Contarex Bullseye.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. I have posted with this camera before, but with some urging from Rajmohan I decided it deserved another airing. You will have to forgive a certain "sameness" to my images here, but my duties as a dog walker and classic camera user tend to diverge, hence the familiar territory!
    Now the Contarex is a wondrous beast, all chrome and business like, quite formidable. I kind of like the engineers philosophy when building this camera...forget the cost, forget the weight,and forget the ergonomics...this is how we will do it! The result is a heavy, blocky beast, but with a beautiful finish and lustrous chrome.
    The German camera industry was at their peak around the time that this camera was made, as was their lenses. I still think that the optics from Zeiss and Leitz reached a point that has not really been surpassed. Unfortunately this is reflected in the cost of the lenses for the Contarex, so I'm stuck with the "poverty" pack of the 50mm Planar, 35mm Distagon and 135mm Sonnar. Anything more exotic comes with a frightening price tag.
    I would never consider the C'Rex to be my everyday camera, others will do a similar job with less effort, but the camera does remain a special part of my collection,and is one of the most "fondled".
    I have used all three lenses here, and the 35 and 50mm both focus very close, making them almost double as macro lenses. The no compromise to the engineering shows with these two, as both feature the aperture opening slightly as the lens extends to allow for light loss...very clever.
    Now for the camera and a few images.
  2. With the lenses.
  3. First pic.
  4. ...and nature's graffiti, also the Distagon.
  5. Try again!
  6. Aha, that should have been swans...too many distractions!
  7. Lucky last.
  8. Thanks for looking, all shot on Pan F+, and souped in Pyrocat HD, scanned on an Epsom V700.
  9. Hello Tony,
    Beautiful example of the camera + lenses, and images to match. Great depth and tones! The camera is indeed an experience - I walked around with it and the 135 around my neck yesterday, and my back did protest after a couple of hours; next time, I should do some calisthenics before taking it out. My first roll goes to the lab today - can't wait!
  10. Lovely images Tony. I really like the tones in that Agave image. No complaints about "sameness" from me. If I lived anywhere near a coastline, I'd probably be littering this forum with beach shots.
  11. Those of us trapped inland, especially former sailors like myself, find nothing boring nor "sameness" to your images. You keep right on walking the dog. Me and my dog envy you. :)
    Nice shots BTW, and a beauty of a camera.
  12. I agree with the others. I always look forward to seeing your pictures, especially of the shoreline. There are few things as relaxing as a stroll along the beach. Now that I am living inland I surely miss it.
    The tones look great in these pictures. I really like the subtle tone variations in your Agave picture.
  13. Fine work with a fine camera, Tony. The Contarex has always seemed to me to be more of exercise in precision engineering than a really user-friendly camera, rather like that other behemoth, the Voigtlander Prominent, but the quality cannot be denied. The lenses, obviously, are beautiful, and you've shown them off in this series. Your "home town" looks charming and I feel like planning an excursion; there must be some nice images to be had around the harbour, as well as along the coast. Thanks for another excellent post.
  14. Thanks everyone, I have always been drawn to the beach, so it will be a constant theme for my CMC posts. Rick, the boatsheds you can see are indeed photogenic, but the actual town lacks the look that yours has....I'm not really inspired to photograph anything there.
  15. This camera has looks and the image quality is great ... but the "user interface" is not the best. it's heavy and awkward to use. Rewarding and beautiful ... but awkward.
    I like to compare this camera to the Leica M2 or M3. Both are beautiful (though the bullseye is more so) but the Leicas are also masterpieces of practical use. I don't mean to criticize. In fact I've owned one of these and used it and I know it's a camera worth trying. Once I've had that experience though, I'll go back to a camera with more attention to the way people use a camera.
  16. Hi David,
    I completely agree that although beautiful and beautifully made, the bulk and weight are challenging. And of course, the early Ms are also wonderful, easy-to-use machines.
    However, on my first walk with the camera, I got used to the camera within the first few shots, and I found it to be like using any other solid SLR with buttery smooth lenses that are very easy to focus. One of my favorite SLRs is the Leicaflex SL, and to my mind, the Rex compared quite favorably to it.
    Of course this view may reflect my love of the quirky!
  17. Thanks Tony, I never get tired of seeing what these lenses can do. Great post. Pan F is one of my favourite films, too, although I usually stick to ID-11 for development. It looks great in Pyrocat too.
  18. Keep them coming! NEver tire of great B&W photos. I liked you commentary on the engineering and peak for the German industry. There'S something to be said for Hubris. ( I capitalized it in German fashion Haha) No really, I agree these are mareveous, and I love that you shoot yours and now Rajmohan too.... When you read Henry's page you think only one in a million will ever make one work again and without him it will never happen etc. So I'm pleased to see that we normal CMC users can "use" these with formidable results. I am too poor to buy one or the lenses etc so like Leica, I've sworn off ever owning one albeit someone drops one in my lap.
    Oh and what lovely images you produced here. I recall an Alfa Badge as a demo close-up in a previous and now the drill bit was also very cool!
    Thanks for sharing your goodfortune in owning and using one of these!
  19. Hello folks,
    I thought I might continue the Contarex that Tony started by relating my adventures with it!
    Over the last few days, I put two rolls through the camera (using the 50mm and 135mm lenses). I discovered, after I had shot the first roll, that I had not loaded the interchangeable back correctly (I had not fed the film under the metal brackets on the pressure plate. The result was that when I inserted the dark slide (which has to be done prior to rewinding and then removing the back), the film was sliced by the edge of the dark slide, leaving the exposed film in the take-up compartment. Since the take-up compartment is sealed except for a panel with a door, I had to wangle the torn edge of the film from the back of the compartment (in the darkness of my bathroom) and yank out the exposed film, before placing it into a light-tight container!
    Betting that this process likely ruined my first roll, I quickly ran a second roll through it, applying the film loading lesson learned so well from the misadventure with the first roll. 36 exposures later, the dark slide went in smoothly, and the rewind worked a treat! Out came the film cassette with the exposed film safely inside.
    Happy as a puppy, I toddled off to the lab and dropped off both rolls (praying that the first one would be okay).
    I picked up the negatives today. The images looked well exposed in both rolls as I pored over them on a lightbox with a loupe. But (and there is always a but), I discovered vertical streaks on almost all frames. The streaks are in the middle and one side of each frame, and they are darker on one side of the film than the other. A segment of one of the negative strips is below:
    I asked the tech at the lab, and without hesitation, he said "light leak, worse at the bottom than at the top". So then I started to wonder where this camera could possibly suffer a light leak. I use an interchangeable back, and the most likely cause is a leak in the slot into which the dark slide slips. But try as I might with bright lights in a dark room to see if I could spot the source of the leak, I could not identify one. One solution proposed by occasional users was to tape over the slot - I;m willing to try this for the next roll, but now I would like to ask the group - based on the image of the filmstrip, do you think this is indeed a light leak? If so, what do you think is the source? Should I try and purchase additional backs and try them out? (since the interchangeable backs are notorious for such leaks)
    I want to persevere, because I really enjoyed shooting with this camera and its lenses, the weight notwithstanding.
    Thank you for putting up with my essay - I hope someone is able to help!
  20. I have heard that they are prone to light leaks, and that is obviously the problem here. You could get some black electrical tape to put around the edges, that will confirm if the light leak is external...I'm sure it is.
    Good luck with your search for a back, I see that you are trying over at Apug, they are a helpful crowd.
  21. See my other post in your discussion seeking a standard back. I've used magazine backs a lot, and haven't had a single light leak problem with three different backs that have seen dozens of rolls of B & W, E-6 and C-41. Three points.
    (1) My Contaflexes usually live inside the lower part of their ever ready cases when I'm using them (unless they're on a tripod, I have the special bracket for the magazine backs to do this).
    (2) I put a strip of black electrical tape over the slot for the dark slide when a back is attached to a camera body.
    (3) I leave the dark slides out of my magazines if they are empty. I've read that over time they will compress the seals which is a part of the issue with them leaking light. Of course, whenever one is advertised the images always show the dark slide firmly inserted into the back, even though they have storage brackets on their rear for the slide...

