Contessa? An Italian countess? Italian royalty horning into this delicate photographic ecosystem that is my studio?  My friend, Joanie, gave me this camera. She said, “Hey! I’ve got this old camera. Do you want it?” Like I’m going to say no? Turned out, it was this super cool little number – the Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35. It came with a classy and totally unusable leather case. Built between 1953-1955, it sports a [non-working on this particular camera] exposure meter. 

I took it on a road trip across the country.

There’s a little button on the top center of the camera. Push it in and down and the front slides neatly open, revealing the lens assembly. All the little workings are located here. And that silly-ass leather case? If it’s on the camera when you take a shot, you have to remove it to advance the film. The film advance / rewind is on the bottom of the camera body.

There’s this little thumbnail tab on the back of the camera. Mine is stuck, however, you are supposed to be able to move the tab down and the camera will sit upright on a tabletop.

Click on any image for a larger view:

I’ve got some c-41 in it right now. I figure I’ll send it out in an effort to remove the developing error question. But there isn’t a question, is there? Anyway, I owe Dwayne’s Photo (the lab in Kansas where I usually send film out when I send film out) four bucks. I sent in an order for develop only. I received a few processed rolls back and some prints and a letter stating I owed them $4. They charged me for the prints, but I didn’t order prints. Possibly I checked the wrong box on the order form? They’re just so freakin’ neighborly, I can’t argue. What company – upon receiving less than the amount due – simply sends the order to the customer anyway? They’re just the best.

Anyway, this Contessa. She needed some sort of accoutrement to address her royal heritage. I came up with a tiara attached to a flash shoe mount cover. Now YOU can turn any camera into instant royalty!

Ah but there’s only room in this studio for one “her highness”.


Dusting and documenting weird shit in my parent’s basement.