Repair: Zeiss Ikon Contax 2 Part 2

Hello, everybody! We are going to continue with our Contax 2/3 repair series with part 2! In part 1, we tackled how to remove the covers and outer castings of the camera so that we can access the inner mechanisms and correct any problems with the shutter or any of the inner workings of the camera. This part is going to be more extensive as we work on the shutter and rangefinder of the camera. You’ll need to be an experienced repairer at the least before you tackle this part because this is complicated work. Remember what I said in part 1, this article is just for you entertainment and education. If your Contax 2 is needing repair, please send it to a competent repairman. The repair of the Contax series of rangefinders isn’t an easy task but it’s not impossible or overly-difficult as some would make it appear. Any competent repairman will be able to repair this. You can check out Hayata Camera here in Tokyo if you want. However, they don’t speak English fluently so if you need to send your camera there for repairs I can help you do that for a small fee. It is mostly for my transportation and time so I guess it’s reasonable.

IMG_7843This is the sort of thing that we will be looking at in this article. We will begin opening its internals and look deep into the camera to diagnose its troubles. This is delicate work so I will highly suggest that you prepare yourself and your workspace before you begin this. More


Repair: Zeiss Ikon Contax 2 Part 1

Hello, everybody! How are you today? I just had a little midnight snack with my wife and we had some sushi. Sushi is as Japanese as cherry blossoms despite having its origins in Southeast Asia in the distant past. It’s a throwback to old Imperial Japan but its taste has not changed much since the late 1800s. It’s a testament to how something good can stand the test of time. Today, I am going to show you something that was designed long before most of the people who are reading this blog was born and like sushi, its design is still as relevant today as the day it debuted. Read the rest of this article to find out more.


Today, we are going to tackle Zeiss Ikon’s masterpiece – the Contax 2 camera! It was made from the second half of the 1930’s all the way to the post-war years and it’s the product of  Hubert Newrin’s genius. He presided over the development of this camera and he vowed to make a camera that would fix all of the bugs of the previous model (the Contax I). The previous model was troubled with numerous flaws that it was updated so often that new updates would come out just a few months after the previous updated was sold. Reliable isn’t the word that you’ll see used in the same sentence with the Contax I except if it was used in the negative. While the last model was fairly trouble-free, it’s considered to be a lemon. The Contax 2 changed all that and it restored Zeiss Ikon’s tarnished name because it is so much more reliable and the ergonomics made plenty of sense. It feels like it was a design that came out of Bauhaus and its ergonomics and design was copied by many. It’s such a breakthrough that you can still see its influence in the camera designs that were made in recent years. This Contax 2 is to cameras as the Model T is to cars.

IMG_4930The Contax 2 is a beautiful camera, it’s amazing to think that this camera was designed in the years leading to the rise of the Third Reich before the mid 1930’s. The design endures the test of time and it’s still a joy to use this camera despite being almost 90 years old.


Shopping: Hayata Camera (Asakusa)

Hello, everybody! I am going to feature Hayata Camera (早田カメラ) today in Asakusa. It’s a well-known shop for repairs here in Japan and they repair almost every type of gear. If they can’t fix it, you will have a hard time looking for somebody who can here in Japan. I seldom go there because they’re on the other side of Tokyo so I just buy from them when I see them at the bazaars. They have been in business for some time now and they have a very reputable name when it comes to repairs. Read my article to see what they have.

IMG_8264This is the storefront of their retail shop. It can be easy to miss because it looks like a café from the outside serving overpriced coffee but a closer look reveals that it’s not. More

Report: Ultra-Micro-Nikkors Exhibit

Hello, everybody! I just renewed my working visa here in Japan and along the way home I decided to give the Nikon Museum a visit. I have been making articles on the museum in this blog and you can find older articles here in this link. The museum has new exhibits from time-to-time and I visit here as much as I can to cover them for you. It’s kind of far from where I live now so I cannot go there often but I just try my best. The exhibit today is related to the very important field of precision manufacturing, one of Nikon’s biggest source of revenue and when we talk about precision manufacturing by Nikon we only think about the Ultra-Micro-Nikkors because we are photography nuts! Enjoy the rest of this short article and I will update this on my next trip to the immigration office so please come back when I update this with new pictures.

IMG_8338This is the centerpiece of this exhibit, the 500kg monster lens used for lithography. You’ll never find this anytime soon in the auction sites so don’t even bother. More

Repair: Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5

Hello, everybody! It’s Spring now and it signals the beginning of Nature’s cycle. Sakura is at full-bloom earlier than usual this year and nothing heralds the coming of spring here in Japan better than seeing sakura trees blooming. It’s a time for festivals and people go out and enjoy life under these beautiful trees, forgetting what went past in the last year and looking forward to a new beginning. Speaking of beginnings and originations, I will show you guys a special lens that started a whole-new class of lenses which we still use and enjoy up to this day in one form or another. Read the article to know what this is.


