Contax 645 Problem

Chris Pook

Member
Hi,

I came here looking specifically for advice on my Contax 645. I shot 3 rolls of film when the camera arrived, last month. Put them in for developing. Shot 12 more rolls on holiday. Got home to find that none of the 3 rolls I first submitted had been exposed. Bugger. Put in a couple of my holiday rolls for development. 1 was exposed, 1 was not. So, they are not being exposed at all.

I'm trying to identify the fault. Any advice would be most welcome. I'm coming down to thinking mechanical fault in film back or a fault in the links between the body and the back. Had some discussion on other groups, and I think I can discount some of the following;

Dark slide; yes removed, camera does not function with it in place.
Multiple exposure switched off.
Film correctly loaded - can see 'Advance to here' line on film, indicating film is loaded he right way around.
Film is spooled onto bottom reel at the end of the film...
Film carrier loaded and clicked into place in back, when loading film.
Checked camera function with back removed - aperture and curtain function as expected.
No exposure info printed on the edges of the film.
Film type / exposure numbers show clearly on the edge of developed film.

Getting a bit desperate... Have loved using the camera, I so wan t to work now!!!

Any advice most warmly received.

All the best,

Chris
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Given that you have an intermittent fault (some film was exposed) can you confirm that the unexposed film was exactly that and not simply massively underexposed? Which modes were you shooting in? Have you checked the aperture blades on your lens(es) - are they sticking occasionally?
 

Chris Pook

Member
hi, and thanks for the reply. Actually, no way I can tell if the firm was underexposed or unexposed. The fault is binary. Some rolls are completely fine. Other rolls are not. The fault does not occur intermittently from one exposure to the next. I am no expert (clearly!) but to me this suggests... Well, actually I have zero idea what it suggests!
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
We do have a mystery on our hands - it's a pity I can't see the camera. I suppose it's going to be a process of eliminating variables... Question: when you load the film, do you simply remove the film insert and leave the back on the camera or do you remove the entire film back? If entire films work or don't on a binary basis, it suggests an intermittent electronic fault that is precipitated by changing a roll of film.
 

Chris Pook

Member
Hmm, you kind of can....

I shot some video through the lense, but I cannot post a link yet. I will later.

I have decided to take the camera in for inspection, maintenance, repair.

Annoyingly I work away 9 weeks at a time, so it will be ages yet.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Keep us posted - it's not a fault I've ever come across before. I'm intrigued. Thankfully, there are still some spares knocking about for repairers to work their magic...
 

dirk

CI-Founder
We do have a mystery on our hands - it's a pity I can't see the camera. I suppose it's going to be a process of eliminating variables... Question: when you load the film, do you simply remove the film insert and leave the back on the camera or do you remove the entire film back? If entire films work or don't on a binary basis, it suggests an intermittent electronic fault that is precipitated by changing a roll of film.
Wow, how do you know all this stuff?
 

Chris Pook

Member
Yes Biggles 3, those are my thoughts. There are a series of electrical contacts at the bottom of the film back. I have cleaned then as suggested elsewhere with a rubber eraser. Mainly I have not removed the back, but it seems to me that the connection which generates the signal to wind on by one frame may be intermittent. The film always winds on completely at the end. If this is on a separate circuit it may explain the problem, but I don't have a wiring diagram for the camera. Even if I had one it may not make much sense to me.

I shot some fast video though the back of the camera, with the back removed, and as you would expect the aperture opens more fully at the faster shutter speeds. You can clearly see this.

I have shot 90% on Aperture priority- not sure this is relevant to the problem, but I was asked here.

The problem for me is that there is no fast feedback to enable me to fault check, and I am getting reluctant to put film through the camera in trial and error... It is not cheap. But then... Nor was the camera. Staking it in for service and repair seems to be the Answer.

It is v annoying, as I am only home for ten days when next back In the uk, and so it is likely to be my next leave, at Christmas, before I get the thing back. I really wanted to be using it here in Iraq, but until it shoots consistently I am not sure it is worth bringing it.

Hmm... Pentax 645z is starting to look attractive! It is such a long discussion now, though, about the benefits of MF against 50mp Canons, or the new 5d4, when I have an existing array of good canon lenses. This was supposed to be An interesting and fun diversion into MF film, but so far it is just very frustrating!!

Cheers for all your inputs.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Hi Chris,

Why not send a message to Julian Abel at
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
He is in the UK and worked a miracle on a seriously challenging RTSIII which I was about to junk as there was so much wrong with it. It's working a treat and he tidied up a couple of my Contax STs while he was it. He used to work for Contax and knows his stuff - if any one might be able to work out what may be the problem, he's the man. And his charges are perfectly reasonable.

