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Contax IIIa

rbudding

Well-Known Member
I've decided to take the plunge and buy a Contax IIIa. Henry Scherer is offering a new program - he will locate and purchase a camera on contract and restore it to usable condition. Participants pay the cost of the camera plus the normal service charge. There is no additional charge for locating and procuring the camera - just the cost of the camera itself. I'll end up with a very nice Contax IIIa for less money than a new TVSD. This should be a lot of fun!
 
C

contaxii

With all respect to the Contax IIIa, one of my favorite cameras, and to Harry Scherer, who is doing yeoman's work in keeping so many of them alive and functional, did you look at the Cosina/Voigtländer R2C? As a mount for the great Zeiss lenses, it addresses what I feel is the IIIa's greatest drawback, the tiny viewfinder image, among other issues like film advance/cocking via lever rather than knob.
And it is commercially available, which is very handy in the event that your camera is stolen or broken.
It's worthy of a serious look, in my book.
charlie barringer
 
H

highlander

Harry Schere does more than keeping the Contax alive and functioning - he virtually re-manufactures them to factory specs or better.

The Voightlander R2C has many virtues but it is not a Contax and that is not its purpose. Personally I do not mind knob advance (it slows me down and helps make my picture taking more deliberate)and prefer to use the wide RF base and unique shutter mechanism of the Contax. If I wanted a modern camera with modern optics I would go with the Leica M mount R2 or a Leica with Cosina or Leica lenses - I used Leica Ms for years and their virtues are well known.

For my current purposes the bank vault feel of the Contax and the very less than modern Zeiss optics do very well indeed - everytime I pick up the RC2 and try to tempt myself I just don't like the feel. I classic RF is just not the same as a re-worked inexpensive Japanese SLR.

Michael Schub
 

pecker

Member
Congratulations! Over the years I have not been able to decide which is greater: Henry's talents as a Contax technician or his unassailable personal character. Henry has restored/refurbished two Contax IIa's and a Contax II, along with every lens I own for these cameras and I consider every penny spent to be a bargain.

As knowledgeable enthusiasts we can argue until the cows come home about which is better, this and that...I own Alpa, Leica, Nikon, and Rollei, but I am especially fond of the Contaxes. Congratulations on your decision and I hope that you enjoy the utmost satisfaction with your camera.

Cheers,

Doug
 
S

solienear

Hello,
is it a black dial or a color dial Contax III ?
In different have the black dial a spezial flash contact and special cable. the color dial Contax III have a international flash contact work with all electronic flashes.
Please attantion the Voigtländer/ Cosina camera RC 2 have a littel different in bajonett. It's not a original Contax bajonett, but a littel different bajonett like Nikon Rangefinder.
For Wideangel lens are not a problem, but with tele lens and Rangfinder with Contax/Kiev tele lens.
peter müller
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Robert, I'm trying to avoid further camera purchases, but you're not helping!


I was most impressed to see Henry's art when I can across his Zeiss web site. His new service makes perfect sense. Nothing gained by my ignorantly picking a broken-down heap from eBay, when he can do so with an expert eye. Either way, it goes to him for the Ãœber-CLA.

OK, my confession: I want the IIa. I tried to distract myself with other RFs (Contax T, Leica M) but the bank-vault feel, to use Michael's words, is what I crave. As for squinty VF, I'm fully prepared to use an external VF, like the C/V brightline versions. I'm fairly resigned to their use even on the Leica M except at the one prescribed FL (35mm on my body).

Please keep us informed as to your purchase.
 

rbudding

Well-Known Member
Now I need some help from folks here that have experience with the Contax rangefinder cameras. I'm leaning toward the IIIa. And it seems that there are advantages to the color dial - although the increased complexity over the black dial could make it less reliable. Opinions? Should I consider a different model? And what lens should I get initially? Any other features that I should consider?

Thanks for the help.
Robert
 

jsmith45

Member
I would shoot for a IIa rather than the metered model. I wouldn't expect the meter to work on any you find, and it makes the camera larger. Try to find one that hasn't been used much. The shutter mechanism can be cleaned and lubed, but repairs are difficult if not impossible if the metal has crystalized.
 

pecker

Member
Robert,
I use the 21mm Biogon and 35mm Orthometar most often, then perhaps an even split between a 50/1.5 Sonnar and the 85/2. I have a variety of 50's, each with their own characteristics (place of manufacure, f/1.5 or f/2, collapsible, etc.), and a 35mm Biogon which is much easier to find than an Orthometar. As with any system, it really depends upon your preferences. One lens to start with? Probably the 50/1.5 Sonnar would be my suggestion; check Gandy's site for the differences between versions. Have fun and good luck hunting!

Cheers,

Doug
 

pecker

Member
P. S. Regarding a camera; like other members I prefer the IIa also because of its size. Henry recently finished a Contax II for me, and after having used it a bit I would also recommend that model, as well.

