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Contax N-System

G

Guest

Following my last posting about the possibility of a "messy axe murder", I have to report that I have been cleared to buy an N1 by my ever-loving wife, who took one look at the results of a test I set up between the G2 and Biogon 21mm, and the Minolta 17-35mm G lenses. I shot the same subjects, in the same light. The difference in sharpness, instantly visible in the prints by my wife and son, has persuaded her that there is no substitute for Zeiss quality, even though she too shoots with a Minolta. I plan to run the same test again, with Provia instead of Kodak Gold, and project the results on my two Leica projectors, side by side.
My question now is, does anyone know anything about Contax bringing out an N2 at Photokina ? I would really kick myself if I tied into an N1 now, and an "improved" version arrived in September ! Would anyone (except Peter !) have an opinion as to whether an NX and the two AF/MF lenses would hold me until the "new" body arrives, whether I should just get on with it, and have the N1 while I can. Trouble is, I just cannot afford to make another expensive mistake, and to some degree I am regressing back to a heavier, larger kit than the Dynax 7 I have now. I rate the camera design, and the dimensions and weights very highly - it is just the result of the lenses that let the whole package down. I have been used to Leica quality for nearly 50 years, followed by Zeiss with the G2s, and want more of that quality from an SLR.
Help, please !
Robin
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Hi Robin,

many issues in one posting
happy.gif


Although we can not be absolutely sure, it is unlikely that there will be a new Contax N analogue body this year. This is different with a new digital N. There are rumors that a cheaper N digital with a full size chip will come this year.

The N-lenses are very good in image quality and the manual focussing feeling with the "dual focus mechanism" lenses is great, BUT I doubt that you will have the same optical result like the Contax G-lenses. The new N 17-35 does not have the same image quality as the Contax G21.

Additionally there will be another N 17-35 (hopefully this year) with a different aperture range and I guess similar to the 2 other cheaper N-zooms without Dual focus mechanism. I guess it will be something like 3.5-4.5 aperture, weight less and with a smaller filter size.

dirk
 
G

Guest

Hi Dirk,
Thank you for your very prompt and helpful reply to my "cry for help" on the quality of my Zeiss G2 lenses versus the N1 zooms. Since then, I have had some advice from the Minolta side of the fence, suggesting that it was an unfair test to compare 8-element G2 FFL Zeiss lenses against the 14-element Minolta zoom, even at the comparable focal length. The Minolta advice now says I should invest in higher quality Minolta zoom lenses (the pro level range, also called G lenses) before I bin all the Minolta kit at a huge loss, to restart with Contax N1.
All my instincts say "Go for the N1 - it's what I wanted in the first place". But the Minolta handles so well, and is the weight I want to carry. So - how much worse than the Zeiss G lenses are the N1 zooms, 24-85 and 70-300 ? Is the difference really discernible ? I look at Simon Lamb's photos on this site taken with N1 and his three lenses, and marvel at how good the originals must be, when the quality on the screen after scanning is, to my eyes, absolutely stunning.
With the Minolta, I do not wish to reinforce failure and incur further useless expense, but am reminded that Minolta used to make the Leica R lenses (or at least some of them), and getting back to the Leica quality I have been used to is my current minimum requirement. I sincerely hope that this requirement would be exceeded by switching to Contax N1 and that the N1 glass is better than even the pro range Minolta lens range. I still need an SLR to get pictures out beyond the range of my 90mm G2 lens.
BTW, this site of yours is superb. I get more useful information off it that any other Contax source I have so far tried. Many thanks for all your hard work.
Robin
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Hi Robin,

thank you for the compliments to my site. I agree that it would be unfair to compare Minolta zooms with primes, especially with those primes of the G2. In my opinion, there is always a possibility to find excellent lenses in each system.

The question is more whether you will have the luck that your item is one of those. The quality control in the mass production of Canon/Minolta/ Nikon is definetely not as good as at Zeiss, but this is among others the reason why they are also cheaper. If you want to have the best lenses in their line, you also have to pay a lot more and there is almost no difference in price between Minolta et al. and Contax. If they then still match Zeiss image quality I can not tell you for sure.

The difference of the N-zooms and the G prime lenses depend largely on your shooting style and knowledge. Handheld is less difference then with a tripod etc., the fim is also very important and lightening situation of course. Look in the overview folder for more information. I put there some articles about that.

