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During WWII Hubert Nerwin of Zeiss Ikon began planning for a new 35mm folder. His concepts were developed after the war to become Zeiss's first completely new postwar product. This series soon carried the name Contina and the high-end was given the name Contessa.


The first model introduced in 1948 had the Zeiss-Ikon designation Ikonta 35 522/24. A folding camera, with a 4.5cm (45mm) lens and short bellows; double exposure prevention was introduced by cocking the shutter with the film sprockets. Early versions didn't have an accessory shoe, and cable shutter release was directly on the shutter. Late cameras of this model came with an accessory cold shoe and the cable shutter release on the opposite side of the shutter release.

As Zeiss-Ikon was unable to produce sufficient Tessar lenses (due to war damage to their production facilities both by bombing and by moving the factories to the East side), this is one of the few Zeiss models ever to feature a non-Zeiss (Schneider Xenar) lens in a Compur(Rapid) or Prontor shutter. Later Novar lenses are found, sometimes with a Pronto shutter, and a few late models were equipped with a Zeiss-Opton Tessar T (coated). The edge sharpness of photos will vary according to the lens and the aperture. The Novar often is a bit soft in the corners, while the Tessar and Xenar will give round out-of-focus backgrounds when shot wide open; the coated Tessar* has very good tonal rendition and were optimized for color film.
The Ikonta 35 is a very light camera, and its small size makes it easy to carry inside a pocket, the viewfinder is small and an aux viewfinder is very helpful.
This camera has a front-mounted shutter release, which tends to push the camera down when the shutter is released, because of that some care needs to be taken when taking pictures, the best way to hold the camera (as any of the the Zeiss Ikon folding cameras) is to support the bottom with the palm of your left hand while looking through the viewfinder and shooting.

The lens is threaded in the outside for 27mm (S27) filters mounted in reverse, but it can also take 28.5 push-on filters

The model was continued in 1953 as Contina, as one of the first cameras of the new Contina series of 35mm viewfinder cameras (one was a rangefinder). After the initial series of folders, later models were rigid-bodied. Some had linked shutter/aperture rings, using the Light-value system.
The folding models had knob wind, frame counter and rewind fitted to the bottom; the later ones had top-mounted 180° lever wind, knob rewind and frame counter around the shutter release.



Name Date(s)      Cat no.      Lens Features Image
Ikonta 522/24 1948-53 522/24 Novar 45mm/3.5,
Tessar (Opton-T*), or
Schneider Xenar 45mm/2.8

Contina I 1951-55 522/24 Novar 45mm/3.5 or
Tessar 45mm/2.8
Contina II 1952-53 524/24 Opton-Tessar 45mm/2.8
or Novar f3.5
Uncoupled Rangefinder
Contina Ia 1954-55 526/24 Novar 45mm/3.5 Rigid
Contina IIa 1954-56 527/24 Novar 45mm/3.5 or
Novicar f2.8
Differences to the II are:
* has a twin range light meter, identifiable by a slot machined through the meter cover,
* plus a dual range meter with scoop cut from outer meter dial, which reveals a green section of scale,
* an EV number scale in the needle meter window,
* the lens mount front plate has very shallow horizontal grooves, and
* the viewfinder window is smaller with no frame around it.
Contina Ia 1955-57 526/24 Novicar 45mm/2.8 Rigid
Contina III 1955-58 529/24 Pantar 45mm/2.8 Light meter + convertible lens
Contina "Ib" c.1956 526/24 Novicar 45mm/2.8
or Pantar
not labelled as "Ib"
Contina II 1956-58 527/24 Novar f3.5 or
Novicar f2.8
Differences to the IIa are:
* has a single range light meter,
* no EV number scale in the needle meter window with match-needle operation,
* the lens mount front plate is smooth, and
* the viewfinder window is larger with a frame around it.
Contina Ia 1958 526/24 Pantar 45mm/2.8 Rigid
Contina Ic 1958-60 10.0603 Pantar 45mm/2.8 name in script on front
Contina-matic II 1958-59 10.0613 light meter
Contina-matic III 1959-60 10.0622 Pantar 45/2.8 meter
Contina 1962-65 10.0626 Color Pantar 45/2.8 updated, rounder styling; crank
rewind, second viewfinder
window for bright-line
Contina L 1963-65? coupled meter
Contina LK 1963-65 10.0615 Color Pantar 45/2.8 coupled meter
Contina J 1964-65 10.0604 Color Pantar 45/2.8 no self-timer


  1. After McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). Pages 1046-48.
  2. Listed by year of introduction as model names are non-sequential (e.g. the 527/24 IIa was introduced before the 527/24 II, etc.).


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