Thursday, September 15, 2016

For the Birds

I bought several rolls of tri-x recently from B&H; the first was shot in my Contaflex, and this second one went into my Contessa 35.  I like the tonal character of the film and it always seems an appropriate choice when shooting any of the old film cameras.

The f2.8, 45mm Tessar lens in the Contessa is the same as that in both the Contaflex and the Ikonta 35.  All are coated and  front-focusing, with four elements in three groups.  In the Contessa the high resolution Tessar is complimented by the unique rangefinder design which incorporates wedge prisms to create a double image.  Mine remains quite bright, contrasty and well adjusted sixty years after the camera was made.

The wedge prism rangefinder appeared on Zeiss Ikon cameras in the mid-1930s.  In other respects, the overall design of the Contessa and the Ikonta 35 represented a significant break with earlier design traditions.  For instance, while my Contaflex has a very worn leather covering with significant Zeiss bumps on the back, the Contessa and Ikonta 35 are both virtually faultless and have no Zeiss bumps at all.  I haven't looked under the covers of those two cameras, but my guess is that the designer, Hubert Nerwin, dispensed with the brass rivets which corroded and caused the appearance of the Zeiss bumps in so many of the older cameras.

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