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Contaflex lens converted for Contax RF use



Last December, I bought off eBay a "No Name" Kiev. It arrived with a collapsible f2 5.0 cm Sonnar, serial number 1731089. In July I sent it with some other lenses to Henry Scherer for cleaning and repairs. Henry's initial comments are revealing, and I thought you all might be interested to hear that such a lens has turned up again, and is being made useable once more.

Henry says:
"The 2.0 is a very rare and unusual lens. It is a conversion of a 50mm
f2.0 for the Contaflex TLR for use on the Contax RF cameras. It appears
to have very early primitive coatings. My guess is that the coatings on
this lens were made from waterglass and are not evaporated. The
coatings have the type of defects I have seen on these type of coatings
before. There are a lot of scratches on the outer and inner elements,
but there is no sign of the lens having been repolished. A real idea of
what kind of picture taker it is will have to wait until after it has
been cleaned. You just never can tell with these old lenses.

There are perhaps less than 200 converted collapsable sonnars like yours, so it is very rare indeed. And it is very sharp which explains its hard usage. It was a good picture taker so it got well used. I am sure you will find it to be a great picture taker for you. I saw one of these go on Ebay about a year or two ago and it sold for over $450.00. So it is well recognized to be a valuable collectable. You had much luck with that no name Contax. The collapsable sonnars do not lock. Its by friction. The way the lenses work is that you twist it counter clockwise to get it mounted onto the camera and then clockwise to set the mount for picture taking. When it's twisted clockwise you just go as far as you can with moderate force. It's not like the Leica collapsable where it locks into place. If you look at the bottom of the lens you will see three prongs. They are flat on one side and have tapering flat pins on the other. The flat sides push against the mount when it is mounted onto the camera. The three prongs on the end of the lens are slightly bent to provide a friction lock as they slide into their slots in the mount when the lens is twisted clockwise. With use they become straightened and tend to become loose. I bent yours back into position so they have a nice friction feel when the mount is fully set clockwise. I think the lack of a lock explains why so many collapsable sonnars have been ruined by over cleaning. My opinion is that few people remembered to twist the lens to the right after mounting it on the camera. Consequently the lens was not properly set for focusing and the pictures were fuzzy. The natural reaction was to blame dirt on the lens and clean it excessively."

If anyone has any further information on these converted lenses, I would be very interested to hear about it. Meanwhile, all I can do now is wait while the lens comes through the drawn-out process through Spanish Customs, and back into my hands. I am hoping to use it on one of my Contax 11a Black Dial bodies (all "Henry'd", and working like silk) together with a VC meter, as a flat, pocketable street camera.


Robin Adshead