Contax and Pentacon Screw Mount Cameras

(Designed and Manufactured by Zeiss Ikon in Dresden, East Germany
Since 1958, VEB DEFA in Dresden and 1964 VEB Pentacon was formed as the result of merge of VEB DEFA and VEB Kamera und Kinowerke, Dresden.
In 1968 merged with VEN Feinoptisches Werk Gortlitz to produce Kombinat VEB Pentacon, Dresden)

Contax S, 1949-??

First camera with built-in pentaprism
Shutter: 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500, 1/1000
Flash: ?? Flash synch socket was located in the tripod bush
Metering: none
Finder: Ground glass
Battery: none

Non automatic diaphragm
No instant return mirror (Mirror returns with film advance)
Self Timer

From Rick Oleson : I have a contax s and have repaired a number of contax/pentacons, so I though I would add some information regarding the flash synch. The shutter has a fast/slow speed range switch, with the changeover occurring between 1/20 and 1/50 second. The flash synch is X on the slow range and bulb-delay on the fast range, so that you get a similar effect to the automatic synch selection of the later color-dial contax rangefinder cameras. This feature was carried over to later contax and pentacon models.

People interested in repairing Contax-S - have a look at the description Rick put on his web page:

Contax D, 1952-??

Same as S, but the flash synch socket was on the top plate of the camera and improved shutter mechanism

Contax E, 1953-??

Same as D, but with selenium meter built to the prism housing.

Contax F, 1956-??

Same as D, but with automatic diaphragm.
There were also FB (with selenium meter) and FM (with interchangeable split-image focusing screen) and FBM (combinaton of FM and FB) models.

Pentacon Z1 (Pentacon D?), 1952-??

Identical to Contax D, but with a different logo name.

Pentacon F, 1957-??

(and FB, FM, and FBM) identical to Contax F

From Terry Ingram: With the Pentacon FM it is possible to lock mirror up before firing the shutter by pressing the shutter release button only slightly and then stopping. On my particular FM this can be done at will. Not so easy on the F which is some two or three years older. Both camera have proved very reliable in all conditions. Shutter curtains have been renewed in both cameras about 20 years ago but have been reliable since. Mirror cord has been replaced on both cameras within the last three years. Standard lens used 58mm F2 Biotar an 50mm F2.8 Tessar. I also use various lens from 24mm to 300mm.

Pentacon Super, 1968(Oct)-1972(Jan)

Vertical metal and cloth shutter. Interchangeable viewfinders. TTL exposure meter with open-aperture metering and displays of both the shutter speed and the aperture setting in the viewfinder (in 1968!). The range of accessories included a 250-exposure back and a motor drive with remote control.

Shutter: 10 - 1/2000, B
Flash: Standard F and X-synch at 1/125, no hot shoe
Metering: TTL with open-aperture metering (2 pins)
Finder: Interchangeable
Battery: PX13,PX625 - on the side of pentaprism

Auto diaphragm
Instant return mirror
?? Was used by Vladimir Shatalov on bord of Sojus 4 in space ??

Should you buy a Pentacon/Contax?

According to [1], the shutter is not very reliable and, unfortunately, Pentacon Super is scarce and expensive.

Anyone with personal experience?
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