Friday 2 February 2024

Zeiss Ikon Contina 526/24

An occasional post about old cameras in my collection, this one being the latest....
 A spur of the moment £12 ebay find which arrived earlier. It looked rather grubby in the photos, that's grubby rather than worn. Good working examples of these Zeiss Ikon Contina cameras generally go for somewhat more. But at such an affordable price it was worth a punt even if it ended up as a door stop. Albeit a rather pretty one.

But after a full mechanical check over, deep clean and lens clean it's ready for action. The lens is fungus free, something quite uncommon for a camera that hasn't been used most likely for over half a century. And upon opening the back for the sniff text, it lacks that mildew aroma which is often the norm of a camera that's been in a damp loft for years, which suggests this one escaped that incarceration. 
The 35mm Zeiss Contina 526/24 was made between 1954 and '58, and after checking the cryptic 'O' series production number, I've worked out that it was in the 1956/57 batch. At that time Britain was still building steam locomotives and Lonnie Donegan was in the Hit Parade with skiffle hit 'Putting on the Style'. 
These cameras look like they're going to be light, tinny and rather rattly, but it really is rather the opposite, it being top end German engineering of course with a good weight and a well-assured feel which gives confidence. It makes a lovely wind on noise and assured click at all speeds other 1 second which is a little lazy. Though that has improved somewhat after a little exercise in the very short time I've had the camera.
The lens is a simple coated 'triotar' 3 element design which generally give excellent results, especially in the centre of the field. When used at wide apertures, I'm expecting a nice swirl to out of focus backgrounds - something that has become popular with modern day hipster digital photographers who seek that characterful old time vibe missing from today's excellent but rather uninteresting lenses designed for modern mirrorless cameras.


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