But for your information: Minolte DESIGNED the following lenses for Leica/Leitz.But I am not sure whether Leitz or Minolta PRODUCED them. The year is the year of production start:

2.8/16 of 1975 2.8/24 of 1974 8.0/500 of 1980 3.5/35-70 of 1983 and 1988 4.0/70-210 of 1984 4.5/75-200 of 1978 4.5/80-200 of 1974

I have these information from the Erwin Puts book. He has the information directly from the archive of Leica, so they should be valid. These lenses are NOT among the best Leitz lenses, but Leica had neither the capacity nor the know how to do it alone. By the way Zeiss made also lenses for Leica. Schneider and Sigma too. The same counts for the R bodies. The R3 was designed from Minolta and all others til the R7 follow the same road. I think Minolta is really great in Camera bodies. All Minoltas I have used are very good in handling (x700, Maxxum9000, 7xi, 9xi)and innovativ for their time.

So at the end of the day it brings you nothing to know who made for whom something. Every manufacturer has a very good know how. The target sales-price is determing the image quality to 90%. You have to take both systems, Contax N and Minolta in your case, for a day and shoot with them. Just the real life results will help your stomach
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I will probably organize later this year shooting trips (one day or so) with Contax eqipment for members in differnt countries. But this is for the moment just phantasy and depends on the demand and how to make it cost-free. But this would definitely help you a lot. In the meantime go to your dealer and ask him for renting. This is so much money, he should do it.

Dirk
 
G

Guest

Robin:

Weight was a great concern to me too when I moved over from Nikon to the N1. The N1 is no lightweight but actually comes very close to that of the F100 (a comparable camera in the Nikon line, I think). The 24-85 is big and heavy too, BUT it is so good that you don't need anything else in that range - and the Nikon AF-S equivalents, if there is such a thing, are even heavier. Now, I do have trouble with the weight (and price) of the 70-300. I used to own the Nikon F2.8/80-200 - fantastic lens but MUCH too heavy to my liking. The Contax 70-300 is a little lighter but not enough to pursuade me to buy it, because I know I will not like to take it with me on hikes. Moreover, the 200-300 range is difficult to use without a tripod and I don't like to carry those either. I have decided to, eventually, go for the 70-200; it is much lighter and cheaper, and it is reportedly excellent. That makes an N1, 24-85, 70-200 and TLA 360 combo which is doable in price and weight, and probably takes care of 99% of your needs (mine at least). Just my opinion.
 
G

Guest

.... I totally agree to the points of Otola. Look for a comparison between the N70-300 and N70-200 in the N-lens folder of this Forum...
 
G

Guest

Hi Dirk and Otola,
My thanks to you both for all the information and advice. I am nearly there, making the decision to go for the N1. The thought about the 70-200 is also good thinking. Let us just hope that Zeiss come out with a decent 1.4x Mutar for the N range at Photokina !
Albest, Robin
 
G

Guest

Hi Robin
Before buying, try the 200mm 2.8 G along with matching x2 for the Minolta (Dynax 9 in my case - as good as N1, 100% viewfinder is superb). I have this combination along with 100mm 2.8 macro and 50mm 1.4 standard. Great combination and matching the quality in most respects (not quite the 3d of Zeiss lens). I find better and lighter to handle than the zoom and when matched to G2 with 21mm lens what a combo.
Give it a try.
I'm sure either way you'll end up with a fantastic system.
Good shooting
Simon
 
G

Guest

> Hi Simon,

Many thanks for this excellent lateral thinking. I bought the Dynax 7 for the knob controls, and obviously considered getting the Dynax 9 for the viewfinder etc. Prime lenses would give me better results than a zoom, I think, except that Zeiss appear to be altering that train of thought with the high quality of the 24-85, as reported on this forum. I shall give your input much considered thought, and thank you again for your helpful contribution. Albest, Robin
 
G

Guest

Following on my last post, I thought about the Minolta, and decided that the siren song of Zeiss was too strong. I have ordered the N1, with 24-85 zoom. I also ordered the FX1 screen. The longer lens will have to wait until after we see what comes out at Photokina.
My thanks to everyone who has helped to make up my mind to go totally Zeiss/Contax. I really appreciate all the advice I have been given. Now - can anyone tell me how I should scan pictures to put them on this site, so I can show off the results from the (coming next week) N1 ?
Albest to you all, Robin
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Hi Robin,

first of all congratulations to the purchase of your N1!

If you look at "the digital corner" in this Forum, you will find already some threads for the start in scanning/printing and also a link thread with links for digital subjects only.

