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== Contax S ==
 
== Contax S ==
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{{Flickr image
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| image_source=http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebollo_fr/3504734471/in/pool-camerapedia
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| image=http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3619/3504734471_3fc5ceda98_m.jpg
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| image_align=right
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| image_text=Contax S with [[lens tube extension|macro bellows]]
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}}
  +
The '''Contax S''' is a 35mm [[SLR]] camera introduced by the East German [[Zeiss Ikon|VEB Zeiss Ikon]] in 1949. Plans for such a camera had certainly existed at Zeiss Ikon since the late 1930s, and the development of an eyelevel viewfinder using a [[pentaprism]] would soon become a key element of the project. However, the WWII prevented pursuing these ideas, and when resumed after the war, the plans had to be adjusted to the deficiencies prevailing in the immediate post-war Dresden factory.
   
The '''Contax S''' was developed by what was left of [[Zeiss Ikon]] in the Soviet zone of Germany immediately after World War II. There were sketches and projects for a Zeiss Ikon 35mm SLR during the war but they were destroyed by the aerial bombings of Dresden. All the development started again from scratch in 1945 under the direction of Wilhelm Winzenburg. In the meantime the top engineers of Zeiss Ikon had gone to West Germany,<!-- There was no "West Germany" immediately after the war --> where a new Zeiss Ikon company would finally emerge in Stuttgart.<!-- Which I think was in the US zone, but might have been in the French one. Anyone know? -->
+
Despite the practical difficulties, a new camera was developed under the direction of Wilhelm Winzenburg. It was an innovative camera, with a fixed eyelevel [[pentaprism]] finder showing the image correctly. The new situation allowed the use of a simple cloth focal plane shutter, and the camera has the 42mm screw lens mount that was just introduced on the [[Praktiflex]], a mount that would become practically an industry standard. Unfortunately, the construction of the Contax S is not too robust. The internal gears, stamped from thin mild steel sheets, wear easily. All Contax S family cameras takes the [[42mm screw lenses]].
 
The new reflex was presented and production began in 1949. It was an innovative camera, with a fixed prism allowing direct viewing from behind, not reversed. In the same year production of the [[Rectaflex]] began in Italy; the two cameras share the distinction of being the first prism SLRs. They would define the shape of the SLR for the years to come, and in today's digital SLRs there is still something of the Contax S.
 
   
The new camera also introduced the 42mm screw lens mount that would meet great success. All the bodies of the Contax S family can take [[42mm screw lenses]].
+
Together with the [[Rectaflex]] and the [[Pignons|Alpa Prisma Reflex]], these cameras share the distinction of being the earliest pentaprism SLRs. They would define the shape of the SLRs for the years to come, and even in the digital imaging realm of the high-end DSLR the concept is still the same.
   
There were many little variations during the first years of production. The latest ones have a little D engraved under the Zeiss Ikon logo.
+
The optic supplied with the camera was the black anodised Biotar 2/5,8 T Carl Zeiss Jena lens. The most notable feature of this first model, apart from the finder prism, is the placement of the sync contact, situated in the tripod socket at the camera base. In 1952, the camera was replaced by the Contax D, identified by having the sync contact at the top plate, next to the rewind knob.
   
 
== Contax D and Pentacon ==
 
== Contax D and Pentacon ==
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The next model was called the '''Contax D''', and was more the result of gradual evolution than a radical change.
 
The next model was called the '''Contax D''', and was more the result of gradual evolution than a radical change.
   
In 1948 the two branches of Zeiss Ikon, East and West, were finally separated. In a series of lawsuits the Eastern branch would lose the right to use the historical names, like Contax. They continued to use the Contax name in the Eastern block market, but adopted the name '''Pentacon''' for the export to other countries. Pentacon comes from '''Penta'''prism '''Con'''tax, but is unanimously qualified as an unfortunate choice. Maybe something like Pentax would have been a better idea!
+
In 1948 the two branches of Zeiss Ikon, East and West, were finally separated. In a series of lawsuits the Eastern branch would lose the right to use the historical names, like Contax. They continued to use the Contax name in the Eastern block market, but adopted the name '''[[Pentacon]]''' for the export to other countries. '''Pentacon''' comes from [[pentaprism|<b>Penta</b>prism]] <b>Con</b>tax.
   
