Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Zeiss Ikon Contarex Super

Contarex Super, front switch version,
in black finish, with 50/2 Planar also black finish.

Design of the successor to the Bullseye (and the Special) must have begun around 1964. The Bullseye and Special designs were becoming dated. The target for introduction of the replacements, the Super for the Bullseye, and the Professional for the Special, became Photokina 1966. But late into the design a new type of meter became available, the CdS. It's small cell size and high sensitivity allowed it to be used metering through the lens. Because of the desire to incorporate the new meter required a major revision to the camera, including a battery compartment and a metering circuit that measured resistance rather than voltage, the Professional was introduced, while the Super was represented by prototypes.

The camera was well worth the wait. Although it broke no real new ground, other than bringing the improved TTL CdS metering to the Contarex line, it was a logical improvement in styling and handling over the Bullseye. Shutter speeds and aperture settings were visible in the viewfinder, and the meter was of the match needle type.

A running improvement was made during the life of the design. The switch to activate the light meter started off on the front of the camera on the rewind side, where the aperture wheel is on the wind side. These early style cameras are known as "Front Switch" Supers. The newer design had the meter switch under the advance lever, activated by pulling the advance lever out a bit. These later cameras are known as "Top Switch" Supers.

The Super was available in black finish, although most were finished in chrome. Production was 9600 units and the order code was 10.2600. The camera was first available in 1967, and was in production until Zeiss ceased camera manufacture.

The first batch of cameras was manufactured from April 1967 through January 1968 with serial numbers G33501 through G36000. On these camera the shutter speed dial had to be lifted to change the speeds. The second batch of cameras, numbered G37501 through G4000, the shutter speed dial can be turned without lifting it.

The first top switch cameras were built starting in September 1968, running through September 1969. Serial numbers were P53001 through P55500. At P54700 the film loading system was improved. The next block of serial numbers was P97001 through P98500, made from December 1969 until December 1971. At serial number P98250 the camera was changed slightly once again with the addition of a coated mirror.

The final batch of cameras were assembled from December 1971 through March 1972, and carry the Carl Zeiss logo. They are prized by collectors as they are the last 600 built, with numbers running from P52001 through P52600.

Contarex Super top switch version, in chrome with 50/2 Planar

Difference in meter switch positions. The chrome cameras "Top Switch" meter switch is under the advance lever, while the black cameras "Front Switch" is on top of the front plate surrounding the lens mount.

Box for the Contarex Super.