    I've never tried to use my backs without a strip of tape across the slot. Being on the bottom of the camera the tape is usually out of sight. Maybe this makes a difference, I don't know. But I also can't recall the last time I actually used a late Contaflex with a standard back, and I use Super, Super B, Super BC, S and Rapid from time to time, so my experiences are not confined only to one camera/back combination, quite the contrary.

    You won't get any leaks from anywhere else in the back (unless, perhaps a numpty has tried to force the latches, which happens when they don't understand the interlocks that operate). The interchangeable backs fit around the camera body in the same way the standard backs do. If there are leaks from other than the dark slide slot, the back is not likely be the culprit. Try again, with some tape fitted over the slot.
  22. Hi Brett
    Thank you for your comments on this and the other thread.
    I don't have a case for the Contarex, so it usually comes 'naked', but the black tape is something I will definitely try. I also have the dark slide stored on the outside of the back for the reason you mention.
    I did consider other potential sources of light leak, including the little meter window on the top plate, and perhaps even the light meter window itself (I'm not sure if either of these communicates with the film chamber, but they could be potential culprits.
  23. Thank you for your images and the write-up on your Contarex, Tony. I have a Bullseye camera and the 50mm Planar. That's it.
  24. Hi Tony, very nice post and super set of images. I also like the seashore pictures in particular.
    I have the same outfit and have also started to use the camera in ernest for the first time just recently. All the items have needed various levels of service, the camera would not work without 'hanging' and all the lenses needed re-lubricating and cleaning. Now they work and i am getting familiar with it.
    I wonder how you have found the focus system? I'd be interested in your experiences, also the accuracy of the the aperture adjustment. One surprise was just how the camera seems to be ergonomically sound, I found that after just a few rolls of film it feels good.
    I'll post some of my pics once developed.
  25. I also have a Contarex Bullseye with the standard 50mm Planar. It certainly was a triumph of engineering. You can hear everything working using the slow speeds. Very heavy it is but easy to use. I also have the case which itself is no lightweight. It is such a lump to lug around though very satisfying.

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