Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35 (533/24)

The initial model of Contessa was based on the Ikonta 35. It is a drop bed, self erecting folding camera, with coupled rangefinder of the rotating wedge style used on the Super Ikontas, and an uncoupled selenium meter. It has a double exposure prevention system that will not allow the shutter to operate unless it has film winding through it (or unless you trick the camera). It was fitted with a 45/2.8 Tessar in Compur-Rapid until 1953, when the shutter was changed to Synchro Compur.

It was introduced in 1950, beating the Retina IIIc to the market by four years. It was a much more elegant camera than the Retina. It was discontinued in 1955.

Zeiss re-introduced the Contessa 35 in 1960, even using the same Zeiss number as the previous model. It was a completely different design, with a rigid lens. Although it had the selenium meter, it lacked the rangefinder. It was discontinued in 1963.

The folding Contessa open and closed. The lettering is worn from the front door on this example, which is common.

An unusual gray Contessa 35, one of small number with gray leather.

An unusual aftermarket accessory. The Omnica bag is normally found for system cameras in a larger size.