Zeiss Ikon Contax Camera Repair

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

The Waiting List

If you already have a position on the waiting list please use this link to open it: Status Board Waiting List. Your username and password will be required. If you've forgotten these just send me an email and I'll get it to you as quickly as I can.

If you want to get onto the waiting list just send me your request and include your address. I'll acknowledge receipt of your request and you will be on the waiting list effective with the date and time of my sending of this receipt to you. Your listing may not show up on the waiting list that is posted on the Internet immediately because I don't update the waiting list for new members except about once a month.

If you are thinking of sending a camera to me for an overhaul please consider the following:

  • The situation is that a work backlog has developed.  My hope had been that this would be a temporary situation and that in time this backlog could be worked down to size.  But it has just continued to grow due to increasing demand and so it is has become necessary to establish a formal waiting list and some rules.
  • Rule No 1 is that each and every camera that is sent here receives all of the time and attention it requires to restore it to its highest possible potential for accuracy, smoothness and reliability.  The one and only goal here is quality.  There is never any exception to this rule.  It does not matter how many hours it takes to get your camera into its best possible condition.  We do what it takes no matter what it takes and each gets its fair turn..


Why Does It Take So Long?

This is a fairly common question.  In order to prevent the need to type the answer repeatedly it's being posted here.  There are a number of reasons why a properly done Contax overhaul takes considerable time:

  1. The waiting list is very long but there are some good reason for this. The Contax, Contarex and other high precision Zeiss cameras are extremely complex. There is only one way for them to be put together so that they will be accurate and reliable; but there are many thousands of ways for them to be put together wrong. Each camera is hand made of hand made parts. Each is unique. There is no "cookie cutter" way to just pass a camera through a standard process that will result in the proper outcome. Many cameras that are sent here have been though many shops and before anything can be done to restore them the bad work that was done must be identified and corrected. Also, many cameras give up their bad news slowly and take a very long time to adjust. The one thing to keep in mind about the waiting list is that while it is long and the wait is difficult to endure, every person whose visiting is at the top now was once at the bottom. There's no cost to get onto it and the chances are very good that by the time your listing gets to the top you will be very glad you withstood the wait.
  2. We scrupulously clean the camera external surfaces and parts, dry clean the leather and apply a new top coat to it.  This is done because the exterior of a 50 year old camera is literally covered with a uniform layer of filth of every kind from every possible source.  It is perhaps the dirtiest thing there is.  It is just not permissible that we could allow you to receive a dirty camera from us and then hold it up to your face or to handle it and then handle food or come into contact with family members, children or people who have an allergy or immune system problem.  Just take a good look at the edge milling on the wind knob and you'll quickly see the built up grime and understand why we sanitize the cameras that come here.  This takes extra work and extra time, but we believe that it is absolutely necessary and an essential part of any responsibly performed overhaul.
  3. We overhaul the entire camera.  It just makes absolutely  no sense to partially service a valuable precision piece of rare equipment which has been unlubricated for over 50 years.  Any Contax service that does not include the winding and cocking mechanisms along with the complete rangefinder gearing leaves the camera still mostly in its original condition and subject to advanced wear with continued use.  We believe that a service which is incomplete is incorrect and a waste of money, time and inevitably a valuable camera.
  4. Here the internal integrity and cosmetics of the camera are just as important as the outer integrity and cosmetics.  The correctly sized properly sharpened screwdriver is used for each screw.  This mandates a time consuming process of constantly changing screwdrivers as the camera is disassembled and reassembled.  This process prevents screw heads being mangled and damaged by the use of a single screwdriver which is too small.  But it adds considerable time.  It's easy to tell a camera that has had a quick job done on it by examining the inside.

    Any quick job provider who advertises that small screws are replaced for free is one who is in the habit of routinely twisting the heads off of the screws the camera came with.  He is also in the habit of stripping the threads out of screw holes due to excessive force and is ruining screw head slots to uselessness through the use of excessive force applied with the incorrectly sized screwdriver.  My experience is that perhaps one in 200 Contaxes that are sent here for overhaul need a missing or replacement screw.  And when a screw is replaced here it is with a genuine original Contax screw made for that location in the camera.  It is not an aftermarket screw with the wrong thread that is forced into the hole.