Doug
 
H

highlander

I always viewed the III and IIIa as heavy unbalanced and the meter useless until Harry re-did a IIIa for me. Surprise - the IIIa at least is not very much heavier than the IIa and balances quite well. Even more the new meter is very sensitive (good for indoor readings with ASA 400 film) and useful. I never viewed the colored dial versions worth the extra money, as I don't think of a rangefinder camera as the first choice for flash in any event.

Michael Schub
 

rbudding

Well-Known Member
The advantage of buying from Henry is huge. I can expect everything on the camera to work - even the meter. I have been leaning toward a IIIa because of the meter. But Michael's point about the flash is good. I'll most likely use my N1 for flash photos. As for the color dial versions, how many extra $$$'s do they run? Any disadvantage of getting one, just in case I want to use a flash at some point?

Thanks for the camera and lens advice, Doug. I need to learn more about these wonderful old cameras! The 50/1.5 Sonnar sounds like a good starting point. Have you posted any shots with the lens? And where is Gandy's site?

Thanks for the feedback.
Robert
 
D

drtomm

Further to the discussion generated by Robert's post: when buying, factor in an overhaul by Henry Scherer.
Tom
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Robert,

You seek
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. Gandy has assembled a precious treasure of RF knowledge. Before perusing its many pages, I had a myopic SLR outlook.
 

wilsonlaidlaw

Well-Known Member
I am considering getting rid of the last interloper in my collection and wondered if anyone would be interested in a swap. It is a Leica Model IIf Red dial – fitted 50mm f2 Leica Summitar Hex-Diaphram lens – Serial No’s: Camera 652126 Lens 980100 - Leica brown leather ERC – All Condition 9++ except for case, where a small part of the stitching on one seam on the top back edge needs redoing above the pop stud. It had a CLA by Camera City in London 18 months ago principally to rectify two minor faults: the rangefinder was marginally out of alignment and the slow speeds were a little sluggish in cold weather. The rangefinder is now spot on (checked by measuring tape) and very bright. The only way you could tell that the camera body is not new is there is a small rubbing mark beside the synchronisation socket (not through the chrome) and the bright chrome on the top of the winder knob is slightly dulled. The lens is a US/UK model with feet measurements. I am looking for a black chrome Contax IIIa with a 50mm f1.5 late, coated, West German Sonnar. The camera must have been recently serviced by Henry Scherer. I would not be interested in anything else. I am happy to have my Leica professionally valued/assessed if anyone has a swap but would expect this to be reciprocated. Wilson
 
H

highlander

The color dials seem to go over twice the price of the black dial as, from a collector's point of view, many less were made (also the possibility of finding a bargain is better with the more common black dial).

Moreover, flash use is possible on the black dial with a $60 adapter (synchro switch #1366). The point is that the earlier camera had a mechanical linkage to fire the flash - not as theoretically good as an purely electrical switch but it works.

I have the adapter for flash bulbs (#1361) but have never used it and have never felt the need to buy the adapter for flash as I have a Contax II with aftermarket flash sync (I know it works but come to think of it I've never used flash on the Contax in any event).

Michael Schub
 
D

drtomm

To help prospective buyers, I would like to recommend two excellent sources for Contax cameras: one is PETRAKLA, who offer overhauled pre-war Contax II and III cameras in close to perfect cosmetic and mechanical condition on e-Bay about once every month or two, and Marco Schouten, a classic camera dealer in the Netherlands. The latter deals primarily with Leica cameras, however under OTHER NON-LEICA at
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his catalogue at present lists two Contax IIa and several lenses. The prices from both sellers are high, but the quality is excellent. I can recommend Marco Schouten, having bought from him twice.
Tom
 
H

highlander

PETRAKLA are nice and honest people but the repair work is a hobby and the CLA is superficial - nothing like a complete rebuild. I bought a very clean Contax III on EBay cheap ($100) but it was difficult to wind and the slow speeds were all seriously off (useless from 1/50th down). PETRAKLA was willing to take it back but it was more cost effective to send it off to Oleg in Russia for a cheap but cheerful CLA.
 
D

drtomm

Michael, thank you for sharing your personal experience. Although I bid in one of their auctions, I have not made any purchases from PETRAKLA. Cameras they offer on eBay that appear in excellent cosmetic and are (according to them) in good mechanical condition, sell in the US$ 600-700 range. Short of examining a camera personally, it apears that the best route is to buy on appearance and factor in an overhaul by Henry Scherer which costs just about the same. Oleg is presently restoring a 1961 KIEV for me; it was my first decent 35mm camera which after fourty years somehow managed to find its way back into me!
 

superwide

Member
I have recently seen some cameras that have given me some insight into the nature of a Russian overhaul of a German Contax II or III shutter. There's no need to go into much detail here. Perhaps the best thing for one to do if one has a Contax II or III with a shutter that has been rebuilt in Russia is to send it to an expert for an examination just to make certain it is still completely Contax if this matters to you. Kiev shutters are still being made in Russia and they are extremely cheap and cheaply made. A Kiev shutter will fit in place of a Contax shutter with little modification to the camera. It's quick and easy to just take that old German shuter out and put a nice new Kiev one in. There's virtually no chance of the owner opening the camera to see what has been done to it.
 
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