10th Anniversary 2012-2022
More than just a camera lens database

Contax system


The secret of producing a successful 35mm cameras lies in making it complete enough to tackle any task, without making it too complicated for fast, easy operation. And though a camera must be built to function with the utmost precision, it should have the sturdiness to withstand many years of use. All these desirable qualities were perfectly embodied in the CONTAX.

The CONTAX was of small size and light weight and the proportions of the body were nicely designed for perfect balance and compactness. The CONTAX was remarkably sturdy, because the extreme accuracy demanded of a camera using 35mm film called for a type of construction that will always retain its precision qualities. Therefore, the entire CONTAX body was die-cast from light metal alloy and all the sensitive units, such as rangefinder, lens focusing and shutter mechanisms, etc., were completely inclosed in the strong metal housing. The body was handsomely covered with black Morocco leather and all exposed metal parts were chromium plated or enameled for utmost durability.

  • 1932 Model - CONTAX I - first 35mm camera with built-in coupled rangefinder.
  • 1936 Model - CONTAX II - successor to the Model I, added a combined view- and rangefinder, top shutter speed of 1/1250 second, and a self-timer.
  • 1936 Model - CONTAX III - like CONTAX II, but with built-in photo-electric exposure meter.
  • 1950/51 Models - CONTAX IIa and IIIa - reflect the optical and mechanical refinements of nearly a century of manufacturing skill. While many of the proven features of the former models were retained, important and valuable improvements were added.

For more detailed overview of CONTAX models, please refer to the History of Contax.

Carl Zeiss lenses for the CONTAX represented the ultimate in fine photographic lenses. Distance scales were calibrated in feet, and bayonet mount ensured perfect fitting to all post-war models and pre-war CONTAX II and III bodies. All lenses of 50mm focal length were to be fitted into the inner bayonet mounting of the camera and all the other lenses, in the outer mounting. All lenses except the Panflex Tessar coupled with the built-in rangefinder.

A wide range of accessories enabled the CONTAX owner to cover almost any field such as close-up work, photomicrography and telephotography, as well as reproduction and copying work.

Note: we recorded in our database only post-war lenses produced by Zeiss-Opton for CONTAX IIa and IIIa bodies. We don't have any plans to record lenses produced by Carl Zeiss Jena (both pre-war and post-war).

Camera lineup

Contax mount lens lineup

Ultra-wide angle prime lenses
4.5 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Biogon 21mm F/4.5 E40.5Pro 1954 
Wide-angle prime lenses
3.5 Carl Zeiss Contax Planar 35mm F/3.5 E40.5 1954 
2.8 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Biogon 35mm F/2.8 E40.5
Standard prime lenses
3.5 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Tessar 50mm F/3.5 E40.5, A42
2.0 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Sonnar 50mm F/2 E40.5
1.5 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Sonnar 50mm F/1.5 E40.5
Short telephoto prime lenses
4.0 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Triotar 85mm F/4 E40.5
2.0 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Sonnar 85mm F/2 E49
Medium telephoto prime lenses
4.0 Zeiss-Opton / Carl Zeiss Contax Sonnar 135mm F/4 E40.5
Completeness of lens lineup
    Enthusiast photography
    Professional photography

    No dedicated lenses for architectural photography with perspective correction, professional macrophotography.

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