The Contax 645 is a risk as spares are not that plentiful and servicing is a rare art. But I'd urge you to persevere - that fabulous silky shutter, the unbelievable lenses - everyone who's picked up a C645 and fired the shutter wants one... And you can extend the range of lenses if you are prepared to forego AF with Mamiya 645 manual focus lenses. I love the M645 Soft Focus lens and the Auto Bellows N - if you buy an adapter from Zork, the whole Mamiya 645 range of manual focus lenses becomes useable! Marvellous - and of course for macro lovers, that bellows with its swing/tilt/shift mechanisms is a peach. The Contax 645 version is so expensive and rare, it's great to have an alternative. As you can guess from the photo, I have a love of the C645... Fav rev.jpg

Forget the Pentax 645Z - lovely camera but I abandoned my foray into Pentax digital MF after having a real disappointment with the glass. I have been using a Pentax 6x7 for decades and love the lenses but I had terrible problems with softness and chroma on the Pentax 645 digital gear. The camera however was a joy to use.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
How did you know? :) I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I have a little more... But if I was still married, I'd probably not have any of it...
Basic RZ67 kit.jpg
 

Chris Pook

Member
Thanks for the pointer to the Contax man. I knew there would be one somewhere. I gave him an outline, and said the thing that is really bugging me is the way my wife looks at me with one eyebrow raised, because I have spent the price of a decent used car on a camera with a sense of humour. If he can fix this problem for less than the cost of a divorce I will be happy. And really, I have a great wife, she is my best mate after 22 years. But I am having a bit of a love affair with the Contax. All part of the mid life crisis.
 

Chris Pook

Member
Just to let you know, I have spoken with Julian this morning, and will be asking wifey to send my ContAx off to him for a look. Thank you for the recommendation, he sounds very knowledgeable, and was great to deal with.

All the best, Chris
 

Chris Pook

Member
Hi,

I actually bought another Contax 645.... they are that addictive. I think my wife may have noticed, but she is not saying anything.

Meanwhile, my first one is still with Julian. He tells me that the mirror is not clearing the optical pathway before the shutter is released, but he is unsure of the cause of the problem. I am in no rush, and he is waiting for servicing info' to arrive from the U.S. before he goes deeper into the body of the camera. I am hopeful that it can be resolved. In any event I now have a functioning model in my drawer, together with a very nice vario lense.

I had a little accident the last time I was home, which led to surgery, and a 6 week unplanned stay in the UK. I taught myself film development, both colour and B&W, and although it may not be something I choose to do a lot of, I really enjoyed the learning. Also set up my 5D3 and Macro lense with a home made light box to try some home scanning. I need a better lab, because I was getting better results at home DIY than I was getting paying an arm and leg locally for developing and bad scans.

I'm not saying these are great examples of the art... but they are mine, self developed, and we all have to start somewhere eh?

Aaaa.... cannot get the photo's to embed or link. Not to worry.


 
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biggles3

CI-Supporter
Hi,

I actually bought another Contax 645.... they are that addictive. I think my wife may have noticed, but she is not saying anything.

Meanwhile, my first one is still with Julian. He tells me that the mirror is not clearing the optical pathway before the shutter is released, but he is unsure of the cause of the problem. I am in no rush, and he is waiting for servicing info' to arrive from the U.S. before he goes deeper into the body of the camera. I am hopeful that it can be resolved. In any event I now have a functioning model in my drawer, together with a very nice vario lense.

I had a little accident the last time I was home, which led to surgery, and a 6 week unplanned stay in the UK. I taught myself film development, both colour and B&W, and although it may not be something I choose to do a lot of, I really enjoyed the learning. Also set up my 5D3 and Macro lense with a home made light box to try some home scanning. I need a better lab, because I was getting better results at home DIY than I was getting paying an arm and leg locally for developing and bad scans.

I'm not saying these are great examples of the art... but they are mine, self developed, and we all have to start somewhere eh?

Aaaa.... cannot get the photo's to embed or link. Not to worry.


Sorry to hear about the accident but delighted to know that you've been well and truly bitten by the C645 bug! If anyone can find a solution to your problem, it will be Julian; he'll be ministering to one of mine in the New Year...can't wait.

Well done on making such good use of your enforced stay in the UK. I hope all's better now; pity we can't see your piccies - perhaps on another day.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Thanks Chris.
Well done on the home developing! What were you using for lighting? That b/w one reminds me of homework some 50 years ago.... Great depth of focus in both images.
 

Chris Pook

Member
I'm a canon man away from film - I put a canon 600rt on top in manual mode, then adjusted using the pre-flash to find the right flash strength and aperture setting. A bit trial and error - but with patient subjects it works well enough. I guess if I become more used to it I will get a better gut feel of what works. There seems to be much more latitude in film than in digital work.

small--4.jpg
 
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