Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Zeiss Ikon Contina: Ikon by name Icon by design

Postings from the wonderful world of analogue photography.

After blogging recently about the Lazarus like rebirth of a Pentax Spotmatic and Lomo LC-A, bought as ‘spares or repairs’ cameras on eBay. Wedged between these two classics came a less celebrated old timer, a West German built Zeiss Ikon Contina J.  This 1964 camera complete with original leather case, was a fiver-less than it costs to process a film- and when it arrived, it looked as if it had just come out of the box in the sixties such was it’s perfect condition.

If Soviet cameras were often somewhat agricultural in their build quality, this little compact exuded quality. The Zeiss Ikon Contina range of cameras began in the 1950’s and ran through via various increasingly technically sophisticated models throughout the sixties. My little Contina J model could be described as an ‘entry level’ camera. Despite being a very attractive little machine, it is very much a hands on camera without such refinements as a light meter or focus adjustment. It does offer  through the lens rings, speed, aperture and distance scales but it’s all guesstimate stuff which makes it interesting.

Still having a batch of old  2010 Kodak Plus 200asa colour print film, I gave it a test run. Quickly firing off a range of shots from landscapes to close ups and off it went to Boots to be processed as standard 6 x4 gloss prints. With an old camera like this, you just don’t know what you will get back? Will it be in the Lomography arena, light leaks, vignetting and heavy saturation or will the prints have some quality? In this case it was definitely the former.

Despite some hit and miss efforts, several shots were really nice. Well defined and balanced. Unfortunately my appalling scanner won’t do them justice here but I can assure you, the images are a hell of a lot better in the flesh as it were-than these digitalised versions.

Overall, I’m delighted with the Contina and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for another more sophisticated model.

Right.... now I’ve got to put some light seals in yet another Lomo LC-A that arrived yesterday and which is another little gem. Perfect condition apart from the light seals and yet another cheap ‘spares or repair’ job and I eagerly await the prints from the Lomo which came from Germany the other week. 

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