We’re going to look into one of the most important lenses in modern photography and it’s non-other than the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 Auto lens! Ever wonder where and how the 70-200mm focal range came from? Well, it all started with this very lens. It began the popular “small” telephoto zoom for professionals and the latest 70-200/2.8 zooms can all be traced back to this lens as the originator of this lens class. Before this thing came out, the telephoto zooms were all big lenses that you can barely hand-hold for a whole day. It gave us all the freedom to bring a telephoto zoom and shoot with it the whole day while still being able to do the same the next day. As expected, this became a hit and everybody who shot sports, news, weddings and everything else got one. Sure, the current lenses of the 70-200mm line have wider aperture, autofocus, VR and everything else but the basic underlying concept is till the same and it hasn’t changed much since this lens came to be.

IMG_2281Just look at all that battle scars. It’s a very tough lens and it can surely be used to maim a person! The last manual focus lens made that’s closest to the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 is the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S but its build pales in comparison to this lens even if the Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f4 Ai-S is considered by many to be a tough lens. The scale at the sleeve was beautifully-made and painted, it’s a real work-of-art. I love Nikon’s lenses because the scales are usually very colorful and this make it easier for me to read it. It’s all these small attention to details that convinced me to go Nikon years ago.


Repair: Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Spring is officially here and the weather is starting to get warmer. The sakura trees are blooming more than a week earlier than usual and this is a sign that we are going to have a very warm summer this year. I hate summers because it’s hot but the only consolation I get is to enjoy the sight of beautiful girls in their summer attire. This is just one small thing that makes life worth living. I am always infatuated by pretty girls so I got into photography. There are times when I wish I have a lens for portraiture with me all the time but it’s going to be awkward to ask random beautiful women for a snap. The way things work here in Tokyo is very different and I will be viewed as a creep. Maybe if I have an impressive lens with me then that would probably be enough to announce my intention that I am a gentleman with a Nikon and a Nikkor. Maybe the sight of the lens is all it needs to change their opinions. Speaking of lenses that make an impression, I’ll be showing you guys one lens that doesn’t need a calling card and its nick name is bokeh.


Today, we are going to look into the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S lens! This lens’ reputation is the stuff of legends. It’s the first 85/1.4 ever made for 35mm SLR photography. Nikon also made the first 85/1.5 lens for the Nikon rangefinder line in the 1950s and it took decades before we see a lens in this class made for the SLR. During this period when Nikon didn’t have a 85/1.5 for the F-mount, people only have the Nikkor 85mm f/2 Ai-S and its earlier sibling – the New-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8. While both lenses are great, they lack the extra 0.5% that an 85/1.4 can offer. Since Nikon’s 85mm lenses at the time were so good, it was hard to make an 85/1.4 to top these but Nikon made it happen in 1981 and it didn’t disappoint. There were stories of people shifting over to Nikon just to use this lens and I know a guy who did just that in the ’80s, I think he was shooting with a Pentax back then.

IMG_6288Just look at that glass! The Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai-S is an impressive to look at. It is sure to make people notice it. This lens shook the photography industry when it came out since it’s the fastest 85mm lens in its class for 35mm SLR photography. There were stories that I heard about people switching over to Nikon just so that they can shoot with this lens. It was a very good lens then and it’s certainly still a very good lens now. More

Review: Voigtländer VC Meters

Hello, everybody! It’s a holiday today so I have time to write and catch up with things. If I didn’t have this holiday then I would not have the time to recuperate from hay fever. It is very important to rest my body and mind but it is also equally important that I maintain this blog. Today, I’ll show you guys a very useful gadget if you’re a film photographer and you want something fast and elegant to use.


Voigtländer made these very beautiful meters and they come in silver or black. The finish is beautiful and the fit and quality is very high. I remember that many people were not happy when Voigtländer announced the VC Meter 1 to the public because it came during the time when almost everybody was migrating to digital and many new photographers just got into photography so they never knew the joy of shooting film. A few rejoiced so it is clear that there is a market for these. Fast-forward a decade or so and you now see lots of people trying-out film and these are now a must-have for people shooting with setups that are so old that they never came with any form of metering or the meter is dead.

The VC Meters are very small. They are the smallest and shoe-mount meters that you can buy today new. The VC Meter 1 is now discontinued and can only be bought used but you can still buy them brand new as “new-old stock”. Similar meters were all made decades ago using selenium so these are very welcome for us film shooters. Other manufacturers gave their own offerings but none were made this small and elegant.

IMG_8217The VC Meter 1 is on the left and the VC Meter 2 is on the right. The dimensions aren’t the same as you can obviously see and the operation is a little bit different for both models. I got both of these because the subtle differences in dimension mean a lot to me when the meters are mounted on my cameras and I will illustrate that to you in more detail later.


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