There were many minor variations in the engravings of the Contax D model. Some had the Zeiss Ikon logo, with or without VEB written underneath. Others had the Pentacon logo representing the Ernemann tower of Dresden, that is the company's headquarters building, with or without the addition of the engraved letters ZI (for Zeiss Ikon).
+
There were many minor variations in the engravings of the Contax D model. Some had the Zeiss Ikon logo, with or without VEB written underneath. Others had the Pentacon logo representing the Ernemann tower of Dresden, that is the company's headquarters building, with or without the addition of the engraved letters ZI (for <u>Z</u>eiss <u>I</u>kon).
  +
{{br}}
   
<div clear="both"></div>
 
   
== Contax E ==
 
   
  +
<gallery position="center" widths="252" captionalign="left">
  +
Contax_D_39546_1.jpg|Zeiss Ikon VEB Contax D with Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm/2,0 T.
  +
Contax_D_39546_2.jpg|Zeiss Ikon VEB Contax D with Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm/2,0 T.
  +
Contax_D_39546_3.jpg|Zeiss Ikon VEB Contax D with Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm/2,0 T.
  +
Contax_D_39546_4.jpg|Zeiss Ikon VEB Contax D.
  +
</gallery>
  +
[[Category: German 35mm SLR]]
  +
[[Category: 42mm screw mount]]
  +
[[Category: East Germany]]
  +
[[Category: Zeiss Ikon]]
  +
[[Category: Contax]]
  +
[[Category: Pentacon]]
  +
[[Category: C]]
  +
  +
== Contax E ==
 
The '''Contax E''' is a Contax D with an uncoupled exposure meter on top. It was also called '''Pentacon E'''.
 
The '''Contax E''' is a Contax D with an uncoupled exposure meter on top. It was also called '''Pentacon E'''.
   
 
== Contax F, FM, FB and FBM ==
 
== Contax F, FM, FB and FBM ==
  +
{{Flickr_image
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|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/33644008@N02/5068593056/in/pool-camerapedia
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|image= http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4147/5068593056_bd068b9eee_m.jpg
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|image_align= left
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|image_text= Pentacon FM, export model of the Contax FM<br/><small>image by Marino M.</small>
  +
}}
  +
The '''Contax F''' is the successor of the Contax D, released in 1956, with:
  +
* an automatic diaphragm release, that is a linkage between body and lens that closes the [[diaphragm]] when the shutter release is pressed. The Contax F was the first camera to have this device.
  +
* a bigger mirror
  +
* bigger winding and rewind buttons.
 
{{Flickr_image
 
{{Flickr_image
 
|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/89864432@N00/209452193/in/pool-camerapedia/
 
|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/89864432@N00/209452193/in/pool-camerapedia/
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|image_text= Pentacon F, export model of the Contax F
 
|image_text= Pentacon F, export model of the Contax F
 
}}
 
}}
The '''Contax F''' is the successor of the Contax D, released in 1956, with:
 
* an automatic diaphragm release, that is a linkage between body and lens that closes the diaphragm when the shutter release is pressed. The Contax F was the first camera to have this device.
 
* a bigger mirror
 
* bigger winding and rewind buttons.
 
 
It was also called '''Pentacon F'''.
 
It was also called '''Pentacon F'''.
   
 
From the Contax F onwards, production was transferred to [[KW|Kamera Werke]] in Niedersiedlitz.
 
From the Contax F onwards, production was transferred to [[KW|Kamera Werke]] in Niedersiedlitz.
+
{{Flickr_image
  +
|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/33818910@N02/3605883286/in/pool-camerapedia
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|image= http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3384/3605883286_bfeac8c4c6_m_d.jpg
  +
|image_align= left
  +
|image_text= Pentacon FB, export model of the Contax FB.<br><small>Picture by Juan Felipe Gómez T. {{with permission}}</small>
  +
}}
 
The '''Contax FM''' is a variant, introduced in 1958, with a split image focusing aid in the viewfinder. It was also called '''Pentacon FM'''.
 
The '''Contax FM''' is a variant, introduced in 1958, with a split image focusing aid in the viewfinder. It was also called '''Pentacon FM'''.
   
Line 47: Line 73:
 
The '''Contax FBM''' is a Contax FM with the same exposure meter. The '''Pentacon FBM''' is the same camera.
 
The '''Contax FBM''' is a Contax FM with the same exposure meter. The '''Pentacon FBM''' is the same camera.
   
  +
{{br}}
 
== Name variants ==
 
== Name variants ==
   
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There was also a name variant of the Contax F called the '''Ritacon F'''.
 
There was also a name variant of the Contax F called the '''Ritacon F'''.
   
