There are some things in life where it just doesn't pay to shop by price. Contax camera repairs is one of them. Contax IIa and IIIa cameras have become very popular in recent years. People find out these old cameras, while being exceedingly beautiful, are practically unreliable due to their age, and look for a source of repairs. Many people shop for repairs by price only to find out that when the camera is returned, sometimes after a wait of two to three months, it doesn't act any differently. Then they send it back, only to receive it again after a wait of some months, only to find it doesn't act any differently again. To put it simply, these people have been robbed. I have overhauled a number of cameras which were supposedly "CLA'd" or "Serviced" by large shops and have discovered when these cameras were opened that nothing had been done inside them to change their status. Inside they were dirty, corroded, and with parts coated with sticky deteriorated 50 year old lubricant.
You will note that I do not offer partial repair services. There are good reason for this. It is not economical to solve problems piecemeal with a 50 year old camera. Once one problem crops up you can anticipate that more will follow. It is more economical to just solve them all at one time and save you shipping and wait time. The only good cameras is a reliable camera. There's no point in taking a camera on an expensive vacation when it is ready to present another problem at any time. A completely overhauled 50 year old camera is a reliable camera and a partially repaired one is an unreliable camera. Only reliable cameras leave my hands.
The Zeiss Ikon Price List of May 1, 1956 lists the retail price of a Contax IIa Black Dial with the f1.5 50mm Sonnar lens to be $318.00. This is roughly equivalent to $3478.00 in today's dollars. So when you buy a good looking Contax IIa with 50mm f1.5 Sonnar on Ebay or at an estate sale for $239.00 or less there is a very good reason for the large discount; and this is the fact the camera is no longer reliable. And just how much good is a camera to you if it will fail when you need it the most?
In a regular servicing overhaul your camera is completely disassembled, all of its parts (including the screws, nuts and bolts) are ultrasonically and hand cleaned. Then all the parts are inspected for wear and they are lubricated and the camera is assembled, adjusted and calibrated.
The final test of any camera is the pictures it takes. Every camera I work on is given a final check of picture perfection on the ZTS Precision Focus Tester. This machine provides a highly magnified ultra-high resolution view of a small segment through the center of the lens, through the camera in real time. This example shows a Contax IIa with a 50 mm f1.5 Sonnar viewing a very small portion of a large wall hanging Starrett Micrometer Instruction Chart at a distance of 2 meters.
This is an Autocollimator. It is used to precision align the lens mount to the film plane. Each and every camera whose lens mount is disturbed during servicing is aligned on this autocollimator to ensure the best possible sharpness from edge to edge. A Contax III is shown mounted on it.
Following this the camera is periodically retested and readjusted as necessary over a period of three days to ensure that all of its adjustments are firmly set and that the camera is 100% reliable. Then it is returned to you. No one else, anywhere, overhauls a Contax IIa/IIIa camera to this level of completeness and quality. A camera that has been overhauled here will serve you reliably for many years and will be a great picture taking camera.
Here is a photograph of the special lubricating oil I use to service Contax cameras that are winterized. This oil is absolutely the finest quality available anywhere. Although it is extremely expensive, only a small amount is require to service a body. One of the restrictions with such an oil is that the metal surfaces must be absolutely clean. This is why camera disassembly and ultrasonic cleaning of all moving parts is mandatory for its use.
For Arctic service this special oil is used. The bottle shown holds approximately one quarter of one milliliter of oil. This is very rare and special oil.
This is the special grease used for winterization and arctic service. This is another extremely expensive lubricant that requires absolutely clean and bright metal surfaces to operate properly.
Finally, here is a picture of the workroom where your camera will be serviced with care, skill, craftsmanship and patience. It is equipped with every tool and resource needed to repair, replace or manufacture any part your camera may need. It contains every special testing tool required to ensure your camera, lens and light meter is reliable and accurate.