a complete manual on the Contessa

a complete manual on the Contessa
Contessa-Nettel Deckrullo Stereo Tropical
© copyright 2010 David K. Hoyt
A circa 1921 camera manufactured by Contessa-Nettel using the original Nettel design. An absolutely beautiful camera
by design and function, it is superbly crafted from the finest of materials. The “tropical” version combines teak wood,
leather, brass and nickel plated parts that are very resistant to rust and very durable in humid climates. In addition to an
elaborate shutter/exposure mechanism, the camera takes both stereo and panoramic photographs
Specifications:
- Teak Body s/n S40XX
- Leather bellows with folding strut
- Metal parts — brass nickel plated brass or brass painted black enamel
- Two Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar Lenses - 12cm, f/4.5 (f4.5, 6.3, 9, 12, 18, 25 & 36) s/n # 4352XX & 4352XX
- Vertical shift + 5 mm
- Horizontal shift + 5mm
- Deckrullo Shutter — Cloth focal plane shutter with two speed ranges, plus time “Z”. Roller blind shutter mechanism
made by FW Deckel — hence the name “Deckrullo”
- Slow speeds — 1/10, 1/15, 1/20, 1/25, 1/35, 1/50, 1/100
- Fast speeds — 1/120, 1/180, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1200
- Size — closed 19 cm (7.5 in) W x 11.3 cm (4.5 in.) H x 7.8 cm (3 in.) D — 12.5 cm (5.25 in) deep when opened
and focused at infinity.
- Film format - 6 x 13 producing — two 6 x 6.25 cm images on the same plate or one 6 x 12.5 cm image
- Weight — 1360 g. (3 Ibs) — without film holder
1. Bellows release catch
2. Wing nuts for vertical shift (and lens board removal)
3. Connecting bar (removable) - adjusts both f stops at the same
time
Lens Caps (black leather — blue velvet lined)
Locking knob for vertical shift
Reversible lens plate (for panoramic photos)
Shutter release (threaded for cable release)
Shutter speed range selection knob
Shutter speed selection knob and shutter winding knob
10. Focusing knob
11. Focusing scale
12. Button for bellow release (when closing bellows)
13. Wire frame viewfinder (adjustable)
14. Viewfinder sight
15. Adjustable viewing field wire frames
16. Spring loaded wireframe viewfinder attachment mechanism
BOLD DI
-1-
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
Release catch for focusing back and film holders
Leather handle
Push button (holds lower shutter curtain open for
ground glass focusing
Focusing hood release catch
Finger grip for back removal
Bellows release catch
3/8-16tpi threaded tripod socket
(second tripod socket on bottom of camera body)
Camera strap release button (allows access for tripod
mounting)
Focusing Hood open for viewing ground glass.
This is the more accurate means to frame and
focus. However, the wireframe viewfinder could
also be used for framing the subject once focusing
is complete and the film holder is in place.
Removing the back (and ground glass) to allow
for insertion of a film holder.
Glass plate film holder in place with darkslide
removed.
Left — Wire frame adjusted for stereo photos
(only the center portion is used for framing the
subject). Right — Wire frame adjusted for
panoramic view.
Removal of the wireframe viewfinder is
accomplished by pushing in on the center mount
of the wire frame and then pushing to the left.
The photo on the right shows the spring on the
mount and the two locating key holes on the
lensboard.
Top view of camera with close up of focusing
scale (printed in meters). When the bellows is
opened a small catch, attached to the end on one
of the metal bellows arms engages with the
distance indicator. As the camera is focused the
scissor struts moves the lensboard forward or back
while moving the focusing indicator from side to
side. The red arrow points to a push button
release. When pressed the catch releases and
allows the bellows to collapse.
Located on the right side of the camera is the
shutter speed control. The upper dial sets the
shutter speed while the lower dial selects the
speed range. With the lower dial set to 1 of the 2
speed zones, the outside ring on the upper dial is
depressed and rotated until the indicator mark is
positioned next to the desired shutter speed (in
this case 1/50 sec is selected). The no. 2 speed
range is slow speeds and the no.1 speed range is
high speeds. Z is for time exposure.