I would recommend you to buy immediately Adobe Photoshop version 6 or later. This is the industry standard and although I am not yet very familiar with it, the uncountable capabilities of this software is just impressive. For a beginner in digital stuff like me also sometimes frustrating. For scanner/printer questions - same thread in this Forum.

As soon as my webhoster has set up a new, bigger server for me, I will release a totally new designed image upload page for Contaxinfo.com. A so called Contax Photo Gallery with many nice features. A lot more professional then the current solution. I hope to put it online at the end of next week...

dirk
 
G

Guest

Elliot, Peter and Everyone,

I follow with interest the thread regarding Canon v. N1 benefits and flaws. I am a professional nature photographer and the following are my thoughts on the original question re. image stabilization and large aperture lenses.

By intro, I shoot the Contax 645 for 80% of my landscape and macro work--with 35, 45, 80, 120 and 210 lenses (thank God zooms are finally coming!) For my wildlife work, I shoot Canon EOS (I sold out my Nikons many years ago). My lenses are 20-35, 35-350 and 400 2.8 with converters PLUS heavy Gitzo CF tripod and Arca-Swiss head. For ultralight backpacking and panoramic ability, I shoot Mamiya 7II. I do not have a digital camera as I prefer the higher quality of scanning my slides.

My critera, always, is quality, quality, quality. My work is at
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
(I put my money where my mouth is).

I pick what gear works best and have bought everything I own after extensive rentals and comparisons of different gear.

So much for intro. My first comment is the "sharpness equation." This is film speed, camera motion, subject motion and lens quality. Sharpness requires slower speed film, solid camera support, and shutter speeds sufficient to freeze subject motion. Lens quality is usually the least significant aspect of the equation, as the first three elements have far more impact on image quality. This is real-world truth, not Pop Photo or MTF theory.


Film is a personal choice. The finest quality is in slower speed (ASA 50-100) slide films. Slower print films are also excellent but I do not use them because the professional (publication/print/advertising) market generally prefers slides. If you go with higher speed film, sharpness suffers. I Assume you use high quality film.

As for camera movement, the basic truth is that Gitzo and Slik will do more for sharpness than the finest lenses. A TRIPOD IS ESSENTIAL FOR SHARPNESS. No matter how good you think you are, no handheld shot will be as sharp as a tripod shot except maybe for bright daylight shooting.

If you must shoot handheld, then the new IS systems do indeed work very well especially in the telephoto range (80mm and up). The IS mechanism basically "replaces" a tripod. While the result might not be quite as sharp as a tripod shot, it is an amazing improvement--allowing full professional quality results with careful handholding. The superb optical quality of Zeiss (which I respect but do not necessarily concede in 35mm compared to Canon "L") cannot make up for degrading camera shake. At this time, Contax has no comparable technology, but you can get similar benefits by buying/renting a Kenyon gyro stabilizer (affordable for professionals only--if you are an amateur, go with IS). I used the Kenyon for 10 days on a small boat in SE Alaska with stunning handheld results even with the 645 and 210mm.

If you are buying new, my personal experience has been that Canon's IS is best, especially in the telephoto ranges and with converters where it is needed most--but if you already are a Nikon user, no need to switch.

If you are going to handhold in the telephoto range, IS will outperform Zeiss in the real world--take that to the bank!


However, camera shake is only one variable in the sharpness equation--the other is subject motion. No amount of IS will give you sharpness if you are shooting moving subjects at 1/60 second. To handle subject motion, large apertures (giving higher shutter speeds) are the only option IF you want professional quality images on professional quality film. We don't carry these heavy lenses into the field for fun or for status--they are the gear that gets the job done. Large apertures, of course, also aid in controlling camera shake.

My recommendation, if you want to shoot wildlife and will be handholding, is to go with the Canon 70-200 2.8 (optically superb) IS (technologically excellent)and 1.4 and 2x converters. The other option is the Canon 100-400 3.5-5.6 L IS and a 1.4 converter if needed. The former gives you higher shutter speed without converters, the latter is more versatile.

As my last note, several messages have dealt with AF speed and accuracy. If you are shooting wildlife there is no substitute. Contax AF is good. For professional use, though, Canon is head and shoulders above in terms of speed, accuracy, focus tracking and focus coverage. No slam on Contax, but the fact is that they are 2 generations behind the others.

