This camera is a Contax II rangefinder camera made by Zeiss Ikon. According to the serial number this camera was made in 1936. The quality of this camera is incredible, it is a pleasure to hold, look and use and it still works perfectly. The lens included is a great performer, a collapsible Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/2.0.
The reason I include this among my presscameras is because I consider Contax II to be the first 35mm filmcamera properly targeted to professional market and even used by professionals. Why this and not a Leica or Contax I? Well, Contax I was a failure in many ways although Zeiss made a full line of accessories for professionals for it and due to unreliability it was never much used among pressphotogs. The first Leicas were too limited to be able to compete with large and medium format presscams of that time and according to the information I got, Leicas were more popular with the amateur photographers. The screwmount Leicas did not in my opinion have as complete a lineup of equipment as Contax did and that is why I consider Contax II to be the first truly professional camera system. If some of you leicafans want to argue about this with me, don't bother, this is just my opinion. However, Leica did later pass Contax in popularity of professional users. In the late 1930's Rolleiflex was just starting to make it's way to be used by pros and largeformat cameras were still the most popular presscams for at least next two decades. Also the quality of 35mm films used in 1930's was mostly not good enough for newspapers at that time, but this situation did change later and it helped Leica M series and Nikon F series to become one of the most popular 35mm cameras among pressphotogs.

- 12.6.2005 I added some pictures of my Contax II with a mendehlson flashgun made for Contax II cameras. This would be a very typical press photog outfit if using a small format camera in the old days.


Above is Contax II and it's ever-ready case.


Contax II and Mendehlson flashgun






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