Covid-19 Update & The 1932 Contax I

Good Sunday morning you guys! As I revealed earlier I’m also a healthcare worker. In fact, it’s how I make my living.

So today, before I talk about our camera of the day, let me tell you a little about I got into healthcare.

In my twenties, back in the 1990s, I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in Communication Arts, majoring in Advertising. I took advertising after much personal struggle. I’ve always had an artistic heart but I also wanted to please my parents who wanted their son to work in the business world.

And being a loyal son to my old school parents yet wanting to have some part in the decision I took advertising because I felt it was a good compromise between art and business.

Anyway, working in advertising provided me with an opportunity to use my homebrew photography skills and I worked in this field for several years until a couple of layoffs made me realize that I needed a backup field where I would always have work. I met a person who pointed me in the direction of healthcare and the rest is history. In fact, my “backup” field became my main field of work! I’ll tell you guys more about this in future postings!

THE CONTAX I

The Contax I is a 35mm rangefinder film camera introduced by Zeiss Ikon of Germany in 1932. It had a production run of four years until 1936.

As a true hardcore camera aficionado and Contax super-fan, the Contax I was always a camera on my wishlist. However, most of the cameras that I came across were either exorbitantly expensive or they were in unusable condition. Many times it was both.

In 2017, I negotiated a deal of $250 for the Contax I and Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/2 collapsible. My particular camera is not without its problems as I’ll describe below but for $250 for the body and lens, and with a working shutter, I thought it was a deal!

My Contax I has shutter speeds of 1/25 to 1/1000th of a second plus B. Apparently there are variations that had slower shutter speeds but that was added later so mine must be an earlier model.

The best information I have seen on the Contax I comes from Stephen Gandy’s fabulous Camera Quest website. It has all the information you need on the Contax I. Since Stephen said it best, I need to shut up! Here’s the link:

https://www.cameraquest.com/zconrf1.htm

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer a more animated experience πŸ™‚

In this video I also talk about my experiences on the unemployment line. I understand and empathize with those of you going through hard times. Stay strong, you WILL make it!


WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE CONTAX I

If you are looking to add the Contax I to your collection, keep in mind that (in my opinion) the Contax I should be viewed as a collectible. In other words, don’t expect to find one to use as a regular shooting camera. It may or may not be in working condition but don’t expect it to be perfect unless it’s been restored.

View the Contax I as a collectible first and foremost. Why? Well, first of all the Contax I is really old at this point. Introduced in 1932, these cameras are close to 90 years old. Secondly, even in its day it didn’t have the best reputation for reliability. It was seen as a premium product that was rushed to market in order to compete with the Leica 1 or A as its known.

As a “premium” product, Zeiss tried to outdo Leica anyway they could. If the Leica had zone focus, the Contax would have a rangefinder. If Leica had a cloth shutter, the Contax would have a metal bladed shutter. If Leica topped out at 1/500, the Contax would top out at 1/1000.

Unfortunately, the Contax ultimately ended up as a well conceived product that didn’t quite deliver on the perception its specs conjured up. The shutter on the Contax I is said to be “fragile” or unreliable so that’s the first thing you should look for in these cameras. If the shutter blades are intact and working, that’s a big step in the right direction.

One funny side note…you guys might remember how I’ve often talked of Contax/Yashica and how I’ve always said they made great cameras that were not the most reliable? Well, it seemed Yashica was just following in the spirit of the Contax I! πŸ™‚

Despite all the bad things I’ve read about the “fragile” shutter on the Contax I, the vertically traveling metal blades are still working on mine. I know of at least two other people shooting with the Contax I as well.

But accurate, it is probably not. The speeds feel off to me, which is to be expected for a camera this old. The rangefinder patch on mine is pretty much gone. I can barely make it out. Keep in mind the rangefinder and many other things will probably have worn out on a camera this old.

I know of a great trick where one puts a tiny black dot on the rangefinder window and it worked in the past with other cameras I had with dim rangefinders. I give credit where credit is due. I learned this trick from the website of a man named Rick Oleson, one of the early pioneers of internet photography pages.

His page is on the “tripod” platform that’s how far back it goes! My very first website in 1999 was also on Tripod. I made one page and back then it wasn’t easy like what I’m doing on WordPress today so anyway I put up one page, saw it once and never saw it again! I don’t even remember the name of my page, sad ain’t it?

Anyway, I just want to say Rick thanks for the useful tips and great articles you put on your site over the years. I hope you’re still out there doing your thing!

