Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Experiences?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by stwrtertbsratbs5, May 4, 2004.

  1. zeiss  ikon contaflex super B.jpg
    Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super B flash-matic
    Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm F2.8
    Shutter B 1 2 4 8 15 30 60 125 250 500
    Aperture stop 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22
    Film winding and shutter clocked by lever
    Mike Gammill and James Bryant like this.
  2. Removeable film take up spool.

    Accessory shoe is not a hot shoe. Flash sync contact at top of camera.

    There is an A marker, stands for AUTOMATIC, the aperture automatically selected
    according to lighting condition measured by the selenium meter.

    My Contaflex Super B's selenium meter and automatic aperture seems still working

    but I don't know how accurate
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  3. Contaflex  II.jpg
    Contaflex II
    Fip up selenium meter
    Front element focusing
  4. I bought four Contaflex cameras on e market, only one fully working
  5. The picture at left at Summer Palace in Beijing.

    I was carrying a Contaflex II camera, my dad sent to me from Singapore.

    Contaflex was my first single lens reflex camera.
  6. Jon, how much would a fully functioning contaflex in mint condition fetch? on the high side? on the low side? :)
  7. Contaflex II has a front element focusing Tessar 50 2.8 lens
    Contaflex Super B has a unit focusing Tessar 50/2.8
  8. Late to the party, because there are lots of people out there with more knowledge about the Contaflex than I have.
    My focus was always on the early and then the East German Zeiss cameras, but my only Contaflex was the sort of "middle of the road" Contaflex Prima

    FWIW, my "report" on that is at

    Contaflex Prima - "Zeiss Stuttgart"

    One of the advantages of that model is the existence of interchangeable backs (if you can find one).
    brett_rogers likes this.
  9. Wow, an ancient thread I responded to over 16 years ago!

    I'll stick with what I said back then and add that I agree with what Rick Oleson and John Goodman said back then.

    Having serviced some of these, I can say that they are mechanically very (perhaps overly) complex and time consuming to service. If you find a "bargain" today, it will likely need a major service episode to get it working properly.

    Today, it's not just the cost of service, but even finding someone to actually do it.
  10. A big shout out to Brett Rogers. His tenacity led to mine and I did manage to get the aperture working in my Super B. At the time, my Super B was, and still is intermittent with the meter. After some fumbling around it sometimes awakens and the meter begins to react and then the AE works ok. I initially had the Contaflex III with no meter or flash shoe and the Super B. I bought both in LA while traverling for work in 1985-6. in my intial exploring I realized the front lens on both models are inter-changeable. I may have mixed them up in my fumbling. The Super B with no battery and auto exposure was something I couldn't wrap may head around. In my early "family man" years almost 10, they both slept the Sleeping Beauty sleep from 1990 to rise up in 2008 or so. Soon after, the intermittency of the AE on the Super B bothered me. Trying to fix this led to aperture sticking . Brett Rogers assured me with the proper cleaning it would appear. Tenacity eventually payed of (Thanks Brett Rogers) and now the aperture works. The meter is still intermittent. In my moments of doubt, I had taken the Super B apart and across three years it lay in peices, I bought a replacement..duhhh in my ignorance, it was a Super, not a Super B. This means it has a selenium coupled meter, but no AE (needle trapping) auto function...which led me to also buying yet another Super B ( total of four Contaflex(i) now) This one was probaly worth the 50,00 Euros but it ihas exactly the same intermittenet AE as the one I tore down to clean. My original Super B, thanks to my TLC and cleaning; focuses easier winds nicer etc.
    I do want to wax eloquently over the Tessar rendering. I have been very pleased .with the lens. I can't say I have compared them against one another, but many of the Super B photos have impressed me with their contrast, clarity. The blue skies I get with color film are wonderful dark. This may be the coating, but it performs very nicely It is the sin of greed, but I so do, want now a Super BC for the obvious battery powered meter. The common-sense of using a hand-held meter is of course the only sanity prevailing in the Ying-Yang relationship of ..well too many cameras not enough time.

    Oh hey I replied 16 years ago too!! Duuhh Contaflex 4-Ever!!
  11. Thank you Chuck, that's very kind of you.

    I suspect you might find that if you try to interchange the standard 50mm Tessar front components of your Contaflex III & Super/Super B they may not install. Although the bayonet mounts and their lugs all look identical to the naked eye, Zeiss quite cunningly altered the dimensions just enough to prevent interchangeability from early to late. Another example is the early v late M1:1 Pro Tessar. The 35mm, 85mm & 115mm on the other hand should all have lugs compatible with any unit focus model by being fractionally smaller, small enough to fit all of them.

    From memory, I believe the CIII and CIV middle lens cells may have had the matching serial number of their original front 50mm part stamped into their mount. Maybe the Rapid but they seem to have discontinued it by the first Super, I've examined three the last few weeks and all definitely had no reference numbers on the middle lens mount.

    The Super BC is a terrific model, my own has a lens as sharp as any Contaflex I've ever used. That said, a Super B meter in good repair can easily make great slide exposures. It is instructive, I think to consider the size of the selenium cells used in Contaflex II, IV & the first Super models. The Super B cell is massively larger.

    If there's a weakness with the Super BC/S models, it must be the downright odd shaped battery compartment design. Accessibility for cleaning the contacts could scarcely be worse, and the small plastic lug attached to the inside of the door can detach. Proper battery positioning on its contacts is void without the lug and it also holds the hatch shut. When you spot an example for sale occasionally with a small screw bodged into the edge of the battery hatch, it's a dead giveaway that the lug has jumped ship. By all means try a Super BC/S. They're great. But as well as all the other age-related shutter servicing issues other models have, do ensure the compartment for the cell is free of corrosion, and that lug is present.

    Frankly, the best user of the lot, for those who prefer manual exposure control and built in metering is the New Super. It has the same huge accurate cell as the Super B, the meter is always coupled. Super B; BC; S cut the meter off at manual apertures (which also means for BC/S owners, moving your control ring off of "A" is actually the "off" switch for your meter which will stop it running your battery down). The New Super has sensible control rings with grips you can easily use without rubbing the f stops off.

    Admittedly the original Super isn't too bad either, in this respect, but its use of the EV coupling system is a love/hate thing. And (if I'm splitting hairs), the inevitable gear backlash in the drive between the finger wheel and shutter means that, no matter how carefully calibrated one is, centering the meter needle by closing down, versus opening up, can see perhaps a 1/4–1/3 stop difference between the two, because of the effect of the lash. Is it an issue in actual use? Not really. Just frustrating when you're trying to make the meter calibration perfect—you have to carefully split the effects of the lash so that Eg closing down to zero the needle won't make your exposure half a stop out (compared to zeroing it by opening up). Having just done all this to make an early Super really right for its lucky next owner (whoever that might be) this point is fresh in my memory...
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
  12. "Frankly, the best user of the lot, for those who prefer manual exposure control and built in metering is the New Super. It has the same huge accurate cell as the Super B, the meter is always coupled."

    Lucky me! I have the Super NEw as a fil purchase to replace the Super B.. Thanks fpr the encouragement to go for thge BC/S... like I really need another Contaflex!! :)
    brett_rogers likes this.

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