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Contax IIa

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 2:54 pm
by alexvaras
Thanks to a friend I have now a Contax IIa (plus a IIIa as bonus) "serviceable", if I add to this equation the variables "no wife" + "no dogs" =

I cleaned and lubed already the slow gear, so speeds should be fine, I test all of them and they seem ok.
On my way to dismount the rangefinder two small sims felt from I-don't-know-where, my guess they belong to the helicoid plate that holds the lens, but from which of those five screws come from these two sims? :)
Another question if you can help me is how can I clean the "yellow" glass of the rangefinder? OR is it better leave it if I have no problem to focus?

Tomorrow will be the cleaning of all the metal parts disassembled and the cleaning and lubing again the rangefinder and helicoid.

Thank you for watching and the advices.

Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:42 pm
by PFMcFarland
Now that's getting into it! For your shims, see if you can find an impression they might have left behind, or even an extra clean spot in the shape of the shim. Looking at the landing pads I see brightness at the top center, and the right 3 o'clock positions. Those are likely your positions for the shims.

Good luck!


Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 6:18 am
by alexvaras
Hi again,

So I cleaned all the small parts and put everything together again, the most difficult part was putting the rangefinder, lens plate and infinity locking lever, which has to be done at the same time


So first step its to setup the rangefinder at infinity and lock it with tape.

Then the three parts together, as I have only two hands, I remove the screws from the rangefinder and move it up left, leaving enough space to put inside the plate lens with the infinity locking lever.

One problem I had with the Contax IIIa (also disassembled) is the little spring for the infinity locking lever, if the spring its attached (Contax IIa) its fine, but its loose (Contax IIIa) several tries are needed and a lot of patience. On this last one I found out very helpful to screw the upper screw of the lens plate in order to keep in place the spring in the small groove of the infinity locking lever. With the Contax IIa was easier and the infinity locking lever is designed if you check the left part before the bending to help the spring goes inside. Amazing engineering over there...

I got a little problem, when I put back everything on the Contax IIa I found out the infinity locking lever was no working, I couldn't release it, so I dismounted it again, I saw nothing faulty and then I dismounted the Contax IIIa :D

And I discovered that the on Contax IIa were missing at least one spring from the shutter release button and the upper two screws from the front fascia. This was very important for this error, the fascia has an slot where the focusing wheel and the infinity locking lever are placed, if not properly placed, the infinity locking lever was stuck but one wheel from the rangefinder.

After screwing fine the front fascia the infinity locking lever works fine.

You may remember from the heads up section I was asking you about that sonnar lens if it was fake or not, well it results it genuine, made at 1941 with coating, digging on the net I found one expertise talking about this series of lenses made during the WWII with the famous T on them, it seems I have one of them :)

This Contax IIa as made in 1951 according to the records.

When I do the Contax IIIa I will continue posting, I need two screws for its front fascia... :D
Now I have to deal with the take up spool.

Thank you for watching...

Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 6:45 pm
by Philip
I wish I were half as handy! Well done.


Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 10:52 pm
by PFMcFarland
Looks very good. I hope you put those two shims back in place.


Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Thu May 24, 2018 2:27 am
by alexvaras
Thank you Philip and PF!
Yes, the sHims are in place, lets see if they are in the correct place :)
The Contax IIIa had 2of them in the two lower screw points.

Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Thu May 24, 2018 9:50 pm
by PFMcFarland
When one is working with castings, Alex, there is always going to be variances. I once worked on a rangefinder camera where I had to take the front panel off, and there were shims on each screw post. I got them back on in the right places, but in order to do this I used a small drop of non-volatile glue to hold them in place. Apparently the glue did not spread out as much as I thought it would, and I wound up with one side of the frame out-of-focus.


Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 3:09 pm
by alexvaras
I had some pics left on a 400 ASA roll and I took them with the Contax IIa.

High speed test, no capping, close focus seems fine. Still want to test it close focus at f2 and see if I did fine the rangefinder focusing.

Infinity focus as well.

Inside the metro Taganskaya, EV7 it was shot at 25 f2, moved or not focused?

Going outside the same metro there is an spot where musicians play, two balalaika players, EV6 but same as before, 25 f2, focusing was zone focus at the first pic.

This one I focused the balalaika, was easier than the previous one.

Btw, these guys play amazingly actual songs but with their instruments.

Thanks for watching.

Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:55 pm
by PFMcFarland
I think you nailed the settings, Alex. That metro photo likely is the result of a very shallow depth of field combined with a little movement forward or backward after focusing.

That extra large balalaika looks like it could be easily converted into a drone. Would love to hear how it sounds.


Re: Contax IIa

Posted: Tue May 29, 2018 10:46 am
by melek
Alex, those look really good. Nice work on the camera.

I think that restoring one of these cameras can be intimidating. However, Zeiss Ikon realized that its cameras would need to be serviced.

Aside from the sheer amount of screws, spacers and springs, the cameras are well made and relatively easy to service.

I should have warned you about putting the front plate back onto the camera. That if it isn't seated perfectly, the rangefinder/focusing wheel won't turn. It's an easy fix. Take it off and put it back on again.

Regarding your Sonnar - nice to see that you got a rare collapsible coated Sonnar. I think that I had one of these but in LTM mount. I might have given it away.

Now, it's time for you to get some more Zeiss glass. The postwar West German 135mm Sonnar is an excellent lens and is very underrated. The postwar 85mm Triotar also is very good. In fact, all of the postwar lenses are excellent, as are the prewar lenses.