Zeiss Ikon Continette

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.

The 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.

The camera 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 pressure.

The 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 similar.

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.

There 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.