Ok so back to the Contax I. My rangefinder patch is so dim that even the black dot trick did little to remedy it. And it is true that not many people will attempt a repair on this camera. I reached out to a couple of renowned camera repair people and they politely declined to even attempt it.

So I have to just accept it. I use zone focus and try to compensate for shutter speeds that appear to be slower than the values.

SAMPLES?

Do you guys remember this article I wrote in early 2019?

https://cameralegend.com/2019/01/21/monday-mystery-images-the-quality-of-walgreens-film-scans/

Well, the mystery is solved! All those images (above) were taken with the Contax I and 50mm f/2 Sonnar collapsible. The film was Kodak Gold 400. How do I know? Well, these photos were taken in 2017. I found a memo I kept for the cameras I was using that summer of 2017 and especially because I was taking a road trip to south Jersey. The only film camera on the memo for that time frame was the Contax I. In fact, in the article I stated that I suspected it might be the Contax!

None of these images are what I would consider “winners” but considering that I was zone focusing and dealing with a less than optimal shutter, I guess I didn’t do too badly. I’m just happy anything came out! Honestly, I thought the whole roll would be unusable.

I can see the lens is suffering from flare and/or haze, maybe. Still, I do like its rendering on some the images. It’s got an old school vibe to it.

Now I’m even more inclined to put another roll in the Contax I just to verify the results.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

As I mentioned, the Contax I should be seen as a collectible first and foremost. If you can actually use it for photography, all the better!

That said, prices are all over the place for this camera. As a collectible, there are many factors that will determine the final price. The factors include condition, mechanical and cosmetic, usable or non working, and whether it’s bundled with lenses, accessories, etc.

As a rough guide, I have seen the body alone go from $250-600, and even seen some unscrupulous overseas sellers charging up to $1000. Unless it’s really pristine, working, and has all original accessories I wouldn’t pay anywhere near $1000 for one…and I’m a hardcore Contax fan!

Again, I got mine, body and lens for $250 USD. For that price, it was not without its flaws as I said. Very dim (unusable) RF patch, shutter speeds off. But, it works! And that was the most important thing to me. The fact that I got it cheap was also a deciding factor πŸ™‚

BOTTOM LINE

The Contax I is without a doubt a true legitimate Camera Legend. It is with the Contax I that the legend of Contax was born.

It was an ambitious attempt by Zeiss Ikon, one of the premier names in photography, to compete with Leica for supremacy and control of the then new 35mm film camera market.

Perhaps due to over ambitious and rushed execution, the Contax I is seen today as a somewhat failed product with a reputation for reliability problems. The later Contax II and III/IIIa are much better user cameras but there can only be one number one and the Contax I was the first.

I’ve talked many times about “the real Contax” and the Contax I represents this better than any other Contax I own. It is the camera that put the Contax name into the world, a name that still imprints the thought “Camera Legend” onto the hearts of camera lovers worldwide.

While the Contax II and III/IIIa and the Zeiss lenses cemented Contax as one of the world’s finest camera brands, the flawed Contax I was the first and as such it will always be the camera that started the Contax legend.

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Photo Of The Day: “Seeds”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Seeds” 2014. Olympus E-10 Digital Camera.

Ah, there is no doubt spring is in the air! In the past few days I have seen these “things” everywhere! What are these “things” anyway? Well, it apparently starts out as yellow dandelions and they eventually turn into this white/grayish thing which are the seeds!

This was shot with an Olympus E-10 digital camera which was introduced in the year 2000. It was a bridge camera which looks like a large DSLR but is in reality a point and shoot with a fixed lens. In some ways Olympus was ahead of their time with cameras like this! In appearance, it looks very much like a digital equivalent of their IS-3 or other “IS” series of film bridge cameras.

One big difference though is the E-10 had a much smaller 2/3″ sensor versus 35mm film. This was well before the full frame era or even APS-C sensor point and shoots. That was the norm back in 2000. Actually, to have a camera that looked like the E-10 in 2000 is quite mind blogging when you think about it now!

How does it compare in today’s world? Well I haven’t done any scientific testing, but the images have that old school digital look which means colors are not always accurate. There is softness from the low 4mp resolution. When I say “soft” I don’t mean not sharp. In this case I mean lacking a lot of details that we’re used to seeing from higher resolution cameras.

