Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Contaflex IV Repair

Every now and then my friend Hugo dares me for a trade, this time it was a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex IV

P1240367 (2)

He sent me the above photo with the following description: "the body is average, but the lens is quite loose and has many fungi, the case is broken in two"

We made our trade arrangement and, in the following weekend, I attacked the 'beast'


I striped it almost completely to find out why the lens was that loose, it shaked and rattled, also to clean it thoroughly. He was not kidding, all the lens surfaces had fungi and a lot of them. The mirror and prism were in need of a good cleaning too.
So, as you can see above, it all came off.

I found the culprits on the looseness of the lens:

DSC_7750 copy

As you can see above, marked with an A, there was a loose screw inside and, marked with a B, this screw was very loose too, this one doubles it's action as focus stop.

Now I'm going to show you a step-by-step reassemble of the camera:

All the parts clean and ready to reassemble 

The prism parts


The prism ready and in position


The prism reassembled


Top plate, in place, rear lens viewfinder, in screw mount and screws


Film advance/counter and shutter release assembly parts in the correct assembly order


Lightmeter computer and film rewind assembly


The next images show you the assembly sequence









Now the shutter/lens assembly


The shutter/inner lens assembly already in place and also the controller rings for aperture and shutter speeds


The lens/shutter assembly in place it's only missing the interchangeable front element of the lens


Here it is


The optional accessory shoe


Film back and spool


Some pictures of the finished work





Looking at this you might think it was piece of cake...
How wrong you can be!
I didn't count the time but it took looooong. Especially the retrieving of the missing screw and putting it back into place, it was almost impossible to reach the place without disassembling parts that I didn't want to.
Then the positioning of the shutter assembly is quite a critical operation, if not performed correctly it fires when you loose the shutter release and not when you press it.
The calibration of the focus range was a very time consuming trial and miss operation.

When I gave it as complete, I loaded it with film and was going to change the front element of the lens, I have also the 35, 85 and 115mm, it was stuck... the lens wouldn't come out...
I had to start all over: disassemble the lens/shutter assembly, from the back, it came all out including the focus assembly and do it all over including the focus range tuning.
All due to a misplaced wire spring that locks the front element lens.

Now it's great, even the lightmeter seems great, comparing it with my D40. Soon there will be pictures and a review of it.

Stay tuned (o;


  1. You have great skill, my friend!

    Did you notice that the film spool was also marked "Contax"?

  2. Magnificent work! Well done!

  3. @ Ranger Bob:
    You're too fast my friend, I was going to email you about this post.

    No, I haven't noticed it.

    Thanks, my friend.

  4. Oh man, I almost cried reading this post.

    And I don't even like Contaflexes...



  5. @ grouchomarx:

    That's a real Grouxo Marx comment!

  6. És um mãozinhas... grande aventura!

  7. @ Raul PC:
    Dá-me um gozo que nem imaginas (o;

  8. Very interesting. I am in the middle of a similar project myself and there is one little bit of information I cannot find: how is the rewind knob removed? Any advice would be welcome.

  9. @ Anonymous:
    You have to secure, from inside the camera, the shaft, with a screwdriver or pliers, then turn CCW the rewind knob.

  10. Wow! Really impressed to see how you dismantled and re-assembled back the camera. Recently i had also tried the same on my Canon VT De luxe. I managed to dismantled the parts that hold the top panel except the film winder. just incase you have experience on canon, do you know how to remove the film winder from that panel. i couldn't find any screw that hold it to its place. thanks in advance.

  11. @ CheMat:
    Usually what you have to do is hold it, from inside, with a screwdriver or pliers, then turn it, by hand CCW.

  12. After much trying, at last i managed to dismantle the rewind crank on my canon VT Deluxe. At first it can't get separated even after i turned it CCW so many times together with holding the inner crank from inside. The trick is to hold the outer crank upwards before turning it CCW. At last now i can continue my project. thanks to you Raul!

  13. @ CheMat:
    I'm glad you made it.
    I disassembled my Canon P but it's quite different, it has a small screw to remove the winding lever.

  14. Inspired by you, not only I completed my Canon VT project but also another project to transform the look of my Olympus Pen EE-3. From dull black and Silver now it become Golden and Brown. Please have a look and will appreciate your comments :)

    here is the link:

  15. @CheMat:
    Nice project and execution.
    I'm following you now and I added you blog to my list.

  16. Thanks RaúlM. I am also following you and added you to my blog list.

  17. Thank for your information.
    I have one Contafelex IV and I disassembly follow you.
    But I can not disassembly the focus ring from body.
    Please tell me the method of disassembly the focus ring?

  18. @binhnt21:
    Take it of only if you really need to.
    It's very hard to get to the screw that retains it.
    You can see in the third shot, marked as B, the retaining screw. The access to it is from inside the camera. After loosening it, you don't have to remove it, the focus ring rotates freely, passing over the minimum focus point, if you continue turning it will come off, be careful to note the position when it happens, so you know where to start when you reassemble it.
    Once again if you don't have a good reason to take it off, let it be, this helical screws are very easy to come off and a big pain to reassemble.

  19. Thank you for your quick reply.
    My Contaxflex IV, the lens was that loose, too.
    I search and very intereting when read your blog.
    Now I only open 4 screw from inside the camera to remove the lens/shutter.
    I want find the culprits on the looseness of the lens, marked as A and B in your third shot.
    But i can not find screw :D
    Please help me the way to access to mark A and B to fix lens.
    Must I remove the Top plate to continue?

  20. @binhnt21:
    I'm afraid so, it's very hard to get at those screws.

  21. excelente articulo, un saludo

  22. Hi RaúlM,

    Wow, that’s a tremendous overhaul job you took on. Great work! What is your opinion of the picture quality? Was it worth the time spent? I inherited a Contaflex IV and thought to tackle the shutter problem. The shutter seems to operate fine on 15th to 500th of a second. But get stuck on 1 – 8th second stops. From your experience, would this be easier fix? Or will require complete overhaul?

  23. Found your post while I was searching the web to find hints for getting the lens off from the body. I am only interested in getting the lens of the camera. Would you mind sharing a few hints? thanks.

    1. To remove the lens you just have to press the little pawl, with the red dot, under the lens with the thumb, of your left hand, with your right hand grab and twist the milled ring of the lens until it stops, then lift the lens

  24. Found your post while I was searching the web to find hints for getting the lens off from the body. I am only interested in getting the lens of the camera. Would you mind sharing a few hints? thanks.