This site last updated October 31, 2016.
If an email link provided in this web site will not work with your brower here is my email address:
Zeisscamera.com is the premier site for restoration, repairs, maintenance, custom modifications, advice and information about your Zeiss Ikon Contax cameras, lenses and accessories. Custom machining and repair parts are available in conjunction with service and overhaul work performed here. In depth information about the operation and inner workings of the Contax cameras is freely available.
I provide the highest possible quality services to the Zeiss Ikon Contax line of cameras. These services range from cosmetic repair to complete overhauls. Your service needs for your camera can be completely fulfilled here. You will find the highest possible quality and service available anywhere in the world for your valuable Zeiss Ikon Contax cameras, lenses and accessories.
Whatever service you need for your ZEISS IKON Contarex, Contaflex TLR, Nettax, Contessa, Contina, Colora, Ikonta, Super Ikonta, Nettel, Super Nettel, Contax I, II, III, IIa, IIIa Black Dial or Color Dial Model, Bessamatic or Ultramatic and Contaflex SLR- you will find it here. Contax, Contessa, Contina, Super Ikonta and other Zeiss Camera Lightmeters overhauled and new photocells are available.
To Contact me if you have any questions please use this convenient email link:
Twice each year the LeicaShop camera store in Vienna, Austria holds auctions of rare photographic equipment and rare photographs. These are known as the WestLicht Anniversary Auctions. The next auction is November 18, 2016 and you can bid by Internet at the auction itself or in advance of it. If you'd like to take a walk through a real photographic candy store filled with the incredibly expensive, odd, unusual and truly rare camera equipment here is a link to the fully illustrated current Internet Catalogs for the Photographic Equipment and Rare Photograph Auctions:
Here is a taste of what is in the current auction: A previously unkown Contax 1 Prototype:
(1) Lens Repair Warning and Advice
The first is simple and it's about your precious lens that needs service. The Chinese are doing extremely good business selling lens wrenches on Ebay these days. If you do an Ebay search on the term "Lens Wrench" it's easy enough to see that these lens wreckers are very popular and are selling fast. You can use this convenient link to do this search right now: It's very educational:
The results of this search convince me a very great number of people are setting up home lens repair business. I've seen their work. It's very easy to pour oil into a lens to loosen it up and to remove the front lens element and clean it so that it looks like something good was done to it. It's also obvious that if you visit one or more of the popular Internet camera web sites and ask for help with your lens or a recommendation of a person to help you there will be no shortage of people anxious to help you. These people also offer very attractive rates.
If you'd like to know the education and experience level of all these new expert and professional camera butcher lens wreckers you can do an Ebay search on the term "Lens BooK'. This will show that that useful information about lens repairs is unobtainable while lens wrenches are abundant:
My advice is simple. If your Zeiss lens is precious to you, you don't want to be cheated, and you want to get the best possible service for it simply visit the Zeiss USA web site and ask them who they recommend it be sent to for service. You can use this convenient link to go directly to the easy to use Zeiss USA Service Inquiry Web Form:
Believe Zeiss. Zeiss will advise you with the purest truth and honesty. Experience has taught me truth about camera and lens repairs is a very scarce thing on the Internet camera chat sites. They are all full of shills, hacks, liars and camera butchers. To put it another way they are a bad place to try to get good advice. Back in the 1960's there was a popular term used in camera shops to describe a bad work repair shop. it is "Camera Butcher". This term isn't used these days but it is still very appropriate. The camera repair field was, is and will always be full of camera butchers. They will tell you anything to get you to put your precious gear into their rotten hands, ruin your gear, do incompetent or incomplete work and then take your money. Back then there were far more camera butchers than there were honest shops and the same holds true today.
(2) Classic Zeiss Ikon Camera Buying Warning
German made Zeiss Ikon cameras are the best picture taking and making cameras that have ever been made. With the recent resurgence in the interest in film photography serious photographers are looking for high quality Zeiss Ikon cameras to use. The problem is that wherever there is a demand for a thing of value there will be counterfeiters, liars, frauds, thieves and confidence swindlers in abundance. In order to avoid being stung one must be very careful, patient and educated. The most sought-after prized and loved Zeiss Ikon camera is the Contaflex TLR. Recently one was presented here that is a stark warning not to be too hasty to reach for your money when a good looking Zeiss Ikon camera appears in front of you. The camera shown below could have been restored but the cost would have been about $4,500.00 in parts and labor. This TLR had been carefully prepared for sale and it looked great until the newly painted leather was taken off of it. Never ever buy a used Zeiss Ikon camera without a firm return and refund agreement with the seller. Always pay using a method where you can force a refund if things don't go as expected. Above all things buy in the USA and accept shipment by the U.S. Post office only. If you buy from outside the USA you are just naked.
