Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I  –  Vintage Camera

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (three quarters)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (three quarters)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (three quarters)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (three quarters)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (front view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (front view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (rear view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (rear view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (top view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (top view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (bottom view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (bottom view)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (three quarters)Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (three quarters)Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (front view)Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (rear view)Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (top view)Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (bottom view)Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I Specifications

Manufacturer: Zeiss Ikon AG Stuttgart
   
Country of Origin: West Germany
  (modern day Germany)
   
Made in: Stuttgart, West Germany
  (modern day Germany)
   
Introduced: 1953
   
Camera Type: Single Lens Reflex
   
Format: 135 Film
   
Dimensions (cm): 13.2 x 9.3 x 6.2

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I Review

The Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I is a fixed-lens SLR introduced by Zeiss Ikon AG Stuttgart in 1953. After the post World War II division of Germany, Zeiss Ikon also divided into Zeiss Ikon AG Stuttgart in the west while the remainder stayed in the east as VEB Zeiss Ikon Dresden. Unfortunately, the original factory in Dresden was heavily damaged by Allied bombing campaigns which left Zeiss Ikon no choice but to innovate. The result? The Contaflex: the very first 35mm SLR with a leaf shutter.

The Contaflex comes with a fixed Carl Zeiss 45mm f/2.8 Tessar lens mated to the aforementioned Synchro-Compur leaf shutter with shutter speeds ranging from 1 to 1/500 seconds and Bulb. However the Contaflex actually has two shutters: one attached to the mirror which allows the through-the-lens viewfinder to be used without exposing the film prematurely and one to actually take the photograph with. Curiously, this complex arrangement causes the viewfinder to go blind after ever shot, forcing users to cock the shutter before they can compose the next frame. On the plus side, this layout also grants any attached flash units the ability to be fired at all shutter speeds.

Nearly all the controls on the Contaflex are located on the squat lens barrel. The oddly shaped gear surrounding the lens’ front element controls the focus while the next ring behind it sets the shutter speed and the flash sync mode. The biggest ring at the base of the lens barrel sets the aperture while the base itself has a flash sync socket embedded in the side. Sitting atop the pentaprism in the middle of the camera’s top plate is a removable cold shoe. On either side of the cold shoe are two large dials. On the user’s left hand side is the rewind knob with film speed indicator and on the other side is the film advance knob with frame counter and shutter button with threaded cable release socket in the middle.

I had been watching eBay auctions for a number of Contaflex models when my brother surprised me with this beautiful Contaflex I as a thank you for some work I did for him. This Contaflex is the most beautiful fixed-lens SLR I’ve got in my collection. I love the unique snowflake-shaped focus ring, understated badges on the pentaprism, and back plate as well as the overall symmetry of the design. Happily, my Contaflex I is in perfect mechanical and excellent cosmetic condition with the only flaws being some oxidation on the film speed indicator, a couple of small scratches, and some minor paint loss.

References:

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 712.

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