The tale of the three Leicas

Leica M6 Barnack X1

No enthusiast camera collector will escape one or more Leicas sooner or later. Once I was a fierce opponent of Leicas, because of the absurd prices and the arrogance that radiated from the brand. But with my first Barnack, a 1934 Leica IIIa, it was love at first sight and it didn’t stop there. In the meantime I own two more cameras which this story is about and show why my Leica heart has grown even bigger.

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Flexibility in the fifties: Zeiss Ikon Contaflex

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super

There are very few camera manufacturers who were as keen on flexibility as Zeiss Ikon. In the fifties, the Contaflex became a unique series with interchangeable front lenses. The rear lens and shutter remained on the camera and the very high quality Tessar Pro lenses could be alternated at the front. From wide to Tele. Welcome to the wonderous world of Zeiss Ikon.

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Kiev 80: From Russia with love

kiev 80

Owners call it the Hasselbladsky, the Russian clone of the famous 1600F. We write the end of the 1950s when the Salyut C sess the light of day in the Kiev factories. With confidence the medium sized camera exports to the West, but soon it turns out to be a love-hate relationship. Although the camera is budget friendly priced, it also seems to be a matter of luck to get one that is actually working.

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Contax IIa: the ‘Leica’ of Zeiss Ikon

Contax II

It was now light enough to start taking pictures, and I brought my first Contax II camera out of its waterproof oilskin. The flat bottom of our barge hit the earth of France. The boatswain lowered the steel-covered barge front, and there, between the grotesque designs of steel obstacles sticking out of the water, was a thin line of land covered with smoke – our Europe, the ‘Easy Red’ beach” – Robert Capa, June 6th, 1944. D-day, one of the most import days in modern history. Captured by on the most famous photographers, with a Zeiss Ikon Contax II camera.

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Zeiss-Ikon Contarex ‘Bullseye’: beyond limits

Zeiss Ikon Contarex Bullseye


It is the camera of the superlatives, the Zeiss Ikon Contarex, the most complicated camera of all time. 1100 parts are located in the almost 1 kilo housing. A repairman must first remove 43 parts to get inside. No wonder the repair costs more than the almost priceless camera from the last glory years of Zeiss Ikon. Pride comes before the fall.

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Zeiss Ikon: the German camera empire

Zeiss Ikon

Zeiss Ikon is probably the most famous and biggest German camera manufacturer that was formed in 1926 by the merger of the classic four camera makers from the early years: Contessa-Nettel, Ernemann, Goerz and Ica. A very important and significant historical moment that financially was co-founded by capital of Zeiss. The company formed one part of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, another part being the optical company Carl Zeiss. That is the reason most Zeiss-Ikon cameras are fitted with the legendary Carl Zeiss lenses. Who sees a Zeiss Ikon camera, raises his eyebrows over the stunning performance these cameras delivered in those days. But like with all brands, you love or just hate them. Zeiss-Ikon only had fans because of their unbeatable variety of cameras and lenses. Nobody came near, not even Leica.

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