There is a criminal gang of camera butchers working out of the Netherlands. They prepare Zeiss cameras for sale on Ebay USA. These cameras are always sold as being "Superb" and as having been overhauled or "CLA'd". These people are true artists at making a good looking perfectly wrecked camera. The cameras they sell are actually wrecks made mostly of defective parts that are extraordinarily costly to restore because they consume a huge number of costly rare and valuable replacement parts and a tremendous amount of labor. The Netherlands is a country that is mostly below sea level and is very cold and damp. It is just perfect for wrecking cameras and filling them and their lenses with mold. Recently I received a Contaflex TLR that was prepared for sale by these camera butchers and since a picture is worth a thousand words it seemed best to show you the tremendous corrosion problem waiting underneath the leather of this "superb and CLA'd camera:
As you can see this camera is covered with extensive and deep corrosion. This exactly what to expect from the Netherlands. A defective un repairable light meter has been deliberately installed in it. The leather was badly cut. Many screws are missing or replaced with non-original screws. The camera was dropped and the original light sensor cover has been replaced with a cheap plastic replacement. The lens elements have all been badly etched by acidic mold. This camera is a miracle of the worst possible work.
This camera is a nightmare for the owner and for me. Please take my advice and buy nothing out of Europe and in particular NOTHING from the Netherlands, ever. It's just not worth the risk. My warning about these Netherlands cameras is applied to Europe because these wrecked cameras are also sold there and can indirectly wind up on Ebay USA.
If you'd like to review my new terms of acceptance for Contaflex TLR cameras sent here for overhaul and restoration please use this link:
If you have any questions or concerns about this policy please use this email link:
I do a lot of buying on Ebay and have been on Ebay since the beginning. My experience with Ebay sellers has been both good and bad. Over the years the ratio of good experiences to bad experiences has remained about the same. Also, Ebay has made some changes to their feedback system that prevents badly treated buyers from making their mark. Because of this I'm initiating this list of sellers I've had transactions with. There are two lists that will be built up from now and one is good and the other is BAD. Please use this link to access this list:
This is an amazing site. All kinds of film are available for sale on it. These include just about every type of film including many discontinued films that have been freeze stored in every size and manufacturer.. Infared in color and black and white as well as spooled movie film are available here. This is an extremely comprehensive site well worth your time and patronage.
Please use this link to vist the Film Photography Project web site.
What is in this box? Everything in this box is for sale. Only one person on this planet can own what is in this supremely special box. If you'd like to know what is in it and how you can get it just use this link:
This fully overhauled Contax III with 50mm f.1.5 lens and is fully guaranteed. It is part of a very large collection of extremely fine Contax lenses and accessories for sale.
Please use this link to access the Contax Collection Sales Pages:
A photograph of a camera store window from the 1913 time period has come to light providing a powerful view into the very early American camera scene. There are a lot of wonderful things in this fascinating shop window and it is well worth downloading and exploring in detail. Just click on the link beneath the small picture below to download the full detailed 1.5 Mb file. This picture appears to be a photograph taken of a man picking up his photo finishing taken by a friend. It wouldn't surprise me if this picture was also picked up at this same camera store. Just look at that beautiful panoramic camera right up front. Wouldn't you like to have it?
In 1939 Zeiss produced a small pamphlet containing a wealth of advice still highly relevant today about light meter usage, film speed rating, and shutter type efficiency. This is a little four page pamphlet that is well worth studying carefully because it is packed with good ideas, great advice and valuable information.
You can access this valuable little four page pamphlet using this link:
The great interest in the Jena postwar manufactured Contax II camera has resulted in a number of fakes being introduced to the market at very high prices. Recently available historical evidence demonstrates that these are modern fakes. You are invited to review this evidence for yourself on this new page:
This brochure was published in 1936, the year of introduction of the Contax II. It completely lists and describes all of the very many accessories available for the Contax I and Contax II. This is the most complete and comprehensive Contax II document found yet far. It's in Pdf format and is available for free download using this link. It's a 24 page document consisting of a 7.5mb size file so it may take some time to download. But if you are interested in the Contax II and every accessory and lens, some quite rare and special, made for it this is the document for you.
