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CONTAX DSLR Speculation




While we appreciate you cannot disclose confidential commercial information, as mentioned many times in your responses before, it will be much appreciated if you can share with us your personal speculation regarding CONTAX DSLR development in the next 6 to 12 months.

Do you think CONTAX will develope:

(a) a DSLR or a digital back compatable with the C/Y mount lenses for which the vast majority of CONTAX users are using?

(b) a ND MkII where CONTAX has already got the investment and experience behind them and can leverage on quite easily? However, the lens selection for this series is just too limited and will need substantially more investment for lens design.

Persoanlly, I think they will have a winner and be able to resuscitate the CONTAX brand if they can come up with an AXD with a 6-8MB chip, (ideally full size) at a price which is 70% of the Leica digital back.

They better act fast and show their commitment to the customers. I am one of the many that are losing patience ... after months and years of waiting, despite my true passion on the zeiss optics.



Well-Known Member
Face it, Contax has or is abandoning their discriminating customer base as evidenced by their silence and lack of any shred of hope offered to us. A recent discussion with a Contax rep (who will remain unnamed), further supports this notion. I continue to own and use a N1, and 2 NDs, but more as a novelty than a necessity.

To think Contax would develop a digital camera or back for the manual C/Y mount is simply wishful thinking. The development R&D would be very expensive and slow to come. Meanwhile, makers like Canon keep on truckin' into the future. The new 1DsMKII is nothing short of astounding, and we can lament the lack of those beautiful C/Y or even N lenses, but some of the Canon primes are no slouches in the performance department ... and at 16 megs, full frame, new processing engines, even faster performance, improved flash capabilities, The ability to shoot @ ISOs of 800, 1600 and even 3200, the camera more than makes up for most lens issues ... take my word for it.

But we can hope ... like an ugly old spinster dreaming of her prince charming coming over the horizon to rescue her from a lonely Contax existence.


Well-Known Member
Hi Kenneth,

the question you are asking is the same question all users are asking for months/ years now.

As we try to be a representative of the Contax community, we are trying continiously to improve the communication process between Kyocera and its costumers. Unfortunately until now with not much progress.

I can totally understand the reaction of Marc and many others. This reaction is mirrored in falling sales numbers and lack of Contax-related activity on various photo sites.

Since the information we get are changing so fast each time, we gave up to forward this to our users. It would confuse even more instead of clearifying things.

I do not know whether we told you that already, but Mr. Inoue, has not the same responsibilities anymore then at the time we were introduced to him at Photokina. A new person is now on the "organigramm". Whatever that will mean...

Until today, the "rule of silence" is still used at Kyocera. We tryed many many times now to convince them, that this might not be the right strategy. IMO no matter what kind of roadplan is now on the table, it has to be communicated. Otherwise, there is no costumer anymore to talk to. Salesnumbers are not lying and they do not happen by accident. The major reason is the lack of communication. A lack of communication leads to a lack of trust and a lack of trust means the "stop" for further investements of loyal costumers in the Contax brand.

All what we can do here is to offer for the still existing Contax users and potential Contax buyers a home, where they are heard amd where they can speak with each other. Kyocera is following each posting in this forum. They only need to use this "knowledge base" and make it reality and the problems will disappear.

I can not say with confidence, what in my personal opinion Kyocera is more likely to do because of my experience in the past. It was just changing too often.

I do not know the exact sales numbers over the last 10 years of the different Contax systems to make a constructive judgement. And at the same time, you have to know how those salesnumbers have been achieved.

N-System was bad in sales numbers and worse than the old C/Y-System. The problem is, that this information is worth nothing, if you do not look closer into the reasons. In Germany for ex&le, the N-System was basically not at all communicated. We meet many Contax users on fairs and in the German Contaxinfo forum, who even did not know that an N-System exists, or a N Digital with a full frame chip.

You can not sell a product, if nobody knows about its existance. I assume the same mistake was made in the US. Japan is different. I have seen japanese N1 broshures which are really good. So I would assume that the sales numbers and markiting efforts were better in Japan.

Lenses for the N-System is another problem. Many great zooms. But unfortunately most of them are overlapping in the zoom range. And even more important: Almost none FFL. Contax is known for its FFL for 30 years. So why are there so few FFl in the N-System? This is definetly a reason for many people not to buy the N-System

The second problem with sales numbers over the last 10 years is the dramatic shift of market shares in DSLR among all brands. Canon has thanks to an agressive price and marketing c&aign over the last decade now a market share of over 60% in DSLR. Nikon is really struggling in doing business as before. Olympus is ways behind its targts, Minolta just enters the market with a DSLR, Pentax is basically fading away, all manual focus sales numbers and non-digital sales numbers are going south dramatically...

So this is for all producers a tough time. But for those with a niche market like Leica and Contax (manual focus and not strong in DSLR) it is especially tough. I personally do think, that with the right marketing and communication strategy along with the right product mix (bodies AND lenses), the N-system would be the perfect way to go. But this is my opinion without having all information needed for such a decision.

The first thing I would do, is to ask all existing users and potential buyers what they want to have. Only after this research, it make sense to make a decision. Everything else is guessing and speculating. For a decision of this weight and consequences like the death of the Contax brand, it should IMO taken more seriously than it seems to be taken at the moment.

I have respect for the japanese culture and the way how Kyocera is doing business. But it has also in Tokyo to be aknowledged that this way of doing business got them into this trouble. So it is time to change. If the key people at Kyocera do not understand this, Contax will never ever survive.

Canon, Nikon, Minolta - they all learned from the past and make it now better than Kyocera. I am surprised, that this shame did not resulted yet in a fast change of strategy at Kyocera.



Thank you so much for the lengthy and excellent dissertation. But that Kyocera exhibited half the enthusiam you and so many Contax users share about their past products.

It is sad that receiving the tracking number for my Canon 1Ds Mk II and lenses just made my day (finally!). So in a couple of days my Contax shooting days will most likely become the very small exception. What a shame!

I'm still keeping my ND in case some miracle happens, and because I'm such a sentimental fool
. Oh, well, life moves on ...



Well-Known Member
I am too moving to Canon dSLR at full speed. I am still keeping my ND, N1, C645 and all seven Zeiss lenses (4 are from 645 system.) I am also a sentimental fool. But my best studio images are still from the ND. I have not tried the EOS-1Ds Mark II yet.


Thanks Dirk and others for your valuable comments.

Although it seems unlikely that there will be any significant breakthrough in the near future, I will continue to use my CONTAX gears and hope one day some positive decisions will be made in the Kyocera board room in Tokyo.



Well-Known Member
Well Albert, despite the Zeiss verses L glass, prepare to have the ND eclipsed in the studio. Since getting the 1DsMKII, I've shot 3 studio jobs and 1 event with it. The studio jobs were relatively minor ones that I usually use my Contax 645 and Kodak ProBack for. All images sold to the Art Director no problems.

The event job revealed how fast this camera is and how much Canon has listened to it's consumers ... like how they've attended to the ETTL flash and dark noise issues of the previous 1Ds.

I still am keeping my ND and N lenses for now. Not for sentimental reasons, but because it still offers a certain look and feel for certain applications. There will always be a place for a unique signature ... an powerful artistic insight seeming lost on the marketing geniuses at Kyocera.

What we need is an adapter to put the N lenses on an EOS mount. There would be a rockin' combo if ever there was one. I know a top shooter in NYC that got me a custom made Mamiya to Contax 645 adapter so I could use the Mamiya 24/3.5 on my Contax. Maybe he can hook me up with the tech wizard that did that to make a batch of N to EOS adapters.

Here's a 1DsMKII grab shot from my event job (Corporate Christmas party for kids). It was shot with an inexpensive 100/2.8 Macro using a dose of ETTL flash.

Canon 1DsMKII, ISO 250, 125th, at f/2.8 hand held. The resolution and detail is so there that you can make an 8X10 of the little girls snowman earring !



Well-Known Member
That's a pretty convincing argument for Canon; nice picture too.
Thanks Marc
P.S. Do you find the Canon big and heavy to handle


Well-Known Member
Yes John, it's big and heavy and so are many of the better lenses. But I'm a big guy. The hand strap is essential IMO, so you can just let the camera hang at arms length. I think what does it is the weight of the battery. If they succeed in reducing the weight of that single item it will help.

I have a 20D and 17-85 for vacation junk and snapshots. I don't think I'd ever carry the 1DsMKII in those circumstances even for serious work ... that's what Leica Ms are for ; -)

Here's a shot from the event job pretty much right out of the camera. 1DsMKII, ETTL fill flash, 50/1.4 @ f/2.2



Speaking of adapters, is there any way to get an adapter to go from the C645 using a Kodak back to allow the use of the ND lenses on this camera? Since the kodak sensor is 36mm square this would seem like a good combination.


