Contax rangefinder lenses

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The Zeiss Ikon Contax I introduced a new lens mount in 1932, today known as Contax rangefinder mount. The Contax II and III used the same mount, as well as the postwar Contax IIa and IIIa models.

This mount was also used by the Kiev followers of the Contax, from the first models to the Kiev 5.

Nikon copied the mount for their own rangefinder cameras just after the war but, being this a voluntary difference or a simple mistake, their lens mount is slightly different and only the wide angle lenses are interchangeable, the standard and tele lenses having a wrong focus coupling. See Nikon rangefinder lenses.

This mount is in fact the combination of two bayonets. There is a focusing helical built in the body and the standard lenses mount directly in that focusing ramp via an internal bayonet. So the standard lenses have no focusing ring of their own. The other lenses mount on an external bayonet and have their own focusing ring, only the rangefinder coupling is done via the body's focusing ramp.

Quite surprisingly, the new Voigtländer company, owned by Cosina, also launched a new rangefinder body in 2002 using the Contax RF mount, called the Bessa R2C, together with a range of lenses in Nikon RF mount. The wide angle lenses are marked SC (for Nikon S and Contax), and can be mounted on a Contax body.

This mount should not be confused with the lens mount of the Contax G, see Contax G lenses.

Contents

Zeiss lenses

Carl Zeiss Jena

All are marked Carl Zeiss Jena.

Black and nickel lenses, at the time of the Contax I:

  • Tessar 2.8cm f:8 (uncoupled to the rangefinder)
  • Biotar 4cm f:2
  • Sonnar 5cm f:1.5 (rigid)
  • Sonnar 5cm f:2 (rigid)
  • Tessar 5cm f:2.8 (collapsible)
  • Tessar 5cm f:3.5 (collapsible)
  • Sonnar 8.5cm f:2
  • Triotar 8.5cm f:4
  • Sonnar 13.5cm f:4
  • Tele-Tessar K 18cm f:6.3
  • Tele-Tessar K 30cm f:8 (direct mount, rare)
  • Fernobjektiv 50cm F:8, (only direct mount, rare)


Chrome models, at the time of the Contax II and III:

  • Tessar 2.8cm f:8 (uncoupled to the rangefinder)
  • Biogon 3.5cm f:2.8 (large rear element, does not mount on Contax IIa or IIIa)
  • Herar 3.5cm f:3.5 (rare)
  • Orthometar 3.5cm f:4.5 (uncommon)
  • Biotar 4cm f:2 and 4 1/4cm f:2 (rare)
  • Sonnar 5cm f:1.5 (rigid)
  • Sonnar 5cm f:2 (collapsible or rigid (rare))
  • Tessar 5cm f:2.8 (collapsible)
  • Tessar 5cm f:3.5 (collapsible)
  • Sonnar 8.5cm f:2
  • Triotar 8.5cm f:4
  • Sonnar 13.5cm f:4
  • Tele-Tessar K 18cm f:6.3
  • Tele-Tessar K 30cm f:8 (first direct mount, then in Flektoskop mount, both rare)
  • Sonnar 18cm f:2.8, first direct mount (rare), then in Flektoskop mount, more common
  • Sonnar 30cm f:4 in Flektoskop mount (rare)
  • Fernobjektiv 50cm F:8, first direct mount (rare), then Flektoskop mount (rare)


After the war, the Eastern part of Carl Zeiss continued to produce lenses for the Contax, in alloy versions:

  • Topogon 25mm f:4 (rare)
  • Biogon 35mm f:2.8 (large rear element, does not mount on Contax IIa or IIIa)
  • Biometar 35mm f:2.8 (rare)
  • Sonnar 50mm f:1.5 (rigid)
  • Sonnar 50mm f:2 (rigid)
  • Tessar 50mm f:3.5 (rigid)
  • Biotar 75mm f:1.5 (rare)
  • Biometar 80mm f:2.8 (extremely rare, only 5 lenses were made)
  • Sonnar 85mm f:2
  • Triotar 85mm f:4
  • Triotar 13.5cm f:4,5 (rare batch of 500 lenses from 2999000-2999500, also made in Leica mount, dated to 1946)
  • Sonnar 135mm f:4
  • Sonnar 180mm f:2.8, first Flektoskop mount, then Flektometer mount
  • Sonnar 300mm f:4, first in Flektoskop mount, then Flektometer mount
  • Fernobjektiv 500mm f:8, only Flektometer mount


Experimental lenses (rarest) for Contax included:

  • Sphaerogon 1.9cm f:8, 50 ex. made in 1936, two examples survived so far (serial 1503373 and 1503382), both located in a private collection
  • Perimetar 2.5cm f:6.3, 50 ex. made in 1936, one example survived so far (serial 1503342), located in the same private collection
  • Dagor 2.5cm f:9, made in 1932, one example survived so far (serial 1389298), located in the same private collection
  • Topogon 2.5cm f:4.5, 50 ex. made in 1936
  • Panflex Tessar 13.5 cm f:4.5, claimed that ca.150 lenses were made for use with the prewar Panflex. All numbers known so far are in the range of 2656187-2656462. 9 lenses have come to light so far.

Carl Zeiss Oberkochen

All are chrome models, produced after the war by the Western part of Carl Zeiss. Some are marked Zeiss Opton, others are marked Carl Zeiss.