The companion six page price list for this brochure is also available as a 250Kb Pdf downloadable document:
The city of Dresden Germany where the Contax I, II and III were made including the Zeiss document archives was destroyed by a famous firebombing in World War II. Recently a remarkable picture of the front window of a very prominent camera store there from 1935 became available and it is presented to you so you can make a little trip to camera days long gone by. This is a little wallet size picture, but it is well made and full of detail. The version presented here is low resolution. If you'd like to explore it more deeply just click on the picture to download a much higher resolution version:
This is a photo taken a night of a lit camera shop window in 1939. It is a pure Zeiss Ikon display showing all of the Zeiss Ikon cameras and popular accessories available at the time. This is a very enjoyable photograph to explore. The original is a small photograph measuring about 2.5" x 3.5". There is also a little bit of blur because the camera taking the picture was hand held for a fairly long exposure. But you can see and identify the cameras and lenses along with the posted prices. There are a lot of good things to see in this picture. It is a wonderful thing and a very rare and special window into the past. The version of this picture posted here is a very low resolution. If you want to explore this shop window more deeply just click on it and download a 1mb version with far more detail. I also have to say the Mercedes picture in the back of the display above the Contax II is particularly worth looking at.
Zeiss covered the area of close up photography with its Contax I, II, III, IIa, IIIa, Contaflex TLR, Super Nettle, Tenax and Super Ikonta cameras with a great variety of accessories including the Contameter. It is the most available and least expensive today. This accessory kit remains a mystery to many modern Zeiss camera owners. The problem has been the instruction booklets for the Contameter are very rare. A copy of the completely informative Contameter close up accessory brochure that was printed in 1938 recently became available and so it is presented here for you to download for free. While this brochure was printed in 1938 the Contameter was manufactured after World War II for the Contax IIa, IIIa, and Super Ikonta cameras and these instructions and directions apply to them also. Additionally, all of the accessories described in this booklet were also manufactured after the war although not necessarily with the same catalog numbers.
Just use this link to go to the Library page containing the Contameter brochure:
There has been a lot of interest in the Carl Zeiss lenses made during and immediately after World War II. There has also been a fair amount of discussion about the source, quality and optical goodness or "bokeh" of these lenses. The following photograph was taken by the U.S. Army of the Zeiss Jena factory complex on April 17, 1945. This is a newly released Army Signal Corps photograph that has not been seen or published before. it tells the entire tale and this is that every lens that came out of Germany from 1942 to 1951 was a miracle produced by shell shocked bombed out people living in starvation and every other kind of privation in the basements of bombed out buildings.
This picture helps to answer the question about where the Leica Thread Mount (LTM) Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar lenses came from. I believe these lenses were made one at a time by Zeiss by its most skilled prototype machinists. At the end of the war the Zeiss Jena and Dresden factories and document centers were ruined, but the Leitz works were intact. Zeiss could not make a camera and its workers were starving. I believe that In order to make money to feed its people Zeiss, for a short while, made lenses to fit the Leica cameras that were being made and sold at that time. Once Zeiss was able to make cameras again there was no need to make LTM Sonnars and so they were discontinued with production never being resumed.
This picture also goes a long way to answer the question about the optical goodness of lenses from the mid war to postwar period. Experience has taught me that some of these lenses are the best Zeiss ever made and some are the worst. The only way to find out exactly what kind of lens from this time you have is to have it thoroughly cleaned (a dirty lens will not perform well optically), take some pictures with it and then look at the pictures. My experience with these lenses teaches me half of these lenses are great and half are not so great.
If you are interested in practical and theoretical lens testing here is a link to a great common sense site about how to do lens testing and how to learn all about it:
I recently had some business with the Internet site "Digitaltruth" and am very impressed with this site. You can find all of the newest and most unusual films, paper and chemistry there and their customer service is great. I highly recommend that you give them a visit because you are sure to find many fine things there in the way of film, paper and chemistry you can't find anywhere else. This is close to a photographic candy store as I have ever found.
Please note that if you intend to buy Kodak color chemistry from this site you should expect to experience a significant delay in the delivery of these chemicals. This is not the fault of Digitaltruth. The Kodak supply center is currently operating in a back order situation. What happens is orders are allowed to build up until they constitute a quantity sufficient to justify a production run and then Kodak manufactures enough chemicals to satisfy the order. If you place an order you will get the chemistry you order but it may take as long as eight weeks for it to arrive. So you will need to be very patient. This is currently a universal phenomenon that is not unique to Digitaltruth but is being experienced by all sellers of Kodak color chemistry such as Adorama and B&H.
If you intend to by Kodak or other Color brand color chemistry you should also carefully read the next section of this page about how to extend the shelf life of this chemistry.
Here's a link to the Digital Truth site:
Many of the kind people who take the time to visit this site do their own color darkroom work. This has become increasingly difficult and expensive due to Kodak discontinuing all of the consumer sized kits for E-6, C-41 and RA-4 chemicals. Today it is necessary to purchase the large sizes and then dilute them down to meet the needs of the personal darkroom. Many are doing this. The problem with this is the shelf life of these larger sized chemistry packages is very short; much shorter than their utilization rate and the oxygen sensitive components tar up and become useless. Also, there is the problem of obtaining suitable repackaging materials for groups to use for "split up" group or camera club buys. There is a good reason for the short shelf life and there is an inexpensive solution to this expensive problem. The cause of short shelf life is the oxidation (tarring) of the oxygen sensitive components of these chemistry packages. Back in the good old days these oxygen sensitive components were packaged by Kodak in small glass bottles with high quality caps and the oxygen sensitive concentrates had a practically unlimited shelf life. Today they are packaged by Kodak in plastic bottles with caps that do not exclude oxygen effectively. The plastic bottles are not oxygen proof as glass is. Oxygen will enter the concentrated solution by diffusing through the thin plastic walls of the bottles and over a short period of time ruin the expensive and difficult to find and buy concentrate. The solution to the problem of premature oxidation is to repackage these oxygen sensitive solutions into glass bottles with high quality air tight caps. Fortunately there are some very good sources on the Internet where one can easily purchase small quantities of properly sized and very inexpensive brown glass bottles and the proper air tight caps that are identical to those that Kodak used to use.
Please note that the need to put oxygen sensitive chemistry into glass applies to all makers of E-6, C-41 and RA-4 chemistry. The problem is not unique to Kodak but is caused by the fact that no plastic prevents the infusion of oxygen enough to provide a very long shelf life the way glass does.
If you choose to repackage the larger sizes of Color chemistry you will find scanned copies of the original Kodak Labels for the oxygen sensitive components available for you to download for free using this link. You can print them out and use them to label the smaller bottles easily:
Please remember It is necessary to take extra care when storing and handling uncoated or non-safety type glass bottles because they break when dropped or abused. The nice thing about plastic is its resistance to breakage when dropped and it will take a lot of abuse. The choice to use uncoated breakable glass containers is yours to make and you take complete responsibility for any adverse results or damage resulting for choosing to use glass containers and any potential breakage or spills that may result from the use of glass containers.
Coated safety glass containers are available at additional cost. I highly recommend that you strongly consider using safety coated glass containers where you believe there may be a significant risk of breakage such as for bottles that are regularly handled or which may be stored in locations with a high risk of breakage. These safety plastic coated brown glass containers are available from the following web sites and can be purchased individually from Labelmaster or in case quantities from Cole Palmer. :
The Labelmaster site sells bottle caps with teflon seals that are the best quality for preserving the life of photographic chemicals. Be sure to buy extra caps because the phenolic caps are brittle and can break with usage and must be replaced from time to time. Here's a link to the Cap catalog:
The following concentrates should be repackaged into air tight brown glass bottles if you want to extend their shelf life:
E-6 Color Developer Part B
C-41 Developer Part C
RA-4 Developer Parts A, B and C.
Here is a link to another Internet seller of appropriately sized brown glass bottles and air tight caps. These are uncoated glass bottles that are not safety coated; but they are cheap. This company packages properly, ships quickly and accepts credit cards:
A tip for your lab is to also put your working solutions into brown glass bottles. You will be surprised just how well glass containers tremendously extend the shelf life of your expensive chemistry. All plastic allows oxygen diffusion into the bottle contents at a rate sufficient to shorten shelf life and it should be avoided except for bleach, fixer, hypo eliminator, stop bath, reversal baths, rinses and other chemistry that is not oxygen sensitive.