Personally, I am watching the N system with interest. Contax, probably wisely from a marketing view, did not target nature photography professionals with the initial N offerings. If the N system developed an indestructible pro camera body (like F5 or EOS 1V),lenses and IS comparable to Canon, I would consider a switch as lens quality then becomes more important. Given Contax's long lead time, though, this won't happen for years (and maybe never). I would not wait if you need something now.

I love my Contax 645. The N system is not there, yet. DON'T FALL IN LOVE WITH A BRAND--USE WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR NEEDS.

If you are set on Contax, you are hurt by the absence of a large-aperture telephoto lens. The optical design of the small-aperture lenses may be great, but they are not fast enough to allow quality results handholding with slow speed film.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Guy Harrison

handheld, if you are shooting wildlife, birds or sports
 
G

Guest

My new N1 has a green zone on the exposure compensation dial, similar to the automatic setting for the shutter speed. The Owner's Manual says that the green stripe on the exposure compensation dial is the "green zone", but doesn't say anything other than to leave that dial set at "O" unless changing the compensation. Can somebody help a rookie???

Thanks in Advance!
Jeff
 
G

Guest

Jeff

I work almost exclusively in aperture mode, so I leave the shutter speed knob on the green mark and the exposure compensation knob on the green mark. The latter allows you to perform exposure compensation using the wheel in front of the shutter release. This is an excellent setup. My 'work flow' if you like is to use spot metering with the centre spot on the part of the subject that I want to be properly exposed to show detail, lock it with the AEL position on the shutter, dial in any exposure compensation with the wheel and then compose and shoot. Sounds long winded but now I have practised I can do all that in two or three seconds.

To speed things up even more, if the light is fairly constant, I will lock in an exposure and shoot at that setting, only using the compensation wheel if the light changes.

A long answer. The short one is, the green mark means that exposure compensation is transferred to the wheel on the camera.

Simon
 
G

Guest

Simon. I too am a recent owner of a new N1, and the 24-85, and the 70-300 lenses, and most certainly like Jeff, am still trying to get accustomed to the controls, after all part of successful photography is understanding your equipment.I have tried out the method that you describe, and find that the compensation values,are only shown on the top panel rather than in the viewfinder,the variation in the shutter speed is shown in the viewfinder of course, is this the case. One other point that you may explain Simon! In Av,Tv,and P Modes a compensation value is always shown on the viewfinder scale,without any values being set on the dials, can you explain please.
Kind Regards. Ken Taylor.
 
G

Guest

Ken

I don't have my N in front of me, so this is from memory (which is bad at the best of times!). I believe this is all in the manual.

In Av mode, the exposure compensation is shown in the viewfinder if you are in spot metering mode. I think for matrix mode (and perhaps centre weighted) it will only show the difference between the metered value and what the camera would have selected in spot. Something like that but it is in the manual somewhere. It definitely does show the compensation that you dial in when in Av mode, exp. knob set the green line and spot metering selected.

Check your metering mode. The exp. compensation scale does show a reading in some settings because it is telling you the difference between what has been metered and what would have been the value if spot (or centre weighted) had been selected.

Simon
 
G

Guest

Hi! Simon. Many thanks, will ckeck it out ASAP.
By the way do you have any experience with the 50mm f1.4 lense, as that will most likely be my next purchase, when funds are available.
Regards Ken
 
G

Guest

Ken

I only use the 24-85mm, 70-300mm and 100mm Macro Sonnar. I bought the N primarliy for the zooms and macro lens, although the 400mm f/4 sounds like it will be interesting, especially if they produce a 1.4x teleconverter for it. A Zeiss 560mm f/5.6 would be awesome I suspect.

I use Leica primes with my M6.

Simon
 
G

Guest

Simon,
THANK YOU for all the terrific information!! Keep it coming!
Thanks again..
Jeff
 
G

Guest

Simon. Thanks for the reply. I have spent a few hours with the camera, and manual, and am now much wiser.It seems that Contax dont think users should require any compensation when using the Evaluative metering. However when one uses either the Spot, or Centre Weighted metering the conpensation values can be set with the command dial, and the values can be seen in the viewfinder.
By the way, I like your idea of using the aperture mode in most cases. I would think with the 24-85 anything taken at f5.6 or f8.0 should be brilliant, unless of course you require Depth of Field,or the background out of focus.
I am eager to get my first film back from the processors to find out the results, but having had Contax before, I am sure it will only prove that the Contax system is superior to the Canon, and Nikons of this world.( In my oppinion )
Thanks once again. Ken.
 
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