I have always liked “nice” things. I would rather have less quantity but with a greater quality. My favorite fly rods are made by Orvis. My camera of choice has always been Nikon. They are solid quality with a touch of class. I like nice things but some things are so nice as to seem unattainable. I’m ok with that. I’m content to admire them from a distance; like Leica’s. I began a long-distance respect for Leica when I began to shoot film again back in 2020. How could I not? Every YouTuber I followed or watched seemed to shoot a Leica. They were surprisingly ubiquitous considering their status and their price tag. Interestingly, I slowly became irritated by the sight of them. How about some cameras for the common folk?! Obviously, I exaggerate but at times I felt that way!
Vacations, in my personal experience (and preference), always involve cameras to record the story. One of the quintessential “vacation” cameras of the 60’s was the Half-frame. The “Halfs” were very competent, easily mastered affairs which doubled the amount of frames per roll. As a result, this would make them welcome companions for many families on vacation. The most notable of these was the Olympus Pen series though several other manufactures followed suit. One of the better ones was the Fujica Half which was introduced in 1963.
Stopping at the local Salvation Army store whenever I find myself in Kenai has become a regular tradition for me. I go there looking for the underappreciated film cameras of years gone by. Typically, I walk away empty-handed but my track record of finding very useable vintage cameras keeps me coming back. On this particular day though, I left with not one, but two 35mm camera bodies complete with lenses. They were both manual focus bodies but they each represented a different generation of cameras.
I was contacted a short while back by a friend who told me she had recently purchased a home in the area. The former owners had left her with basically all their possessions, including an “old camera”. Knowing that I love photography, she told me the camera was mine if I wanted it. I couldn’t say “Yes, please!” quickly enough! My mind was instantly filled with the imaginative anticipation of what the “old camera” could be since the possibilities were endless.
I don’t know what I was doing or even where I first got my first glimpse of a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex SLR but I do remember in that moment I had to have one. I’m not sure how to describe its “look”, but to me it harkened back to a time long past; a time when craftsmanship was a true priority.
The Contaflex didn’t present itself to me as a “professional’s” camera. I envisioned it as traveling on vacations and being a vital participant in family holiday celebrations. It seemed to be surrounded by a quaint charm of nostalgia. Then there was the name, it was a ZEISS.