== Chinese copy ==
+
== Japanese and Chinese copies ==
  +
The Japanese [[Altair]], announced in early 1955, was closely inspired by the Contax D but incorporated a quick-return mirror. It remained at prototype level only.
   
A Chinese near-copy of the Contax F existed, called the [[Tian Chi]], but remained at prototype level.
+
The [[Tian Chi]] was a Chinese near-copy of the Contax F, of which only ten were made.
   
 
== A user's point of view ==
 
== A user's point of view ==
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Sadly the materials these cameras were built with were not up to the quality of the design itself. All the cameras of the family are prone to shutter curtain deterioration and even if the curtains look good, they are likely to be full of pinholes and you will have to get them repaired.
 
Sadly the materials these cameras were built with were not up to the quality of the design itself. All the cameras of the family are prone to shutter curtain deterioration and even if the curtains look good, they are likely to be full of pinholes and you will have to get them repaired.
 
With a camera with pinholes in the shutter curtains, you will have spots of light on some of your pictures, some of them might even be beautiful but the effect is completely aleatory and is more likely to spoil your shots.
 
With a camera with pinholes in the shutter curtains, you will have spots of light on some of your pictures, some of them might even be beautiful but the effect is completely aleatory and is more likely to spoil your shots.
Today some reputable ebay sellers do sell fully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted bodies, with the curtains replaced. It is probably the surest way to get a working one.
+
Today some reputable eBay sellers do sell fully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted bodies, with the curtains replaced. It is probably the surest way to get a working one.
   
 
== Accessories ==
 
== Accessories ==
 
* eyecup
 
* eyecup
* folding sportsfinder, for 35mm and 58mm, attached to the finder eyepiece
+
* folding [[sports finder]], for 35mm and 58mm, attached to the finder eyepiece
   
 
== Bibliography ==
 
== Bibliography ==
 
* Barringer, C. and Small, M. ''Zeiss Compendium East and West &mdash; 1940&ndash;1972.'' Small Dole, UK: Hove Books, 1999 (2nd edition). ISBN 1-874707-24-3.
 
* Barringer, C. and Small, M. ''Zeiss Compendium East and West &mdash; 1940&ndash;1972.'' Small Dole, UK: Hove Books, 1999 (2nd edition). ISBN 1-874707-24-3.
* Dechert, Peter. ''The Contax S camera family.'' Yakima (Washington): Historical Camera Publications, 1991. ISBN 1-879561-10-8.
+
* Dechert, Peter. ''The Contax S camera family.'' Yakima (Washington): Historical Camera Publications, 1991. ISBN 1-879561-10-8. This book is available in pdf form in [http://www.songofsnow.com/Peter-Dechert-TOC-s/157.htm Peter Dechert's Corner] at [http://www.songofsnow.com/default.asp Songofsnow]
  +
* Matanle, Ivor. ''Collecting and Using Classic Cameras.'' London: Thames & Hudson, 1986. First paperback edition, 1992. ISBN 0-500-27656-0.
  +
* {{Matanle SLR}}
 
* St Denny, Douglas. ''Cameras of the People's Republic of China.'' Leicester, UK: Jessop Specialist Publishing, 1989. ISBN 0-9514392-0-0.
 
* St Denny, Douglas. ''Cameras of the People's Republic of China.'' Leicester, UK: Jessop Specialist Publishing, 1989. ISBN 0-9514392-0-0.
 
* Schulz, Alexander. ''Contax S, A History of the World's First 35mm Prism SLR Camera.'' Stuttgart: Lindemanns, 2002. ISBN 3-89506-236-7.
 
* Schulz, Alexander. ''Contax S, A History of the World's First 35mm Prism SLR Camera.'' Stuttgart: Lindemanns, 2002. ISBN 3-89506-236-7.
Line 83: Line 110:
 