  5. Each screw hole is individually greased.  This prevents thread failure and galling.  It prevents assembly and disassembly fatigue and wear.  It allows screws to be properly tightened without being over tightened.  It also prepares the camera for its five year touch up servicing and makes it possible to perform this servicing at greatly reduced cost.
  6. Special penetrating oil is allowed time to do its work on stuck screws.  We don't twist off screw heads.  A 50 year old camera typically has a high proportion of screws that have become frozen in place due to time.  A quick job always results in screw head damage due to the use of excessive force applied by a screwdriver that is too small.
  7. We examine each part to do our best to ensure that it will be reliable and will not fail suddenly.  This is an extra time consuming step which is not part of a quick job.
  8. We use gentle but thorough chemical methods to completely remove any rust on any part found in the camera.  This is a frequent necessity since not all Contaxes were kept in perfect storage conditions.  No one else does this because it takes time.  But rust must be stopped or it will grow.  Rust absorbs moisture from the air, this is why it must be removed or it will grow.  We remove all of it completely and then seal the part to ensure it won't come back.
  9. A camera which is assembled to be completely reliable must be allowed a day to settle in between phases of assembly.  A typical camera will require five days for the shutter speeds to stop drifting and settle in during adjustment.  It is also necessary to perform a very careful shutter calibration process to obtain the lowest possible shutter spring tension.  Lower spring tension results in springs that do not take a set and greatly increases the life of other shutter components and shutter tapes.  It is typical of a quick job to use over tightened shutter springs to compensate for short cuts taken elsewhere during the job.  We see cameras that have been effectively ruined by over tightened shutter springs with distressing regularity and this explains why we just don't do this.
  10. We take the time and effort to properly align and shim the focusing assembly.  This process can often take a half a day for a single camera.  Zeiss did not design the Contax I, II, III, IIa and IIIa cameras to have a greased focusing helical.  The Zeiss design requires dry lubricant which requires very precise alignment of the focusing helical when it is mounted on the camera body.   A camera that has had a quick job done on it will have a greased helical and a greased helical does not have the uniquely light yet positive Zeiss focusing feel that the designers intended.
  11. The camera must be assembled by feel and this requires great patience.  This is the only way to obtain the final result of a camera, which to the greatest possible extent, is what it was originally designed to be and to feel like by the Zeiss designers.  This means that everything must feel just exactly right before moving on to the next phase of assembly.  Sometimes this requires partial or complete disassembly to start again, a part to be diamond honed, special spacers to be manufactured, a part to be substituted, or other time consuming adjustments.
  12. We don't butcher the leather to remove the Zeiss bumps.  We have developed a special process that allows us to remove the leather in one piece without damaging or changing it in any way, but it takes a day.  It is a half hour job to just take a razor blade to the leather and slice it up to remove the bumps as is typically done during a fast job.  But this is camera butchery in its purest form and we just don't do it.  Quick job operators slice the leather.
  13. Each Contax is different.  This is what keeps it interesting.  While they look the same from the outside they are not the same inside.  Each is hand made out of hand made parts which were hand picked to assemble your camera.  Some assemblers were highly skilled and some were not.  Some cameras have been made recently through the combination of parts from donor bodies.  These factors result in some cameras being far more challenging than others.
  14. Sometimes it's necessary to just take a day and think about a difficult camera to decide how best to proceed.  Our goal is to absolutely minimize the use of replacement parts.  Sometimes a little thinking saves a lot of money and often times it results in a very satisfactory result that could not have been obtained if a shipping deadline was the most important thing.
  15. Lenses require great patience to avoid damage.  Special time consuming techniques are required to get them to come apart without any cosmetic damage to the metal and any edge damage to the lens elements.
  16. We overhaul and restore the Contax III and IIIa light meter to end of production original factory specifications.  No one else does this.  It is a time consuming and painstaking procedure.
  17. We do not want you to experience first hand the wisdom of the saying, "Be in a hurry, decide in haste and repent at leisure".

When I was a kid my father would take me along on his camera buying trips to all the big camera equipment distributors in Los Angeles.  Sitting on the desk of the Zeiss Ikon distributor was a huge carved wooden desk accessory that faced outward so visitors could read it.  It said, "The Pain of Low Quality is Remembered Long After the Sting of a Fair Price is Forgotten".


How to Get a Waiting List Spot

There are two ways to get a reserved spot on the waiting list.  You can send your equipment here or you can send me your shipping address by email. I no longer require a deposit or for the camera to be sent.


Waiting List Rules

  1. All equipment and/or reservations are given a listing on the waiting list as of the day notification of the shipment of the equipment or the sending of the customer shipping address is received.
  2. All equipment will be worked in order of their position on the waiting list.  There are only two possible exceptions to this policy.  (1) I reserve the right to work a special camera body outside of the waiting list.  A special camera is one which is of an unusual nature which will provide me with information and/or experience necessary to increase the quality of work done on other equipment.  This is a very rare situation and experience has demonstrated it occurs only perhaps once or twice per year and does not impact the regular upward movement of the waiting list.  (2)  I will occasionally work a small item such as a lens or viewfinder outside of the waiting list to separate work on identical camera body models to avoid further inflammation of repetitive motion injury to my hands.
  3. Equipment sent for warranty adjustments or repairs will be worked outside of the waiting list and have first priority,


My Fees

If you're interested in some facts and figures about my fees please feel free to use this link to go to the page that discusses this topic: Comments on Fees.



Please feel free to write to me with any ideas you might have that will result in a more fair handling of the waiting list.  I will be very happy to consider anything you may find the time to submit.  My goal is to be as fair as possible to everyone and welcome your suggestions intended to help me with this effort.


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