Near Mint! 1938 Zeiss Ikon Contax II, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
35mm Coupled rangefinder, Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a beautiful example the world famous Zeiss-Ikon Contax rangefinder camera, produced in Germany before and during WWII. It was one of the cameras that truly demonstrated what a quality 35mm camera was capable of and helped launch the 35mm format to a preeminent role among serious photojournalists.
This is the Contax II, the serial number F43701 indicates that it was built in Germany in circa 1938 when the world looked incredible different than it does today. It was a testament of genius, of pride and faith in precision mechanics. It was the cutting edge of photography at that time and it was very very expensive. The high purchase price reflected the time, money and effort that went into the design, production and patient hand assembly of each camera. And now holding this Contax some 85 years after it was produced, I see that the effort did not fade into the darkness of all the passing years… it is still a thing of beauty.
Understandably a Contax II is a desirable and significant camera. But what makes this camera extra desirable is its exceptional condition and the fact that it’s been carefully serviced and it’s fully functional. Additionally, the serial numbers match. The serial number, F43701, on the body is identical to the number on the removable back. (This indicates that it still has the original back supplied with this camera.) This serial number indicates that this camera was produced in Germany in 1938, just in time to record the unfolding events that would lead to WWII.
This Contax is in exceptionally fine condition and fully functional. It’s also been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The original Zeiss shutter has received special attention, new shutter ribbons have been installed and of course it’s been cleaned, lubricated. All speeds (B & 1/2 sec – 1/1250th) are appropriate. The self-timer has been cleaned and works correctly. The coupled rangefinder optical array has also been carefully serviced. The image is clean, easy to see and focusing is smooth and accurate and it’s a real pleasure to use. (Not hazy like the average Contax.) In case you wondered, this camera uses normal 35mm film.
It comes complete with a custom body cap and film take up spool
So there you have it, an exceptionally fine classic Contax camera, all ready to be used. Just add your favorite lens & film and you’ll be good to go... Don’t have a Contax rangefinder lens in your collection yet? Don’t despair, Contax rangefinder lenses are easy to find on eBay. A quick search will reveal a huge number of lenses in a variety of focal lengths. This camera is compatible with Contax rangefinder mount lenses produced by Zeiss, Voigtlander (Japan) and of course those produced in the former Eastern Bloc.
All in all, a truly superb 85 year old Contax camera! Perfect for photographers with a historical interest and WWII reenactors. So, if you’ve been looking for an exceptionally fine, fully functional Contax, then you’ve just found it…
Please feel free to visit Petrakla.com for more information about these cameras. Or google “Robert Capa” (Many famous WWII images were recorded by him with a Contax including the D Day invasion of Normandy.)
A user’s perspective
These classic, top of the line 1930’s 35mm cameras don’t really need an introduction. Most collectors are familiar with them and many modern photographers still enjoy their delightful characteristics, their relatively quiet shutters and their ability to capture striking images. Combine this camera with some wonderful Zeiss glass that may be lurking in your display case (or easily available on eBay) and you have a real winning combination. The Contax is top quality camera sporting a precision die cast chassis wrapped in fine Moroccan leather, topped with satin chrome covers, and equipped with the widest, most accurate, 90mm rangefinder to have ever been fitted to a 35mm camera. It was an expensive camera that only top photographers or affluent individuals could afford. It’s a classic combination of Zeiss lenses and a fine camera that works to delivers fine results even by today’s standards. Contax mount lenses are still easy to find on eBay.
If you’ve ever collected or used screw mount Leica, then you’ll also appreciate the fact that the Contax uses a sophisticated arrangement of prisms rather than surface coated mirrors which tend to oxidize and degrade, so that are no problems with weak, faded, inaccurate or misaligned rangefinder images. Focusing is also noticeably more accurate when you’re in close for portraits or using longer lenses. There’s also no problem with pin-holed shutters since the Contax’s shutter curtains are made of metal rather than fabric.