I get out with my Contaflex I several times a year. The camera always produces some nice pictures for me, but it also provides a hands-on opportunity to experience the culmination of a half-century of small camera design and production by Zeiss Ikon. High precision craftsmanship combined with the finest available materials permitted the implementation in 1953 of a single lens reflex camera with a uniquely compact form that would not be surpassed for another decade by Japanese camera makers..
The Contaflex I did not have the interchangeable lenses and light meters of later models, but Zeiss did offer a large selection of accessories for the camera including microscope and stereo adapters, and most importantly perhaps, the add-on telephoto lens known as the Teleskop 1.7x. The telephoto and several of the other accessories were attached to the camera in front of the fixed 45mm lens with a slide-on bracket.
|The bottom 4 elements are the fixed 45mm camera lens|
The Contaflex I can frequently be found offered on ebay in the $25 to $45 range, which seems extraordinary for such a finely made instrument. The reason for that is that any Contaflex which has not been recently serviced is not likely to be ready to make pictures. Nearly all of them will require cleaning of the shutter and the aperture stop-down mechanism. This basic servicing of the camera is not really very difficult, but it is a great help to have some idea of the camera's unique construction features, including the three tiny screws holding the front lens element in place which are hidden under the distance scale of the front-focusing lens.
Here are some recently made pictures from the Contaflex I made during a walk along the Rio Grande: