Contax 645 need your advise

veter

New Member
I am currently using Canon EOS 30 and a couple of L - zooms, but I am strongly considering to by Contax 645 with 80/2 an 45/2.Main applications: landscapes and outdoor portraits. I have some questions before I order it:
1)Will I be surprised by resolution and sharpness of say A3(30x45 sm) print to compare with my Canon equipment?
2)Is 80/2 enough to picture head & shoulder portraits?
3) How reliable is the camera in hot or cold climate?
4) Any ideas that digital backs will drop in prices in 2-3 year time say down to $3,000 for ex&le?
Appreciate your answers and opinion
 

kaare

Member
1) Yes you will see a marked quality difference even if you put two if you put two "identical" slides on a lightbox. I have tried to shoot the same picture, on the same film base, with the same equivalent focal length, placing my Contax 645 and Nikon F5 on the same tripod. The difference is very visible. You have both the film size and the Zeiss glass making a difference

2)The 80 mm is equivalent to app. a 50 mm on your Canon. That should give you an idea.

3) Had no problems with my Contax 645. During winter I regularely shoot in even minus 10 degrees Celcius. The camera seems to cope better than my fingers! Just make sure the power supply is fresh!

4) Digital backs will get better and better, and probably slightly cheaper. They will never be "cheap" though. It is not a mass market.

Film still works very well, even though some parts of the world seem to have forgotten!

And you can buy an awful lot of film for the price of a digital back...... (well obviously if youre are making a living from it, and need to deliver the shots more or less immideately, well then there is no way around it, but digital.

Cheers


Kaare
 

veter

New Member
Kaare,

thank you very much for your answers. In addition:

1) Does the build-in meter works enough fine, or you have to buy Seconic?
2) What is your experience with wide-angle lenses 45 and 35. Seems like 35 is really ultra wide for general landscape photography, so I am more thinking about buying 45/2.8

thank you,
Alexander
 

kaare

Member
Alexander,
Qualitywise I am very happy with both my 35 mm and 45 mm.

The one I use the most is the 45 mm - but that has less to do with the actual lens. The 45 mm (equivalent to app. 28 mm in 24 x 36 mm terms) suits my landscape photography better in most cases. You seem to feel the same way.

The built in meter works well - within the limitations of a meter making average reflective meterings.

I usually start by evaluating the actual scene. If you have predominantly mid tones, i.e. green grass, grey rocks, blue summer sky, then you will have no problems with the built in center weighted average meter.

For more tricky situations, where you have a predomionant light or dark tone, backligting or wantt to expose for a very specific part of the scene you can use the camera's spot meter.

I do in fact use a Seconic as well. I mainly use it as spot meter, in order to evaluate the contrast range of a scene, and for determining whether i'd need a neutral density grad, and how strong it should be.

It is also quicker if the Camera is mounted on a tripod.


Kaare
 
G

guy

Alexander,

I too would mostly agree with Kaare's comments.
1) I also have shot landscape work with a Canon 1V with L lenses. They are excellent but I think you will see some difference at A3 but not huge. I have some 24x36 enlargements from my Canon that are really good. But definitely not as crisp.

2) The 80mm lens easily will do head and shoulders but I don't think it makes for an interesting portrait lens at all. It's really a normal lens with a normal look to it. For portraits I use a 120mm Macro or the 210/4 and they make beautiful portraits.

3) I have shot with the camera in winter at the Grand Canyon at sunrise(cold!) and use it a lot in SE Asia in hot, humid summer and have never had a problem.

4) Yes, digital backs will come down in price but the technology will always improve and there is a relatively small market for these backs so prices I think will stay quite high, for the near future at least. Maybe something like a Leaf Valeo 6MG back will soon become more affordable (sub $5,000) which would be OK for portraiture but definitely not as good as MF film. Look for used ones. Although they rarely are available now, in another year or so you may start seeing them.

1) As to the meter, it works fine but if you're serious about your work I would always use a good hand-held light meter. One of the reasons for moving up to MF is to reach another level of quality in your imagery. The in-camera meter will never be as accurate as these meters nor give you the creative flexibility.

2) I shoot with both the 35mm and 45mm and love them both. If you're going to just have one of them I would go with the 45mm. It's a little more versatile and gives stunning results.

If you are going to buy the 645kit the 80mm and 45mm will take you a long way. I must say though that I use my 80mm very little. I have never been a fan of "normal" lenses. I would strongly recommend you buy the 120mm Macro if you can, or as soon as you can. It is the finest lens in the lineup! What a versatile lens!!

Good luck.
Guy
 

kaare

Member
Guy:
I agree with your comment that one of the very good reasons for going medium format is to improove your photography. It certainly did that for me!

And yes - the 120 mm F 4 APO Macro is a real cracker of a lens!


Kaare
 
U

utkinpol

1) Contax and 35mm Canons are in different classes. Not only image is different but an overall feel, image you see in viewfinder, etc.
Try it first and decide later.

2) For head & shoulder portraits you`ll need 140 f2.8. 120 f4 macro may be used too but it`s kinda too dark for a studio plus it`s too sharp. 140 shows skin better to my opinion.

3) it`s contax. Any camera with $4000 price tag usually performs quite well.

4) It depends. Scan Ebay for 'digital back' - you`ll get the idea. I personally scan slides on Epson 3170 for myself (it gives me 100M tiff) and on drum machine for clients. Plus I just love to project my slides - no one digital crap can give the same feel as 7 feet wide image on the wall does.

