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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Jacques M. Posted - Jul 28 2010 : 09:11:30 AM

First, sorry for my long silence: my computer broke down two months ago and as I am stupid, I had not made copies. So I have lost all my datas...
I received lately two interesting Contaxes. Of course,I would not speak of them if they were not in close relationship with Kievs.


On the right: a Contax II of the last batch, n° O.64166 with a 1,5/5cm Sonnar T coated. Made before Dresden was bombed in february 1945. The remaining camera bodies and spare parts were sent to Kiev and they were used as production training. The first "Kiev 1947" were made with these parts, at least those with script re-engraved front plate (at the reverse of the front plate, the stroke of the "t" is lower than on the Contax Jena).

On the left, an early 1947 Contax Jena n° 11826, certainly with the original lens. History says that the Soviet forces asked for three production lines, that the Contax Jena and some Kiev 1947 (those with the "block" inscription??)were produced and that these lines were shipped to Kiev with some German engineers. No production in Ukraine before 1948, as it seems.

Unhappily, it's almost impossible to get a Kiev 1947. If not, I would have made close comparisons with these two ones...

Amitiés. Jacques.

50   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
uwittehh Posted - Dec 10 2023 : 2:38:30 PM

congratulations! What a great find! I have 2 Jena Contax (in chrome) with serial numer 278xx, so close to yours. Are you able to disassemlbe them? It would be very interesting if there are markings from the craftsman that has assembled them.
Mine are both marked with a CA or AC, which could be the initials of August Coutandin, a guy who worked at Zeiss Jena in those years.

See the picture for the marking:



Jacques M. Posted - Dec 09 2023 : 09:58:54 AM

Congratulations for your Jena Contax "black face". Rare cameras! Probably around fifty in the 28xxx range, and perhaps some others on the 305xx range, by my data...
Thanks for the photos of your #28073. The 2/50mm Sonnar (not the usual 5cm) is interesting too. Your "black face" is not the only late Jena Contax to have received such a Sonnar in millimeters (still by my data).

Amitiés. Jacques.
treehorn Posted - Dec 08 2023 : 10:33:15 AM
And there was a very interesting Jena-Kiev (or Kiev-Jena) at Wetzlar Camera Auction #5 in October 2023, Lot 228: http://s759420438.online.de/A5/mobile/index.html
You can find it at liveauctioneers (login required): https://www.liveauctioneers.com/price-result/arsenal-kiev-ii-carl-zeiss-jena-contax-ii/

It was sold for about 14.000 Euro. From the auction text:
"Probably the rarest version of the Kiev II, still produced by Carl Zeiss Jena. Two serial numbers, 5913 and 470038, as well as the "Carl Zeiss Jena"-logo engraved on the accessory shoe. The number 16 stamped inside twice. The back door without engraving of a serial number. The name ring of the later, so-called "no name" lens, without any engraving of a model or manufacturer designation, just engraved with "Jena 1:2 f=50 mm Nr. 3501248". Very few of these cameras are known and have not been shown in any specialist literature to date. The total production is unlikely to have exceeded 50 pieces."

treehorn Posted - Dec 08 2023 : 10:23:22 AM

we had a lot about the Jena Contax, including the "ivory" version. There is also a black face version. Some cameras were sold recently at Leitz Photographica Auctions:

28039 + Sonnar 2/5cm T (3059673): Leitz Photographica Auction #41 (November 2022); hammer price 3120 Euro
28068: Leitz Photographica Auction #37 (November 2020); hammer price ca. 4000 Euro
28079: Leitz Photographica Auction #36 (June 2020); hammer price ca. 5000 Euro

I was very lucky to find another one of them with the serial number 28073. Als serial numbers are very close and all cameras show the same characteristics of the Jena Contax.




