Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Embracing imperfection, recording emotions, one impression at a time…

1956 Carl Zeiss Contaflex lenses

Site Search

The Contaflex actually a series of 35mm leaf-shuttered SLR cameras, produced by Zeiss Ikon in the 1950s and 1960s. The name was first used in 1935 on a 35mm Twin-lens reflex camera, the Contaflex TLR also by Zeiss Ikon, the -flex part in the name referring to integral mirror for the viewfinder.
Stacks Image 57

The Contaflex III, launched in 1956, was equipped with a Zeiss Tessar 50mm f:2.8 with helical focusing. The front element of the lens was removable and could be replaced by supplementary lenses. The Tessar name comes from Tetra, or the Greek word for the number four, since it has four lenses.

I removed the back fixed element from the camera and mounted it on an m42 mount adapter for use on a helicoid.
Stacks Image 93

This allows me to use these lenses on my digital cameras.

Stacks Image 100
Stacks Image 104

The camera uses lenses called Pro Tessar

Unlike the normal Tessar the front element of the Pro-Tessar can be replaced to make a long-focus or wide-angle lens. The camera came with a 50mm f2.8 standard lens. In 1957 Carl Zeiss offered the long-focus Pro Tessar 115 mm f/4 and 85 mm f/4, and the wide-angle Pro Tessar 35 mm f/3,2 for use on the central-shutter SLR Zeiss Ikon Contaflex cameras.

The Tessar looks like a triplet with the last positive lens as a doublet. The Tessar is a photographic lens design conceived by the German physicist Paul Rudolph in 1902 while he worked at the Zeiss optical company and patented by Zeiss in Germany; the lens type is usually known as the Zeiss Tessar. Paul Rudolph is also famous for designing the Double Gauss lens. Later in life, he joined Hugo Meyer and designed the Plasmat variations of cine lenses.

Stacks Image 142
Stacks Image 111

A Tessar (Tetra the Greek word for the number four) comprises of four elements in three groups, one positive crown glass element at the front, one negative flint glass element at the center and a negative plano-concave flint glass element cemented with a positive convex crown glass element at the rear.

Pro Tessar 115mm f4

If you want bubble bokeh this is NOT the lens for you. It has only five aperture blades. However the bokeh is actually very pleasing.

The lens is easy to change, heavy but small and goes from infinity to about 400mm on my small helicoid.

The sharpness is excellent for such a small lens and I adore the bokeh it produces when used for macro.

Images HERE

This image shows the complete set.
Stacks Image 115

Pro Tessar 50mm f2.8

If you want bubble bokeh this is NOT the lens for you. It has only five aperture blades. However the bokeh is actually very pleasing.

I love this lens as it is extremely small, is very easy to change, goes from infinity to about 10cm on my small helicoid and is surprisingly sharp.

Images HERE

Stacks Image 129
Stacks Image 126