Plus don`t forget that you can use non-Contax lenses with this camera - it saves a lot of money plus provides same interesting opportunities.

One more thing - get a battery grid right from the beginning - you`ll save on batteries plus camera handles a lot better with it. I got mine for $300 on ebay and like it a lot.
 
U

utkinpol

Speaking about 45mm glass - I use Hartblei superrotator for landscapes and most probably will not be buying Zeiss 45mm any time soon.
There is no practical sence for it.
 
G

guy

Paul,

Good comments. However, I don't find the 120mm too dark at all for the studio and I use it all the time in studio. Yes, it is awfully sharp and I will probably cough up the money for the 140mm to have the extra lens but the reason I didn't originally go for the 140mm is that it does not focus close enough for me for tight head shots. This I was really dissapointed with.

I also haven't used any other glass on my 645. I bought it because of the Zeiss glass!

Guy
 
U

utkinpol

Guy,

I cannot disagree with you about Zeiss - but some glass simply does not present in Contax line (such as tilt and shift, fisheye, cheap 500mm, etc.)

Pentacon 6 glass line has some very good Zeiss lenses too, 180mm, 50mm, 350mm. Arsat 30mm is a quite good lens too.

I currently own only 80 and 140mm Contax glass, later I`ll get 120mm. All the rest - 30, 45, 65, 180, 500 (rubinar mirrow one) did cost me less than $1000 altogether.
 
G

guy

Paul,

Yes. I just wish Contax would finally bring out a leaf shutter lens around 150 or 180mm. Now THAT would be heaven!

Guy
 
U

utkinpol

Yeah, agree...

But for some reason there is nothing but silence... A lot of people expected to see version 2 body from Contax, new zoom, anything new at all for god sake but it looks like lemming`s p&s digicam market consumed all marketing efforts...
 
A

amaliepiers

Hi there,

I have been following this and recent posts on 645, especially with regard to lenses, as I have only the 80/2 so far and am trying to decide on a good choice for my main purpose, which is outdoor portraits. I had thought from the advice given that the 140 was the one to go for, until I hear of the difficulty with tight head shots, something I am very fond of. Does the 210 give the same pleasing portraits without this issue?

Also a question about the Pentacon lenses, Paul, I started to look into these as I had heard they were excellent lenses for their value, but I had difficulty finding information regarding adaptors.... I saw an excellent looking 180 on Ebay but the (honest) seller said I would need an adaptor but he could not supply one. Can you give me any advice? How would the 350 be for a choice for my interests? ( I usually photograph small children and the ability to catch them unawares is essential to me. I use a 300mm with my Nikon and find the length really suits me, just wish the quality even approached Zeiss).

I am just an amateur (altho' keen) and I have learnt so much from everyone since I joined this site. Thanks to you in advance and to everyone!

Alison
 
U

utkinpol

Alison,

Both 140 and 210 are excellent for portraits but these are not macro lenses so you`ll have to deal with it.

Speaking about 140mm lens focusing distance - look at this shot:

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It`s not a best one I made but it was done on almost closest distance 140mm can focus. Flower itself was about of 10cm big. Plus - you can get macro rings if you need to shoot on closer distance.
I got my 140m for $900. 120 macro will cost at least $400 more .

Speaking about Pentacon - you can get adapter from kievcamera, mr. Fridman. He sells Arsat 30mm, Hartblei, 500mm - I got these lenses from him, on ebay (or you can call him directly). He usually includes adapters with each lens he sells.

In case of Zeiss Jena lenses look for new completely black multicoated versions - earliest white-black versions (zebra) are not as good as black ones.
 
U

utkinpol

Sorry, sent a link to thumbnail.
Here is good one - without /slides/.

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it`s 140mm lens on closest focusing distance, f2.8 at 1/90. should be done at f4 or f5.6 but it was too dark there and too crowded for tripod.

here is the rest of it by the way -

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Most shots were done open wide so it should show this lens character quite well.
 
G

guy

Alison,

Once again, I'll agree. The 210mm is just a bit soft which can work really great for portraits. I just shot a black and white portrait for a woman who is very, very sensitive about her skin. I shot her with the 210mm and she just loves the result. Great lens for limited depth of field and nice creamy skin tones.

Guy
 

pops

Active Member
I have the opportunity to trade for a new Rollei 6008 AF with the 80mm and a 180 for what I think is an excellent price (stereo equipment which cost me about $5,000) - does anyone here have any experience with that Rollei?
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
I believe Shutterbug had an extensive review on this system a few years ago. I have heard it is a great camera ... but eats alot of batteries for breakfast and lunch. Also, if you check the lens prices, the Carl Zeiss lenses for the Contax 645 are alot less expensive!
Michael Hahn
 

avid

Member
Kenneth, I had bought a 6008i with high hopes after all the heaping praise the system is given. I had used it only twice because I hated it. Hated everything about it; from it's weight, shape to the way film is loaded (especially the convoluted loading part). I saw no difference in the way the images rendered with the Rollei's 80mm compared to Contax' 80mm for all the trouble. I also found out the Rollei TLRs have a better market value than the more modern 6008s. It was a waste of my money and made me appreciate the Contax that much more. I wanted to toss it in a garbage but someone rescued it by paying me half of what I bought it for. So, my advise would be, don't do it Kenneth.
 

jpmcgraw

Member
Is there some way to check the year of manufacture of a Contax 645 camea by the serial number ? Also, does anyone have any idea as to how many of the 645 cameras were made?

John
 
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