== Links ==
 
== Links ==
 
=== General links ===
 
=== General links ===
* [http://westfordcomp.com/classics/contax-s/ Tribute to Contax S]
+
In English:
* [http://www.praktica-collector.de/ContaxPentacon.htm Contax / Pentacon at praktica-collector.de]
+
* [http://westfordcomp.com/classics/contax-s/ Contax S] with sample pictures at [http://westfordcomp.com/ westfordcomp.com]
* [http://www.taunusreiter.de/Cameras/Praktiflex.html Contax S at taunusreiter.de]
+
* [http://www.praktica-collector.de/ContaxPentacon.htm Contax / Pentacon models] at [http://www.praktica-collector.de/ praktica-collector.de]
  +
* Contax S (1949) listed at number 13 in [http://www.shutterbug.net/equipmentreviews/classic_historical/0408top20/index.html Jason Schneider's Top 20 Cameras Of All-Time] on [http://shutterbug.com/ Shutterbug]
  +
* Contax D at [https://r-kobus.eu/node/53 r-kobus.eu].
  +
* Pentacon F at [https://r-kobus.eu/node/54 r-kobus.eu]
  +
* [http://www.photopentax.com/compatibilite-en.html The largest database Screw Mount M42 (lenses) compatible]
  +
  +
In German:
  +
* [http://www.taunusreiter.de/Cameras/Praktiflex.html The development of the modern small format SLR camera], an article in [http://www.taunusreiter.de/Cameras/index.html Frank Mechelhoff's camera site], featuring the Praktiflex, Contax S, Exakta VX and original Pentax
  +
 
In Japanese:
 
In Japanese:
* [http://www.pluto.dti.ne.jp/~masaki-k/camera%20Pentacon.htm Pentacon page] at [http://www.pluto.dti.ne.jp/~masaki-k/newpage2.htm La Chambre Claire]
+
* [http://www.pluto.dti.ne.jp/~masaki-k/camera%20Pentacon.htm Pentacon] at [http://www.pluto.dti.ne.jp/~masaki-k/newpage2.htm La Chambre Claire]
  +
* [http://asahide.zdap.jp/hcla02/htoda01.htm Hexacon] at [http://www.infocam.co.kr/ infocam.co.kr]
  +
  +
In French :
  +
* [http://www.photopentax.com/compatibilite.html La plus grande base de données d'objectifs à monture M42 compatibles ]
   
 
=== Repairs ===
 
=== Repairs ===
* [http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-87.html Contax S (Pentacon) Shutter Curtain Replacement by Rick Oleson]
+
* [http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-87.html Contax / Pentacon shutter overhaul notes] in [http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/ Rick Oleson's website]
   
 
{{Zeiss classic}}
 
{{Zeiss classic}}
+
[[Category: German 35mm SLR]]
[[Category: 35mm SLR]]
 
 
[[Category: 42mm screw mount]]
 
[[Category: 42mm screw mount]]
 
[[Category: East Germany]]
 
[[Category: East Germany]]
[[Category: Germany]]
 
 
[[Category: Zeiss Ikon]]
 
[[Category: Zeiss Ikon]]
 
[[Category: Contax]]
 
[[Category: Contax]]

Latest revision as of 20:58, January 27, 2019

Contax S Edit

The Contax S is a 35mm SLR camera introduced by the East German VEB Zeiss Ikon in 1949. Plans for such a camera had certainly existed at Zeiss Ikon since the late 1930s, and the development of an eyelevel viewfinder using a pentaprism would soon become a key element of the project. However, the WWII prevented pursuing these ideas, and when resumed after the war, the plans had to be adjusted to the deficiencies prevailing in the immediate post-war Dresden factory.

Despite the practical difficulties, a new camera was developed under the direction of Wilhelm Winzenburg. It was an innovative camera, with a fixed eyelevel pentaprism finder showing the image correctly. The new situation allowed the use of a simple cloth focal plane shutter, and the camera has the 42mm screw lens mount that was just introduced on the Praktiflex, a mount that would become practically an industry standard. Unfortunately, the construction of the Contax S is not too robust. The internal gears, stamped from thin mild steel sheets, wear easily. All Contax S family cameras takes the 42mm screw lenses.

Together with the Rectaflex and the Alpa Prisma Reflex, these cameras share the distinction of being the earliest pentaprism SLRs. They would define the shape of the SLRs for the years to come, and even in the digital imaging realm of the high-end DSLR the concept is still the same.

The optic supplied with the camera was the black anodised Biotar 2/5,8 T Carl Zeiss Jena lens. The most notable feature of this first model, apart from the finder prism, is the placement of the sync contact, situated in the tripod socket at the camera base. In 1952, the camera was replaced by the Contax D, identified by having the sync contact at the top plate, next to the rewind knob.

Contax D and Pentacon Edit

The next model was called the Contax D, and was more the result of gradual evolution than a radical change.

In 1948 the two branches of Zeiss Ikon, East and West, were finally separated. In a series of lawsuits the Eastern branch would lose the right to use the historical names, like Contax. They continued to use the Contax name in the Eastern block market, but adopted the name Pentacon for the export to other countries. Pentacon comes from Pentaprism Contax.

