Zeiss Ikon Contina viewfinder camera

I picked up this Zeiss Ikon Contina 35mm camera from eBay for a give-away price and for that I got a viewfinder camera with EV exposure control, 45mm Zeiss lens and great quality engineering in what seems to to be almost perfect condition.

Zeiss Ikon Contina Images

My Zeiss Ikon Contina Camera

As I said above I found this camera on eBay advertised as simply ‘old camera’, but I could see from the pictures supplied that it was a Zeiss and a Contina.

Zeiss Ikon Contina 35mm viewfinder camera
Zeiss Ikon Contina

I’ve always thought of Zeiss as a quality maker (nothing controversial about that) so I thought is was worth the money trying a bid and since no one else was interested, I got it for the starting price of £5 plus a bit for postage.

I was pleased with the quality of the camera I received. Apart from a couple of marks in the paintwork at the back of the camera, the body looks to be in perfect condition.

The lens has some internal dust and dirt, but I can’t see any tell-tail signs of fungus, and I don’t think the dust is enough to make a difference to any pictures.

The mechanics are all in perfect condition with the shutter sounding right at all speeds and the aperture stopping down without any hesitation. Even the self timer works properly, which is unusual in cameras this old.

Zeiss Ikon Contina description

The Contina is a viewfinder camera with a 45mm f/2.8 Pantar lens and an exposure control system which uses the EV (Exposure Value) system to set the exposure. This is similar to some other cameras I own such as the Voigtlander Vito B and the Agfa Silette and works in exactly the same way.

Zeiss Ikon Contina 35mm viewfinder camera showing focus, aperture and shutter speed
Focus, aperture and shutter speed

There is a catch which locks the shutter speed and aperture values together, and the catch needs to be released to separate the values. Each of these aperture/shutter speed pairs is a particular Exposure Value which can also be represented by a number (and this number is also engraved on a different scale on the lens). So for example EV7 is 1/8th sec shutter speed at f/4.0 but can also be 1/15th sec at f/2.8 or 1/4sec at f/5.6.

The beauty of the EV system is that once the light-meter reading has been taken, and the shutter speed and aperture set, they can be moved together to choose any of these different combinations of aperture/shutter speed to get the artistic combination that you want. It’s exactly the same system as program shift on today’s digital cameras. One downside however is that if you want to keep the shutter speed fixed (for example if you are shooting using Sunny 16) it’s more tricky to move just the aperture to compensate for changing light levels.

Other features are a nice big viewfinder with framing lines, flash sync at all speeds and some great engineering. The whole feel of the camera exudes quality and I suspect that although this is not a camera with a spectacular specification it was still quite expensive to buy but that price was rewarded by the camera working properly many years after the purchase.

Zeiss Ikon Contina Spec

  • Zeiss Ikon Contina 35mm viewfinder camera
  • Prontor-svs shutter 1/300th to 1sec + B
  • Zeiss Pantar 45mm f/2.8 lens
  • EV scale from EV3 to EV18
  • X and F flash sync
  • Self timer
  • Cold accessory shoe
  • Flash sync socket
  • Bright viewfinder with framing lines
  • Frame counter built into film advance
  • Cable release socket
  • Film type and speed reminder
  • Nicely engineered
  • Ser No: U77603
  • Manual available on-line here

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