doing it better (sometimes)

An impressive ad for the Contax S c1950

Toronto. On page 31 of the March 1950 edition of Popular Photography, an advertisement touts the Zeiss-Ikon Contax-S camera at whopping price of $475USD with the coated Zeiss Biotar lens. The model S was briefly sold while later models were made with lower letters after the name “Contax”.

The ad explains the virtue of the 35mm pentaprism SLR over the common and very popular rangefinder cameras like the Leica. The ad ignores the difficulty focussing wide angle lens or focussing in dim light. Or that mirror clearance affects the focal length, design and resolution of lenses at and shorter than so called normal lenses. The use of an SLR at the time was a bit more complex and a bit slower than using a rangefinder camera. However; when using telephoto lenses outdoors, the SLRs won hands down.

I used the Exakta Varex and the Exakta VX IIa, also made in Dresden, for about 15 years. They too commanded a healthy price tag and like the Contax SLRs were of poorer construction than Leica. I discovered that as my eyes aged, focussing normal and wide angle lenses became more challenging prompting me to move to the Leica and rangefinders for most of my photos.

In later years and into the digital era, SLR cameras replaced rangefinder cameras as the two design concepts merged in speed and image quality.

My thanks to my good friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar, for sharing this find.

This entry was posted in history and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.