  • Biogon 21mm f:4.5
  • Biogon 35mm f:2.8 (shorter rear element, mounts on all Contax types)
  • Planar 35mm f:3.5 (rare)
  • Sonnar 50mm f:1.5 (rigid)
  • Sonnar 50mm f:2 (rigid)
  • Tessar 50mm f:3.5 (rigid)
  • Tessar 50mm f:3.5 macro lens
  • Sonnar 85mm f:2
  • Tessar 115mm f:3.5, black finish, to use with the Panflex reflex housing and bellows
  • Sonnar 135mm f:4

The Panflex reflex housing was released in 1951.

Other lenses

Various Japanese wide-angle lenses primarily made for the Nikon rangefinder models are perfectly compatible on the Contax cameras; these are not necessarily listed here (see Nikon rangefinder lenses).

Angénieux

  • 35/2.5 retrofocus, black and chrome
  • 50/1.8 S1, black
  • 35/3.5 X1, black and chrome
  • 90/2.5 Y1, black and chrome

Berthiot

  • Angulor 28/4.5, chrome [1]
  • Olor 38/5.7, chrome
  • Flor 75/2.8, chrome
  • Flor 90/3.5, chrome
  • Tele 145/4.5
  • Flor 200/4.5, with mirror reflex box

Roger Lemasson appeared to have been an engineer who adapted mainly Berthiot lenses for Contax (he also adapted the same lenses for Leica). Lemasson was mostly active from 1948-1952.

Canon

Canon made one lens in Contax rangefinder mount: a 28mm f:3.5 marked CT for Contax.

Goerz

  • Dogmar 18cm f:4.5, rangefinder coupled, all chrome barrel, looking original [2]

Kiev

All the lenses made by Kiev for their own rangefinder bodies were fully compatible with the Contax mount.

  • 20/5.6 Russar-2 (Some copies of the lens appear to have been made with a Contax mount, rangefinder uncoupled)
  • 28/6 Orion-15 (also in prototype form with GOI markings, rangefinder uncoupled)
  • 35/2.8 Jupiter-12, non-retrofocus wideangle lens (Biogon optical scheme, in two versions: black and chrome finish)
  • 50/2 Jupiter-8 (Sonnar optical scheme)
  • 50/2 Jupiter-8M (Sonnar optical scheme with click stops)
  • 50/1.5 Jupiter-3
  • 53/1.8 Helios-103
  • 85/2 Jupiter-9
  • 135/4 Jupiter 11

Sankyō Kōki / Komura

  • 80/1.8, black with wide chrome stripes (seen at eBay, unsure if Contax or Nikon mount)

Hugo Meyer & Co, Görlitz

  • 5cm f:1.5 Kino Plasmat (rare)
  • 5cm f:1.9 Primoplan, chrome
  • 10.5cm f:2.8 Trioplan (rare)

Nikon

Nikon also made some of their rangefinder lenses in Contax mount. They are marked with a C on the barrel, that has nothing to see with the red C on the front ring of the coated lenses.

  • 135/3.5 Nikkor-Q C, all chrome

Old Delft

  • 35/3.5 Minor, chrome [3]
  • 400mm mirror lens by Old Delft is known to exist in Contax mount [4]
  • Delca 50cm/6.3 mirror lens with built-in reflex finder [5]
  • Fototel 45cm/5.6 lens [6]

Ross

  • 3 1/2 " f:3.5 or 89mm f:3.5 Definex, black and chrome or all black, mount made by Stewartry

Steinheil

  • 135mm f:4.5 Triplar made by Steinheil in München (Germany), rare

Tanaka

See the main article on Tanar lenses.

  • W Tanar 35mm f/2.8, black and chrome, external finder (primarily for Nikon, but perfectly fits the Contax)
  • Tele-Tanar 13.5cm f/3.5, black and chrome, external finder (also made in Nikon mount; the Contax edition has a small C at the rear end)

Voigtländer

Voigtländer made the Nokton 50mm f:1.5 lens of the Prominent in Contax mount (see this page at Syarakuse), Leica screw mount and Rectaflex mount. The Contax version is said to be the rarest one. Beware of fakes made with a Kiev lens mount; most of these come from Warsaw (Poland) and are sometimes offered on eBay. Also single Kiev mounts are offered, claimed to fit the Nokton lens.

More recently, Cosina released a range of Voigtländer-brand lenses in Nikon RF mount. The wide angles can be focused on a Contax body. See Nikon rangefinder lenses.

Zunow

  • 50/1.1, chrome [7]

Reflex housings

In addition to the original Zeiss Ikon Flektoskop and Panflex models, a few third party reflex housings were made in Contax mount, such as the Mirax-B by Orion Seiki and later Miranda Camera.

The reflex housings made in Nikon mount should be compatible with the Contax bodies too, notably the original Nippon Kōgaku models.

Links

In English:

In Japanese:

Notes

  1. Westlicht Auction #9, 20 May 2006, marked R.LEMASSON ing Paris on the barrel.
  2. seen at eBay, s/n 467263, unsure if Contax or Nikon mount, Contax probable.
  3. Westlicht Auction #9, 20 May 2006
  4. see this page at Syarakuse) (archived), it is unclear if the aperture is f/5 or f:5.6.
  5. s/n TD50,; at Westlicht Auction #9, 20 May 2006.
  6. same look, but not called Delca, with Contax mount was sold on Ebay (Sept. 2007). This one possibly corresponds to the lens from the "Syarakuse" site.
  7. (Westlicht Auction #9, 20 May 2006, s/n 6073, also seen at eBay, s/n 5477)
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