Contarex - Antique and Vintage Cameras





West Germany

Image of Contarex

f2, 5 cm Planar, automatic iris diaphragm to f22. Diaphragm compensation when focusing at short distances. Operating the film advance lever opens the diaphragm after exposure. Depth-of-field scale. Bayonet mount. Serial no. 3249929 .

Focal-plane, speeds 1 - 1/1000, B. Delayed action. Flash synchronisation.

Metal body.

36, 24 x 36 mm exposures on 35 mm film held in cassette.

Helical to 0.3 metre.

Reflex viewing through taking lens. Fixed roof pentaprism finder, split-image and microprism focusing screen with Fresnel condenser. Instant-return mirror.
Auto-stop on film advance. Film advance and shutter inter-linked for double and blank exposure prevention. Film advance lever sets shutter.
Selenium exposure meter connected to shutter speed and aperture, meter needle aligned against index. Selected aperture shown above meter cell. Removable baffle to meter cell. Meter needle visible in window on top plate and in view-finder. Film speed setting: 10 - 33 DIN. Filter factor settings. Interchangeable film magazine.
The mirror can be independently tripped by a lever just below the mirror when fitting the 21 mm Biogon.

Serial Number:
Z20158 .

Bellows are made by Karl Muller.


  • f4, 35 mm Distagon, automatic iris diaphragm to f22. Depth-of-field scale. Focus to 0.19 metre. Serial no. 2626038.
  • f4, 135 mm Sonnar, automatic iris diaphragm to f22. Depth-of-field scale. Focus to 4 feet. Lens cap. Case. Receipt from R.G. Lewis dated 1968. Serial no. 2617801.
  • f4, 250 mm Sonnar, pre-set iris diaphragm to f22. Depth-of-field scale. Focus to 8 feet. Lens hood. Case. Serial no. 2664847.
  • Four interchangeable film magazines. Film speed reminder scale 5 - 1300 ASA, 6 - 33 DIN.
  • B56 bayonet mount filters: UV; G2 yellow, in case; GR yellow-green, box; O orange, in case, box; Ikolor C; Ikolor B in box.
  • S67 mount filter, for 250 mm Sonnar: Ikolor C.
  • B56 bayonet mount Contapol polarising filter, in case.
  • B56 bayonet mount Proxar 0.2 metre, in case.
  • Instruction book. "Tables" - depth-of-field tables. Brochure, no. 3426.
  • Bellows unit. Scaled 0 - 90 mm. Provides pre-set aperture selection.
  • Negative lens for use when copying at 1:1 with the 50mm f2.0 Planar, the bellows unit and lens hood. Code no. 20.1636.
  • Microscope adapter.
  • Right-angle finder.
  • Ever-ready case.
  • Two re-loadable cassettes in plastic cases.
  • Contarex-System outfit case. Attache style case.
  • Large Universal Case. Box style case.

This is a large, heavy, cumbersome camera that does not fit the hand well and is difficult to use. It had a very advanced specification with interchangeable lenses from 21 mm to 250 mm (at around the time of introduction), interchangeable film magazines and an exposure meter coupled to the speed setting and aperture. The standard lens focuses to 0.3 metre. To align the meter needle a small wheel on the front plate is turned, this closes an iris in front of the meter cell to simulate the lens iris. This results in the diaphragm setting being in the camera rather than the lens and the lenses do not have a diaphragm ring.

The interchangeable film magazine uses the film plane in the camera. The film runs across a highly sprung pressure plate which presses against the film plane when the draw-slide is removed.

The lens hood for the 250 mm Sonnar reverses over the lens when not in use, there are two cut-outs to the hood enabling a filter, if fitted, to be gripped.

In 1960 the camera with an f2 lens cost 228 (a Leica M3 cost 158).

The Large Universal Case holds: Camera, 3 lenses up to 135 mm not including 21 mm, 1 magazine back, Monocular or magazine back, 2 filters, 2 lens hoods, cable release, 3 cassettes.

References & Notes:
Blue-Book, 1960-61, p. 57. Blue-Book, 1962-63, p. 56.

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