1other Zeiss camera in my collection:

Zeiss Ikon Contina II - 527/24 viewfinder


GermanyZeiss Ikon Contina II - 524/24 [1952 - 1953]



Zeiss made 16 different camera models each named Contina. Most had a supplementary number or letter in their name, but there were four cameras confusingly labelled as Contina II, but called something else. One was the (527/24) IIa, and another the (10.0613) Contina-matic II. There were two unabridged Contina II models; one rigid 527/24 and - this 524/24 model - a folder.

What I really like about the folding Contina II is its symmetry when closed ... it's a stark contrast to the other Contina II in which control design continuity is all over the place. The only component that's off-centre is the bottom plate frame counter, which is offset to one side. It has a viewfinder on the central axis, with rangefinder windows placed at equal distances on either side. The film transport controls are matching wheels on the bottom plate, with the advance on the users left, so the layout is - compared to what became conventional - up-side-down and back-to-front. On the top plate, two more matching wheels serve as a film type reminder and rangefinder adjustment dials. The rangefinder isn't coupled, so readings from a scale on the setting dial have to be read-off, and manually transferred to the lens. It has a separate viewing window, which frames a reduced field of view.

When open, the lens/shutter housing is a riot of controls. Along with the focus, shutter speed and aperture dials, there's the shutter release lever, shutter tensioning lever (the film transport doesn't tension the shutter), flash sync setting lever, self-timer setting lever, cable release and flash sync ports.

Despite the inclusion of a rangefinder, the aperture and distance dials have red dot markers to guide hyper-focusing as a quick alternative. This encourages the use of f/8 with a focus distance of 17 feet, giving a depth of field of 8 feet to infinity. According to the user manual, correct exposure could then be set at 1/100th for bright sun, 1/50th for slightly overcast, and 1/25th for dull (all assuming the film speed was 32 ASA).

There were two 45mm lens options; an Opton-Tessar f/2.8 or a three element Novar f/3.5 (mine). These were set in a 9 speed (1s - 1/500s) Compur Rapid, and an 8 speed Prontor SV shutter respectively.

I have no idea what this camera cost when new. This was not a top quality Zeiss model, but it was probably still very expensive.




Viewfinder: Simple reverse telescope - shows image at about half natural size. No bright line or parallax.

Focus: Manual. Metric distance scale. Uncoupled rangefinder shows reduced image crop at natural size.

Lens: Novar-Anastigmat 45mm f/3.5 (3 elements).

Close Focus: 0.8m.

Diaphragm: f3.5 to f22 (ten blades).

Shutter: Prontor SV shutter (B, 1, 1/2nd, 1/5th, 1/10th, 1/25th, 1/50th, 1/100th, and 1/300th sec) + built-in self-timer.

Cable Release: Standard socket.

Meter: None.

Exposure: Manual.

Filter Size: Not known.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal with X and M synchronization selector.

Film Advance: Knob with double exposure prevention device (film needs to inserted, or the drive cogs wound manually to test).

Frame Counter: Manual reset (via push and turn ratchet), count-up style.

Rewind: Knob with automatic tension release.

Back Opening: Sliding catch.

Size: 118 x 80 x 43 mm (L x H x D) when closed.

Weight: 508g.



My Camera

I've been looking for a folding Contina for a while, but to my mind it's the sort of camera that is really only suitable for display: I find the viewfinder and settings scales too small, so I didn't want to part with a lot of money. I got this example for £20.00 in November 2017.

The condition is good although in need of a clean and some paint touch-up, but initially nothing shutter-related functioned. The problem turned-out to be that the self-timer lever was jammed on. After returning the setting lever to its rest position, everything started working; the shutter tensioned and the cocked indicator popped-up, shutter speed selection operated across the whole range, the shutter tripped, and the diaphragm opened and closed. Phew! It wouldn't have been the end of the world if it hadn't worked, but it's always much nicer when they do.

lugsThe camera came with a case - which I normally throw away - but this one is worth a mention. It has an integral external knob that engages with, and drives the film advance. The case has a fitted strap and sprung sliding latches, which allow a wire loop to capture and retain the camera strap lugs and thus lock the camera into the case; that's why the lugs are a notched shape. Nice ... but it still went in the bin!

The Contina is extremely compact, and it is easy to understand why cameras like this helped popularise 35mm film. It's a very likeable an attractive design.



524/24 Zeiss Ikon Contina II

524/24 Zeiss Ikon Contina II

524/24 Zeiss Ikon Contina II

524/24 Zeiss Ikon Contina II

524/24 Zeiss Ikon Contina II