Friday, June 24, 2011

Contax Camera - My Impression

Piggly Wiggly Contax IIa with 85mm f/2

I recently read a test report of the latest Bentley motor car. I don't know why, I'll never have one. I think it's a man thing, it's about precision engineering, polished metal, fine leather, masculine design, and wanting something you can't afford. However the test focused on the cars amazing technology and how it will eventually trickle down to affordable cars in about twenty years time. One of the miracles of the Bentley is the interior lights. Apparently, the lights cover the entire interior roof and resemble the solar system. Millions of microscopic points of light that glow in teh night to welcome the driver.

A few cameras have been years ahead when released, leaving other manufacturers to catch up. A prime example is the Zeiss Contax. When the Contax II was launched in 1936, it was twenty years ahead of its rivals.

At this very moment, sitting on my desk is a Contax IIa. A pre-war version made around 1937. Over seventy years old but it's still a very modern camera in operation and design.

Contax IIa. Photograph by Tim Irving
Contax IIa with 50mm Sonnar
I've been using this Contax for several weeks and shot several rolls of film with it. I can tell you that it's still a very modern camera, in fact it's easier to use and far more reliable than some cameras made today.

Like the Bentley, it's a totally luxurious gadget precision made and covered in morocco black leather. Everything about this camera is easy. Focusing is the most accurate I have used on a rangefinder, film loading is simple and the lenses are glorious. Even by todays standard the 50mm Sonnar is as good as it gets.

My impression of the Zeiss Contax is that it's the finest 35mm rangefinder of its time. Even today it's more than good enough for most photographes needs. I love it.


  1. Well, look who's back after a month. Where've you been? Business or pleasure? Busy thinking up more ways to create heightened camera lust in your followers? You do it well, it always works.

    Lovely camera, interesting pig, good blur. He's well suited for the pink masonry.

  2. beautiful camera, would love to own one myself one day.



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