Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/03/25

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Leica vs Contax RF's & Shutters'
From: (Thomas P Myro)
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 18:38:57 EST

Good Day Everyone!!

This question of Zeiss Rangefinders and shutters comes up from time to

The rangefinder in the first year or so of the Contax I was very much
like the Leica rf in that it was a dichroic semi-silvered design.  This
was changed to first a semi-silvered/ semi guilded design, and finally to
the familiar rotating wedge design found in a lot of Zeiss Ikon Cameras
(like Super Ikontas etc.)  The reason for this is that the dichroic
design wasn't very bright, and certainly provided problems focusing under
low light conditions.  When the Contax II & III were developed, they
employed a swing-wedge rangefinder, with a huge glass prism to carry the
image to the combined rf/vf.  This was done to create the brightest
rangefinder ever, til the M3, arguably.

I don't think anyone who has used LTM cameras would disagree that the rf
image is challenging at best.  The Contax rf images, save for the first
few Contax I's was always superior, and even pleasant in comparison.

As far as shutter go.  Zeiss Ikon had a great deal of experience in
producing vertical traveling focal plane shutters.  They were Europe's
leader in the press camera business.  Dr Nagel, as early as 1922 had been
developing an all-metal vertical traveling shutter for the Contessa
Nettel Tropical Deckrullo.  It was most likely this design that was
developed into the Contax Shutter.  

Leicaphiles seem to think that all Focal plane shutters were either a
Leica design, or a peice of junk developed just to avoid patent
infringements on Leica.

There are a whole lot  of really good shutter designs from a host of
manufacturers.  Some of them found their way into successful cameras, and
some did not, but that doesn't mean they were either Leica rip-offs, or
Leica patent avoiders.

That's what I know about that.

Marc can tell me about any mistaken facts or references here , I'm sure.


Thomas P. Myro