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At A Crossroads Comments Welcome


Well-Known Member
Hello all,

I've not posted in a while, but I hope this post finds everyone doing well as we approach the holidays. I'm sort of at a crossroads here in my photographic activities and am looking for input.

I own the following C/Y mount Zeiss lenses:

28 f/2.8
35 f/2.8
45 f/2.8 pancake
50 f/1.4
50 f/1.7
85 f/2.8
100 f/3.5
135 f/2.8
200 f/3.5
80-200 f/4

I've some of the other CZ lenses such as the 35-70 (great lens) the 28-85 (huge) and the 28-70 (embarrassment to Zeiss). I find I'm happier with fixed focal lengths. I keep the 80-200 around since it is so dinged up from years of use I doubt it would sell for anything, and sometimes you just need a zoom.

I also own a bunch of Contax bodies to include a very clean RTSI, a couple of 137's, a 139, and multiple 167's which all work, and all the flashes and cords, etc. to last two lifetimes. In addition, I've got a lot of aftermarket glass for these bodies, almost all of it Tokina in focal lengths from 24-500 mm. I've also got the G-system to include one G2 and two G1's with the 28,35, 45, and 90mm lenses and various shades, accessories, etc.

The problem is that I'm not using this gear very much. I've got a new baby and a new job, and I really haven't used any of this gear except the G system for the last year. It all just sits in a locker, waiting for me to pull it out and do something with it. I do like the results I have gotten with my gear in the past, but am not sure where to go from here.

For the most part, when I shoot, its street photography in black and white, for which I think the G's are about perfect for me. For work-related stuff (evidence) and casual snapshots, I use an Olympus digicam which suits me at the moment, although a DSLR intrigues me. For anything that involves slow deliberate high-quality shooting off a tripod, I've got Mamiya medium format gear with multiple lenses which works great. I've tried using both the SLR stuff and the digicam for street work, but nothing has worked quite as well for me so far as the G's loaded with ASA 400 B&W film.

Considering all of the above, what would members of the group advise me to do with this gear? Part of me says shoot photos of all of it except the G-stuff and put it on auction, but another part of me knows what great lenses these are and wants to keep them. Another part of me says sell it all and get a digital SLR with a couple of lenses, which I have been fighting for some time now. Seems a shame if they are not going to be used though.

Any thoughts?


Hi Tom,
It's always a tricky problem trying to decide what to keep and what to let go. I've failed abysmally as, even though I've been selling a lot of my surplus gear recently, I still can't bring myself to clear the decks and start afresh.

Incidentally, I do know a few togs who use the 139 with the 45 for street work in prefereence to the G series. I have to admit that wherever I go, I carry the Contax i4r which is a superb little (well, tiny) 4MP camera that is ready-to-shoot in about 1 second.

I'd suggest keeping most of the lenses (selling the Tokina's may be a problem unless they're very fast) and lose most of the bodies - perhaps keep the RTS and a 167. The lenses I'd lose would be the 28, 35, 135 and the 28-70. At the wide-angle settings, the 28-85 can comfortably replace the 28 and 35 primes.

If you're looking for a DSLR, I use an old Olympus E-1 on which I use all my C/Y Zeiss lenses and even at 5MP, the combination produces stunning images that can print easily at A3+. The new E-3 looks a superb update and should allow the quality of your Zeiss and Tokina glassware to really shine. If I can sell enough gear, I'm going to buy one and see if I can generate HQ prints up to A2+.

The crop factor with Olympus/Leica/Panasonic Four Thirds cameras is 2, so your 50 1.4 becomes a 100 1.4, the 200 3.5 becomes a 400 3.5 etc etc. This is brilliant at the telephoto end but you'll need an appropriate Zuiko, Leica or Sigma lens for the wide-angles. My 15mm is a bit heavy for casual use as 30mm!

Glad to hear of someone else that enjoys using the Mamiya 645 system - I still regularly use a ProTL and Super and really rate their lenses - my favourite is the soft-focus 145mm.

The flash gear may also be worth keeping as the Contax system was very versatile - especially if your gear includes an RTF540.

Of course, this is only my opinion. I'm sure there will some recommendations from Canon EOS owners...}



Well-Known Member

Thanks for the input. Actually, my post should have read that "I've owned" when referring to the three zooms. I sold them some time ago, only keeping the 80-200 just because I've had it for 20 years. Also, when referring to Mamiya medium format, I actually am using Mamiya TLR's when I get out to shoot. They've always worked for me.

I've had really good luck with the Tokina lenses and use them in situations where the potential for loss or damage to equipment is high, usually on one of my older 137 bodies. I know they would bring practically nothing if sold, so they will probably still stick around for a bit unless I just go nuts and sell it all off.

Honestly, despite everyone telling me to go with a Canon DSLR, I'm still thinking Olympus so it is nice to hear from someone actually using one. I'm intrigued by the 4/3rds system and like the feature set and prices on some of the Olympus cameras I see out there.

Thanks again for the input.




Well-Known Member
Hi Tom,

I have just moved into the digital era. I was after an N digital but the money involved was far too high for something without any warranty. So I 'ummed and ahhed' for many months, should I go canon 5D or 4/3? I went for the Panasonic Lumix L1 with the Leica 14-50 as a temporary (maybe permanent) measure until a more suitable alternative manual (ish) camera becomes available. Nice to have easy manual control, which I preferred over the canon way of doing things. It's just short of real manual focusing as opposed to it's fly by wire mf, a bigger, brighter viewfinder, split image screen as standard (although Katzeyes do one
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) and about 20MP!
I can still use some of my Zeiss glass, alas not my 28 f2, but the Leica ain't bad at all. My daughter got the Oly E410 and that is SMALL.
So all in all I might see my N and AX going soon. Oh and not forgetting having no bother going through airport/border x-ray machines any more, Woo Hoo!!!




Keep it and use it occasionally. For the money you may get selling all this you will buy one decent zoom lens or a mediocre digital body. I keep my N1 system (except for ND - too unpredictable) and use it with slide film. I don't take a lot of pictures lately (new job) but for some reasons when I want to take pictures my hands/mind gravitate toward N system and Contax 645, even-though M8 and F6 are sitting next to N1 on the shelf.
I guess, I passed a stage when I was after "resolution" and speed. I'm not in a hurry to see the images after I take them. I accepted the fact that I have to wait a week or two to receive my slides from A&I. But what a joy to see beautiful colors of Velvia in the screen! For me it definitely worth all "inconveniences" of analog photography.
For b&w I use C645. For family snapshots M8.