|This page looks a bit different from the others.
I originally had written this to be part of a project that I had in
the works. That got scrapped, so I've brought it to my main site.
The Zeiss Ikon Continette was among the last of the
simple viewfinder cameras to come out of the Stuttgart, Germany,
factory. It was produced from 1958-62, just about the time that
Zeiss Ikon stopped production of its Contax IIa rangefinder and near
the end of most of its non-SLR cameras.
Continette is a simple camera. Shutter speeds include B, 30, 60, 125
and 250 with a full aperture range running from f/2.8 to f/22. There
is a depth of field scale on the front of the lens housing. There
also is a flash-synchronization socket on the front of the camera,
and the accessory shoe is riveted to the top deck, rather than
attached by screws.
The coated Carl Zeiss Lucinar all-glass lens, from what I can tell, is a
triplet. You'll notice that even though the lens is marked Carl Zeiss,
it carries no serial number. That's a bit of a departure for Carl Zeiss, as even its other triplet, the Triotar, is almost always seen
with a serial number.
has no meter, though althere is a small dial on the back of the camera
to help the photographer remember the speed and type of film that
has been loaded. The body shares the same general shape as Zeiss
Ikon's other cameras from that era: various iterations of the
Contessa, as well as the Tenax and the Symbolica.
The camera features a sturdy metal body,
stamped-metal bottom plate and chromed steel top deck. The body is covered
with a grippable pebble-grained material that might be leather or
might be a synthetic material. The Continette has
no strap lugs, which means you'll need to keep it cased if you want
to use a neck strap.
The viewfinder uses plastic lens elements that scratch quite
easily. The film counter dial also is plastic, and rewinding the
film is done with the good old-fashioned knob on the top deck,
rather than the bottom-mounted crank that was used on its stablemates. The film-rewind knob is made of very heavy metal, and some
parts of the film advance look very similar to the Contarex.
The frame counter is of the count-down variety. That is, you set the
maximum number of exposures when loading the film, and the dial
counts down with each shot -- just like the Contarex.
It's a pleasant camera to hold and to use. The Pronto shutter
isn't too loud but gives you an audible click to let you know the
shutter has been released. The self-timer whirrs nicely through its
cycle, and the shutter release requires just the right amount of
film advance is nice enough, and like the Contessa is slightly
curved to help the user pull it away from the camera body.
The Zeiss Ikon logo sits just below the camera's name (above).
The typeface is similar to the typeface that General Motors selected
for its Corvette sportscar (at left). Not identical, mind you, just
I've run just one roll through the camera, and I was pleasantly
surprised by the results. Photos were acceptably sharp, and there
didn't appear to be any serious vignetting. The viewfinder was
scratched, and it interferes a bit when framing your shot.
is a depth-of-field scale on the lens faceplate, and I used that
when shooting outside. It's a pleasant little camera, and I think
for its intended audience it was the right approach.