Elmar Lang Posted - Mar 28 2023 : 02:59:16 AM

just to add some further data, before finding the time to take proper pictures of the piece, I can say that my "Jena" Contax is body nr. 27893 (same number, engraved to the inside of the back, "heavy" sheet-brass type); the lens mounted on it, is a Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 50/2 "red T", nr. 3051152, from a batch of 1500 pieces, whose production was set in the summer of 1947.

All the best,

Jacques M. Posted - Mar 25 2023 : 12:01:16 PM

I have opened it to know more. But it is "only" an ordinary Jena Contax.
Here is a photo of the prism. With the X, no doubt it is a Dresden part. A good number of early Kievs have this same prism which comes from the "transportation" from Dresden to Kiev.


Usually, the Jena Contaxes have a prism with only one inside visible line, from the front left to the back right. The later Kievs too, but every FSU collector knows that

Comments are welcome!
Amitiés. Jacques.

Jacques M. Posted - Mar 21 2023 : 12:06:33 PM

Of course, this camera has nothing in common with that one:


Jacques M. Posted - Mar 21 2023 : 10:04:01 AM

Absolutely nothing on (and inside) the body. Just what could be a serial number on the back, half hidden by the film roller: perhaps 11875, at first sight...


This camera has all the visible features of the Jena Contax, except the finder which shows the remarkable X when you look through the large window: a Dresden Contax feature (impossible to show).

I wonder where and by whom it was made: perhaps mounted for black market... Impossible to trace when there is no number...

Amitiés. Jacques.
PS: I bought it without lens. The western Sonnar was added for the photo.
Jacques M. Posted - Mar 21 2023 : 09:48:43 AM

But it is not numbered:



Jacques M. Posted - Mar 21 2023 : 09:40:51 AM

Another Jena Contax arrived here yesterday.



Fotohuis Posted - Jan 06 2023 : 07:05:25 AM

"De enige beperking in je fotografie ben je zelf"
Fotohuis Posted - Jan 06 2023 : 06:56:55 AM
Well I am just back from Ukraine last month and I took a complete Kiev-4AM set with a beam splitter, 50mm J-8M, a 35mm J-12 and a 85mm J-9. Do not ask me what I was doing there, it had something to do with a Leopard (1) tank training.

It is a great camera set and I am very happy with it. For the rest I have seen a lot of misery and too many funerals.

I also took my Leica M7 set with me (and back). So I made some photos on Kodak 5222 XX film and on the way back to the Netherlands I have visited a former Ukrainian photo model living in Düsseldorf (Germany) now. It was an emotional visit because just before the war she had a cancer diagnose, whomp removed and bleeding on the way to Germany. Fortunately a little bit recovered but we talked a lot and I made a photo shoot with her. I am sure she could use the extra money for it.

"De enige beperking in je fotografie ben je zelf"
Jacques M. Posted - Jan 06 2023 : 05:47:16 AM
... and the similarities between the leather case and the leatherette are astonishing.
xatnoc Posted - Jan 06 2023 : 05:09:13 AM
regarding the ivory 27972 Contax in the thread above: the leather case is most likely a true one..........
Jacques M. Posted - Jan 05 2023 : 11:30:44 AM
Another regular Jena Contax here (s/n 27996), that time with a Topogon 25mm and its correct universal finder (both added after).


The Topogon is said to have inspired the Orion 15.


Jacques M. Posted - Jan 05 2023 : 03:36:54 AM

I have just verified my own listing and there is no doubt. The 27972 is a fake. I should have checked earlier.
Thanks, Stefan and Ulrich!

uwittehh Posted - Jan 04 2023 : 3:37:42 PM
Hi Stefan,

I think you are right. According to the data I have the Ivory 27972 is a fake camera.


