Opinion: Why did Zeiss cease making cameras?

are far Many Cameras made by Zeiss from the final century, which might be anticipated with a historical past relationship again greater than 110 years. Whereas they not too long ago launched their first digital digital camera, the ZX1, it is a quick story about why Zeiss stopped manufacturing movie cameras.

Firstly, I’m not a collector of cameras myself, I choose to load them up and shoot movie. So that is the place my story begins. I’ll share some photos taken collectively in Vienna with my Zeiss Ikon Contaflex digital camera.

I not too long ago found a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex from my father-in-law. At first I did not pay any actual consideration to it. I believed it was one other low cost Agfa or Voigtlander digital camera from some time again. I take into consideration a yr later the digital camera was hanging from a leather-based “at all times prepared” case in my make-shift cellar. Which I take advantage of as a weekend darkroom. I believed it is perhaps fascinating to observe it once more. On nearer inspection, it wasn’t a nasty digital camera in any respect.

Contemplating the lens had an aperture of f/2.8, it was branded by Carl Zeiss. A reputation synonymous with making positive glass for cameras. The digital camera in query is none aside from the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex – Tremendous Version. High quality. After all I used to be impressed, this was not a typical Fleet Market sort digital camera in any respect!

How and what did I get on this path? I used to be acquainted with pre-Block medium format beasts just like the Pentacon Six and Kyiv 60. Each of those machines shared Carl Zeiss Jena lenses, utilizing the identical Pentacon 6 lens mount. However as of late I used to be primarily capturing 35mm and never 120 medium format movie.

i wished to go broad

I used to be having a lot enjoyable utilizing my Olympus OM-1 that I began capturing with the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Tremendous now. I picked up an inexpensive lens adapter, a Carl Zeiss no much less, that turned my 50mm Contaflex right into a 35mm subject of view. Fashionable digital ones are very acquainted in style with the best way the Fujifilm X100 sequence lens adapters work.

I just like the focal size of 35mm however I choose to go wider. I went searching for the 24mm possibility as a result of I actually take pleasure in capturing 24 for some motive, possibly it is after I combine each views with the left and proper eyes.

Vienna - Zeiss Icon Contaflex Super
Vienna – Zeiss Icon Contaflex Tremendous

I discovered a 24mm Zeiss lens and a digital camera much like the Contaflex known as the Contarex. I bid at an public sale on eBay from a non-public vendor. It had been greater than a day or two. I raised my bid from time to time to maneuver on. Considering that possibly the digital camera and lens will solely go for 400 euros. I bid as much as 525 euros till I needed to let go. Positive, I used to be glad I did not win as a result of it was a little bit too wealthy for me.


On the subject of this text and in relation to the brand new Zeiss ZX1, I requested myself why did Zeiss cease making cameras? I additionally talked in regards to the unreliable Contarex and its failure and Contaflex. The video is a point-of-view-style story of movie images taken whereas driving a motorbike round Vienna amid the lockdown in Austria. Photographs are taken on Kodak Ultramax ASA 400 35mm movie with 35mm adapter with Zeiss Icon Contaflex and self developed.

Final Digicam – Contarex

It obtained me considering why this digital camera and lens went for over 1000 euros. In truth, after I started researching the case, the public sale’s offered value appeared affordable in comparison with different gross sales at Contarex, with or with out a 24mm Zeiss lens.

Appears just like the Contarex fashions had been the final Actual The digital camera Zeiss ever made.

It’s possible you’ll have an interest…

An unimaginable feat of engineering. A digital camera for professionals with supreme glass. A ravishing design and dealing digital camera. So why was this Zeiss’s greatest failure? Did its astronomical value hold superior customers away? Was it competitors from the opposite facet of the world, reminiscent of Nikon and Canon?

Really, I believed it was a mixture of each – why did Zeiss cease making cameras. Sadly, I imagine the primary motive was skilled. They may not afford to fail their cameras.

Contarex is handmade with hundreds of items. It’s distinctive in operation and distinctive in building. Difficulties with disassembling and assembling the digital camera result in expensive repairs and wait occasions. The world’s most interesting cameras and lenses have suffered a lack of uber-engineering. The ultimate impact was the top of Zeiss’s digital camera enterprise in 1971.

Contarex is a tremendous instrument though it’s not one thing you’ll use each day and even on a weekly foundation. It is a collector’s piece sadly would not have a digital camera to shoot movie. It is vitally treasured and delicate to make use of.

By the best way, should you’re repeatedly capturing with this digital camera, I would like to know your expertise and ideas on it.


Whereas Contaflex was the forerunner of Contarex. In order for you a Zeiss digital camera with Zeiss glass with none worries, then the Contaflex could be a higher possibility.

If you wish to keep away from the excessive prices and heartbreak that may outcome from the failure of Contarex. That being mentioned, the Contarex is a tremendous digital camera in addition to the Contaflex. I nonetheless have no Contarex to evaluate or, extra importantly, to movie shoot with it. On the finish of the day – shoot the movie on no matter digital camera works which is the ethical of the story right here.

~ Gavin


digital camera wiki Contrex I and Contaflex

mike ekman contarex bullae

Bernd Okay. Otto https://lenspire.zeiss.com/photograph/en/article/a-compendium-of-the-history-of-zeiss-cameras

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In regards to the Writer

Born in Dublin, Eire in 1972, Gavin Lyons is an award-winning panorama and nature photographer who’s self-taught. After dwelling in Italy and France for just a few years, he grew to become extra critical about utilizing the digital camera till settling in Austria.

Click on by means of to see Gavin Lyon’s full profile, hyperlinks, and different articles, and please be sure to go to his web site right here as properly.

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