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1932 / 1933 Zeiss-Ikon Contax I

This is the one of the most famous 35mm cameras in photographic history. Today collectors simply refer to it as the original Contax I. It was produced in Germany by Zeiss-Ikon and introduced in 1932 as the finest and most expensive 35mm cameras of its day. Unlike later versions of this camera, the original shutter did not feature any slow speeds below 1/25th of a second. (Later versions, which were intended to surpass the inexpensive upstart Leica III, were fitted with a more complex shutter and an extra shutter slow speed selector ring.)   The low production numbers and low survival rate of this 85+ year old model, makes it extremely difficult to find.  As a result, it’s practically impossible to find a truly fine and fully functional early model Contax I. Which in my opinion is a shame, because the original shutter was more robust, smoother and more reliable than the later incarnations.

The photos here were produced with this camera which we had the pleasure of servicing and owning for a short period. The current owner hails from New York and as is often the case, he was kind enough to share his photos with us.  These photos are courtesy of Ray Vickers Copyright 2018 Ray Vickers. All rights reserved.

The photos were taken with its original f3.5/50mm Zeiss Tessar lens on Kodak T-max 3200. This film was selected for its grain which simulates the overall look of 1930’s film. It was developed in Rodinal 1/100 with stand development by the owner.