The Contaflex is actually a completely new camera which owes little to the Contax. Zeiss Ikon continued to use elements of the Contax name - Contaflex, Contina. Zeiss Ikon needed to produce a camera to compete with East German Zeiss Ikon's new range of SLRs - the Pentaprism Contax. They took a different route and used a between the lens leaf shutter rather than a focal plane shutter. This proved to be a developmental dead-end but continued in use for a decade or so. Initially, several manufacturers followed suit - Voigtlander, Kodak - but now just about all SLR's follow East German Zeiss Ikon's (Pentacon, Pentax) lead with a horizontally travelling focal plane shutter.
The Contaflex was aimed at the serious amateur market. It is very well made and very heavy. The quality of both design and build is evident in that they still work just fine fifty-plus years after they were made. The cameras were introduced in pairs - I & II, III & IV, Alpha & Beta and so on. The pairs either did not have a built-in exposure meter (I, III, Alpha) or did (II, IV, Beta). Up to and including the Beta, the meter was not coupled and offered nothing over a separate hand-held meter and had the disadvantage of being attached to a very heavy camera making it harder to use than a separate hand-held meter would be.
In the Contaflex I, II III, IV and Super, the lens was the renown Carl Zeiss Tessar f2.8 lens. The Alpha and Beta models had the cheaper three element Pantar lens, with front element focussing. The filter size is 27 mm. In the Super, the Tessar lens focusses by moving the entire lens.
With the Super, the whole lens moves and has two 'knobs' attached to the focussing ring which makes focussing much easier - in fact, only one finger is required for fine adjustment.
|Busker, Lincoln Stonebow|
Contaflex IV Instruction Book
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Guide
Zeiss Ikon Cameras 1926-39 (Hove Collectors Books)
The Zeiss Ikon 35mm. guide (The Modern camera guide series)
Zeiss Ikon Catalog Numbers 1926-1972
Zeiss: Ernst Abbe, Carl Zeiss, Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, Jenoptik, Zeiss Ikon, JenTower, Schott AG, Siegfried Czapski, Optische Anstalt C. P. Goerz (German Edition)