If you are concerned about the imposition of "Hazmat" fees associated with the larger size of color chemistry this is explained in the next section.
The cost of shipping the more modern large sizes of certain color chemicals has recently become increased by "Hazardous Shipping" fees that get tacked onto the regular shipping cost. The current Hazmat fee per package is $25.00 and this is the amount charged by UPS.The imposition of the Hazmat shipping fee is a new development that is directly related to the package size and nothing else. This fee is for the additional paperwork required for the shipment required by Federal Regulations. In the past the smaller consumer sized E-6, C-41 and RA-4 chemicals were shipped under a shipping exemption in Federal Regulations covering the shipment of small consumer quantities of chemicals listed in the Federal Regulations to be hazardous for being flammable or corrosive. This "ORM-D" exemption covers things like small containers of paint, fingernail polish, solvents, cleaners, compressed flammable gas, drain cleaner and photographic chemicals in small packages. However, with the increased size of the packaging of photographic color chemicals this ORM-D exemption is lost. When this exemption is lost the chemicals have to be properly labeled for shipment, per the Federal Regulations, and this costs money for the shipper and the shipping company to do. The purpose of this labeling is so that in the event of a spill that happens during transit first responders can know how to properly handle the situation. The fact a modern large size package of E-6 color developer or RA-4 developer requires a hazmat shipping fee does not mean it is any more dangerous than it was before when it was available in a small consumer package. It is merely the cost of the additional paper work that the shipper and the shipping company must prepare so that the package can be labeled in accordance with applicable Federal regulations pertaining to the size of the package.
To minimize Hazmat shipping fee charges always make sure that if you order a case quantity that you instruct the seller that the order be shipped only when the full case can be shipped. If you accept a partial shipment then you will be assessed a separate $25.00 charge for each of the partial shipments required to make up the full case. If you order a full case of RA-4 developer and it is shipped in two shipments then the Hazmat fees will add up to $50.00.
Hazmat fees can be minimized by combining cases of the same thing. Two cases of RA-4 developer can be put into one box and this box would only require one hazmat label and this would incur only one fee. Check with your seller beforehand to make sure you fully understand the shipping policies and what can be done to minimize the hazmat fees.
If you do the math and are willing to dilute the larger sized packages you'll find the cost per gallon, even including the hazmat shipping fees, is much less than it was when consumer sized packages were available. It is just a lot less convenient and I yearn for the days when a 5 gallon sized complete kit of E-6 could be purchased at the local camera store for $50.00.
With the demise of the Kodak small chemistry kits for the RA-4 Color paper, C-41 color negative film and E-6 color transparency film processes it has become difficult to obtain reasonably priced small kits for use by those who want to process and print their own film and paper and who don't want to or can't deal with the large size Kodak chemistry available today.. To help these friend I'm going to post links to some stores that still sell and ship small processing kits at a price and of a size convenient for home darkroom use:
Central Camera Co. has made the mistake of listing their small color kits in the Black and White chemical section. This company sells small kits in RA-4, C-41 and E-6. They also have a very attractively priced C-41 one liter powder kit and they sell Fuji RA-4 paper in all sizes. They also offer free shipping on orders over $108.00.
For those of you who are perfectionists in black and white and in color this site provides Kodak C-41, E-6, RA-4 and Black and White Test Strips at the lowest prices I've found yet:
They also sell all currently available Kodak color E-6, C-41 and RA-4 chemicals as well as black and white chemicals in small and large sizes. Their customer service and response is very good and they accept credit cards. The way to order on this site is to place your order then they will call you back. Their call back is very quick so there's no long waiting. This is a great site to visit.
These days with the rising price of silver you can help your photographic bottom line by using a silver recovery cartridge to remove the silver from your exhausted fixing solutions. Even though you may be an amateur you would be surprised at just how much silver you go through in a year or two. There are two ways to go about saving your silver. Occasionally an electrolytic unit gets sold on Ebay for a very low price. Also, silver recovery cartridges are sold there. In addition to this you can buy a Kodak Jr. Silver recovery cartridge from this site:
The nice thing about the Kodak Jr. Cartridges is that Kodak recycles them. Just return the exhausted cartridge to Kodak and they will send you a check for the value of the silver in your cartridge.
