Episode 41: Dr. Brandon Monroe, Contax M.D.

Please Read: As of August 2023, Brandon Monroe has disappeared from social media and no longer responds to emails or DMs.  He seems to have abandoned his Contax repair business, so the Camerosity Podcast can longer endorse his services.  I am leaving this episode available to listen to as it covers a tremendous amount of good material about the Zeiss-Ikon Contax, however.

You know what they say, ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away…’ so for those of you with broken Contaxes, you better get rid of all your apples as the doctor is here!

Okay, so maybe he hasn’t quite gotten his PhD yet, but in this, the 41st episode of the Camerosity Podcast, we are happy to introduce you to Brandon Monroe, an aviation mechanics student who just so happens to really love the Zeiss-Ikon Contax rangefinders so much that he wanted to learn how to repair them himself.  Brandon reached out to other well known technicians who repair Contaxes like Henry Scherer and Mark Hansen and learned what he could from them.  For everything else, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work.  Tearing down several broken Contax rangefinders, and at least one that had been previously CLAd to see what was done, Brandon has recently become successful at full CLAs of both pre and postwar Contax IIs and IIIs.  Brandon has repaired several cameras for Paul and a few others, and according to Paul, the cameras are like new.

Listen in as Brandon tells his story of how he got started and why he fell in love with Contax rangefinders.  He discusses differences between the pre and postwar shutters, what the shutters are made of, how the rangefinders work and how they’re adjusted, who makes our favorite Contax lens adapters, using Contax lenses on Nikon rangefinders, plus a huge number of other things.  Mike can’t help himself and goes into the history of the camera somewhat, explaining how the Contax I came to be, and what differences are between it and the later cameras.

What is this abomination?

Joining us on this episode are returning guests Aidan Dean, Alex Dietrich, and first time callers Steve Wilcox and from all the way in Belgium, Eric Kaas Sluis, a self professed Contax addict who has one of the largest collections of working Contaxes and lenses in the world.

In addition to repair of the Contax, we talk about what makes them special, who made the original Zeiss-Ikon Contax in 1926 (Hint: His name rhymes with ‘Bagel’), postwar Jena Contaxes, and why you should consider a Kiev if you cannot afford a Contax.  Amazingly, the guys somehow manage to stay on topic for most of the show, but a small amount of time is spent on a few other cameras that we just can’t stop talking about.

As always, the topics we discuss on the Camerosity Podcast are influenced by you.  We would love to hear from more listeners, especially those who are new to shooting film or collecting cameras.  Please don’t feel like you have to be an expert on a specific type of camera, or have the level of knowledge on par with other people on the show.  We LOVE people who are new to shooting and are interested in having an episode dedicated to people new to the hobby, so please don’t consider your knowledge level to be a prerequisite for joining!

The guys and I rarely know where each episode is going to go until it happens, so if you’d like to join us on a future episode, be sure to look out for our show announcements on our Camerosity Podcast Facebook page, and right here on mikeeckman.com.  We usually record every other Monday and announcements, along with the Zoom link are typically shared 2-3 days in advance.

If you want to join us for our next episode, we will record Episode 42 on Monday, February 6th and we will talk American cameras like Argus, Clarus, Perfex, and many other brands you may or may not have heard of!  Be sure to stay tuned for the official announcement!