Jacques M. Posted - Jan 04 2023 : 11:03:56 AM
Hi Stefan,

I don't own any ivory: it's out of my possibilities!
But I know these tests. My "regular" Jena Contaxes are OK, except for the first ones concerning the weight of the back. Of course...

xatnoc Posted - Jan 04 2023 : 10:36:41 AM
Dear Jacques,

make some quick tests:

1) remove the back: does it feel heavy (a) or light (b)?
2) look through the finder: is the distance meter silver (a) or golden (b) ?
3) remove one of the 4 screws that fix the film plate (preferably one at the bottom: is the head of the screw cylindric (i.e. massive) (a) or more filigree (b) ?

if all 3 answers are (a), then it is likely a true ivory Contax.....

Good luck and report back, thanks!

Jacques M. Posted - Jan 04 2023 : 07:31:59 AM

When I began collecting these cameras, I was much surprised by their general condition: many of them seem almost new. Visibly, not or only few used: gifts, as it is often said?
The paint of the ivory ones is of course more fragile than the chrome of the regular ones. And this 27972 seems to have all the external details of the Jena Contaxes. So, original, repaint, or even fake?

That said, you know these cameras much better than me, Stefan!

Amitiés. Jacques.
xatnoc Posted - Jan 03 2023 : 11:16:36 PM
Hello everyone,
I have a concern that the ivory Contax 27972 shown in this thread above represents an authentic ivory camera. This notion is for the simple reason that the camera looks too good, the paint looks too fresh. I have followed the fate of this camera: first it was sold at a German Auction house, "Cornwall" in Cologne in auction 38, then it appeared on eBay again in 2016 where it was sold to the next owner. In my data, I also find a comment of a previous ivory Contax expert who expressed the same concern as me: looks too good. All true ivory Contax show some wear and the color starts to disintegrate. Using this criteria, any fake has a difficult position, as paint cannot be easily converted to paint that has already experienced >70 years. Similar situation as in paintings.......
Elmar Lang Posted - Sep 03 2021 : 08:32:44 AM
Dear Jacques,

I think that your listing would be most invaluable to those involved in the study and research about the evolution from the Contax to the Kiev lines.

Congratulations for your research effort,

Jacques M. Posted - Sep 01 2021 : 10:43:00 AM
Thanks, Enzo. I will add it in my listing.

For those who would be interested by that listing (around 240 Jena Contaxes), just pm. Unless Vlad thinks it could be interesting in our wiki?

Amitiés. Jacques.
Elmar Lang Posted - Aug 31 2021 : 04:57:18 AM

just to add a little further detail to this interesting thread, I would like to add the data of my "Jena" Contax:

S.N.: 27893, also present on the inner surface of the "heavy" type, sheet-brass back; "square" accessory shoe.

Lens: Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 1:2 5cm. "red T" s.n. 3051152.

All the best,

Enzo (E.L.)

Jacques M. Posted - Jul 08 2021 : 08:40:21 AM

Another Jena Contax here (# 18055), already with the heavy back.


The lens is an "exotic" Sonnar, already shown in another topic.

Amitié. Jacques.

Jacques M. Posted - Mar 04 2020 : 08:19:12 AM
To compare with a genuine ivory one. In fact, a fake too! (please see Xatnoc's and Ulrich's posts below)

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent2/432020_Jena Contax 27972 1.jpg

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent2/432020_Jena Contax 27972 3.jpg

Amitiés. Jacques.

Jacques M. Posted - Mar 04 2020 : 08:14:47 AM

Just for the pleasure, two photos of a fake Jena Contax "ivory", recently sold on the net:

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent2/432020_Jena Contax 27976 fake 4.jpg

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent2/432020_Jena Contax 27976 fake 2.jpg

SteveA Posted - Jul 10 2018 : 03:04:46 AM
Just seen Michels post from Mar 04 2011 - I have Kiev 481100 in my collection, just 4 behind his camera. Mine also has 1100 engraved into the alloy shutter assembly.
Jacques M. Posted - Jul 09 2018 : 09:08:26 AM

And the curious winding button.


