The most beautiful film camera

zeiss contarex is the most beautiful film camera

The year was 1958. The competitions were fierce. It is a take no prisoner stage, where every camera manufacturer did their best to produce the most reliable, most advance and beautiful 35mm film camera of all time.

The over engineered Leica M3 was released 4 years ago, the undisputed champion. There was no sensor war, no dynamic range, no fps, what can you possibly produce that can have an edge in engineering to offer the consumers?

Zeiss held a pep talk with the company, the engineers in particular needed to hear one. Something is cooking at the land of the rising sun and it is not going to be merciful when it arrives. How about we throw everything we can and create a camera that no man has ever imagined neither will the competitors ever be able to produce?

Zeiss created the Contarex Bullseye.

The most beautiful film camera in the world, historically.

As history records the aftermath, the most beautiful camera in the world which was supposed to be engineered to a level of perfection that it needed no after service nor care, did not fare well commercially. It was more expensive than the Leica M3 and a year later in 1959, Japan sent its Nikon F into the world, obliterating M3 and every other rangefinder in existence.

This blog doesn’t promote GAS and I have been pondering on which camera to use for my 52 weeks project of One camera, One lens, I decided to pay homage to the Zeiss engineers effort and ideals and use this camera for this task. The fallout of this camera was so bad it literally killed the company.

The engineers lost passion and never produced anything significant in terms of camera bodies. The company went downhill after that. While this is not the absolute truth of exactly what happened, it is my narration based on the timeline and understanding of engineers in companies.

sources : https://www.nytimes.com/1971/08/26/archives/zeissikon-plans-to-shut-voigtlander-unit-in-1972-zeiss-will-close.html
Over engineered, over promised. The world most beautiful film camera.

Why film? Why not just use the 645z and use that instead for the 52 weeks project? The reason is simply because of restrictions. Film development is still affordable here in Malaysia, we are looking at USD 4 for development and includes scanning. While they exist and the limits of 36 shots per roll is appealing for my objectives, this seems like a good direction.

The other reason is that I have decided to remove Photoshop and Lightroom from my workflow for this 52 weeks project. That is me showing the finger to this commercial company for their lethargic products and these subscriptions and megapixels marketing noises. Did you know that they parked their sales in IRELAND and you had to contact customer service to stop your subscription? No thanks.

The world most beautiful camera. Contarex Bullseye. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

Thus my 52 weeks begin. Come join the restriction, pick 1 camera, any camera, 1 lens and focus on photographing things that moves you, not the likes or public.

Here are some updated photos I took of the camera itself, it is a real beauty though that divine shell comes with a heavy history and cost.

The logo and emblem from days gone by

One of the unique craftsmanship seen on this camera is that it has no light seals to be found anywhere, in fact the only foam you can find is at the mount near the focusing screen where it has slight contact with the mirror as it flips up.

The mechanism of flipping the mirror is not the ordinary design that we find in the dslrs or slrs of the golden age of film cameras. It looks and feel complex, whether this complexity translates to anything superior is pure conjecture.