Ultra-high precision Lens separation and recementing for all lenses, regardless of cement type (epoxy or balsam) or manufacturer. To learn more about it see our lens overhaul page using this link:
If your language is not English and you want to email me or transact business with someone in a foreign country you can use the Yahoo Babelfish Internet Translation Engine. It can be used to translate just about any language into plain English that can be cut and pasted and then emailed to me. Here's the link to this valuable and free service:
The Contaflex SLR camera model line has not been serviced here in the past. The reason for this is that this camera is such a good picture taker having such great reliability it tended to get used to the extent that by the time it got sent here replacement parts were necessary to restore it to original factory standards. Parts were not available and because of this the camera was not serviced here.
I have recently taken delivery of the complete final inventory of Contaflex SLR parts, over 200 pounds of them, sold to me by the final owner of the Carl Zeiss factory service center in Canada. This person maintained this Contaflex SLR parts collection complete and entire for all Contaflex models to support his personal collection of Contaflex SLR cameras. No parts were sold out of this collection from the day Zeiss went out of the camera business until now.
Reservations are now being accepted for Contaflex SLR camera restorations. If you would like to reserve a spot on the waiting list contact me using this link:
Parts are not being sold individually but will be used, as necessary, only in conjunction with overhauls performed here.
Recently it has become apparent that some lens sellers are expertly applying lens scratch removal paint to the front and rear surfaces of valuable lenses, including Leica and other lenses, to improve their appearance for sale to make them fetch a much higher price than they actually deserve. The problem is this paint ruins the optical performance of the lens. When a painted lens is cleaned and returned to its owner the sudden appearance of the many cleaning scratches and coating loss that were hidden underneath the paint comes as a great shock.
In the past two years I have received two painted lenses coming out of a prominent lens seller operating in Los Angeles. If you intend to send a lens here for overhaul that has been purchased from any source in Los Angeles, or which you otherwise suspect to have been painted, please contact me prior to shipping the lens here. I will be able to advise you how you can determine if the lens has been painted prior to shipment.
Please DO NOT buy any camera of any kind such as a Leica, Contax I, II, III, IIa or IIIa camera being sold on Ebay out of the Netherlands....ever and, in particular, from a seller named "petrakla".. These cameras are russian fakes in disguise at best, with Contax or Leica front plates and are worth no more than $25.00. At the worst they are totally junker Contaxes or Leicas that have been very expertly airbrushed with cheap paint so that they look good on a medium resolution peg. If you would like to see an actual invoice for the most recent Netherlands FrankenContax to arrive here please use this link:
Every camera or lens that I have seen over the past five years whose source has been the Netherlands has been a wreck inside. They have all been carefully prepared with very expertly applied fresh (russian made) exterior paint and expertly made modern plastic leatherette to look very good on a Jpeg. But inside they have been ruined. There have been absolutely no exceptions including, and most especially, cameras, accessories or lenses sold on Ebay. I have also noticed a very peculiar coincidence that whenever I am forced to tell a camera owner about the actual internal condition of the camera, and the extra charges for necessary repair parts, the next thing that happens is that my email in-box is bombarded with malicious email originating from russia. Please take my advice and DO NOT under any circumstances, no matter how good it may appear, buy a camera, lens or accessory from any source in the Netherlands. My experience is that a great many of these cameras and lenses are actually source out of russia where they have been butchered. This advice also applies to sending your camera to russia for repairs. I have seen enough of these victim cameras to know that any camera sent to russia for a cheap repair is butchered. These cameras are extremely difficult to repair, are frequently impossible to restore completely, and are just not worth all the time, trouble and expense involved. Just DO NOT DO IT. Please keep in mind that Shills and Touts working for russian camera repair outfits operate regularly on the Internet and most especially on the Rangefinder forum. If you are in doubt just ask me and I'll tell you what I think about a source.
Please understand that if you buy a camera from the Netherlands, and you send it here to be repaired when it fails, it is extremely likely that the additional charges for necessary repair parts will be extraordinarily high.
The camera models I have seen from russia and the Netherlands are the Contax I, II, III, IIa, iIIa and Super Ikonta along with the Contarex Bullseye and Super.. All of these cameras were inaccurate, inconsistent, and unreliable. They all looked good on the outside and had been wrecked on the inside. I've also seen oiled separated lenses along with scratched and hazed lenses "improved" with clear lacquer applied to the front element surface. The simplest rule is DO NOT BUY ANTYHING FROM THE NETERHLANDS.
