Leica v Zeiss Contax
Was the Zeiss Contax a betterand more innovative rangefinder camera than the Leica?
As the Lieca is now old technology the Ziess shows the Lieca a clean pair of heels.
Leica Rangefinder vs Zeiss Contax Rangefinder.
A debate fresh from the 1930s. Two different philosophies, the Contax was probably more advanced as it had a combined VF/RF compared to the Leica of the period. The Contax roller-blind shutter was much more complex, not better. Zeiss had to take a different approach as Leica had a patent on the horizontal travel shutter.
These days, 50 years after the Zeiss Contax was discontinued- the Leica showed much better "staying Power". Note that Zeiss did not come out with new lenses in Contax RF mount, but made them in Leica M-Mount. Even the C-Sonnar 50/1.5 was available in Leica M-Mount and Nikon S-Mount. So if Zeiss believes the Leica mount was better for reintroducing RF lenses, I;m not going to disagree. But i still like my Contax II.
Had both 50 years ago. Both were good picture takers, but would use the Leica
more than not because of its versatility. The odd thing about the Contax was
its shutter curtain, a vertical affair held together by silk thread, which was prone
Historically, Zeiss has always been more interested in producing lenses than cameras. While Zeiss lenses have very clean and simple design and top performance, nearly all their cameras, including both classic and later RF models, had "something". While aways innovative and even ground-breaking at times, most Contax cameras were unnecessarily complex. I've used professionally ST, AX, RTSII, N1, N Digital, G1 and G2. I am still using C645 and, in my opinion, this is the only camera that is absolutely perfect in terms of design, even ten years after it came out.
I think that if Kyocera didn't abandon Contax brand in 2005, Leica would have much harder time entering medium format.
It depends what part of their 80 year old history you are talking about. Just prewar it was Leica lll and Contax ll. The Leica was smaller, lighter and arguably more reliable. the Contax had a better combined rangefinder/viewfinder window and a longer rangefinder base. It had easier film loading and bayonet lens mount.
Leica came out of the war fairly intact and managed somehow to get back on its feet. Zeiss Ikon was broken up and Contax production was taken off to Kiev. Early Kiev cameras were really Contax and quite good but quality gradually went downhill.
Of the two I prefer the Contax to use but my Leica lll is the one with film in because of the unbroken legacy of lenses and mount that let me use reasonably modern lenses on the old body. I have a 15mm Voigtlander that comes into its own on the 1933 Leica, on my M8 it loses too much width.
I was referring to a time span across the whole history of the brand, and I agree with everything you say. Except I never liked Leica IIIf. M3, on the other hand, even though came out much later, rendered Contax II obsolete
I have never used a Contax, but did use a "copy", the Nikon SP, which I traded for my IIIG. The lens lever-focusing on the Leica was slightly faster to use than the Contax\Nikon focus wheel. I liked the SPs multiple framelines , but as i vaguely recall, the IIIG framelines were more luminous. The early , collapsible Summicron 50 helped make the IIIG pocketable, and performed well, but so did the early "tokyo" 50\1,4. Never scanned the negatives, so pixelpeeping is out of the question.
My very first camera was a Contax Super Ikonta A. It is with this camera that I learned the basics of a rangefinder usage and about light.
The other camera available was a Leica IIIf with a 50mm Summicron(collapsible).
I prefered the Super Ikonta. It was easier to focus and allowed usable copies by contact. The Leica contact copies were too small.
This was a long time ago. I did not have access to color film or an enlarger or even a light meter. But it was how I learned to photograph and process film (only B&W).
For me the larger sensor had the clear advantage.
I am sure that you were not thinking on those cameras when you asked, but it make me remember the experience of learning photography in the childhood almost 50 years ago.
I was thinking of the old cameras. My first "super" camera, after a Retina and Agfa was an old leica III with a Summar lens. I then got given a Contax II. A nice camera but too big after the leica. Then, in the mid sixties, I went the way of most and transfered to SLRs by way of Pentax and Nikon. I wandered back to an M3 and M4 before returning to Zeiss when I purchased a Contrarex. Now that was a big camera. Now I am back with an M8. Life is a series of circles.