Zeiss Ikon Contessa S310

Diese Kamera war 1971 einer der letzten Versuche vonZeiss Ikon, der deutschen und internationalen Kundschaft das zu geben, was der Markt verlangte. Dabei stammte das Design von Voigtländer, die Mitte der 60er Jahre mit Zeiss Ikon fusionierten. Nachdem Zeiss Ikon 1972 die Kameraproduktion in Deutschland einstellte undVoigtländer an Rollei verkauft wurde, produzierten diese die Schwestermodell Voigtländer VF 101 noch bis 1976 in Singapur. Wer wissen will, wie diese Kamera(s) von innen aussehen, kann sich dieses sehenswerte YouTube-Videoansehen.
Technisch gesehen hatte die Contessa S310 einiges zu bieten. Immerhin eine Zeitautomatik nach Blendenvorwahl, ein elektronisch gesteuerter Verschluss bis zur 1/500 sec. Dazu ein anerkannt gutes Objektiv (Tessar), wie es mit dieser Brennweite auch in der Rollei 35 zu finden war. Gute Bilder waren also schonmal garantiert. Neben den Features, die jeder erwartet (Blitzschuh, Selbstauslöser, Stativgewinde, Bildzählwerk) gab es als Gimmik einen Super-Info Sucher, mit Anzeige von Blende (oben), Verschlusszeit (rechts) und eingestellter Entfernung (links). Was es nicht gab: die Scharfstellhilfe, die war als Messsucher dem hochwertigeren Schwestermodell S312 vorbehalten.
This camera was in 1971 one of the last attempts by Zeiss Ikon to give the German and international customers what the market demanded. The base design was developed by Voigtländer, who merged with Zeiss-Ikon in the mid-60s. After Zeiss Ikon ceased camera production in 1972, and Voigtländer was sold to Rollei, they kept producing its sister model Voigtländer VF 101 until 1976 in Singapore. If you want to know how these camera(s) look from the inside, view this nice YouTube video.
Technically, the Contessa S310 had a lot to offer. After all, it offered an aperture priority auto exposure mode with an electronically controlled shutter up to 1/500 sec. In addition, a highly regarded lens (Tessar), with a little wider standard focal length of 40 mm, as also found with the Rollei 35. Therefore, good image quality was guaranteed in advance. In addition to the features everyone expects (hot shoe, self-timer, tripod mount, frame counter) there was a Super-Info viewfinder with displays of selected aperture (on top), (automatic) shutter speed (on the right) and set distance (left). Missing: a focusing aid, which was reserved for the high-end sister model S312 and realized as a classic rangefinder.

Am Markt taten sich diese beiden Zeiss Ikon Kameras made in Stuttgart vermutlich schwer. Die Konica C35 war 1968 die erste wirklich kompakte Kamera in dieser Klasse, es folgten mit der Olympus 35 RC (1970), Ricoh 500G (1971)oder Minolta Hi-Matic F (1972) andere attraktive Modelle, die vermutlich alle weniger als die geforderten 330 DM gekostet haben. Mein Favorit aus dieser Serie wäre die Olympus und die kostete zur Markteinführung ¥22,300 (ca. 230 DM). Tja, dem hatte die deutsche Kameraindustrie nichts anderes entgegenzusetzen als Dichtmachen oder die Produktion nach Fernost verlagern, wie einigermaßen erfolgreich von Rollei praktiziert.
Mein Exemplar hier habe ich von der Heilsarmee in Austin, TX über e-bay für nur $23.24 (inklusive Versand) gekauft. Das Ding war ganz schön verstaubt und die vier PX625 Batterien waren auch hinüber. Diese lassen sich aber leicht durch eine Li-123 Zelle ersetzen (man muss nur den roten Batteriehalter mit einem kleinen Schraubenzieher entfernen), und voila, der Belichtungsmesser arbeitete wieder. Nach einer Grundreinigung habe ich also ein funktionierendes Modell für meine Sammlung und ich werde bei Gelegenheit nochmal einen Film damit verschießen...
On the market these two Zeiss Ikon cameras ​​probably had a hard time to find customers. The Konica C35 1968 was the first truly compact camera in this class, followed by the Olympus 35 RC (1970), Ricoh 500G (1971) or Minolta Hi-Matic F (1972). These were very attractive cameras, which all of them probably cost less than 330 DM Zeiss asked for the S310. My favorite in this series would be the Olympus which was launched at ¥ 22.300 (about 230 DM). Well, the German camera industry had nothing to oppose other than shut-down or move production to the Far East, as reasonably successfully practiced by Rollei.
My camera here I got on ebay from the Salvation Army in Austin, TX for only $ 23.24 (including shipping).The thing was pretty dusty and the four PX625 batteries were more than dead. These can be easily replaced but by one Li-123 cell (you just have to remove the red battery holder with a small screwdriver), and voila, the light meter was working again. After a thorough cleaning I have a working model for my collection, and at some point I will shoot a film...