Amitiés. Jacques.
Jacques M. Posted - Jul 09 2018 : 09:06:20 AM

An other Jena-Contax here.
The s/n 11829, next to my 11826 already seen above in the thread.
Externally, there is only one difference. The winding button has a different shape (screw and "bowl"). Nothing else before dismounting.

The general look first:


kievan81 Posted - May 13 2013 : 04:30:47 AM
missed 1 image


kievan81 Posted - May 12 2013 : 10:15:26 PM
Hi Vlad,
I'm new to this forum. I just received my Kiev 2. I found your '52 Kiev 2 very interesting, as it is very different from mine. Perhaps yours considered the rare one

here's mine:






Jacques M. Posted - Feb 13 2012 : 10:28:59 AM

Merci Michel!
But I think that your body is most interesting with the flat top on "3" (Dresden side), the black ring under the selftimer (Jena specification)... All a world in a camera!

Jacques M. Posted - Feb 13 2012 : 10:23:19 AM

Always on this 1948 Kiev, a ZK lens. I thought till now that 1948 ones were collapsible? The numbering seems correct.

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/1322012_Kiev 48 3.jpg

Are there other "solid" 1948 ZK that you would know?

Amitiés. Jacques.

Michel Posted - Feb 13 2012 : 10:22:46 AM
Hi Jacques,
Absolutely splendid camera !
Lucky guy…
Mine is not so beautiful, and the lens is… a Jupiter #54xxx

Sincerly,et à bientôt,
Jacques M. Posted - Feb 13 2012 : 09:35:21 AM

I received some weeks ago a 1948 Kiev. Here is a photo:

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/1322012_Kiev 48 1.jpg

In fact, mine is most on the Jena/Kiev side: no "3" with a flat top, for example. Of course, there are Dresden arrows with a central extension. And four rows on the rewind button:

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/1322012_Kiev 48 2.jpg

These four rows are present on all the prewar Contax II, early Kievs up to some 1949 ones, and on early Jena Contaxes (my # 30xxx doesn't have). Three rows seems the rule after.

Jacques M. Posted - Oct 07 2011 : 08:14:39 AM

Thanks, Ulrich.

There are probably two possibilities:
- on the three production lines, two only are shipped to Kiev. The remaining one is used to make Jena Contaxes when necessary. That was the original promise of the USSR authorities. But it seems that this promise was not hold and all was sent to Kiev.
Hence my second supposition.
- In 1946-47, the three production lines are made and immediately tested. Some rare early Jena Contaxes and Kiev Contaxes (those with the two numberings) are mounted. Besides, some 2000 parts are made and set apart. They will serve to mount the other series, from 1948.

About that, we can suppose that most of these Jena Contaxes were offered as gifts, rather than sold: the greatest number of these cameras seem unused, contrarily to the contemporaneous Kievs.

Zeiss Opton (West Germany) obtained the legal rights on "Contax" only in 1954. But the Kievs could continue, of course.

Concerning these curious late Jena Kiev, they are all in the last range of 100 cameras, serial number 30501-30600. Only 6 are actually known. I have absolutely no detail about them. Always gifts for Russians of rank, perhaps?

Amitiés. Jacques.

uwittehh Posted - Oct 06 2011 : 2:25:44 PM

that's apoint that I am wondering about too. Unfortunately the documents end in late 1947. They say that the Saalfeld production line was shipped to Kiev. The document says also that in the late Jena Contaxes there can be found front masks that were made of reengraved Kiev plates. So maybe the late Jena Contaxes were made in Kiev for special purposes? As I know the east germans have no permission to make ragnefinders under the name Contax in that time when e.g. your late Jena Contax was built.


Jacques M. Posted - Oct 06 2011 : 10:39:03 AM
Hi Ulrich,

There is something I don't really understand in the chronology about the Jena Contax.
From your articles (the Conkies), I understand that:
1- the production lines are first made and tested,
2- the first 1947 Jena Contax and Kiev Contax are made,
3- the three production lines are dismounted and sent to Kiev.

