other Zeiss camera in my collection
Zeiss Ikon Contina II 524/24 Folding Rangefinder
Zeiss Ikon Contina II 527/24 [1956 - 1958]
There appears to be confusion as to the correct name of this camera, which identifies itself as simply
Contina (on the lens bezel). Some sources say it's a Contina II, while others claim the model is a Contina IIa.
Ivor Matanle's book
Collecting and Using Classic Cameras, explains that the camera is often referred to as the IIa, with the
a having been added by camera buffs to differentiate this (527/24) model from an earlier folding (524/24) camera also called the Contina II. Ivor's observation is incorrect, because there were actually two 527/24 models - the II and IIa - and while their differences are acknowledged, reviewers often assume the IIa was a later version of the II, rather than a different model.
The facts are, the IIa was the first model, and Zeiss (not collectors) added an
a to the name to distinguish the camera from the 524/24 folding Contina II. The 527/24 Contina II followed the IIa in 1956, with some logic to Zeiss dropping the
a from its name, because production of the 524/24 folding Contina II had ceased in 1953. The II and IIa had quite a few significant differences.
|Non-folding Contina II/IIa identification at a glance|
|1954 - 56||Look for
• small slots in meter cell flap
• dual range meter with scoop cut from outer meter dial, which reveals a scale (green for flap closed, and black for flap open)
• EV number scale in meter window
• lens mount front plate has very shallow horizontal grooves
• smaller viewfinder window with no frame around.
|1956 - 58||Look for
• no slots in meter cell flap (its just a cover)
• single range meter
• no scale in meter window because its a match-needle system rather than a pointer
• lens mount front plate is smooth
• larger viewfinder window with surrounding frame.
|There was a further Contina II from 1958, but this was also known as the Contina-matic, had a coupled exposure meter, and therefore no top-plate dials. It's clearly a different camera, and I haven't included details because the point of this table is to show the
adesignation pertains to one specific model.
This Contina II is a completely manual viewfinder camera and was fitted with either an f/3.5 Novar or f/2.8 Novicar Anastigmat 45mm lens with a Prontor SVS shutter. My understanding is that Novar and Novicar were names owned by Zeiss, but the lenses were not actually made by the company. My camera has the faster f/2.8 lens.
The camera has an uncoupled exposure meter. It works like a hand-held; turn the dial to match the needles, and read off the recommended aperture / shutter speed combinations for transfer to the camera lens settings.
A nice feature is that the rewind knob extends away from the camera body as it is turned - making it easier to operate.
One source reports that the camera cost £43 15s 1d new, which would be equivalent to about 3 weeks average UK wages.
Viewfinder: Simple. No parallax markings. Image about 2/3rds of natural size.
Focus: Manual scale focusing.
Lens: Novicar Anastigmat f2.8 45mm comprising 3 elements.
Close Focus: 4'.
Diaphragm: Five blades, stopping down to f/22.
Shutter: B, 1, 1/2nd, 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/15th, 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th and 1/300th. The shutter can be set at M or X synch. Prontor SVS five-blade leaf shutter.
Cable Release: Standard socket in shutter release button.
Meter: Uncoupled Selenium.
Exposure: Manual, read from meter scale.
Film Speed: From ASA 5 - 640.
Filter Size: 27mm screw in.
Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync.
Film Advance: Long stroke lever.
Frame Counter: Set manually with auto count-up.
Rewind: Via crank and separate bottom release button.
Back Opening: Lever.
Size: 120 x 65 x 85mm (W x D x H),
I paid £10.49 for this camera in July 2013.
What drew me to this Zeiss was its wacky styling (or to be more accurate, lack of styling): it's quite an ugly duckling. At the same time, I like the way in which form is a product of function.
Unfortunately the camera lens has a touch of fungus between the elements, so it's doubtful that it will ever be used. Otherwise, it's in good condition and full working order save for noticeably slow 1 and 1/2 shutter speeds. Amazingly the exposure meter works well.