Contaflex Super

  • Year : 1959
  • Dimensions : 13 x 8,5 x 7 cm
  • Weight : 850 g
  • Shutter speed : B, 1 to 1/500 s
  • Lens : 50mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Tessar
  • Focal Range : 0,8 m to ∞

The first thing to notice about the Contaflex : it’s extremely heavy ! The good side is that it feels very solid. This Camera was made in West Germany in Stuttgart by the famous Zeiss Ikon company. It features all the characteristics of cameras of its time but nonetheless hides a few peculiarities. 

The Contaflex is a fixed lens camera with a very sharp 50mm Zeiss lens. Around the lens is the metering (from 0,7 to INF), the shutter speed and aperture dial. When moving the speed dial the aperture dial also moves : from 2,8 when moving the speed to 500 and up to 22 when speed is set to B. In order to adjust the aperture on the lens another dial on the top corner of the camera has to be operated.

On top of the camera, around the rewind knob, is a dial to indicate what film you are loading the camera with. But there is no indication of Iso or Asa, because it’s a German camera so the sensitivity is only in DIN. Next to that is the window with a needle for exposure (which I don’t use, as I prefer an external light meter), and a flash hot-shoe. 
On the right hand side is an all-in-one rewind lever, shutter and view counter. The view counter goes backwards. It needs to be set on how many frames there are on your film and it will decrease to 0 while shooting. I made the mistake of setting it to 0 the first time and therefore was completely lost counting how many frames I already shot. 
The viewfinder is large and bright. One special aspect that I only came across on this camera is that the viewfinder goes black when releasing the shutter. Seeing through it is only possible again when advancing the film. This can be explained by the fact that the mirror stays up when shooting and goes back in place when advancing to the next frame. I find it quite practical : by looking through the viewfinder you know if you are ready to shoot or if you forgot to advance the film. 
Also one thing worth mentioning is that the back and the bottom of the camera is removed completely to load/unload the film and it can be a bit tricky to put back in place. 

Overall the Contaflex is a great solid reliable camera with a great lens, maybe just not ideal if you want to travel light.

I found this Contaflex Super online and picked it up in Lyon in 2018 for 20 euro. Here are some shots taken with it in Lyon 2019 on Fuji C200 :