This Week’s Episode

  • Introducing Brandon Monroe / Brandon Needs to Pressure Test His Nikonos
  • Pentax Errata / The Pentax MX Does Have a Depth of Field Preview Lever and Some K1000s Do Have a Self Timer
  • Of All Cameras to Fix, Why Did Brandon Want to Learn to Repair the Contax? / Brandon Talked to Henry Scherer and Mark Hansen For Help
  • The Tension Screw For the Shutter Is Often Used to Over Tension the Shutter / If You Over Tension, It’s Kaput
  • A (Very) Brief Intro Into How the Contax Shutter Works / Where Brandon Gets Replacement Ribbons From
  • The History of the Contax / The Contax I Was Released in 1932 and Had Many Revisions
  • The Contax II and III Came Out in 1936, The Difference is In the Meter
  • Differences Between Pre and Postwar Contaxes / The Mount is the Same, but Not All Pre-War Lenses Work on Post-War Bodies
  • The Construction of the Contax Rangefinders / Brandon Also Loves the Zeiss-Ikon Contessa 35 / Adjusting the Contax Rangefinder
  • Brandon Makes a Mask to Block off Fractures in Contax Rangefinders
  • Paul is Brandon’s Number 1 Customer / What Are Zeiss Bumps?
  • Finding Contaxes in Europe Isn’t Very Hard, But Getting Them Repaired Is / Eric Doesn’t Like the Contax I
  • How is Brandon Going to Handle the Immense Demand for People Wanting Their Contax Repaired?
  • Does Brandon Intend to Train Others to Repair Contaxes? / Do Not Try to Use a Prewar Contax Without Servicing It
  • What is it About the Contax That Makes Them Special?
  • You Cannot Compare a CLA’d Contax to a non-CLA’d Contax, They Are So Much Better
  • Zeiss Was a World Class Optics Company When They Made the First Contax, Leitz Made Microscopes
  • Zeiss Cameras Were Always Solid, Even the Last Icarex SLRs / Some Early Zeiss Lenses Were Outsourced to American and British Firms
  • The Very First Zeiss-Ikon Contax Was Made in 1926, What Was It, and Who Designed It?
  • Anthony and Eric Both Prefer the Sonnar 50mm f/2 over the f/1.5
  • Eric and Paul Recommend the Zeiss Amedeo Adapter / Can you Adapt Nikon Lenses to Contax and Vice Versa?
  • The Contax Claw / There’s a Correct Way to Press the Shutter Release on a Contax
  • Mike Defends the Kiev, They Are Not Contax Copies, They Are a Continuation / Early Kievs Can Be Very Good
  • Jena Contaxes Were Made After the War By Former Contax Technicians With Nothing to Do
  • Brandon’s Tips for Identifying a Kiev with a German Shutter / If You Can’t Afford a Contax, There’s No Shame in Buying a Kiev
  • There Are Many Ukrainian and Other Former Soviet Sellers Who Are Very Reputable, You Should Not Hesitate to Buy from Them
  • Brandon Loves the Contessa 35 So Much It Killed His Internet Connection
  • Lightning Round: What Other Unrepairable Camera Do You Wish Could Get Repaired?
  • Paul – Zeiss-Ikon Contaflex TLR, Mike – Kodak Ektra, Eric – Leicaflex SL2, Alex – Olympus Stylus Epic, Brandon – Contax I, Theo – Petris, Anthony – Folding Kodak Bellows / Kodak Monitor Six-20
  • The Contax I Has a Unique Shutter from Any Other Contax / Different Ribbons / The Rangefinder is Coupled by a Cord
  • Thank You to Brandon For Learning to Do This / We Need More Young People to Learn to Repair Cameras

Show Notes

If you would like to offer feedback or contact us with questions or ideas for future episodes, please contact us in the Comments Section below, our Camerosity Facebook Group or Instagram page, or email us at [email protected].

The Official Camerosity Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/camerositypodcast

Camerosity Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/camerosity_podcast/

Camerosity Twitter – https://twitter.com/CamerosityPod

Brandon Monroe – https://www.facebook.com/mixedemulsionsbybrandon

Eric Kaas Sluis – https://www.flickr.com/photos/129242869@N03/

Theo Panagopoulos – https://www.photothinking.com/

Paul Rybolt – https://www.ebay.com/usr/paulkris and https://www.etsy.com/shop/Camerasandpictures

Anthony Rue – https://www.instagram.com/kino_pravda/ and https://www.facebook.com/VoltaGNV/

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