My 1951 Zeiss Ikon Contax IIa with a 1946 post war Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm 1:2 Sonnar lens.

Cross this one off the bucket list! Sometimes a gamble pays off... twice. I took a chance and got this Contax IIa on auction for only $48! It had cosmetic problems and the slow speeds and self timer were sticking. It ended up being in very good condition on the inside and after I performed a mini CLA on the top end, slow speeds escapement and self timer it is working like a champ.

Another gamble was the lens. A 1946 Post War Jena 5cm 1:2 Sonnar from East Germany. I say it was a gamble because it was from Russia for one, and two, it looked funny in the pictures. I Googled 5cm Jena Sonnar and it didn't look like any in the search results.

It was revealed in an online forum that it wasn't a "Frankenstein" lens but it was indeed a genuine Post war Jena with the Aluminum casing.

And it was told to be a very good lens at that. I couldn't hit the Buy It Now button fast enough. I only paid $85 so it was a gamble I could afford.


As I mentioned above it was in need of a CLA. I wanted to do the work myself and luckily I only needed to clean the top end. On a Contax IIa or IIIa, it is quite different from the older Contax cameras of which I was familiar with. But it is both a good thing and a bad thing in that (good thing) the slow speeds from 1/100 on down are all on one very easy to remove and clean escapement. It is actually called the "medium speeds escapement".

Speeds of 1/250 - 1/1250 are also easy to clean as it is a series of linkage connected to the shutter speed dial via a speed cam. In most cases a good cleaning of these areas is all that is needed.

The bad thing is, in order to get at the shutter itself you need to completely dismantle the camera, this includes removing the smaller rangefinder window and it will need a vertical RF adjust after reassembling. The shutter ribbons are two parts now instead of just the one set as on the older Contax II and III. There is the ribbon and also a "string", these both need to be exact in their assembly or things can go wrong.

I got a plating kit online and touched up some rust spots on the chrome, mainly around the face plate.

Here is a sample photo taken with this camera


There is an online users manual here.

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