Datenblatt kompakte automatische Sucherkamera
Objektiv Carl Zeiss Tessar 40 mm f/2.8 (4 Linsen in 3 Gruppen).
Verschluss Zentralverschluss Prontor 500 S electronic, stufenlos bis 1/500s (Zeitautomatik nach Blendenvorwahl)
Belichtungsmessung eingebaut(CdS), 25-400 ISO/ASA (15-27 DIN).
Fokussierung Manuell am Objektiv (0.9 m-unendl.), Entfernungszonen-Anzeige im Sucher.
Sucher Optischer Sucher, eingespiegelter Bildausschnitt ohne Parallaxenmarkierungen, Anzeige von Blende und Verschlusszeit sowie Entfernungszone.
Blitz Mittenkontakt (X) im Zubehörschuh.
Filmtransport Schnellspannhebel, Bildzählwerk.
sonst. Ausstattung ISO-Gewinde für Drahtauslöser, Stativgewinde, Selbstauslöser, Batterietest-Taste.
Maße, Gewicht ca. 105/75/55mm, 445g (mit Batterie).
Batterie 4 x PX-625 (nach Umbau: Li 123).
Baujahr(e) nur 1971, daher relativ selten
Kaufpreis, Wert heute ca. 330 DM (1971), ca. US $100
Links Instruction Manual (english), Mike Elek, 35mm-compact.com (französisch), Bedienungsanleitung (deutsch), Collection Appareils, Zeiss Ikon in der Wikipedia

Data Sheet Compact Auto-Exposure Viewfinder Camera
Lens Carl Zeiss Tessar 40 mm f/2.8 (4 elements in 3 groups).
Shutter Leaf shutter Prontor 500 S electronic, continuously up to 1/500s (aperture priority auto-exposure)
Metering CdS cell, 25-400 ISO/ASA (15-27 DIN).
Focussing Manually at the lens (3 feet up to inifinity), distance zone display in viewfinder.
Viewfinder optical viewfinder with image frame, no parallax markings. Displays for shutter speed, aperture and distance zone.
Flash Hot-shoe (X).
Film advance Advance lever, frame counter.
misc. Features ISO-thread for cable release, tripod mount, self-timer, battery test button.
Size, Weight ca. 105/75/55mm, 445g (with battery).
Battery 4 x PX-625 (after conversion: Li 123).
Year(s) of Production only 1971, hence quite rare
Original Price, Today's Value about 330 DM (1971), about US $100
Links Instruction Manual (english), Mike Elek, 35mm-compact.com (französisch), Bedienungsanleitung (deutsch), Collection Appareils, Zeiss Ikon in der Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Zeiss Ikon S310 I love my little camera. In fact I had one, sold it, regretted it but was able to take advantage of another at a bargain price on ebay sold as for repair. The previous owner did not understand the workings of the battery bank or the winding mechanism.

    Although, as you say the symbols in the finder suggest a toy like element to the camera, however, the finder is bright, well defined, easy to see through and the elements in the Tessar f2.8/40 lens make for stunningly sharp images. With a 500's - 8 seconds exposure range, shooting in poor light is a breeze and the compactness of the camera means it drops into the pocket. Actually, I think it goes beyond 8 seconds even.

    This is the most solid of cameras, bore out by its weight ( 469 grams inc batteries ) or a tad over 1lb in English currency. A great weapon of self defence even? Its a bit like jewellery! The shutter release cups the finger with a tenderness unlike other camera's and the advance lever is solid, top quality and surprisingly easy to operate given its tiny dimensions. Much nicer than the stamped out one on the S312. On that note, I find the S310 an easy camera to use and set up for street photography where it excels. I find searching for pink dots and trying to align verticals to get the focus spot on can be time consuming, a distraction from the composition and ultimately might cost you the shot. Set for f8, which is not on the finder scale but is on the lens, and blast away.

    To change the film, the back removes 'like a Leica' revealing some of its quality innards including a folding back film pressure plate and the the ingenious self timer operating lever which is located at the base of back cover. But what is a major advantage to this system is you lose the crummy back plate hinge which sits down the side of most 35mm cameras, thus leaving the s310 with a smooth, beautifully clean and 'without paint flaking' finish to where case and back meet with exacting precision. The rewind mechanism is on the bottom keeping the top plate relatively flat, with the flash shoe balancing the rewind lever and shutter button on the other side, leaving the film counter and battery test light window sat amid-ships.

    The Contessa S310 has its own inimitable style, almost art decor like, and I like that, and I also like its break from tradition seen in other cameras of its era. I can, however, see why people take the other view. Some things are always going to be a matter of pure taste I suppose. That said, its hard to criticise the results this little and unique gem can produce.

    Finally, the Contessa S310 has huge battery capacity with no less that four EXP625 batteries which, again, ingeniously, utilise the inside of the film winding spool mounted in a super cartridge mechanism which screws into the bottom plate and using batteries which are still available today!

    On the down side, I feel less warm towards the plastic carrying case it was supplied with. So that stays at home when I take "MY PRECIOUS" Contessa S310 for a run out.

    Prices seem to vary massively on eaby, so its hard to know how the market values these cameras. I do think they they were only manufactured during 1971 which makes them very rare by comparison.