Contaxbs Alphabet Game



I was just reading some posts on other sites and here, I realized that for a relatively small division, Contax is currently handling 5 different systems on 5 different mounts: The N, G, C/Y, T, and 645. So, i propose a debate, and if this has been debated before, I'm sorry.

With the exception of Pentax, I really haven't shot any other brand, but compared to other camera brands it really seems that Contax has spread itself thin. From my experience, Pentax has their 645 line, their auto-focus line, and point and shoot -all are pretty developed. Pentax did however, discontinue their beloved K-1000 and Takumar series lenses (my first camera was a K-1000, I loved that cameraa).

Canon I think exclusively has their EOS line, and thats it (their also in digital stuff —scanners, etc).

Nikon made a Rangefinder probably more for the fun of it than anything.

With Contax, The N-Line is a baby which requires a lot of work to get in the same ball park as Canon, they failed with their digital SLR (but they are close, i would love an N-Digital). The G-line just got a new lens, but just doesn't offer the amount of lenses like Leica (which shouldn't be compared, because leicas were around when the dinosaurs were shooting, and shooting well). I'm not familiar with the 645 line, but if I was buying medium format, I would go Hasselblad, just with what I have heard from my friends.

I am not familiar, again with Contax's point and shoots, but with the announcement of the newest Contax P&S, money is really being put into this genre

Their Creme dela Creme is the C/Y line, which we all know is amazing. I don't know if their have been any real new lenses in a long time. They discontinued the 25mm, any others?

On top of this, Kyrocera has their point and shoots.

What are you guys's opinions? Where do you see Contax going? Are they done with their C/Y line? Have they spread their R&D too far over too many lines for a smaller department as Contax?

I wonder if Kyrocera makes money from Contax...


Well-Known Member
Like a large percentage of mid-size Japanese companies, Kyocera is very

likely not making any money on much of anything. Don't believe what you

read in the NY Times about a 'recovery' happening over here. Every time

the Tokyo Stock Exchange has a big hiccup, Wall Street screams 'recovery.' It is not the case.

My guess, as an eight year resident, is that Kyocera makes no profit whatsoever from Contax. An addiction that most Japanese companies of any size have is 'spreading themselves too thin.' Profitability takes a

back seat to market share, but in Kyocera's case, their forte has always been high-tech ceramics, hence 'Kyo' (Kyoto) 'cera' (ceramics).

I would not be too surprised if, as the economy over carries on its slow spiral down the toilet, Kyocera were forced to sell the Contax division within the next five years or so. Don't be suprised if it happens. That is, if the Japanese economy doesn't recover.

Just my personal take as a resident.

>>I'm not familiar with the 645 line, but if I was buying medium format, I would go Hasselblad, just with what I have heard from my friends. <<

And who are your "friends"? Hasselblad bigots who believe the only home for Zeiss lenses in medium format is on their beloved Hassy bodies? The Contax 645 line remains one of the best medium format systems available today, despite small quirks and flaws, and it's certainly the best system I've ever used in terms of image quality (having used Contax C/Y, G, Nikon, Olympus, Hasselblad and Mamiya). The only way I could do better is to go with large format.

I certainly respect what Hasselblad has accomplished and love a few of their lenses, but until the introduction of the H1, they were busy releasing candy colored versions of their aging cameras while professional photographers in big cities like NY and Los Angeles increasingly chose to rent Contax 645s and Mamiya 67s over Hassys. I still have to laugh at how the defenders of the square format continued to claim superiority for a 6x6 negative over 645 while Hasselblad faced the music and released their own 645 direct response to the success of the Contax system.

You can go ahead and debate whether Kyocera is overextended or how they're handling the Contax line of cameras, but please work off of information about the Contax 645 from people who have actually used it, not people who have formed opinions of it.