This four page Zeiss Technical Publication was originally printed in 1976. It was found in a collection of Zeiss papers that were recently purchased. It explains and demonstrates the Zeiss position on lens contrast and precision in four pages with such clarity and completeness there is no doubt that once you have read it you will understand everything about this topic. This document contains pictures that are crucial to the understanding of this article and so it has been scanned in very high resolution Jpeg format so that they will reproduce on your computer with sufficient clarity.
While doing some surfing for photo pleasure I ran across this wonderful web site about all things macro put together as an act of love of macro photography by Dr. Kalus Schmitt. It is a German web site in English that answers more of your questions concerning macro lenses, cameras, accessories and manufacturer's than you'll ever find answered anywhere else. It's highly organized, richly illustrated, authoritative and overall a very complete site and very useful. I'm putting it here, even though it's not strictly Contax because it is just so good:
I get a lot of inquiries about a good source of service for these fine cameras even though I don't repair them.. Kyocera licensed the Contax name from Zeiss and made a great variety of Contax named cameras in Japan. Recently they discontinued making these cameras and have turned over the servicing of them in the USA to the ToCam Co. But if you want original factory service it is still available, but in Japan. My opinion is that this is the best possible service and if you want the best for your Kyocera Contax the Kyocery company factory service center in Japan is the best place to send it. If you would like to contact them about how and where to send your camera here is a link to the web site that provides this information:
The Early Illustrated History of Carl Zeiss by Carl Zeiss
Recently a very rare postcard printed by Carl Zeiss in 1921 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its founding came onto the market and was obtained by Zeisscamera. It is so unusual in its information and printing quality that high definition scans of its illustrations have been provided for you to enjoy. The postcard was intaglio printed from an engraving in the same manner as U.S. Currency and the quality is amazing. Please use the provided link to go to the Zeiss Postcard Page.
It has become common practice for regular (drug store type) photo finishers to print black and white negatives onto color paper. The results of this image degrading practice is dull and lifeless prints that do not have that Zeiss sharpness, contrast and zip. If you shoot true black and white film, want your film properly hand processed in black and white chemistry, and printed onto genuine black and white paper at a reasonable price try Dwayne's Photo. They are also the last Kodak certified Kodachrome processor in the USA and are the best place to send your precious Kodachrome. Their prices are very reasonable, their service is fast and extremely good and so I highly recommend them if you don't want to set up your own darkroom or if you want to continue using irreplaceable Kodachrome. Here's a link to their site:
They are a good old fashioned full service shop that does just about anything and deserve your custom.
Please do not include any lens caps, body caps, cases, straps or other minor or major accessories with your camera or lens when they are sent here for service. I am not responsible for damage or loss to these items. Often times lens and camera body caps will become loose during shipping, can get caught up in the packing and get lost. If you send a camera or a lens here for service I will do everything I can to make sure it is returned with everything that came with it. But if you find a cap or a case or strap is missing or damaged I have no responsibility to replace or repair such items. You include them at your own risk.
I have recently obtained a supply of the highest possible quality bookbinding leather for use in recovering Contax, Super Ikonta and other Zeiss Cameras. The leather is the finest quality available in the world. It is hand vegetable tanned goatskin available in many colors and surfaces. There is also hand vegetable tanned calfskin and thinly pared sheep available in black. This leather is equal to or exceeds the quality of the original and is totally luxurious. Custom made Zeiss Ikon stamps are here so that the replacement leather will bear original Zeiss Ikon stamping embossments. Because cameras vary slightly in size from batch to batch, the leather must be hand fit very precisely, and because it is extremely expensive and must be purchased in entire skins, it is not possible to sell the leather separately. With many colors to choose from you can customize your camera with a covering that is factory original in every respect, and you can have the stamping made in 23 kit gold and your name or other identifications can also be permanently embossed in gold into the leather anywhere you desire. Here's a link to the leather color palette if you are interested:
If your Contax back leather has been ruined by being cut, slit and butchered to temporarily remove the Zeiss bumps it can be recovered and completely restored to original new condition. When this is done the Zeiss bump problem will be permanently and properly cured so that it never returns. If you have a back that needs attention contact me using this link: Mail To Superwide.
Back recovering is done quickly and is not subject to the waiting list. Just about anything is possible and so if you have a question of any kind about leather, stamps, personalization please ask.
