Sunday, May 11, 2014

Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35

This was the last folder from Zeiss Ikon that was developed under the guidance of Hubert Nerwin, who was the company's chief designer from the early 1930s to 1947 when he emigrated to the U.S. to work for Kodak.

There has been a lot written about the Contessa 35, so I'm not going into much detail about the camera's features and operation.  One of the best sources about the camera on the web is Steven Gandy's page about it at the Camera Quest site.

My camera came to me in quite nice cosmetic and operational condition.  The non-working light meter is of no consequence, and could likely be repaired as described nicely by Mike Elek.

The only real issue with my Contessa 35 is a double exposure prevention lock that sometimes does not release the advance block when the shutter is tripped unless I remember to firmly depress the shutter release button.  I removed the bottom plate to brush on some lighter fluid and a tiny bit of oil, but did not fix the glitch, so I'll have to have another go at it.  This is a common problem one encounters with both the Contessa 35 and its little brother, the Ikonta 35.  

There are a couple small, but important facts about removing the camera's bottom plate.  The first thing that must be done is to unscrew the little rewind release button in the center of the advance knob.  That button unscrews normally in a counter-clockwise direction.  The actual advance knob which has two holes near the outer perimeter must be unscrewed in a clockwise direction.  After that you just remove the rewind knob by taking out the center screw, and then remove the four little screws and lift off the bottom plate.  Be careful at that point not to tip the camera or blow on the revealed mechanism as there are several loose washers and levers and quite a few tiny hair-like springs which you don't want to displace inadvertently.  It would be a good idea to snap a digital picture of the advance mechanism with everything in its proper place.

So, that is about the extent of my experience with the Contessa 35 to date.  I'm looking forward to working with it more.

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