OK. But with what were the following Jena Contaxes made? From spare parts, originally made in 1946-47 and used when necessary to mount the other series?
What was the exact date of the sending to Kiev?

Sorry: my German is non-existent...

Merci. Jacques.
uwittehh Posted - Oct 02 2011 : 04:45:10 AM

no, you are not :-) With the knowledge of the history the Kiev/Contax is the most interesting camera to collect. And the Jena Contax seems to be the rarest german rangefinder build by Zeiss.


Jacques M. Posted - Oct 02 2011 : 03:23:29 AM

Thanks a lot for your pictures !
Very interested by the details: I don't dare to open my Jena Contaxes...

So, I am no more the only one to be crazy with these cameras...

Amitiés. Jacques.
uwittehh Posted - Oct 02 2011 : 02:42:09 AM
Now that I own a Jena Contax too I can confirm to all points that Jacques listed. It's a really interesting camera. Here are some pictures:

The feather on the selftimer release and the black painted ring under the selftimer lever:

The shoe with the number and the logo. An interesting detail on the film reminder disk, the digits are engraved a bit more to the inner part of it. And no flat "3":

This seems to be really interesting, the shutter has no number engraved. On my Kiev II from 1949 there is a hand engraved number on it. Maybe the shutters are from the same factory and the ones for the Kievs were engraved by hand to distinguish them from the ones for the Jena Contax?

That's funny, there are parts made of cardboard to shield the rangefinder prism from light (the brown/black part on left-top of the picture). It just felt out and I wondered first where I have to reinstall it...:

And the result after reassembling:

Now it's a real beauty, when it arrives here the chrome on the top and front mask was a bit yellow tinted, then I found out that was nicotine (it stinks during removing it...)! So it seems that the camera was sitting the most time on a shelf in the household of a heavy smoker. That was the main reason why I disassembled the chrome parts carefully.

By the way, the lens is a rigid Sonnar in an aluminium housing. Like the Zorki lens on my Kiev II from 1949.


Vlad Posted - Jul 20 2011 : 6:36:32 PM
hmm, this is excellent research, Jacques! A great timeline for the evolution of the camera! Thank you!

regarding the shoe, it's possible they didn't have any for production on Arsenal so they only used them for prototypes..

Jacques M. Posted - Jul 20 2011 : 06:50:44 AM

Hi Vlad,
Here is how I figure all that.
1- Contax and Kiev prototypes are made in Jena. They have two serial numbers: the Zeiss and Kiev ones, and the Carl Zeiss Jena logo. All that on the shoe. On the front, the Contax or the Kiev inscription. Of course, absolutely no difference between these Kievs and Contaxes as they were all made together from machine tools delivered from the German to the Russians.
2- At the same time, Dresden parts are sent to Kiev. The production first begins with these only parts. And little by little, some Jena parts are sent to Kiev. It explains why the 1947 Kievs are almost "pure" Dresden cameras.
3- The Jena machine tools arrive at Kiev. The pieces are mixed Jena/Dresden (1948).
4- Then, little by little, original Dresden parts are missing: cameras look like Jena's, except for some detail.
5- Machine tools are modified to increase the production. Kievs are simplified (from c. 1951).

So, you are right for the most important part, Vlad.
But I wonder why one finds the square accessory shoe (Jena part) only on the prototypes and on all the Jena Contaxes, but on no Kiev, whatever its date be... Another mystery...

Amitiés. Jacques.
Vlad Posted - Jul 19 2011 : 9:56:56 PM
Jacques, as I've been following this thread, and my understanding is that it seems like most Kievs do come from Jena Contaxes, right? The Dresden Contax details seem to different from the Kievs that I've seen. Do you have an example of a Kiev with Dresden parts? Or at least one that you suspect is Dresden parts?

