Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Zeiss Ikon Finders for Contax

Viewfinders for the Contax came in many shapes and styles over the years, designed for different applications. But their purpose was singular, to show the field of view of one or more of the lenses that couple be mounted on the Contax.

Mask viewfinders

The simplest finders were masks for the viewfinder that restricted the angle of view to coincide with the lens mounted. The advantages were that their simplicity made them very inexpensive, and they maintained the combined viewfinder/rangefinder. The downsidewas that they greatly reduced the size of the image for viewing. Especially with longer lenses. And they could only be made for telephoto lenses.

The mask finder for the Contax I.

Normally this mask is found for the 85 or 135mm lenses, but it did exisat for the 180mm.

A mask finder for the Contax II cataloged as 543/7 was made to cover the 85mm, with a swing in mask for the 135mm sa well. It mounts in the accessory shoe and hangs in front of the viewfinder. When the Contax III came out, a finder with a longer arm was needed as the shoe was mounted on top of the meter. That finder, the 544/7 is pictured here.

The finder 544/7 mounted on a Conatx III, with the 85/4 Triotar.

With the introduction of the Contax IIa and IIIa, the mask finder was modified to wrap around the end of the camera, allowing the same finder to work with both models.

Individual focal length viewfinders

Optical finders for a single focal length usually have the best view, but have to be changed every time you change the lens. They were available in 21 (435), 28 (432/3), 35(432/5), 40 (432/4), 180 (436/11), 300 (436/12) and 500mm lenses (436/13).

The finder for the 21mm Biogon, which is the same finder used for the 21mm Biogon on the Contarex.

The finder for the 28/8 Tessar, in black and nickel, mounted on a Contax I. It was also available in black and chrome.

The finder for the 35mm lenses, in black and chrome.It was not available in black and nickel.

The "albino dial"35mm finder, which was all chrome.

The finder for the 180mm lenses.

Multi lens optical viewfinders

These finders were the most versatile, covering a number of lenses with the same finder. Before the war, Zeiss offered a 436/1 which covered 50, 85, 135 and 180mm lenses with a reversable tube, a 436/4 for 28, 50, 85, 135 and 180mm lenses. Early examples lack click stops (a chrome or nickle sping bar on the side). There was also a 436/7 which came with either a 28 or 35 wide lens, and 50, 85, 135 and 180mm coverage. Finally there was the 436/70 which covered 28, 35, 50, 85 and 135mm.

After the war, Jena produced a finder 427 which covered 25, 35, 50, 85 nd 135 lenses. Stuttgart produced the 440, which covered 21, 35, 50, 85 and 135mm. The also produced a torpedo finder (438) for 85 and 135mm, and the Universal Finder for 35, 50, 85 and 135mm, plus stereo framelines.

The universal finder 436/70 for the Contax from Jena, prewar.

The universal finder 436/4 for the Contax from Jena, prewar. This early example lacks the click stops.

The finder 436/1 for the Contax.

The finder 4427 for the Contax from Jena, postwar.

The universal finder 440 for the Contax from Suttgart.

Albada viewfinders

Van Albada finders were available in both rigid and folding version. They were available with framelines for 50mm, 50 and 85mm or 50 and 135mm. Initially they were finished in black and nickel, then black paint, but with the introduction of the Contax II they were chrome. The 432/1 and 432/2 were for 50 + 85mm and 50 + 135mm respectively, and were finished in black and nickel. THe 433/24, 433/25 and 433/26 were for 50mm, 50 + 85mm, and 50 + 135mm respectively. The rigid versions are much harder to find. They were 43/34, 433/35 and 433/36 and were for 50mm, 50 + 85mm, and 50 + 135mm respectively.

The early finder 432/1.

Two examples of the Albanda finder finished in black for the Contax I. The one on the left is for the 50 and 135mm lenses, the one on the right only has the 50mm framelines. These were listed in the Zeiss catalogs as sportsfinders.

These examples are finished in chrome for the Contax II and III.

An unusual rigid Albanda finder 433/35.

Other viewfinders

Zeiss built a chimney style finder 436/2 in black and nickel. It was replaced by the 436/5, which rotates to the side to work as a right angle finder. It is black and chrome. They also built an angle finder for the Contax I (436/3) which I have only sen a picture of.

The chimney finder 436/2, from the front.

The chimney finder 436/2, from the back.

And the bottom, showing the engraving.

A waist level finder 436/5, it also rotates to become a right angle finder.