But guess what? Taken on the whole, I like the images! Old digital cameras have a “vintage” look all their own. I won’t even call it “film like” though I know people like that term. It’s digital and it has got its own charm.

Perhaps it’s just a fondness for nostalgia but I find that things that weren’t so pretty back in the day, people tend to love today. Ok, maybe it’s just me πŸ™‚

Ah don’t lie, I know there are many of you out there who feel the same way! Anyway, the digital cameras from back in the early days of digital can be a lot of fun to play with. An Olympus E-10 today on the used market can set you back anywhere from $10-60 dollars. Many are either not working or the rubber surfaces become sticky. Find a working one for a low price and they can be a lot of fun! Happy shooting folks!

Celebrating Four Years Of Zay Plus Fuji Raising Film Prices & COSMOS?! πŸ˜€

Good morning guys! Hope you don’t mind if I indulge a little in celebrating and wishing my daughter Zay a very Happy 4th Birthday!! A wonderful child, couldn’t ask for a better baby, we’ve been blessed. Love you lots kid πŸ˜πŸŽ‚βœŒπŸ»

Sorry if you’ve seen some of these pictures before but they just happen to be some of my favorites among many.

Time marches on so fast! Sometimes I get sick when I remember like yesterday it was 1999 and now you telling me it’s twenty years later?!

Friend, it doesn’t get any slower. In fact, anyone above the age of forty can tell you it moves faster every year! Cherish the day and take lots of pics!

Zay at three months. 2015. Canon EOS 5D Classic, EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

“Lost” 2016. Leica M8, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M.

imgCMZayda042

Zay at around four months. 2015. Leica CM, Ilford FP4 in D76.

Zay & Zoe, 2016. iPhone 6s Plus.

“A Portrait Of Zay” 2016. Olympus OM-D EM-5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital lens.

“Eskimo Pie” 2019. iPhone 6s Plus

FUJIFILM, FUTURE REVIEWS & COSMOS?!

I posted this a couple of days ago, sorry for the late update. In our latest “Trends” video, we look at the news that Fuji will be raising the prices of their films by thirty percent. I’m not too happy about this. Yes, I understand they are a business and prices do not stay the same forever. However, a thirty percent increase is pretty steep and in my opinion, they haven’t felt the love for the “film” portion of their name for a long time now. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually get rid of all their 35mm and 120 film and focus squarely on their Instax line which makes them a lot of money.

I will also show you some of the cameras and lenses that I plan to review. Actually, I already have drafts for most of them! My issue is that I tend to be too cautious with what I say or write so I just keep editing. I just want everything to be accurate. This explains part of the reason why it takes so long between reviews. Sorry about that! My reasoning is that once these reviews come out you cannot take back what you said so you must get it right!

Thank you guys for reading and as this is the last day of February, I guess I’ll see you all next month!

Flashback Friday: β€œGimme Your Best!” πŸ˜€

This photo was shot about two, almost three years ago in 2016. I said to Zay, give me your best smile and this is what she gave me! Ah the baby’s already a natural in my biased opinion πŸ™‚

Sure yes I know it’s not a real “flashback” but hey when you’re a 3 year old toddler, yeah it’s a flashback! πŸ˜€

I wonder though, could anyone figure out the camera setup being used in the picture? Hint, it’s not something I ever alluded to on these pages before lol but perhaps this is the year for it! This is the year we go BIG…or is it not? Haha

Happy February good camera loving peeps! 😊😘

Monday Mystery Camera: The Sony DKC-C200X

What’s better than a good Monday Mystery Camera on a Tuesday? πŸ˜€

Sorry I’m late with this posting but I did get the YouTube video for this in late on a Monday night if that counts!

Anyway, this is just one of those cameras that I don’t feel the need or want to kill myself writing about so I’ll let the video do the talking for those interested since everything I know about it is in the video. I’ll save the double duty for the hardcore camera stuff! It’s basically a Sony DKC-C200X Passport Camera from 2003 and it is one of the largest, goofiest digital cameras I’ve ever seen! πŸ™‚

But does it work? Is it good for anything other than passports?

One thing I’d like to note. The “coffee” thing at the beginning is basically a parody of this much used and cliched scene. I’ve seen it on so many YouTube videos that I’ve lost count! πŸ˜€

As far as I can tell, the only way I can use this camera is to have the photos sent via Bluetooth to a compatible Sony Printer which I do not have. Now if anyone out there has this camera and can tell me if there’s a way to send photos from this camera to a laptop or phone I’d appreciate it! Thank you!