Jacques M. Posted - Jun 12 2011 : 10:45:18 AM
Here are the external differences between prewar or wartime Contaxes and the Jena Contaxes.
If it can help some colleagues to identify better their 1947-49 Kiev, specially about their origins: does mine come from Dresden parts or from Jena?...

On the cover of Jena Contaxes:
1- View counter: "3" with round top, flat on prewar or wartime Contaxes. Idem for the distance scale (front part).
2- Rewind knob: arrow without central extension.
3- Rewind knob: central screw: 6mm (5mm on other ones)
4- Accessory shoe: square shape.
5- Accessory shoe: logo "Carl Zeiss Jena".
6- Rangefinder: grey/grey rather than green/yellow.

On the front:
7- Selftimer: black painted rim under selftimer.
8- Contax engraving different. Clearly visible: distances between C/o and n/x are more important.

Rear part:
9- No logo.

Back part:
10- Accessory shoe: number of circles more important.
11- Accessory shoe: tripod with moulded lines on the two parts,
12- Release button: with concentric circles.

It is interesting to add that Jena Contaxes may have slightly different front engravings, concerning the exact shape of the O, for example (less or more flat). And the rear/back part is heavier on some rare Jena Contaxes (c.175g instead c.115g). Last: a flash sync on the cover (last batch only).

Very probably, there are other differences I missed! Please, don't hesitate to add your remarks.

For the differences between early Kievs, don't miss the very interesting article on Luiz's site ! (Written by Claudio Asquini).


Amitiés. Jacques.

Jacques M. Posted - Mar 09 2011 : 11:34:46 AM

Here is the leather bag of the Kiev serial # 47386 (DVD picture).
Not very far from my own ones, I think.


Amitiés. Jacques.

Jacques M. Posted - Mar 09 2011 : 10:16:49 AM
Ah! I feel better!
Thanks to you, Michel and Vlad!

Your pictures are very interesting. Vlad, your 1952 Kiev seems to be a "simplified" version, compared to the 1948 (Michel's), 1949 (yours) and 1950 (mine) ones.

As for your 1948 one, Michel, it is a "pure" Dresden one, except for the black rim under the selftimer which is a Jena detail. I had not noticed the difference about the "3": I will use it later (I am preparing the list of differences between Dresden and Jena Contaxes)

Alexei Nikitin (thanks to him!) sends me a mail in which he explains a part of the story. For him, the Dresden production lines were not completely destroyed and could have been repaired. And as the railway gauge was not the same in USSR (larger than in Europe), the trains had to stop a long time before being discharged and the contents sent to Ukraine... It would explain why the Jena material arrived more or less at the same time in Kiev. And why Dresden and Jena parts are mixed on early Kievs.

Thanks once more for the pictures which show perfectly the evolution of the camera...

Amitiés. Jacques.
Vlad Posted - Mar 06 2011 : 4:55:34 PM
As promised here is my comparison of Kiev 49 vs 52

The top cover of the '49 Kiev has more rounded stamped edges than '52, that one is a lot more defined

You can see edge difference more on this image, '49 is on the right, '52 on the left

Rewind knobs: '49 on the right, 52 on the left. Arrows are different and the '49 has 4 rows of diamonds on the side of the knob, vs 3 rows on '52. Also the inner knob is of more diameter on '52

'49 on top, '52 on the bottom: The bottoms of these cameras show the most difference. While '49 is very fine machined, has more concentric circles around the locks and the tripod socket mount, the '52 seems a lot more simplified in that regard. You can tell that '49 is still German parts here while '52 is already streamlined Soviet design.

More detail on the quality of machining around the locks, '49 is on the right

More detail on the tripod socket. '49 is on the right, '52 on the left

Frame counter dial gears are also different, with '49 having a more coarse gear teeth. '49 is on the right.

Vlad Posted - Mar 04 2011 : 6:33:03 PM
Jacques, I don't know if it helps, I've never seen such leather cases on Kievs..

I will try to take some comparison pictures of my 2 Kievs this weekend.


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