Zeiss Ikon Contax Camera Repair

A home for your Zeiss Ikon Contax, Contarex or Super Ikonta camera!

Letter About a Butchered Contarex

This is an actual copy of an email sent to a Contarex owner:

Dear D....,
I have good news and bad news about your Contarex. The bad news is that it is going to be necessary to replace the entire winding and shutter speed control module.
This camera is a barn camera meaning it spent a long time in bad storage conditions where it was exposed to winter and summer. I know this because the case had bug eggs in it and there is some condensation rust in odd places. It is typical of these cameas to be frozen and jammed when they get released to the market, usually by an estate sale. Before it was sold to you it was unfrozen by being worked by a prime camera butcher whose name I do not know but whose work I have seen enough times to be able to identify. His signature is that he leaves the internal screws so lightly tightened they are just barely snug. And the screw marks are fresh and bright indicating his work is recent. Other than this peculiar screw tightening habit he wreaks havoc on the most delicate parts. In unfreezing your camera he did a bad fatal thing that has taken considerable time to find.
My initial efforts resulted in speeds that worked almost right, but B speed did not work. Troubleshooting these problems cost many hours but the problem was found finally. Deep inside the wind and shutter controller there is a backstop that sets the synchronization point for all the gears when the shutter has been discharged. This backstop is in the form of a small length of black and almost invisible spring metal that is riveted to the underside of the first curtain control gear. This spring was broken off and without it the complex gearing cannot latch properly and obtain the degree of synchronization necessary to provide B speed or to allow the other speeds to be set within factory specifications. I am certain this damage happened when the gearing was forced to loosen it to unfreeze the camera to make it more valuable in the market. It's a small piece of metal, but it would take considerable force to break it.
The parts necessary to repair this defect in your control unit would necessitate the ruining of an otherwise good control unit and would involve the time and expense to disassemble two control units. The fastest and cheapest way to go is to swap your broken control unit for my last good one. I'm going to have to charge $195.00 for it which I figure is about my bare acquisition cost.
I expect that now that the main problem has been found your Contarex will be ready to ship to you in about a week. The total cost with shipping will be $840.00.
The good news about your camera is the reason it is worth the cost and effort to repair it. It is an extremely rare variant that has not yet been identified by anyone. I plan to take a picture of it and put it on my web site before shipping it to you. You will be able to see this variation in the lens mount. This variation indicates your camera was probably made right at the same time the Electronic was being made. The reason for my believing this is that the Super and the Electronic both have a light meter on/off switch that is actuated by installation of the lens the purpose of which is to save the battery. It also serves to unlatch the camera aperture control, probably to save wear and tear on the aperture control spring when a lens is not installed. The actuator for this switch and aperture contol latch is a small protruding metal contact that is located at about the 11:30 positon on the inside rim of the lens mount. When a lens is mounted on an Electronic or Super this metal contact is pushed in closing the switch and latching the aperture control. Your camera has this contact. But it is not connected to the light meter it is connected only to the aperture control. For some reason Zeiss decided at the very last moment of producton to redesign the Bullseye aperture control so that it is a hybrid Bullseye/Electronic type aperture control mechanism. I can't imagine why they would want to do this, the Bullseye aperture control seems to have worked perfectly well for a very long time as it was. Perhaps some day someone will be able to explain it. Yours is the first Bullseye I have ever seen with this feature.
I want you to know that the camera butcher also took his tools to the light meter. A solid two days of extrordinarily careful work was necessary to undo his damage. The reason he had been into the meter was the reason the camera sat in a barn for so long. When the meter was made the tiny brass die cut slot that the meter needle is viewed through when looking from the viewfinder was cut incorrectly. The V point indicating perfect needle positioning for exact exposure was cut too far to the side. The result of this is that while the needle viewed from the top of the camera was correct, the viewfinder needle view was about four stops off. It was impossible to get proper exposures with this camera using the viewfinder sighting of the lightmeter needle. Rather than just repositioning the brass vignette he went into the meter and decided to almost ruin the hairspring. Fortunately, all is now well with the meter and it is accurate to within 1/10 stop.
This truly has been a total nighmare camera. If it just wasn't for that little aperture control latch switch the camera would not be worth the time, trouble and cost.


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