SUPERB! 1933 Zeiss Ikon Contax I, 35mm rangefinder, with Tessar lens CLA’d, FRESHLY SERVICED
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
In this listing we have a circa 1933 black lacquer Zeiss-Ikon Contax. This camera was produced prior to the second world war in Germany. It hails from an era in which 35mm cameras were just arriving on the scene to take advantage of the new high quality films that were being produced for Hollywood movie cameras. The general idea being that if 35mm film was good enough to fill movie screens, than it should be good medium for photojournalists, documentation, general purpose and artistic endeavors.
At the time 35mm cameras were seen by many as a novelty especially when a 35mm camera was placed next to a 4x5 Speed Graflex which was often standard equipment for any serous news reporter. Which is why 35m cameras were initially referred to as “miniature cameras” in the USA. If you’ve ever read any of Raymond Chandler’s classic hardboiled detective novels you’ll have come across this reference. In Germany 35mm cameras were referred to as “KleinbildKameras” which literally translates into small-picture-cameras.
Initially there were only two serious 35mm cameras, Contax and Leica. Of the two, Contax was by far the most expensive option. It was an exclusive, top quality rangefinder camera. This historic German camera marked the turning point of photography and it and the Leitz Leica pioneered the acceptance of 35mm film as a serious format. Without these cameras, 35mm film as we know it, might have just become another vague footnote in photographic history.
As you probably know, the black Contax I was only briefly produced for four years from 1932 to 1936 after which it was replaced by the chrome plated Contax II.
If you consider its short production run, the limited numbers of existing cameras and its historic importance, it’s easy to understand why this camera is so desirable. Additionally, camera collectors and photographers who are fortunate enough to own a clean, working Contax I are generally not interested in selling them.
This 88 year old camera is in exceptionally fine condition, with only light signs of careful use. The serial number of this Contax I indicates that it was produced in circa 1933. The serial number on the body (V32013) and the serial number of the removable back match. This indicates that this camera is still complete with original camera back.
This Contax camera is fully functional. The camera has been fully serviced and carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The Zeiss shutter has received careful attention, new shutter ribbons have been installed. All speeds (B & 1/25– 1/000th) fire appropriately. The viewfinder image is clean and clear, the coupled rangefinder works well, and focusing is accurate. The sliding view finder mask on the front of the camera is intact and working. (It is intended to reduce the viewfinder image when using a tele-lens.) And in case you wondered, this camera uses normal 35mm film.
This Contax accepts interchangeable lenses. The lens included with this camera is certainly correct for this era and could well be its original lens. It’s a, early 3.5/5cm (50mm) Carl Zeiss Tessar lens with the collectable black & nickel finish. This is the correct lens for the early prewar Contax cameras because the nickel finish perfectly matches the nickel plated knobs and controls of this camera. The glass is clean and clear with only the usual light cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and b&w films. (As with all prewar lenses we recommend keeping the sun behind you for best performance.)
All in all, a very lovely enjoyable camera! If you’ve been looking for an original Contax, you’ve just found it. Just load it with your favorite film and you’re good to go.