(quoting Ken) The G-line just got a new lens, but just doesn't offer the amount of lenses like Leica (which shouldn't be compared, because leicas were around when the dinosaurs were shooting, and shooting well). (End quote)

Hi Ken,
Slight clarification for you about the dinosaurs ;) The first 35mm Contax rangefinder was released shortly after the first 35mm Leica rangefinder. It was the Contax I in 1932. The Contax II (1936) was a much more robust and reliable camera and today is still highly prized along with the IIa, III, IIIa models. (It's on my wish list) One of the things that set them apart from the Leica is the fact that the coupled rangefinder shares ONE window with the viewfinder and makes composing and shooting so much easier. So, Contax rangefinders are nearly as old as the dinosaurs too

What is new is the rangefinder camera in the form of the G which was an entirely new breed in my opinion. They no longer make any of the manual types of rangefingers that many people wish they did. (Although Cosina/Voigtlander did produce a new body that accepts the old lenses last year)

More can be read here:
Contax I
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Contax II and III
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Hope you don't mind the slight tangent to your topic.
PS: My apologies if this appears twice - I'm experiencing some list delivery and send weird-ness today.


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I still prefer the square format from my Mamiyas and previously Yashicamat and would you believe before that Lubitel (said in ashamed tones).
The square shape is easier to crop and you don't have to turn the camera on its side and anyway I like the square composition, even though I have a wide screen tv and go to the cimema and very few artists paint square pictures.
Each to his own.


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Still got my Lub from 1964, my first camera, when I was a nipper!

Must run a film through it , before it notices it's been neglected for .... oh, 20 years!

Cheers, Bob.


Well, this is a lot to chew over.

re. Kyocera. I occasionally read their annual and semi-annual reports to ferret out Contax tidbits. Where once they ch&ioned owning the marque due to its prestige value, lately there's been nary a mention of it. They only note their focus (sorry) is now on digital photography. I take that as powerful evidence that film photography has forever been moved to the back of the corporate bus, someday to be tossed out the window.

The fact remains that cameras and camera components will forever be a tiny part of the corporate pie.

In no particular order:

The C/Y line is kaput, perhaps not officially, but we can probably safely assume that they're no longer manufacturing any of the lenses, and only two or three of the bodies. So long as the line serves as a cash cow they'll keep it on life support, but I suspect even that will cease in the next year or two.

The 645 and N lines were probably part of a grand strategy to stay relevant in the advanced amateur/pro market but like a lot of other companies, Kyocera/Contax seemes to have underestimated how rapidly the digital market would rise and how badly film-based systems would suffer from it. They're both viable systems, but I don't get the sense that they've been particularly successful (I'll guess that the 645 has done better than the Ns).

The dearth of new lenses and accessories is troublesome.

I *really* hope they don't orphan the G system. But they need to market it more aggressively than they have been, and I'll bet that the Voigtlander line has been stealing sales from the G line. They at least need to make incremental improvements to the G2 if they don't want to commit to a G3, to signal to the marketplace that they're not going to discontinue the line entirely.

BTW, what new G lens has been released? The last one I know of was the zoom, which was nearly three years ago.

The P&S cameras can't really be considered another lens mount, given that they have fixed lenses. I suspect the Ts actually sell quite well, and they have long product lives (e.g., the T2 was viable for about a decade), meaning good profits. I question whether you can successfully market high-end digital P&Ss in the same fashion, given that the digital technology becomes dated so quickly, no matter the quality of the lens and body.

Enough rambling for one post.



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> type your text here! I have lugged a Hassleblad to Europe a couple of times (and taken very few pictures compared with 35mm). One problem I have had is getting too close to a subject so that in later wanting to crop to 11 x 14, there is no room to move the subject around within that format. The solution, of course, is simple. Move back and don't fill the viewfinder with the central subject matter. If you move 40 or 50 feet back from some ancient monument, you still will have a huge image size compared with 35mm and be able to crop in whatever direction you want, left, right and up and down.


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I agree with Mark that Contax is unlikely to be profitable, but Kyocera enjoys the cachet of associating with a famous name. Within reason, they can afford to continue this association, given their market cap of $11B. Okay, Toyota is bigger ($110B), and so is Canon ($40B), but Kyocera is not a small company. Fujifilm, for ex&le, is $14B.

The worst part about Contax being spread thin is not financial, but managerial. There isn't enough focus on a given product line: development, production, marketing. In contrast, Canon does 35mm and digital with single-minding relentlessness. You get the impression that they could ship a new camera model every month for all eternity. Buyers like that feeling.