After the speed dial is set, the winder key on the top dial is turned clockwise until it reaches a full
stop. At this point the shutter is cocked and ready to be fired. Inside the camera there are two sets
of shutter curtains that ride up and down on two narrow ribbon tapes located on either side of the
curtains. The position of the dial determines how far apart the two curtains will be when the knob is
turned to cock the shutter. The smaller the horizontal slit between the two curtains, the faster the
exposure will be. The two speed ranges are controlled by an ingenious gear train. By turning the
lower knob the slower speed range engages a second set of gears that creates the second speed range.
The shutter mechanism travels at the same speed for all of the times in any one speed range with the
curtain slit width determining the speed. The tension for the entire shutter mechanism is provided by
a roller blind spring hidden inside the lower shutter curtain reel. This same type of mechanism was
used in the Zeiss Contax 35 mm cameras.
In order to focus with the shutter wide open, a
small button located on the bottom of the back is
pressed while the upper timer knob is turned. A
small lever engages a slot in the lower shutter
curtain holding it in the down position. The upper
curtain then is wound to the wide open position
and viewing and focusing takes place. The curtain
is shown here at the mid point in order to show
the slot in the curtain frame. The ground glass
back has also been removed.
A very ingenious feature of this camera is the
ability to convert from stereo to panoramic. The
conversion is accomplished in just a few minutes.
First remove the bar between the two lenses.
Next, remove the right hand lens (mounted on its
own mini metal lensboard), rotate 180 degrees
and reinsert into the wooden lensboard. This
places the lens in an almost central position.
Shifting the entire wooden lens board slightly
completes the centering. Finally, place a lens cap
over the fixed lens and you are half way there.
The rest of the conversion takes place at the back
of the camera
This is a glass plate film holder with the dark slide
removed. Note the arched spring in the center
used to place forward pressure on the back of the
glass plate and hold the plate in firm register.
In the dark the glass plate is inserted under a lip on
the left side and then pushed down flush with the
frame before two small tabs on the right side are
rotated to hold the plate in place.
The loaded film holder ready for insertion of the
dark slide. Although glass plates are no longer
available one can use the glass plate as a template
and cut a piece of sheet film to fit. It is then
necessary to set the sheet of film on the glass plate
prior to insertion in the film holder. The spring
behind the plate holds the sandwiched film nicely
in place.
The film holders are precision made from teak
wood with nickel plated brass hardware. Triangular
metal corners inserts on the opposite add strength
and rigidity to the whole assembly.
The Carl Zeiss Jenna lenses used are of the Tessar
design. The last 4 serial numbers on the front lens
element are engraved on the back lens element to
provide a matching set.
These particular lenses are very easy to take apart
for cleaning. No tools required. Simply unscrew
the front element to expose the inside surface
The back assembly unscrews in a similar fashion.
The assembly can be completely dismantled by
gently turning the bezel (green arrow). Be careful
of the black paint on the rim of the glass (yellow
arrow). lt will chip off very easily and if that
happens it is important to replace the paint in
order to restore the proper optical properties of
the lens (the paint absorbs internal reflections).
Original handmade carrying case for the Contessa.
The excellent condition of the camera owes itself
to the years of proper protection. Too bad today’s
cameras are sold without cases.
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A = Sunny days
B = Slightly Overcast Days
C = Overcast
Landscape
Persons in group or alone
Moving Street Scenes
Walking, Horse
Running Horses, Auto, Airplane
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Stereo-D
eckrullo-Nettel
Universal Camera for Sterco- and panoramic pictures using plates or film
The Deckrullo-Nettel 344 X 414 an
10x15 can, 4AX6 in.
115X7 can also be fitted for Sterco- and panoramic
pictures on special order.
Model A.
One of the Stereo lenses comes
with an eccentric convertible
plate, so that it can be used for pano-
ramic pictures, the dividing blind
being readily removable.
Exposure Chart (with translation)
Page from a Nettel catalogue showing the Model
À Stereo 5 x 7 cm format
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