Photo Of The Day: “Saturday In The Park” Mamiya 6 75mm 3.5 G Lens

imgmamiya6kids094ps_66

“Saturday In The Park” 2016. Mamiya 6, 75mm f/3.5 Mamiya G lens, Kodak T-Max 400 in D76 developer.

In my effort to be more active for you good people, here’s a shot and short article for today. Shot with a Mamiya 6 and 75mm f/3.5 Sekor. I actually shot this a couple of years ago before I sold the camera. It was in Central Park.

Speaking of “Saturday In The Park” I recently saw a CNN documentary which I think is a couple of years old, on one of America’s oldest and greatest pop/rock bands, Chicago. I loved their stuff from the 70s and 80s although admittedly they went into the “soft rock” category with the rise of (then) lead singer Peter Cetera, not that it’s a bad thing mind you.

I always thought the band broke up because of Cetera and his ever growing star in the 80s. But now I’m not so sure it was really a case of someone getting a big head or whether he and the band could just no longer get along.

Just like another great 80s band Journey, I’ll always associate Cetera’s voice with Chicago just as I associate Steve Perry with Journey.

Anyway, I’m drifting off course! Music just happens to be my other passion. I especially like rock and popular music from the 50s through the 90s. Not much for music after that πŸ˜€

The Mamiya 6 is a Camera Legend. I had a complete outfit in 2009 including the body, 75mm f/3.5, 50mm f/4, and 150mm f/4.5 telephoto. I started selling off the lenses first, then the camera and 75mm because I wasn’t using it enough and needed funds for other things. You know the deal 😊

I’ve always thought of giving the Mamiya 6 a formal write-up on these pages and I’m sure I’ll get to it one of these days, but I’m not sure I could write enough to do it justice. It’s a fantastic medium format rangefinder. In fact, if I had the funds I could easily talk myself into it again!

If you look at the photo, you’ll notice some blotches, most notably on the bottom right, a result of my imperfect developing. Not making any excuses, but many people actually do not mind, and some even “want” these imperfectons these days! Don’t believe me? You should see what people are liking on Instagram! I guess it’s part of what people today consider a part of that “film look.”

Back in the day, I don’t remember people loving imperfect pictures all that much, but since this shot is imperfect…ok, I’m cool with it! πŸ™‚

I’ve always said and it’s worth repeating that T-Max 400 is a beautiful film that develops best in T-Max Developer. As I did not have any T-Max Developer on hand, I decided to take my chances with D76.

I’ve noticed that when in D76, the T-Max will have a tendency to produce streaks and blotches. Sometimes I get lucky and get a clean set, but T-Max 400 seems more finicky than other films and results with T-Max Developer are consistently smooth.

Well, that’s it for this morning. Oh one more thing, these are not all my kids! πŸ˜€

Photo Of The Day: β€œThe Fountain” Hasselblad X-Pan

“The Fountain” 2013. Hasselblad X-Pan, 45mm f/4 Hasselblad lens. Film was probably Fuji Superia but will update for accuracy if I can find the information.

Hello folks! Still here, still standing, better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor feeling like a little kid!

Ah, is that me or is it Elton John? πŸ˜€

Here’s the honest truth about my inactivity as I hate to say sorry all the time! I run about four or five different streams other than this blog so I’m spreading myself way too thin! Not just photography but music, etc. This is my baby of course and I really should just be completely on it! My apologies for not being able to give you my best at all times!

So today’s posting is really a test. I’m working on a review of the Hasselblad X-Pan, the panoramic Camera Legend. I am wanting to see if these images appear good on your screen. I feel X-Pan images are best viewed on a computer and not a phone. X-Pan images are large and long and they simply don’t have the same impact when viewed small.

I don’t mind telling you about doing an X-Pan review before it’s published because there are some very fine reviews out on this camera already as it’s been around for some time. I don’t see myself bettering any of these reviews, just adding to them.

At the same time, I would like to make a complementary YouTube video for it. But in all honesty, making a few cents if I make it to thousands of views is not inspiring so I’m not making it for that reason. I’m going to make it for you, my fellow camera lovers!

To have used a Camera Legend like the X-Pan is a blessing that should be shared, don’t you think? Have a great day camera freaks and see you soon! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“·βœŒπŸ»

UPDATE: I have checked it out myself and to me the image is way too small on the computer! Have to find a work around to show you larger images!

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