[rollei_list] Re: Zeiss SLRs

  • From: "Richard Knoppow" <dickburk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 26 May 2005 19:29:23 -0700

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter K." <peterk727@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 6:21 PM
Subject: [rollei_list] Re: Zeiss SLRs

> Well, the AE1 was aimed at the consumer market too. 
> However, it sold well.
> I am not familiar with the Zeiss SLRs, so please excuse me 
> if I appear
> ignorant here. WHat I remember years back was seeing some 
> Z-I SLRwith
> leaf shutter lenses that were interchangeable and had 
> 1/500 secs top
> speed. They were all slow like 50mm 2.8, 135mm F4 os 
> something like
> that.
> All I remember is they were Zeiss and out of business. I 
> canno
> remember the Contarex. Perhaps that was a good camera, but 
> I bet it
> was not inexpensive.
> Peter K
   The Contaflex was a medium priced SLR using a leaf 
shutter with a fixed rear cell and interchangable front 
cells. Kingslake shows the lens. The rear is a Tessar rear 
component. The front lenses vary. The 50mm, f/2.8 is a 
Tessar, the wide angle (35mm, f/4) and telephoto (85mm, f/4) 
are more complex. I don't know if this camera was meant to 
compete with the Kodak Retina but it was made at about the 
same time as the Retina Reflex and had similar features. 
Kingslake also shows the lenses for the Retina Reflex, or at 
least one version. The fixed rear cell is a half Biotar (or 
Planar if you prefer) and all the attachments were faster, 
the normal lens being f/2. It was probably a better camera.
   The Contarex was a very high quality SLR with a set of 
lenses which are reputed to be outstanding in quality. The 
standard lens was a 50mm, f/2 Planar. There was a wide range 
of lenses available for it. These still command good prices 
as user cameras.
   The Contarex had some shortcomings. One was the use of a 
condenser in the finder with only a small circle of ground 
glass at the center for focusing. The finder image is 
exceedingly bright but is something like a "brilliant" 
finder, not a real ground glass image. Also, the exposure 
meter was not a TTL type but a front mounted reflection 
   The Contarex was just a little earlier than the Nikon F. 
The Nikon F was a very well though out "system" camera with 
good features and decent lenses.  I think the Zeiss lenses 
for the Contarex probably blow away most of the Nikon F 
lenses. However, while I have and use a Nikon F I have never 
used a Contarex to don't know personally.
   I don't know why the Germans, or the US for that matter, 
fell down so badly about SLR cameras, both 35mm and MF. 
After all the first 35mm SLR is the venerable Exakta. Its 
just that the Japanese were the only ones to see the 
potential market of a really well designed SLR camera. Nikon 
blew everyone else out of the water and then had trouble 
themselves when the Canon SLR was introduced.
   Kodak probably had the technology (and very certainly the 
optics) but Kodak's "better" cameras always seemed to me to 
be of surprizingly poor mechanical and ergonomic design.

Richard Knoppow
Los Angeles, CA, USA

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