Contaflex - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Contaflex I

1953

Improved model

Zeiss-Ikon

Stuttgart

West Germany

Image of Contaflex I Improved model

Lens:
f2.8, 45 mm Tessar, automatic iris diaphragm to f22. Depth-of-field scale. Serial no. 1310119 .

Shutter:
Compur, speeds 1 - 1/500, B. Delayed action. X and M flash synchronisation.

Construction:
Metal body.

Format:
36, 24 x 36 mm exposures on 35 mm film in cassette. Two Contax cassettes can be used or one standard cassette with re-wind.

Focusing:
Front cell to 3 feet.

Attributes:
Reflex viewing through taking lens. Roof pentaprism finder, split-image rangefinder and ground glass circle on focusing screen with Fresnel condenser. Mirror trips and is raised by spring.
Auto-stop on film advance. Film advance tensions the shutter. Exposure counter.

Serial Number:
D72420 .

With:

  • 1.7x Teleskop. Depth-of-field scale, focus to 1.2 metre. Front and rear caps. Accessory bracket. Serial no. 1737243.
  • Accessory shoe. Instruction book. Brochure on the Contaflex.
  • Filters for 45 mm standard lens, female thread: Yellow, in case, box; Green, in case; Red; in case, box.
  • Metal push-on lens hood for 45 mm lens.
  • Ikolor A filter, S55 size female thread for Teleskop. Metal, lens hood for Teleskop. Female thread that screws into the knurling around the lens.
  • Proxars, push-on A28.5 size for 45 mm lens: 1m, 0.5 m, 0.3 m, 0.2 m. In case.
  • Two re-loadable Contax cassettes.

Code Names:
861/24 - Camera. 861/03 - Teleskop. 861/07 - Accessory bracket. 861/02 - Accessory shoe. A1110 - Lens hood for 45 mm lens. 355 - Ikolor A filter S55. 319/861/24 - Instruction box. 540/1 - Cassette.

Contaflex II

1955

Zeiss-Ikon

Stuttgart

West Germany

Image of Contaflex II

Lens:
f2.8, 45 mm Tessar, automatic iris diaphragm to f22. Depth-of-field scale. Serial no. 1819893 .

Shutter:
Compur, speeds 1 - 1/500, B. Delayed action.

Construction:
Metal body.

Format:
36, 24 x 36 mm exposures on 35 mm film in cassette. Two Contax cassettes can be used or one standard cassette with re-wind.

Focusing:
Front cell to 3 feet.

Attributes:
Reflex viewing through taking lens. Roof pentaprism finder, split-image rangefinder and ground glass circle on focusing screen with Fresnel condenser. Mirror trips and is raised by spring.
Auto-stop on film advance. Film advance tensions the shutter. Exposure counter.
Uncoupled selenium exposure meter.

Serial Number:
J10488 .

With:

  • Steritar A. Prism attachment with front plate and rear cap. Baffle. For 24 x 18 mm exposures. 2 " separation. In box. Accessory bracket.
  • Filters for 45 mm standard lens, female thread: UV; Yellow; Green.
  • Metal push-on lens hood for 45 mm lens. Ever-ready case.

The Contaflex, introduced in 1953, was one of the first in a small group of 35mm SLR cameras having a leaf shutter, several further models were to follow in the Contaflex range. They were aimed at the upper end of the amateur market but were also used professionally especially for flash work as they had synchronisation at all speeds.

The models I and II had fixed lenses but were able to be fitted with an afocal device (called the Teleskop) that fitted in front of the lens to give a moderate increase in focal length. The Teleskop screwed into a bracket that slides onto the front of the camera. A stereo device could be fitted in the same way.

Early models of the Contaflex I had a Synchro-Compur MX shutter scaled in the old series of shutter speeds (1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50 etc.), a year later the Synchro-Compur MXV was fitted, this included delayed action and was scaled in the modern shutter speed series (1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30 etc.). Very early models accepted filters with a male thread.

The model II was the same as a model I but with the addition of a selenium exposure meter.

Steritar
The stereo unit comprises two prisms positioned in front of the lens to provide the stereo separation. The lens transposes the two images, so they can be mounted directly in a slide holder or printed in an enlarger. This is different to the Contax which used a pair of primary lenses where the images have to be transposed. Zeiss provided viewers and stereo projectors, the latter using the polarising principle.

This is a Steritar A, the model B fits the later Contaflex with Tessar lens, the model D fits the Contaflex with Pantar lens, the model C fits the Contax. There is also a model B for close-up photography.

The Steritar and 1.7x Teleskop attach to the camera via a bracket. The bracket slides onto the camera, the Steritar and Teleskop then screw into the bracket.

Code Names:
812 - Stereo Prism. 814/02 - Baffle. 861/07 - Accessory bracket. A1110 - Lens hood for 45 mm lens.

References & Notes:
ZI Price List 1957. Zeiss Historica Autumn 1986, Autumn 1995. Zeiss Compendium p. 49.

Further Information:
Bomback, Contaflex Manual, p. 164.