Here's a link to a page containing pictures of a Contax IIa back that has been recovered:
An original full page New York camera store advertisement from 1955 containing many Zeiss items recently became available and its posted here for you to see and remember the good old days. If you want to view this advertisement full size (1 Mb) just click on the picture of it to pull up the full size view.
The popularity of "micro fiber" lens cleaning cloths is not a good thing. These cloths hold the dirt they pick up and become lens sand paper over time. It seems that every generation of new photographers gets marketed some lens cleaning solution which is lens ruination in disguise. If you want to clean your lenses properly use dust off or a fine sable hair brush to remove loose particles. Then, if this is not enough, gently use a new cotton swab moistened with clean water containing a small amount of soap or detergent. If you want a deluxe solution to the lens cleaning problem obtain a Zeiss lens cleaning kit and keep it close. DO NOT USE MICROFIBER CLOTH - IT IS LENS RUIN IN DISGUISE.
I purchased several of these wonderful lenses and have performed a very detailed and thorough examination with the conclusion there has been a big factory mistake and they are not Nikon lenses as advertised, but have been made for the Contax camera.
Arrangements have at last been made with a custom leather case manufacturer to provide new extremely high quality leather cases for the Prewar Contax II and III and the Postwar Contax IIa and IIIa camera models. Both half and full cases are available and all cases come with a leather strap. The strap attaches to the case and not to the camera lugs. The cases are internally lined with soft velvet and fit the camera just like a glove.. Cases are available in black and brown leather. Because each case is individually hand made to your order delivery will be approximately three weeks after the order has been placed. Shipping will be from the United States and so shipping costs will be very reasonable. If you are interested in ordering a case please send me an email using this link: Mail To Henry Scherer, Here are pictures of the front and back of the case:
Cases for the Contax I are now available in black or brown and come with a strap. Half and full cases are available:
I have recently been able to compound and hand manufacture two paints which are in all respects the equal in appearance and characteristic of the paints used by Zeiss to paint the Contax I, II, III, IIa and IIIa cameras. These paints are not modern but are of a very old classic formula used before WWII. One paint is high gloss black and the other is the very fine matte finish black. Both finishes are hard, chip resistant and solvent proof. These paints are very difficult and expensive to produce so it will not be possible to sell them individually, they can only be applied here. Both paints require a three day elevated temperature baking schedule to fully cure and so painting will only be available as part of a regular complete overhaul of the equipment involved.
If you have a Sonnar lens or any black painted lens by any manufacturer with a black painted front end that has been dented the chances are very good it can be repaired without any sign it has ever been damaged.
If your desire is to have your Contax I repainted please keep in mind that when Zeiss engraved the camera body it engraved through the paint. This means that when the camera is repainted the original engravings into the metal, which are very shallow, may be over covered.
I have been seeing a substantial increase in Sonnar lenses with Surface Defects and Internal Separation that have been tricked up with wax to temporarily hide surface defects and oil to temporarily correct internal separation. Find out all about how to protect yourself against being cheated by someone selling a tricked up lens.
The recent upsurge of interest in the German made Contax camera has resulted in confusion regarding the kind of service needed to allow these rare and unique cameras to be put back into regular operation without running the risk of damage caused by insufficient lubrication.
I have been asked numerous times recently what is the main difference between a complete overhaul and a CLA and why an overhaul costs more and is more time consuming than a CLA.
Since this article was first written it has become the practice of many operators who sell their Contax camera services on Ebay and elsewhere to use the word "overhaul" to describe the things they do to a camera at a lowball price. I've seen several of these "overhauled" cameras along with their receipts. The receipts have the word "overhaul" repeated all over the page, but inside the cameras all I found was work constituting a cheap, fast and superficial CLA.
The one sure sign of a real complete overhaul where the worker has true confidence in the correctness and thoroughness of his work is a ONE YEAR WARRANTY. If you can't get a ONE YEAR WARRANTY don't have the work done there. The key is confidence. Why should you have confidence in work where the worker has none in what he has done? A nice long no-none sense quick turnaround warranty is the certain and sure sign of real craftsmanship, thoroughness and care.
I've been getting a lot of inquiries about modern Japanese made Contax SLR cameras. I don't service these cameras but here is the contact information for the factory successor servicing company for these cameras. This data is current as of 4/4/2015: Please use this link to access the page with the service information most recently avaiable for your camera: