This Contessa 35 is the second variant with the high end specification of Synchro-Compur shutter and Zeiss Tessar f2.8 lens so would date between 1953 and 1955. Looking at it and handling it I find it amazing to think that it is 64 years old. But its certainly not ready to be pensioned off into retirement. Everything works, though I cannot guarantee accuracy, even the exposure meter appears to be in the correct ball park (but I would not trust valuable film without a second opinion from an accurate source).
In common with the rest of my 'Vintage' cameras I've not film tested it. This is only because I would not consider this camera as a 'Working Classic'. Not that is not a great camera, because it certainly is, but only because I personally would not consider it for intensive photographic use. Why? Purely based on ergonomics. Zeiss packed a lot into this camera and the design brief was to make it small and portable. They succeeded but the buttons and levers, in that era, used in shooting are just a bit too fiddly for my clumsy fingers (and don't even consider gloves on a bright, frosty morning).
This camera should however be used regularly but sparingly. It should be mollycoddled, pampered and admired. It is a great example of what the best camera designers could make in the 50's. It is a usable piece of history but not for the museum (yet) but neither is it for carting out in the rain and dust … its just too precious for that.
This one is in unusually good condition. It has some wear marks and some patches of black paint loss but nothing of consequence. You can see the paint loss on the side hinge and some on the inside if the film door where an indent helps to secure the cassette. The case has got some damage due to the stitching deteriorating ... but all the leather is there so would be an easy and desirable fix given the unique features of the case itself.
Things worthy of special mention … its compact size, its uncoupled and neatly built in (working) meter, its quality of build, its rangefinder (not the usual sort but rather special), its case latch and rewind engagement … never seen one like this before ... very clever indeed.
There is a lot of information about the camera on WWW, here are a few to look at: http://www.rolandandcaroline.co.uk/html/zeiss_ikon_contessa_35.html http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/forums/threads/zeiss-ikon-contessa-35.112861/ And a longer historical perspective here: http://www.mikeeckman.com/2018/03/zeiss-ikon-contessa-35-1950/
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