Zeiss Contax lenses

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by straw_man, May 21, 2015.

  1. I have the Zeiss Contax 50mm f/1.5 and f/2.0 lenses.

    What are the filter sizes. Any advice on lens hoods?
  2. AJG


    Filter size is 40.5 mm for both. Zeiss made both a screw in and push on lens hood for this size; both tend to be pricey and they both block a lot of the viewfinder on the Contax. I have found new ones on eBay that are vented that fit properly and cost a lot less.
  3. Here is a page from the Zeiss catalog for Contax cameras and lenses from 1956, listing various shade catalog numbers and filter sizes. If you search eBay using the catalog numbers, like "Zeiss 1119", "Contax 1119" or such, you'll see ones available for sale, and they usually are not cheap. FYI, if you start buying different lenses and start looking for rear caps for your 50's.....the original Zeiss article does not seem to exist, or they are very (more like extremely) rare. There is an eBay seller or two who supplies generic caps for them.
    I have bought and sometimes use the cheaper, generic vented hoods for my 50mm Sonnar, but to be honest I often find myself cropping shots where I used the camera finder to frame the image when using the 50 as it's often shifted to one side due to parallax error, so I always have a finder in the shoe, whether it's the 21-135 universal that is centered over the lenses and has manual parallax adjustments if I'm shooting up closer, or if I'm using the 21, or 85/135 finders for those lenses. When I use the multi-finder with the 50mm lens, the larger size of the 1119 hood does not block that finder frame at all and it is way, way more accurate in terms of giving me a final image of what I wanted to record in the first place.
  4. I've found that an ordinary series VI hood, with a 40.5mm adaptor ring, doesn't block the windows on my Kiev 4, so it would also work fine on a Contax II; perhaps not on a postwar IIa, which has the windows closer together.
  5. The only way to get virtually 100% viewfinder accuracy (28-135mm) at real working distances is with the accessory Leica "Universal" finder and the Leica Imarect finders. The beautiful Zeiss "Gatling Gun" finder isn't even close to accurate, nor are all the Leica Bright-Line finders.
    I've never understood why these companies think that they know more about composition than the photographers who use their cameras. Cartier-Bresson isn't the only photographers who composes the whole frame.
  6. AJG


    Greg's right about rear lens caps--for 50 mm Zeiss lenses for the Contax, there is an eBay seller (nobbysparrow) in Japan who makes good copies of the Zeiss 727 rear caps at a very reasonable price. Another eBay seller (heavystar) in the U.S. has good plastic generic rear caps for everything else but the 21 mm Biogon--his deepest one isn't quite deep enough for that. I also prefer the #440 21-135 finder for composing, as it is much more comfortable for me since it has a diopter adjustment that the camera finder doesn't have, so I can easily see the whole frame without glasses. As for the built in 50 mm finder, even Zeiss admitted that it was only accurate to about 6 feet, not surprising since it has no parallax correction.
  7. Bill, I find the 440 Zeiss multi-finder pretty darn accurate with the IIA. One thing you have to watch for...I read this years ago in the Contax section of Ivor Matanle's classic camera book, the pre-war and post-war Zeiss universal finders are not interchangeable between the two series of bodies in terms of accuracy. You need to use a pre- World War II universal finder with the pre-war bodies (Contax I, II and III) and the post-war West German (they say "Zeiss Stuttgart" on top) universal finder with the IIA and IIIA models as there is a height difference and two finders only take their contemporary bodies into consideration in terms of field of view and parallax corrections.
    The one lens that is a bit of a pain to use with the multi-finder is the 21 Biogon because the view through the finder is so distorted it can be hard to get the image even somewhat level. The individual Zeiss 21 finder works much better.
  8. AJG


    In the interest of science, I just measured the distance from the lens mount to the top of the meter housing where accessory finders are mounted on my Contax IIIa and III (this one, sadly, inoperable). The IIIa is almost 10 mm less than the III, so at close distances that could matter a lot, especially with longer focal lengths. I don't have a II or IIa, so I can't be sure of what those distances would be. I do know that the pre-war versions of the Contameter for close-ups were different for the II and the III. The post war Contameter is only available in one version for both IIa and IIIa. A comparison of the IIIa finder with 50 mm settings on both the post war 440 and pre-war Zeiss 28 - 135 is interesting--the camera shows a lot more than either of the accessory finders at approximately 12 feet, with the #440 showing a bit more than the pre-war 28 - 135, at least with my particular examples. In my experience, both accessory finders are accurate enough for general picture taking, with it being very unlikely that you will crop in the camera in a way that you didn't anticipate. As for 100% accuracy, that has always been the strong point of SLR camera designs, something acknowledged by Zeiss and Leitz in the form of reflex housings for close ups and long lens use.
  9. I use reproduction screw in lens hoods with cut outs. They are sold with a cap that fits over the hood; and are very inexpensive. They are sold on ebay.

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