Contaflex Models

ModelDateLensShutterMeter
I1953Tessar 45mmCompur MXNoOld speeds
I Improved1954Tessar 45mmCompur MXVNoNew speeds. Delayed Action
II1954Tessar 45mmCompur MXVSelenium
III1956Tessar 50mmCompurNo
IV1956Tessar 50mmCompurSelenium
Alpha1957Pantar 45mmProntorNo
Beta1957Pantar 45mmProntorSelenium
Prima1959Pantar 45mmProntorSeleniumCoupled meter
Rapid1959Tessar 50mmCompurNoReplaced model III
Super (Old)1959Tessar 50mmCompurSeleniumReplaced model IV
Super B1962Tessar 50mmCompurSeleniumSemi-automatic meter
Super (New)1963Tessar 50mmCompurSeleniumCoupled meter
Super BC1965Tessar 50mmCompurCdS TTLSemi-automatic meter
S1968Tessar 50mmCompurCdS TTLRestyled Super BC

All standard lenses were f:2.8
Model I - very early lenses were marked Zeiss Opton.
Model I - The MX shutter had speeds: 1 2 5 10 25 50 100 250 500. The MXV shutter had speeds: 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 125 250 500 and delayed action.
Model I - The aperture setting lever has different forms in particular being spring-loaded or not (see ZH Vol. 9 No. 2).
From model III the front element was interchangeable.
From the 1959 models interchangeable film magazines could be fitted.

I, II
These were fitted with 45 mm Tessar lenses, a telescope front attachment could be fitted equivalent to around 76 mm focal length. The model II had an uncoupled exposure meter.

III, IV
These were replacements for the models I and II respectively. The lens was changed to a 50 mm Tessar and had an interchangeable front element allowing 35 and 85 mm lenses to be fitted (later 115 mm also). A helical focusing mount which moved the whole lens replaced the front cell focusing of the models I and II.
The IV is fitted with an uncoupled exposure meter. The meter is set by turning a dial under the re-wind knob which moves a pointer visible in a window, the pointer is aligned to the meter needle. The Exposure Value (EV) is then shown on the dial against an index. The EV is set on the shutter, the speed/aperture settings are cross coupled.
The III has Exposure Value settings with cross-coupled speed/aperture settings.

Alpha, Beta
These were introduced as a cheaper option to the models III and IV. They were fitted with Pantar lenses and Prontor shutters. The front element of the lens could be replaced by lenses giving 30 and 75 mm focal lengths.
The Beta was fitted with an uncoupled exposure meter. The meter is set by turning a dial under the re-wind knob which moves a pointer visible in a window, the pointer is aligned to the meter needle. The Exposure Value (EV) is then shown on the dial against an index. The EV is set on the shutter, the speed/aperture settings are cross coupled.
The Alpha has Exposure Value settings with cross-coupled speed/aperture settings.

Prima
This replaced the Alpha and Beta models. It had a coupled exposure meter but the needle was not visible in the finder. The speed and aperture settings were cross coupled. When taking a reading a pointer was aligned to the meter needle to by turning the aperture scale on the lens whilst holding down a small catch that disengaged the shutter/aperture coupling. The camera could be used with interchangeable backs and a rapid wind lever was fitted.

Super (Old)
This model replaced the model IV. A coupled meter was fitted, after setting the shutter speed the meter needle was aligned to an index by rotating a wheel on the front of the camera this set the aperture to be used. The speed and aperture were then cross coupled. The meter needle was visible in finder and in a window on the top plate. The camera could be used with interchangeable backs and a rapid wind lever was fitted.

Rapid
This was similar to the Super (Old) except that no meter was present. The Rapid has Exposure Value settings with cross-coupled speed/aperture settings.

Super B
This model replaced the Super (Old). The exposure meter became semi-automatic. After setting the shutter speed the correct aperture would be set according to the exposure meter reading. The meter needle was visible in the finder and pointed to the aperture that was to be used, a window in the top plate also showed the value.

Super (New)
This model was a cheaper alternative to the Super B, it was fitted with a coupled exposure meter (not semi-automatic). After setting the shutter speed the meter needle was aligned to an index by rotating the aperture scale on the lens. The meter needle was visible in the finder and in a window on the top plate.

Super BC
This was similar to the Super B except for having through-the-lens (TTL) metering.

Contaflex Pro-Tessar Lenses

LensDate
35 mm f4195649 mm filter thread
35 mm f3.2196149 mm filter thread
35 mm f3.260 mm filter thread
85 mm f4195660 mm filter thread
85 mm f3.2196160 mm filter thread
115 mm f4196167 mm filter thread
M1:1 50 mm f5.627 mm filter thread

60 mm filters had a female thread and fitted on the outside of the lens.

49 and 67 mm filters had a male thread and screwed into the lens.

M1:1
This was intended for same-size reproduction. The Pro-Tessar M 1:1 was available in two different fittings for either early or later computations of the prime 5 cm lens, the change occurred in the early 1960s.

8 x 30b Monocular
This screwed into the front of the standard Tessar lens and gave the equivalent of a 400 mm lens working at f16, the Tessar was set to infinity. The first version of the monocular had focussing at the eye-piece, the second version with focusing at the objective lens. The third version had a straight tube using roof prisms. A set of close-up lenses were produced for the monocular.

References & Notes:
Zeiss Historica Autumn 1986, Autumn 1995. Zeiss Compendium p. 49.

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