Near mint! 1939 Zeiss Ikon Contax II Body, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a 35mm prewar Contax rangefinder camera produced by Zeiss-Ikon. If you’re familiar with the Contax and the legendary performance of its lenses, you’ll know that it’s considered a cult classic by many fans all over the world. It uses normal 35mm film and was used by professionals throughout the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s and was often seen in use until the middle of the 1960’s. Today the Contax camera is still recognized for its excellence and is considered a design classic. These cameras and their superb Zeiss lenses have inspired countless designers. A few years ago, Zeiss produced a new 35mm Contax rangefinder camera with a very similar look as a homage to the design philosophy and unique styling of the Contax II.
The Contax rangefinder camera was that era’s testament of genius, of pride and faith in precision mechanics. It was at the cutting edge of photography at that time and it was always very expensive and always in high demand. The high purchase price reflected the time, money and effort that went into the design, production and patient hand assembly of each camera. Now holding this Contax nearly 80 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 the fact that it’s been carefully serviced and it’s fully functional. Additionally, the serial numbers match. The serial number, J68168, 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.) The serial number also indicates that this camera was produced in late 1938 / early 1939 as the dark clouds of WWII gathered over Europe.
This Contax is in near mint condition and I think that it would be very difficult to find a finer example. (I’ve been collecting and using vintage cameras for over 40 years.)
This camera has recently 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 slow speeds buzz along smoothly and the fast speeds are clean and snappy. The self-timer has been cleaned and works correctly. The coupled rangefinder optical array has also been carefully serviced. The image is 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, it uses normal 35mm film.
So there you have it, an excellent prewar Contax camera 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 plethora 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.
It comes complete with a film take up spool.
All in all a wonderful Contax camera. Perfect for photographers with a historical interest and WWII reenactors. So, if you’ve been looking for a 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 II, 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.