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Contaflex

A

aristharcus

Hi Lynn,

>>> I've either got a sticky shutter, or the aperature blades are taking too long to close down (which I understand can be common in a non-serviced older synchro compur type set up). Not a big problem at all. >>>

This is the only weak point with Contaflexes. If not used regularly, they tend to show a "lazy" movement in the aperture blades, usually resulting in overexposures. Very interestingly, the Bessamatic model reflex from Voigtländer (the natural competition for Contaflexes back in the 60s) used a better oil in the blades, resulting nowadays in a better mechanical behavior. This is the reason I always fire the shutter of my Contaflexes at least one time a month, two or three times for every shutter speed. Call it the "Contaflex Exercice Program" CEP
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>>> I am sending it to Mr. Umbach in North Carolina and should have it back inside of 3 weeks. It is very well worth the estimated $80-$140US to do a good CLA and whatever else he finds he needs to do. >>>

A true bargain. Your Contaflex will handle like a dream after a good CLA.

>>> The little Tessar lens is tack sharp, colors have punch, are extremely saturated (like good zeiss lenses) >>>

Named by germans "Adleraugen" (Eagle's eyes), the Tessar offers so much sharpness in the center of the image as the famous Planar, although not so much in the borders at open apertures. It's an excellent lens that renders beautiful shades of gray.

>>> I also bought a set of 4 proxars (close up lenses) which seem like little works of jewelry art! They're elegant with their chrome rings, and their beautiful coated glass. >>>

I have also the proxars set, but never tried it. I must take some pictures with it.

>>> Why do these little gems go so cheaply? Truly, I can not fault this camera one bit. It feels so nice to use, it is so solidly built it's like holding a chunk of metal. In short, I am in love, this is a nifty camera. >>>

It's one of the best bargains in the photographic world, specially taking into account that back in the fifties it cost almost so much as a Leica IIIf.

>>> Luis - I can see the contaflex used for serious work like you mentioned. From what I have read in some books, it seems it wasn't aimed at the amateur as much as the SERIOUS-amateur and possibly pros. >>>

Absolutely true. By the way, I don't know if I passed you the web address of a photo-exhibition I made in Gijon, Spain, last month, with all the pictures made with classic cameras. You can see the pictures at:

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(only click in every image to go to the next one).

>>> Gilbert - you asked about the guide numbers. I'm not quite sure how to answer that. Right now I"m looking at the lens, toward the front of the lens there are the shutter speed, behind that are the aperature values, and behind that are the aperature values again but used for calculating depth of field, and behind that (closest to the photographer) is the distance scale in feet. Is that what you mean? >>>

This is, because Gilbert owns a Contaflex Super BC, that included an automatic exposure program and a "flashmatic" system. Thus, resulting in a slightly different design.

>>> Clive - you have to get one of these cameras. You'll love it. I might be a crazy American - but this little thing is the greatest. >>>

I might be a crazy European, but this morning I've just loaded my Contaflex (1954 model) and will spend the day making some summer pictures. This camera is, simply put, a "must have"!

Cheers, Luis
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
Luis

I just had the pleasure to view your photographs. I believe they are outstanding! I wonder do you have any Leica fans? Really, I think your photographs are as good if not better than any black and white I have ever seen on screen, magazines, or in books.

You are also right about the difference in the flash systme on the Super and Super BC.

When I change film on my Contaflex and the BC I always try to use the shutter at all speeds just to keep the Compur shutter lubricated.


Thanks for sharing your work.

Gilbert
 
W

writing4me

Gilbert is right about your work Luis. It really is outstanding. I could really see your images in the old "Life" magazine during the 40's or 50's. You capture amazing images. Thanks for letting us have a look. I really loved it.

Your Contaflex certainly doesn't let you down does it? Just judging by these online images, and I knowing what I have seen from mine, the images from it look as if they are up to the quality of your Leitz lens, or is it just me? (Maybe I am biased!) Maybe there is a smidge more contrast in the Tessar? By the way, what do you make of your Jupiter lenses? Yours seems to hold up well judging by the images you've shown. I'm thinking about a Kiev 2a with a Jupiter 12 (35mm) and 9 (85mm) for my own personal shooting - first rangefinder for me. I've heard that the Kiev also suffers from oil and lubricants that don't age as well. Maybe the exercise program you suggest will also be good for a Kiev
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You mention the "Eagle-Eye" knickname for the Tessar - I would say it is correctly named. I had taken a few images side by side, the Contaflex Pro-Tessar 50/2.8 next to the CZ Planar 50/1.7 ... unfortunately only one survived the test due to shutter problems and it wasn't a brilliant image. When I get the Contaflex back I'll do a side by side of a few images, just to see the similarities and differences of the lenses. I can't help thinking the Tessar produces a small fraction warmer, but am not 100% sure of that.

Thanks too for the clarification about the difference between my Super and Gilbert's Super BC. By the way, have you ever used a flash on your Super? Any suggestions on what might work, just as a light fill?

Thanks for all the help.