Well-Known Member
Marc, your point is well taken. I have seen a lot of your s&les in various forum. You seems to use prime lenses most of the time including weddings. Your images are great and the quality is so there. I know it is your skill more than a tool issue. (Using prime lens does separate the man from boycott.) But I am too used to zooms, I found the 16-35mm L and 24-70mm L soft and the lenses are heavy. (It can be a personal issue, no steady hands.) I think I should learn to use prime lenses for event. Any suggestion on what setup I should use, i.e. how many bodies, and what lenses at want situations for a wedding event.

I am in the process of building up a Canon system. Any suggestion for lenses for event would be appreciated.

Finally, Marc, did you use 580EX flash for your X'mas event?

Since this is a Contax forum, let me make a comment on the ND. It is still a great camera in today's standard. Full frame and being able to use AF Zeiss lens. At times I feel lucky to have one with all things considered. Although the mgr at Calumet suggested me to dump all my Contax gear for the 1Ds Mark II.

Enjoy what we have, hope for what we don't...



Well-Known Member
550EX Albert. Can't seem to get one of the new 580s.

I have had pretty good luck with the Canon 16-35/2.8L, although it does feature more distortion than I care for in some shots. The key Prime Canon lenses IMO are the 35/1.4L, 85/1.2L and 135/2L, followed by 24/1.4L, 50/1.4, 100/2.8 macro.

While I do use the 16-35/2.8 on a regular basis for weddings and events, the 24 through 135 will meet most needs with super available light ability and image quality. 24mm is pretty wide on the 1DsMKII due to being full frame.

My wish list now includes an adapter for N to EOS since I shoot wide open or just stopped down a bit 95% of the time. And the N lenses are more suited to manual focus than the Canon glass. I'm going to look into that immediately.

Were I you I wouldn't dump the N gear unless you have to for financial reasons. It is worth much more in image quality than it would fetch on the market these days.


Well-Known Member
Thanks Marc. I love the Mr.and Mrs.Christmas picture and if that is more or less straight from the camera...
But I think I would have a problem with the weight- and definitely the cost- but I am most and very impressed. At the moment I think I shall have to stick to film and tedious scanning because I think that for digital Canon has it but the cost and the weight rule it out for me. Hands on experience like yours backed up by genuine pictures taken in the field is very convincing.
Thanks again ,


Well-Known Member
Just held up a Contax 85/1.4 and 17-35 to the 1DsMKII and did some shots. The mount is very similar, so it may be possible. The N mount snugged right in there ... so the question is if you can maintain infinity focus or not. But with the C17-35 it may not be an issue due to DOF. I shot one with the C 17-35 and the same shot with the 16-35 Canon.

Will develop pics right now ... stay tuned.

(Focus confirmation is retained BTW).


Well-Known Member
Marc, please let me know if you ever found someone to make the N/EOS adaptor. I can chip in some reasonably development cost. If that ever happens, I can save a lot of money on lenses and invest more on the body.

One more question, I have been using a custom bracket with the Q T4D flash. The weight is killing me for all day event. Do you think I can get by just using the 550/580EX without a bracket. With the hi-ISO performance in the new Canon dSLR, I kind of think it is do-able, except for outdoor hi-contrast scene.



Well-Known Member
Okay, here's the scoop, 2 issues with using N lenses on an EOS body:

1) While the N lenses have aperture rings, they are controlled electronically. So, they can not be stopped down. It's wide open or nothing.

2) Not sure infinity focus can be achieved. I got it on the 17-35 @ 2.8, but W/As lenses have tremendous DOF which may account for achieving it with the 17-35 and not with the 85/1.4 @ 1.4

I shot a scene with the 1DsMKII and a Canon 16-35/2.8 @ 2.8 using manual metering, Then removed the lens and held the Contax 17-35/2.8 in the EOS mount. It worked.

The results tended to favor the Canon zoom which looked sharper upon 200% enlargement. Not particularly surprising as some Japanese brands give precedence to sharpness over other qualities. I've tested my Leica M lenses in the same manner and found similar results. What interests me about this is whether the typical digital "cut out" edge sharpness is relieved by this or not.

Here's a shot of my messy house as we get ready for the Holiday
using the Contax 17-35/2.8 on the 1DsMKII...