There were many minor variations in the engravings of the Contax D model. Some had the Zeiss Ikon logo, with or without VEB written underneath. Others had the Pentacon logo representing the Ernemann tower of Dresden, that is the company's headquarters building, with or without the addition of the engraved letters ZI (for Zeiss Ikon).


Contax E Edit

The Contax E is a Contax D with an uncoupled exposure meter on top. It was also called Pentacon E.

Contax F, FM, FB and FBM Edit

The Contax F is the successor of the Contax D, released in 1956, with:

  • an automatic diaphragm release, that is a linkage between body and lens that closes the diaphragm when the shutter release is pressed. The Contax F was the first camera to have this device.
  • a bigger mirror
  • bigger winding and rewind buttons.

It was also called Pentacon F.

From the Contax F onwards, production was transferred to Kamera Werke in Niedersiedlitz.

The Contax FM is a variant, introduced in 1958, with a split image focusing aid in the viewfinder. It was also called Pentacon FM.

The Contax FB is a Contax F with an exposure meter, like the Contax E. The Pentacon FB is the same camera.

The Contax FBM is a Contax FM with the same exposure meter. The Pentacon FBM is the same camera.


Name variants Edit

The Contax D has been sold on some markets with fancy names. The Hexacon, Super D, Astraflex 35 or Cal-flex names are just plates glued or riveted on the face of the camera. The Consol name is engraved. According to some legend, the Consol models, being made for export to the Western market, specially the US, were of better quality and more controlled. It seems that it is not true and that they were just normal models with another marking.

At last, there were some bodies that were sold with no engraving at all, nicknamed the "No-Name" Pentacon or "No-Name" Contax. Of course they are different from the Kiev rangefinder bodies sold with no engraving, also called the "No-Name" Contax or "No-Name" Kiev.

There was also a name variant of the Contax F called the Ritacon F.

Japanese and Chinese copies Edit

The Japanese Altair, announced in early 1955, was closely inspired by the Contax D but incorporated a quick-return mirror. It remained at prototype level only.

The Tian Chi was a Chinese near-copy of the Contax F, of which only ten were made.

A user's point of view Edit

The Contax S family of cameras all have excellent ergonomics and are pleasant to hold.

The finder of the first models, before the F, is really small and only shows an insufficient portion of the image. The finder of the F, with the bigger mirror, is improved.

Before the F, you have to shut down the diaphragm manually before each exposure. It is not too difficult, and anyway the camera is quite slow to use so that does not make much difference. However at the beginning it is likely you will forget it for a couple of pictures.

Sadly the materials these cameras were built with were not up to the quality of the design itself. All the cameras of the family are prone to shutter curtain deterioration and even if the curtains look good, they are likely to be full of pinholes and you will have to get them repaired. With a camera with pinholes in the shutter curtains, you will have spots of light on some of your pictures, some of them might even be beautiful but the effect is completely aleatory and is more likely to spoil your shots. Today some reputable eBay sellers do sell fully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted bodies, with the curtains replaced. It is probably the surest way to get a working one.

Accessories Edit

  • eyecup
  • folding sports finder, for 35mm and 58mm, attached to the finder eyepiece

Bibliography Edit

  • Barringer, C. and Small, M. Zeiss Compendium East and West — 1940–1972. Small Dole, UK: Hove Books, 1999 (2nd edition). ISBN 1-874707-24-3.
  • Dechert, Peter. The Contax S camera family. Yakima (Washington): Historical Camera Publications, 1991. ISBN 1-879561-10-8. This book is available in pdf form in Peter Dechert's Corner at Songofsnow
  • Matanle, Ivor. Collecting and Using Classic Cameras. London: Thames & Hudson, 1986. First paperback edition, 1992. ISBN 0-500-27656-0.
  • Matanle, Ivor. Collecting and Using Classic SLRs. London: Thames & Hudson, 1996. ISBN 0-500-01726-3.
  • St Denny, Douglas. Cameras of the People's Republic of China. Leicester, UK: Jessop Specialist Publishing, 1989. ISBN 0-9514392-0-0.
  • Schulz, Alexander. Contax S, A History of the World's First 35mm Prism SLR Camera. Stuttgart: Lindemanns, 2002. ISBN 3-89506-236-7.

Links Edit

General links Edit

In English:

In German:

In Japanese:

In French :

Repairs Edit

Zeiss Ikon Classic Cameras
Contax | Contaflex (TLR) | Super Nettel | Nettax | Tenax II | Tenax I | Ikoflex | Super Ikonta

Contax S | Contaflex (SLR) | Contarex | Icarex | SL706

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