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As a payement of war reparations, the Germans began again to produce Contax cameras.  Now, no more in Dresden Zeiss Ikon facilities, but in Jena, at Carl Zeiss, really in Saarfeld, near the Werra river, in a factory, previously used as a weapons factory, during the war. This was a furnishment contract accorded with the Russians. The new built factory produced several Contax II and III, as well as Kiev II and III as a trial, and adjusting production detais. The production beginning was a pilot experience aimed to train German and Soviet people.  As soon as the factory attained its full range level, it was completely transfered to Ukraine, Kiev where the production begun with the same personnel staff. The production in Ukraine started in 1947 with three complete German origin assembly lines and the German people accompanied the Russian personnel up to 1953 when all parts were now produced in Russia.

The transmission of the Contax production facilities from Germany to the Soviet Union was closed by a written contract. However, after the delivery of the three Contax production lines to the Soviet Union, limited quantities of the Contax cameras were still being built by Carl Zeiss Jena, well into the early 1950’s.

The German people were in the meantime developing in Ukraine a new and very interesting camera the WERRA.

WERRA entered production in place of Contax Jena cameras.

This was the Stalin period and years of large economic growth in Russia. The economic plan stipulated huge production of high quality goods and the Kiev/Contax was one of such items. Several German technicians were also invited to work in Russia in order to develop other products. The Leningrad camera of 1947 also was one of them. The German Kiev/Contax people had ideas. The first hand made Werra prototypes were made in the Arsenal works of Kiev . When the contract was finished the Germans returned to Germany, and with them the complete camera plans. Pilot WERRA production started exactly where Contax/Volga/Kiev was born.

An obvious relashionship was stablished. Follow this pictorial story.


The WERRA was intended as a camera capable of the best results and the largest scope, while having a restrained production and selling price as well as extremely ease of use and of manufacturing processes.




Cameras from which Werra project are based on:


Werra cameras is the true son of Zeiss projects, really an intelligent syntesis of various Zeiss cameras


Pre-war cameras

All Zeiss Ikon Dresden

Contax IIa 


 1936 Contax II and  1936/1946 Tenax I ……..(1) and (1)/(2)

1938 Tenax II ………(1)


Post-war cameras


1946 Jena Contax..........(5)


1952 Taxona (Tenax sucessor) (Zeiss Ikon/Pentacon Dresden)..........(3)

 1947 Ikonta35/Contina 1    1954 Contina 1a  (Zeiss Ikon Stuttgart)............(4)



Characteristics of influence:

From Contax:

High quality, versatility, adaptability to several  uses,  high range of speeds, removable back, single body design with or without exposure meter.

From Tenax I

Compactness, frame advance mood/shutter cocking,  removable back, low production cost.

From Tenax II

Interchangeable optics with small range inter lens shutter,  rangefinder. frame advance mood/shutter cocking,  removable back.

From Taxona

The all rigid construction plus Tenax I general characteristics.

From Ikonta 35/Contina 1

Body controls on bottom, hollow top for upgrading models.

From  Contina 1a

Rigid body.


Zeiss Logos


12  3  4

Dresden  =1 (up to 1942).... 2 (1949-1942).... 3 (from1952)

Sttutgart  = (from1947)









And  Werra was born.

Note the original Contax shoe and apertures in the sloted film advance ring, made to change shutter speeds – VEBUR shutter and Novonar lens Optik Saalfeld



 Left: Werra I prototype July 1954 - Note the small finder and no eyelets

Ikonta 35/Contina 1 influence

Right: Werraflex mock-up August 1954 (Compur Rapid and Tessar 2.8/50) - Contaflex clone?

Contaflex Influence - see BIII 00452/1 document




1953 Contaflex - Compur Rapid  Tessar 2.8/45  (Zeiss Ikon Stuttgart)



As a reminder….


Assembling of Kiev cameras in Jena

1947 Kiev II, made at the Zeiss Jena factory in Germany. 


Early drawing in the Jena project using the name ”Volga”

Data from: -

Document: - BI 01702, BIII 00008, BIII 02046, BIII 02313, BIII 02314, BIII 03553, BIII 03552.








1955 Werra first series mass produced comercial model (Tessar lens) aluminium slotted advance ring – All have green covered body



top view


back view


1955 Werra second series mass produced comercial model (Novonar lens) Leather covered advance ring


¾ view

bottom view


back view


And its natural companion

WERRALUX  by Weimar


Instructions leaflet and two exposure meter versions Black/Silver and Ivory/Gold



The Influences

Finders and Rangefinders description.



The Contax rangefinder is composed of a Newton finder (6) and a split prism block(5) with rotating cylinders (3-4)

The originated Newton finder (7) was a type used in Ikonta 35/Contina and the crystal block finder (8) originated from the block prism was first used in the early WERRA models. In 1955 there were prototypes with  a type (7) finder (see archive Nr.BIII 00446/2,  BIII 8944,  BIII 8945,  BIII8946,  BIII 8948,  BIII 8949, BIII 8950,  BIII 8951.



The Smena 5 from LOMO was the first camera to adopt some of the WERRA ideas:

The finder type (8) – a single solid piece of glass, and

The reversing sunshade, which also acts as shutter cap.




The Smena 5 was the only other camera using the same reversing sunshade idea introduced by WERRA cameras.

In 1955 when was planned the WERRA III with interchangeable optics, a new finder was needed. It was used a Keppler type viewfinder, which was already built in LOMO Leningrad cameras from 1953. Now, the Germans used Russian devices.

A Main roofprism (5) has two entrances: From the top, receiving rays from the objective (8) / prism (7) which forms an image in the internal frame engraved concave mirrored face in the roof prism (5). This image is seen from the back through ocular (6). The center of this concave mirrored face is open and one sees through objective (4) and pentaprism (3) a second image from another point. The movement of the secondary image is done through the balance of the objective (4). From 1956 there was standardized all the WERRA finders. When not rangefinder coupled, there were only used (6)-(7)-(8) parts.


 The Russian Leningrad

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