Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II

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The Contaflex, if you can find one in nice working condition (which you can, I’m sure they’re out there somewhere), is a pretty sweet little SLR. Sharp Tessar lens, and a great compact balance and feel with a nice tight German fit and finish. You won’t believe how nice it feels in your hands. Like many of the early Zeiss Ikon 35mm cameras and their clones, the whole back comes off for film loading at which point the unattached takeup spool usually falls out and rolls under the desk. Should you lose it you can check with your local friendly photo lab for discarded cassettes and pull it apart for the spool (see link below for advice) or try ebay.

This was a middle-of-the-road consumer camera at the time, low end to the Contarex, but much easier to handle as a user camera than that odd-shaped and reportedly heavy collectable. Not as popular now as the later Super series or even the III/IV but I’m fond of them. Hard to repair, though, I’ve heard and now verified the hard way.


Slow/sticky shutter, debris in viewfinder, fungus in lens. Couldn’t figure out how to get it apart so I bought a copy of the service manual from Mark at manuals2go.com, which turned out to be almost as confusing as it was helpful. After struggling with the thing for several hours, I eventually got it all back together, it worked briefly and then now doesn’t work at all. I don’t recommend this one for a novice tinkerer, it’s quite an advanced project camera. The mirror is actually geared to the winder rather than being instant return like later SLR cameras, so you have to dismantle the whole thing to work on it, and the shutter is basically only accessible from inside the camera…no fun…

Tips & Tricks

Assuming you’ve got a good one, first get yourself a 27mm UV filter (pictured above). Now you have the ability to use both 27mm screw-in and 28.5mm slip-on add-ons. What no lens cap? Well now you can use a film canister cap as a slip-on over your UV filter! Just poke a hole in it to let the air & moisture out. One of my favorite things about this camera is the feel of it in my hands, so though I had the eveready case I didn’t use it, the leather is just too heavy and bulky and I like to get my hands on this little gem. I have a Domke strap on mine and it’s just right. Always wind on a little harder than you think you should, otherwise the shutter doesn’t get tensioned properly and you’ll get blank frames (even though the manual says it’s not possible). And try not to lose the takeup spool! To be safe carry an extra spool from inside an Ilford 35mm film canister, which should fit perfectly. In my case I can use the one from my Kiev 4.

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