Zeiss Ikon pioneered the design of the leaf-shutter single lens reflex camera with the first Contaflex which came to the market in 1953. The company brought some radically new thinking in camera construction to the task which seems likely to have been inspired by the work of Hubert Nerwin. Although Nerwin was long gone to America by 1953, there are many aspects of the Contaflex design which echo his innovative thinking as it was manifested in the Contax II, the Contessa 35, and espcially in the little Ikonta 35. As shown in the comparison below, the Contaflex was significantly smaller than the contemporary Kodak Retina Reflex or the much later focal plane shutter models like the Pentax K1000.
Aside from the appealing compactness of the Contaflex, the camera's real strength as a picture maker was the superlative f:2.8/45mm coated Tessar lens. I had some familiarity with the lens design in earlier 35mm and medium format cameras and the prospect of actually viewing the world through a Tessar on an slr was compelling. These many years later I don't have a camera which inspires more confidence in operation than the Contaflex. I proved that to myself again in the past week when I took the camera out on walks in the neighborhood and along the river.
|Visiting the Past in the Plaza Vieja|
|In 1957 the Contaflex was still in production.|
|plastic and stucco|
|Proxar 0.5 accessory close-up lens|
|ocra at f:2.8|
|Roxie at the River|