Best, Lynn
 
A

aristharcus

Hi Lynn,

I'm happy you enjoyed my pictures taken with classic cameras. I always try to find images "out of time" and I suspect this helps to mantain them always "in fashion"
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>>> Your Contaflex certainly doesn't let you down does it? Just judging by these online images, and I knowing what I have seen from mine, the images from it look as if they are up to the quality of your Leitz lens, or is it just me? >>>

Although usually Leitz and Zeiss images are different, in general all the german lenses from the 50s and 60s share a certain familiar "roundness". This is the same for Voigtlander lenses.

>>> By the way, what do you make of your Jupiter lenses? Yours seems to hold up well judging by the images you've shown. I'm thinking about a Kiev 2a with a Jupiter 12 (35mm) and 9 (85mm) for my own personal shooting - first rangefinder for me. I've heard that the Kiev also suffers from oil and lubricants that don't age as well. Maybe the exercise program you suggest will also be good for a Kiev
happy.gif
>>>

The Jupiter-8, 50mm f/2, was a copy of the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/2 and in some cases is a very good lens. The problem with russian photo-equipment is the lack of quality control and you can end up with a real bargain or an almost unusable piece of equipment. If you want to try the "rangefinder way", I would suggest what I think has nowadays the best relationship between cost (secondhand) and photographic results: A Contax G1 with the standard Planar 45mm f/2 lens. Despite some people say it is difficult to focus or has a small viewfinder, please trust me, it's a joy to use and in my opinion even the actual Leitz Summicron 50mm f/2 is unable to reach the Zeiss glass (although the difference is not big, of course). The best of all is that a G1 with 45mm f/2 can be had from E-*** at about 400$-450$ in mint condition.

>>> You mention the "Eagle-Eye" knickname for the Tessar - I would say it is correctly named. I had taken a few images side by side, the Contaflex Pro-Tessar 50/2.8 next to the CZ Planar 50/1.7 ... >>>

Sharpness in the center will be similar, I think, but please, take into account that more modern CZ lenses have better coatings, and this helps a lot to improve contrast.

>>> By the way, have you ever used a flash on your Super? Any suggestions on what might work, just as a light fill? >>>

I use a Metz flash on it, but almost every flash on the market will work perfectly. Only look for an accesory (cable) that allows the contact to the Contaflex (the Contaflex Super PC shoe doesn't trigger the flash). Very interestingly, you can use all the shutter speeds in flash photography with the Contaflex, so creatvity has, as they usually say, no limits
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Cheers, Luis
 
A

aristharcus

Hi Gilbert,

Thanks a million for your kind words. I don't think I have any fans
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, but when I show pictures to friends, they almost always get very surprised after observiing how much quality images can be obtained with 40+ years equipment.

>>> When I change film on my Contaflex and the BC I always try to use the shutter at all speeds just to keep the Compur shutter lubricated. >>>

And it's also a good time to test the selftimer, that also need some use in order to keep the shape.

Again at taking pictures, last sunday I made a roll of Agfapan 100 with the Contaflex, discovering (I was inspired making photographies) at the beginning of the afternoon that I forgot a second fresh roll of film at home
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. Bottom line, always have film in your bag available!

Cheers, Luis
 

butlp

Active Member
Does anybody know whether replacement cds exposure meters for the Contaflex Super BC or Contaflex S can be purchased anywhere? Or are they impossible to find? If you know a repairman who will install one, please let me know!

Paul Butler
 
W

writing4me

Paul - are those cds, or are they selenium cell like my Super? I was told by the gentleman who will be working on my Super that replacing the selenium is not something a person generally wants to undertake. (My camera is due to arrive in his hands Friday) I'm sure he could tell you more about this. If you want to contact him yourself :

W.W. Umbach, Z-V Service, Located in North Carolina, Phone: 252-249-2576 He specializes in all old Zeiss and Voigtlander. He was recommened to me by Henry Scherer, so I have confidence in him.

Hope this helps? -Lynn
 

butlp

Active Member
Thanks - they are cds, not selenium. I'll try Mr. Umbach and see what he says.

By setting the camera off of "A", you could turn off the meter and it would last forever, but I think most users left it on "A" because that is how they used it - so the meters haven't lasted. To say nothing of getting batteries wedged into the compartment, and forgotten until they leaked.

Kind of like the shutter. By not tensioning it by not winding the film, you could make the spring last forever. But who would do that; if the user couldn't see anything through the viewfinder, of course he/she would advance the film after each shot, even if it meant that the camera sat around with the shutter tensioned a lot!
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
Luis

As you posted your message about the self-timer, oddly enough I was doing just that on my Contaflex I. I am glad you mentioned that. I have always been interested in clocks, so lens shutters still amaze me. If you have not seen the production of the Prontor shutter at the Zeiss Website I would sure recommend, as it is very interesting.

Lynn

I am interested in the determination of your Super‘s light meter cell. I have a 1970 Zeiss Ikon catalog and all of the cameras at that time used cds cells.

Thanks

Gilbert
 
W

writing4me

(quoting Gilbert) Lynn I am interested in the determination of your Super?s light meter cell. > I have a 1970 Zeiss Ikon catalog and all of the cameras at that time used cds cells. (end quote)

Hi Gilbert, Yes it appears that sometime after my Super (old style) was put out they did switch to cds. My camera was built between 1959 and 1962, that is probably why your 1970 catalog shows cds, the change had been made by then. I think they talk about it on these sites:
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Speaking of my Super, while it is out for repair I was able to buy a pro-tessar 35/3.2 for it. It just arrived a few minutes ago. Looks very clean with no separation whatsoever. The only question I have - is the ring with the distance scale around the lens supposed to be able to turn completely 360 degrees? This one does. Is that okay? (no camera to mount it on at present)

Thanks Luis for the feedback on the Jupiter lenses etc. I've recently had a chance to see some slides taken with the old Contax II and accompanying zeiss 50 and was very impressed. I may abandon the jupiter lens idea completely now. We will see. I'm still studying and learning about this stuff before deciding.

Lastly Luis thanks for the flash tips for the Contaflex. Am I correct that the Contaflex with the pc cord will trigger the flash, but obviously it will not sync the flash? So if I went with any manual flash I would be okay?

Best, Lynn
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
Lynn:

Thanks for the information.

The distance scale on my f4 115mm rotates 360 degrees also. It is only used for determining depth of field, not focus. At best, as you cannot transfer the focus ring distance reading, because it is calibrated for a 50mm lens.

Greetings

Gilbert
 
W

writing4me

What do the rest of you think of this? I was reading an article about radioactivity in old lenses, namely before 1970. I have not heard anyone mention any of the zeiss / zeiss-ikon lenses, but I can't help but wonder and worry now that I've become interested in old glass and cameras. Please have a look at this:
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Am I worrying needlessly about lenses for the Contaflex and old Contax rangefinders? A few old Leitz and Takumar lenses have proved to have issues. (I admit I panic easily at the mention of these sorts of topics) -Lynn
 

pkipnis

Well-Known Member
> [..I heard about this in the mid 70's and the answer at that time was that if it wasn't strong enough to affect very sensitive high speed film, it shouldn't be a problem for people.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Lynn,
I don't know what to say to that. I have looked at the site you mentioned. I'm not at all technical in such matters but it certainly does on the face of it look like a potential cause for concern well known to those in the know.
I would have thought in view of the millions of cameras and lenses which have been produced and used down the years that any risk must be very small and the people who do know about it are apparently still ardent photographers. Maybe the answer is to use cameras with waist level view finders...
John
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
Lynn

I am not a radiation expert, but I am sure that I have been exposed to more radiation under going medical and many chest x-ray than any amount I could receive from a lens. My belief is you could not get enough radiation to cause a problem even if you ate the lens. The term radioactive excites a lot of people unnecessarily so.

I understand your concern and I do not want to sound like or make lite of if, but I think you should enjoy your equipment free from concern of danger.

Gilbert
 
W

writing4me

Thanks for the feedback. I admit I do worry too easily. That's why I thought I'd see what you thought. I guess I'll be happy I don't have the Takumar 50 or the Leitz 35 that they mention and not worry about the zeiss optics I have and want to collect yet. Thanks gentlemen. -Lynn
 

clive_kenyon

Well-Known Member
Lynn,
Don't worry - be happy!

I've had dozens of vintage lenses pass through my hands and I'm a lot older than you yet I still have my own teeth and hair.

you will probably get more radiation from your cell phone in one month than a Zeiss lens all your life.

Clive
 
W

writing4me

Well Clive, since you haven't started to glow yet, I guess I'm safe then
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I'm far behind you in collecting. Figured it was better to ask and I'm glad I did. Best, Lynn
 
M

mike_nunan

I thought the main issue with radioactive glass elements was that they go yellow over time? That's certainly the case with the f/1.2 Olympus std lens (either a 50 or 55mm can't remember for sure, but I looked at one a few months ago and it was distinctly yellow).
 
W

writing4me

Just wanted to follow up on this thread about the Contaflex. If anyone does need a very thorough and conscientious repair person for a Contaflex, or any Zeiss-Ikon or Voigtlander model for that matter, I do heartily endorse Mr. Umbach. He has been so very helpful to me in repairing my little Contaflex Super (old style) and I am extremely grateful. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping his customer (me!). After he returned my nifty clean and functioning Contaflex to me, I managed to do something stupid as a user and thought I had damage it. I sent it back - and he called me to inform me of my error - very politely! In fact, he's shipping it back to me tomorrow and asked me to call him when it arrives so that we can go over everything while I am holding the Super and he has one in his hands as we talk. He's such a very cordial and polite person - and he KNOWS his cameras. His prices were extremely reasonable and I couldn't imagine sending my gear to anyone else now that I've worked with him once. (Note this is classic gear, not modern Kyocera gear). (I wish people like him had apprentices for the future!) Hope this is of help to someone. If you need his contact info, just email me Lynn@turnkeydesign.net
 
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