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Contina is a family of 35mm compact cameras made and sold by Zeiss Ikon between 1948 and 1965. These were entry-level cameras aimed at non-photographers who wanted high-quality equipment. They were usually offered lower-end lenses and shutters than the higher-priced line of Zeiss cameras but were built in the Zeiss tradition to last a lifetime.

This family of cameras is divided into 2 body types, folding (1948-53) and rigid (1953-1965). The folding cameras are part of the designs of Hubert Nerwin of Zeiss Ikon new series of 35mm folders, which were developed at the time of WWII but only produced after the war. His concepts were developed soon after the war to become Zeiss's first completely new postwar products, and carry the name Ikonta 35, or Contina, while the high-end models were given the name Contessa.

The rigid bodies were entry-level cameras to complement the Contessa line, introduced in the mid-1950s as folding cameras were falling out of favor in the market. These cameras evolved and included several advances such as coupled lightmeter, EV-locked shutter, and even 2 models that have interchangeable front lens elements.


The first model introduced in 1948 had the Zeiss-Ikon designation Ikonta 35 522/24, the name was changed to Contina in 1951, with the same designation 522/24. A folding camera with no control on the top plate following the symmetrical camera concept, i.e. the controls are in the shutter and the film advance and rewind are at the bottom. This camera is a zone focusing camera and is fitted with a 4.5cm (45mm) lens and short bellows to maximize the depth of field while maintaining a normal field of view. The film advanced has double exposure prevention by coordination with the film sprocket gears. Early versions didn't have an accessory shoe, which was added later. The cable shutter release was directly on the shutter, the early version had it on the same side as the shutter release (7 0'clock position) and the later version that introduced M-X and V switch have the cable
The Ikonta 35 is a very light camera, and its small size makes it easy to carry inside a pocket, the viewfinder is small for today's standards 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 tripod bushing is on the door in the early versions, with the name Ikonta or Contina painted on the front, while later models have it on the body with the Zeiss Ikon Logo molded on the door.
At the beginning of the post-war production 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) thus the Contina is one of the few Zeiss models to feature a non-Zeiss (Schneider Xenar) lens in a Compur(Rapid) or Prontor shutter. Later models have Novar lenses, 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 was optimized for color film. These lenses are threaded in the outside for 27mm (S27) filters mounted in reverse, but it can also take 28.5 push-on filters
In 1952 Contina II 524/24 was introduced, with a redesigned shape on the top to accommodate an uncoupled rangefinder). In the Contina II, the film advance and rewind were still at the bottom and the rangefinder and a film reminder control appeared on the top plate but were kept as round knobs. The Contina II is the last 35mm folding camera produced by Zeiss.

After the initial series of folders, a series of rigid-bodied cameras were produced starting with the Contina Ia (526/24). These models have top-mounted 180° lever wind, knob rewind, and frame counter around the shutter release. Models marked Contina II have lightmeters and late models have linked shutter/aperture rings, using the Light-value system. In 1958 the Contina-Matic line appears with coupled lightmeter.

From 1962 the Contina line resembles the rigid body Contessa with a rounded body and a crank rewind; and the designations were changed to L, LK, and J.

The Contina III (529/24), Contina-matic III (10.0622), and a few examples of the IIa(527/24) deserve special mention, these models have an exchangeable front unit convertible lens. Besides the standard Pantar 45/2.8, several front units are available for a wide angle 30/4 and a short tele 75/4 that can also used in the Contaflex Alpha, Beta and Prima SLRs. These cameras could also make use of the Steritar D stereo attachment [1].



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.).[2]

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 coupled light meter
Contina-matic III 1959-60 10.0622 Pantar 45/2.8 coupled meter
exchangeable lenses
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. Steritar D at Pacific Rim Camera
  2. 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.


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