CONTAX TVS Digital with Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 2. Contax began kyocera catalog pdf a camera model in the Zeiss Ikon line in 1932, and later became a brand name. The early cameras were among the finest in the world, typically featuring high quality Zeiss interchangeable lenses.
36 mm negative format on perforated 35 mm movie film as a viable photographic system, Zeiss Ikon of Dresden decided to produce a competitor designed to be superior in every way. The name Contax was chosen after a poll among Zeiss employees. Heinz Küppenbender was its chief designer. Made between 1932 and 1936, the original Contax, known as Contax I after later models were introduced, was markedly different from the corresponding Leica. The young lens designer Ludwig Bertele, formerly of Ernemann, was charged with the responsibility of designing the lenses.
The greatest advantage of the Zeiss lenses was the reduced number of air-to-glass surfaces in Bertele’s designs. In the years before lens coating was generally practiced, this had advantages for contrast and resistance to lens flare. Zeiss also pioneered glass coating, and before the war coated lenses were offered. After the Second World War, a few Contax cameras were produced at the original Dresden factory, and some were assembled at the Carl Zeiss optical works at Jena, before production was transferred to Kiev in Ukraine. The Contax S can be said to be the camera that defined the configuration of the modern 35mm SLR camera. Not only did it introduce the M42 lens mount which became an industry standard, but it was also equipped with a horizontal focal-plane shutter, and also removed a major objection against the reflex camera by offering an unreversed, eye-level viewing image by employing a pentaprism.
With Hubert Nerwin in charge as design chief, Zeiss Ikon produced heavily revised Contax models, the IIa and IIIa, at a new plant at Stuttgart, and they were made until 1962. With the emergence of the Japanese camera industry, mainly a consequence of the US pressure on West Germany’s Zeiss to cease collaboration with the East-German Zeiss, and also the lack of raw materials the former was enduring, it was in a way forced to form an alliance with a Japanese maker. Interestingly, rival Leica in the 1970s and ’80s used a couple of West German Zeiss-designed wide-angle lenses for their own cameras. The 15 mm Hologon was the first super-wide lens on a Leica, and the Leica reflex had access to the 15 mm Distagon lens as part of the Leitz supplied range. Kyocera took over Yashica in 1983 and continued to manufacture products under the Yashica and Contax brands. In the mid-90s came their Contax G1 with outstanding lenses and a little later the G2, both fully manual or automatic, The first zoom lens to a RF camera, lenses from 16 mm to 90 mm.
In contrast to the contemporary Leica which was evolved from its original concept into a photographic system, the Contax was designed as the heart of a photographic system from the start. A heavily engineered machine of tremendous complexity, it was Zeiss Ikon’s showcase of the technology it possessed. However, its operation was something of an acquired taste, which explains the more conventional successors, the Contax II and III models. Not only was the combined shutter speed dial and film advance knob placed at the more conventional position, it became much easier and quicker to operate.