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Title: Contarex  
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Subject: Single-lens reflex camera, Schneider Kreuznach, History of the single-lens reflex camera
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The Contarex of 1959–1966
Type 35mm SLR camera
Lens mount Contarex bayonet
Exposure 24 mm × 36 mm on 35mm film

The first Contarex[1] among collectors known as the Contarex I, Bullseye or the Cyclops,[2] is a 35mm SLR camera first shown in 1958, scheduled for delivery in the spring of 1959, and generally available from March 1960. It was Zeiss Ikon's contribution to the professional photographer, designed to handle any photographic task whatsoever. It is quite heavy, 910 g without lens, and beautifully made.

The camera body is complex, comprising some 1100 parts, consisting of seven major body units, based on alloy pressure castings, with additional top and rear plates to complete the construction. However, it is rugged and even roller bearings are utilized in the aperture mechanism. Inevitably it requires a specialist for its repair; 43 parts alone has to be dismantled to remove the top plate for internal access.

The Contarex was the first focal plane shutter camera providing meter coupling to shutter-, aperture-, and film speed-settings - interconnected by cords. An aperture simulator for the exposure meter uses an iris in front of the external selenium meter cell. The meter needle, to be aligned with an index triangle, is visible both in a top plate window and to the right in the viewfinder.

The lens aperture is set on the camera using a thumb-wheel, and the value shown in a window on top of the centrally located meter cell (the Bull's eye). The interchangeable automatic aperture lenses close when the shutter release is depressed and reopen when the camera is wound on for the next exposure. Due to the limited meter range, not every camera setting combination is possible to accommodate on the original Contarex exposure meter.[3]

The standard lens

The standard lens is the Carl Zeiss Planar 1:2 f=50mm in bright aluminium finish with a chrome 49 mm thread filter ring and an outer bayonet for ZI filters. The lens focuses to 30 cm, which is closer than usual 50 cm. The focusing helical is remarkably smooth and precise. There is no aperture ring on the Contarex lens itself. It is set on the camera aperture wheel. The Contarex lens mount takes only Contarex lenses and accessories.[4]


External links

  • The Contarex lenses
  • The Contarex camera – 1959
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