Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I, II, II and IV

I don't know if Zeiss saw a need in the marketplace, or (I think more likely), in their attempt to make all things for all people, they accidentally filled a part of the market that hadn't existed before. In 1953 they introduced the Contaflex, reusing a storied name from their past. Unlike the first Contaflex (the TLR), this was not to be the flagship of their line, but rather was aimed for the amatuer who was sophisticated enough to appreciate reflex viewing. It was a 35mm single lens reflex with a built in prism viewfinder, and a leaf shutter Synchro-Compur shutter, rather than a focal plane shutter. The lens was a fixed 45/2.8 Tessar, which was more than a adequate performer.These specs, and a reasonable price (roughly half the price of an Exakta, Leica or Contax) made it a hit in the marketplace.

I have grouped the Contaflex I, II, II and IV together as they have more in common than they do in differences.

The Contaflex (known as the Contaflex I when the II came out) had a fixed 45/2.8 Tessar, and no exposure meter.

The Contaflex II was the same, but with an uncoupled selenium meter mounted on the front of the rewind side of the camera. It was introduced in 1954.

In 1956, two new Contaflex models were added. Both had the 45/2.8 Tessar replaced with a 50/2.8 Tessar with interchangeable front cells. Utilmately Pro-Tessar 35, 85, and 115mm front cells were available, plus a macro lens and a stereo lens. The Contaflex IV had the uncoupled meter like the Contaflex II, the Contaflex III did not.

The Contaflex I and III were discontinued in 1959, replaced by the Contaflex Rapid. The Contaflex II and IV were discontinued the follwing year. They were replaced by the Contaflex Super

The Contaflex I with it's leather case.

The Contaflex I from the back. As all four cameras look the same from the back, I'll only include this view once.

Ditto for the bottom.

The Contaflex II with it's leather case, which is the same for the Contaflex I.

The Contaflex III.

The Contaflex IV, with the optional accessory shoe mounted.