Advertisements

Contaflex TLR – A legendary

https://i0.wp.com/corsopolaris.net/supercameras/contaflex/cflexoutfit.jpg

In 1935, Zeiss Ikon brought forth the most advanced – and one of the heaviest cameras – of the day: the Contaflex (860/24) twin-lens reflex that used 35mm film. Camera has been produced only to 1943. The camera boasted the first built-in selenium light meter. The Contaflex featured interchangeable lenses, a focal plane shutter and a van Albada sports viewfinder. The lenses were the same as those offered for the Contax II but in a Contaflex mount. This heavy camera was considered to be one of the greatest German engineer’s cameras ever built. Contaflex had the first built-in selenium light meter, the first chrome finish and the first interchangeable lenses on a TLR. The viewing screen accommodates views for a range of lenses with concentric frames for them plus a very useful pop-up magnifier. The focusing screen is 2x the size of a 35mm neg and gives parallax correction for the 50mm standard lenses. The viewing lens is an 80mm or 8cm f2.8, which showed the same angle of view as the 50mm or 5cm f1.5 lens, but on a larger viewing screen and with shallower depth of field. The camera had interchangeable lenses with framelines in the finder for them all (except the wide angles) which required an auxiliary finder. The shutter is similar to the that used in the prewar Contax cameras, a vertically traveling focal plane shutter made of metal slats. It is heavy, 1.5kg, about twice as much as the Contax I. The lenses are also larger and heavier than their Contax counterparts, and are difficult to mount. The view through the finder isn’t bright by today’s standards, although it’s not too bad when compared to some of the tiny viewfinders of the day. The magnifier is a necessity if you plan on focusing. Between the waist level viewing, with it’s reversed image, and the need for a magnifier, the only way you can photograph anything moving is with the Albanda finder. But in doing that, you’ve just turned your overly expensive and heavy camera into a viewfinder camera. And if you think photographing action is bad, try taking a picture in portrait format (as opposed to landscape). You must hold the camera on it’s side at eyelevel, parallel to the subject. Now, instead of everything being backwards, it is upside down! And the controls are in the most inconvenient places. This is a camera that sold in 1939 for $250 with the 50/2.8 Tessar, and $372 with the 1.5 Sonnar. With the 50/1.5, it was the tied for being the most expensive still camera in their catalog with the Contax III with it’s 50/1.5. A range of accessories were offered for it, which are rarely seen today. They included a special lens shade which clips to the body, a cut film adapter back, a microscope adapter and an special arm for the copy stand.

A Review from pacific rim camera

Contaflex TLR, shown with 50/1.5 Sonnar This is one of the most impressive cameras ever built. Introduced in 1935, it was the first camera to have a built in exposure meter, and the first available in chrome finish. This was the flagship camera of the Zeiss line at one of their proudest moments. The viewing lens is an 80/2.8, which showed the same angle of view as the 50mm normal, but on a larger viewing screen, and with shallower depth of field. The camera had interchangeable lenses, with framelines in the finder for them all, except the wide angles, which required an auxiliary finder. The shutter is similar to the shutter used in the prewar Contax cameras, a vertically traveling focal plane shutter made of metal slats.

This is a perfect example of how the German photo industry was often driven by engineers. They conceived the camera as a feat of engineering. Many of the solutions are ingenious, and the camera is truly a marvel to behold. But as a instrument for making photographs, it is miserable. It is heavy, weighing 3-1/4 lbs (1.5kg), about twice as much as the Contax I. The lenses are also larger and heavier than their Contax counterparts, and are difficult to mount.

The view through the finder isn’t bright by today’s standards, although it’s not too bad when compared to some of the tiny viewfinders of the day. The magnifier is a necessity if you plan on focusing. Between the waist level viewing, with it’s reversed image, and the need for a magnifier, the only way you can photograph anything moving is with the Albanda finder. But in doing that, you’ve just turned your overly expensive and heavy camera into a viewfinder camera. And if you think photographing action is bad, try taking a picture in portrait format (as opposed to landscape). You must hold the camera on it’s side at eyelevel, parallel to the subject. Now, instead of everything being backwards, it is upside down! And the controls are in the most inconvenient places.

This is a camera that sold in 1939 for $250 with the 50/2.8 Tessar, and $372 with the 1.5 Sonnar. With the 50/1.5, it was the tied for being the most expensive still camera in their catalog with the Contax III with it’s 50/1.5. A range of accessories were offered for it, which are rarely seen today. They included a special lens shade which clips to the body, a cut film adapter back, a microscope adapter and an special arm for the copy stand.

Contaflex TLR Lenses

35/4.5 Orthometer
35/2.8 Biogon
50/2.8 Tessar
50/2 Sonnar
50/1.5 Sonnar
85/4 Triotar
85/2 Sonnar
135/4 Sonnar

The frame lines in the finder.

A look at the lens mount. The notch connects the lens to the focus on the camera.

Four of the lenses, the 35/2.8 Biogon, the 85/2 Sonnar, the 50/1.5 Sonnar and the 50/2 Sonnar.

The 35/2.8 Biogon mounted on the camera.

The 85/2 Sonnar mounted.

The 135/4 Sonnar mounted.

The 135/4 Sonnar.

The eveready case for the Contaflex.

The front cap.

The cut film adapter back, with holder and ground glass focus screen.

The camera apart, in case you were thinking of taking one apart to see what is inside.

The camera apart, from the back showing the shutter. The curtain straps are broken on this camera

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: