Contax IIa: A New Old Friend

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    My grandfather had a Contax IIa in the 50's, but he eventually traded it in, something he's always telling me he ended up regretting. So, as a dutiful grandson, what else could I do but find another one?

    This one didn't cost too much, and it seems to work, more or less (slow shutter speeds are, well, slow). It needs a good cleaning (you can't really tell how dusty the lens is from this shot), and it doesn't have the fancy f1.5 lens (just the workhorse f2 Sonnar). I'm confused about what "Carl Zeiss Jena" means -- this is obviously a post-war model, it even says Stuttgart on the top. Could it be a pre-war Jena lens on a post-war body? I had thought that the post-war, West German Zeiss lenses were called "Opton." But I'm no expert.

    Anyway, I've got a roll of Arista.EDU B&W film in there, and I'm having a lot of fun with this...

    UPDATE: featured here

    m.r. nelson, a nameless yeast, and 5 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. 12th St David 46 months ago | reply

      DSC_5636 DSC_5637

      Compared to the Canonet GIII QL-17, the Contax is actually not much bigger, but the Canonet is just so much more pocketable. It's much lighter, for one thing (of course, the Contax has interchangeable lenses, and that fabled Zeiss glass).
      Clash of the Rangefinders DSC_5645 DSC_5640

    2. chachlate 46 months ago | reply

      very pretty find in the contax. nice piece of camera history.

      and ooh, never seen one of those canonet models before. bought my partner a konica c35 a while back, this looks very similar. i just looked up a little on it -- sexy that it syncs flash at all speeds. i want one!

    3. Sir Frederick2005 46 months ago | reply

      In 1954 I used the Contax-2 on a trip to Italy on the Andrea Doria and shot a series of fotos of a chap in clown costume exhibiting humorous dives into the pool. I believe I have the results somewhere. The Contac took great pictures using slide film . The slides need to be digitized. I always regretted trading the Contax because of its superb craftsmanship. I envy you.

    4. Gabo Barreto 46 months ago | reply

      That's such a beautiful camera, I have the soviet copy the Kiev 4A but of course is not even near quality wise, will be waiting to see your results with it.

    5. philippe* 46 months ago | reply

      What a beauty!

    6. 12th St David 46 months ago | reply

      : The Canonet is a great shooter (although the lens dials do require a very fine touch). I don't know from flash, but Canon made a dedicated flash for it, and it's totally adorable.
      : Thanks!
      : No need to envy me, Gramps -- I'll let you have this the next time I see you! I've got too many, anyhow...
      : Thanks, Gabo. The first roll, which I'm starting to post, came out a little grainy and scratchy. Not sure why.
      : I thought that after the war, there was a Stuttgart/Oberkochen Zeiss and a Jena Zeiss, and for a while, they both made cameras and lenses. According to this website I found, "To make things MORE complicated for the Contax lover, the 180 and longer lenses sold in West German Contax catalogs were EAST German lenses (with their Jena engravings)! East German 50's were sometimes sold with West German bodies in order to lower the selling price. It seems East met West quite often in Contax land."
      , , : Thanks!

    7. Ricardo Benavides Foto 38 months ago | reply

      I have the Canon Canonet G-III QL 17, that has a fixed 40 mm f/1.7 lens, and was actually talking with a photographer -John Sevigny- on an exhibit that opened today about the Contax he used to take the photos for the exhibit, and was telling another photographer and friend that I wanted to get a Contax! So what a surprise it is to find it compared to the Canonet I have!

    8. Chris Protopapas 35 months ago | reply

      Some camera repairmen consider the post-war West German Zeiss Contax IIa to be the best made camera ever, better than any Leica, Hasselblad or Alpa. The lens on yours is curious, in that it seems to be East German, but it has the T coating that was developed in the West. It's possible that East German lenses were imported and coated in the West, and then sold on West German cameras.

    9. fiftyonepointsix 26 months ago | reply

      The post-war Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm F2 and F1.5 were both new designs, produced shortyly after WW-II. Not only did the optical fixture change, but the optical formula was also "Tweeked". The biggest difference- the glass has a larger diameter to help avoid vignetting.

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