The pictures from a test roll look ok, given the age of the lens, but certainly not as sharp as a more modern lens. The person who repaired the camera was one of the noted Zeiss specialists. I just don't know if that is the way with the pre-war Contax.
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Old 01-17-2017   #6
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Interesting -- I know that the color dial postwar Contaxes can have a noisier shutter because of the flash synchronization mechanism, but this doesn't seem right for a prewar Contax.
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Old 01-17-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
It's just noticeably louder at the normal shutter speeds (1/1250 to 1/125) than a pair of early Kiev cameras ('51 and '52) I have in the house. More vibration in the camera too at these speeds, I can feel it, but I don't know if that vibration blurs the film. The pictures from a test roll look ok, given the age of the lens, but certainly not as sharp as a more modern lens. The person who repaired the camera was one of the noted Zeiss specialists. I just don't know if that is the way with the pre-war Contax.
Pre-wer lens is really sharp, they maybe less contrast, they didn't resist direct light and can't re-produce color correctly, But you can't blame them for sharpens. I have own 20 lenses from 1887 to 1941 they all have an unique "personalty". I have use them for many years for almost all formats 8x10in, 5x7in, 5x4in, 9x12cm, 6x9, 6x6, 6x45, 35mm. They are incredible. Sorry for this off topic. But I can't resist from Leica-R's owner :-)

Yes your test images looks blurred. I don't think it is a shutter issue. It is something wrong with the lens itself or lens seating in your camera incorrectly.
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Old 01-18-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deklari View Post
Pre-wer lens is really sharp, they maybe less contrast, they didn't resist direct light and can't re-produce color correctly, But you can't blame them for sharpens. I have own 20 lenses from 1887 to 1941 they all have an unique "personalty". I have use them for many years for almost all formats 8x10in, 5x7in, 5x4in, 9x12cm, 6x9, 6x6, 6x45, 35mm. They are incredible. Sorry for this off topic. But I can't resist from Leica-R's owner :-)

Yes your test images looks blurred. I don't think it is a shutter issue. It is something wrong with the lens itself or lens seating in your camera incorrectly.
Yes, Leica stuff is overpriced, especially the M cameras and lenses. That's one of the reasons I got out of Leica rangefinders. I found that the price of high end gear didn't make my cruddy pictures look any better. But I got into the R line when everything was dirt cheap, back in '09 ands '10.

Back on topic -- what I feared!! The reason I sent it to a Zeiss specialist (not named Henry) is to avoid issues like this. Anyway I have another pre-war Sonnar (two more actually) and Jupiter 8s to test on the camera.

I picked up another Contax II the other day (a '37), and this one is even in better cosmetic shape. The film compartment and metal spindle show almost no wear. Although the shutter has issues on the low speeds, the normal speeds fire. This one is not as loud as the '36, but it is also louder then the Kiev cameras.
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Old 01-18-2017   #9
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My Contax guy greatly reduced the kickback on my 1936 Contax II, and since the CLA he has learned more things to reduce it even further. He's not taking any jobs at the moment though.
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Old 01-18-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
Yes, Leica stuff is overpriced, especially the M cameras and lenses. That's one of the reasons I got out of Leica rangefinders. I found that the price of high end gear didn't make my cruddy pictures look any better. But I got into the R line when everything was dirt cheap, back in '09 ands '10.

Back on topic -- what I feared!! The reason I sent it to a Zeiss specialist (not named Henry) is to avoid issues like this. Anyway I have another pre-war Sonnar (two more actually) and Jupiter 8s to test on the camera.

I picked up another Contax II the other day (a '37), and this one is even in better cosmetic shape. The film compartment and metal spindle show almost no wear. Although the shutter has issues on the low speeds, the normal speeds fire. This one is not as loud as the '36, but it is also louder then the Kiev cameras.
I have Kiev (1954) and Contax III (1937) both shutter rally good.
I just guessing, 1) it is possible what your Contax has no-original shutter? 2) how well your shutter cover plate tighten or seat in? this only shaking I can think about.


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Old 01-18-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
Yes, Leica stuff is overpriced, especially the M cameras and lenses. That's one of the reasons I got out of Leica rangefinders. I found that the price of high end gear didn't make my cruddy pictures look any better. But I got into the R line when everything was dirt cheap, back in '09 ands '10.

Back on topic -- what I feared!! The reason I sent it to a Zeiss specialist (not named Henry) is to avoid issues like this. Anyway I have another pre-war Sonnar (two more actually) and Jupiter 8s to test on the camera.

I picked up another Contax II the other day (a '37), and this one is even in better cosmetic shape. The film compartment and metal spindle show almost no wear. Although the shutter has issues on the low speeds, the normal speeds fire. This one is not as loud as the '36, but it is also louder then the Kiev cameras.
And I have look on your pictures, There is no room, for the better quality :-)
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Old 01-18-2017   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
Interesting -- I know that the color dial postwar Contaxes can have a noisier shutter because of the flash synchronization mechanism
This is not true. What can a postwar "color dial" Contax IIa / IIIa shutter do is to refuse to fire when you depress the shutter release button, and this is quite a consistent and pesky behavior with a large number of those "color dial" cameras, for some X-sync design issues (to sum it up, the X-sync circuitry is oddly incorporated into the shutter release mech., just under the shutter release button, thanks to a very complicated design and not at the end of the shutter curtains journey, like with normal people). But the shutter is absolutely identical to the "black dial" shutter, for all fast and slow speeds. So it cannot sound different. No way.

The prewar Contax shutter definitely makes a quack which is more or less perceptible depending on the condition of the shutter and on how it was adjusted. A clean and properly tensioned shutter will have a reasonable one. If the camera quacks to a point that it shakes when the shutter fires, yes it's likely because someone overtensioned the 1st curtain drum roller springs unit, at the risk of breaking that precious part sooner or later.

An overtensioned Contax II shutter usually provides high speeds which are way too slow actually.

Don't expect a prewar Contax shutter to feel and sound like a Leica M shutter. Never ever. A good postwar Contax shutter can be noticeably quieter than a screwmount Leica shutter, while not being totally as quiet as a Leica M shutter.

A Contax II and a 1951 Kiev II must sound and feel identical at all speeds.

I have looked at the OP's photos made with the '36 Contax II on his flickr and there is nothing wrong which I can see on those scans. We should have hi-res scans to compare with what he gets off his Kiev II with the same lens in front of the same subject (camera on a tripod, same lighting conditions, same distances, same speeds) to see whether there is something with that camera shutter which brings abnormalities on the photos.

But my guess is that we won't be able to see nuffin'. There are some spherical aberrations in the OOF areas of the photos and particularly in the corners and particularly on the #1 pic but those are quite expected from a prewar Sonnar. But the exposition is even, there is no strange vignetting, and nothing telling about an unexpected optical or mechanical problem. Fomapan 100 is very tolerant to overexposure error so we have no clue there about the high speeds being in the good ballpark or not.
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Old 01-18-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
I have looked at the OP's photos made with the '36 Contax II on his flickr and there is nothing wrong which I can see on those scans.
For my opinion, too much sharpness too bad for film photography (but who cares) :-) There is defiantly nothing wrong with the images.
But Sonnar f2 can do much better job (technically, not artistically), if everything corrected.
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Old 01-18-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
My Contax guy greatly reduced the kickback on my 1936 Contax II, and since the CLA he has learned more things to reduce it even further. He's not taking any jobs at the moment though.
Any idea about what they are, Rick? I can't say it's been an issue with any of the Contaxes I have worked on but if it is in future, it would be nice to have a few clues about where to start.
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Old 01-19-2017   #15
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Thanks for all the comments.

The geek in me pulled out a decibel meter. A '51 Kiev II and '37 Contax II measured about 45 db, with the Kiev being softer (and reflected in a slightly lower reading). The recently serviced '36 Contax II was about 47 db, and bear in mind every 3 db is a doubling of sound. I don't know if that is in the normal range of variation. Very unscientific, but for further comparison the shutter on one of my Leicaflex SL was louder then all three. About 52 db.

I'll put another test roll through the camera and see what results. Maybe I just need to get used to the camera. The results of the repair were otherwise very nice.
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Old 01-19-2017   #16
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I found this little card in a Contax I neverready case.



Seems that Zeiss themselves thought that 1/100 was the ideal speed.

Corresponds to my experience.

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