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Hi Bob, My Lubitel did take surprisingly good pictures. I've still got my first camera. It is an Agfa Clack (brilliant name!) from 1958. I put a film through it about 10 years and was surprised at the reasonable results.


I'm new to this body and lense matching game, but is it true that I can put a Contax G lense on a Voightlander body?


> Yes, the comments regarding Contax's future are interesting. My question is how do you explain the RXII in the mix you have described?



"is it true that I can put a Contax G lense on a Voightlander body?"

Zork modifies two of the Voigtlander ultrawides to fit the G cameras. I've not heard of anybody doing the reverse.



> The C/Y line is kaput, perhaps not officially, but we can probably > safely assume that they're no longer manufacturing any of the lenses, > and only two or three of the bodies. So long as the line serves as a > cash cow they'll keep it on life support, but I suspect even that will > cease in the next year or two.

Reading this catastrophic scanario, I'm very glad that I just purchased nice new Aria last month.

Am I afraid that C/Y line is "dead"? -- no, not at all, since these cameras look quite sturdy and so I hope Aria will serve me well for few years. At that time, I hope I will be able to find quite good digital camera with 1) manual focus 2) manual apperture ring and 3) manual shutter speed dial. Shortly something like Aria (or other C/Y contax) or leica Rx but in digital.

Am I afraid that Zeiss is not developing new lenses for C/Y? -- no, since I think all lenses which I would like to use: Distagon 2.8/28 or 35, Planar 1.4/50 (already bought), Planar 1.4/85 or Planar 2/100 are better (or at least the same quality opticaly) as new zooms produced for N line -- do not counting a lot of other various brand lenses which I think are not so good.Are there better lenses? Yes, sure! Maybe some leicas, but they are not suitable for me, because of their prices.

Is there any other camera brand which I should choose instead of Contax? Yes, sure: Nikon FM3, but it does not provide Zeiss! And Leica M/R, but it does not provide nice price of Zeiss (for my choose set of lenses).

Conclusion: I've bought the best camera for me, and I just need to learn how to take better pictures, so lets go and learn real photography instead of writting essays about Contax future :)




John E., One of the new Voigtlander bodies (as seen on is made to accept the OLD Contax rangefinder lenses from the Contax II, IIa, III and IIIa. This new Voigtlander rangefinder was not made for the NEW Contax G lenses. Sorry


Just to come back on a couple things:

—Regarding Hasselblad, I cannot argue about image or system quality because I have yet to use either (honestly, i cannot afford medium format nor see a need for it at my tender age of 21). Because I have not used Contax medium format, or know how long its been around, or how extensive their lens catalog is, I cannot argue one is better than another. My argument is Contax is supporting this format of photography, along with 4 others. Again, to each their own.

I do have to agree with Rico on the Managerial issue. Nikon and Canon produce a good pro-model every year, at the latest every other year. Didn't Nikon make a new digital body? Canon has sooo many lenses, some awesome, some mediocre at best.

I really think the N-digital would have been successful if it was marketed better. It almost seemed like contax was saying, "Oh, a 12,000 dollar camera body isn't selling? well, lets just discontinue it, nobody wants digital it seems."

I really think by putting most of their effort into 645 and N lines and really marketing it Contax could make a profit.

Maybe I'll type more later. -Ken


(Putting on Idle Speculation cap)

The C/Y system is down to two bodies in the US, three elsewhere. I'll guess that they're still manufacturing the Aria and RXII, and have enough RTSIIIs on the shelf to meet demand. It would appear that they aren't interested in bringing the RXII to the States at all.

I'll further guess that they're perhaps still manufacturing three or four of the most popular (affordable) lenses, but that the rest are subject to stock on hand only.

I found it telling that last year they had incredible rebate deals on C/Y gear and this year there's been nothing at all. I also note that even the biggest Contax retailers are carrying far less C/Y gear than a year ago, especially lenses and accessories. I translate all this as meaning the line is being put to bed for good. For anyone wanting a new body or lens, don't wait too long.

None of what I'm saying is a comment on the quality or breadth of the C/Y system. Rather, it's a recognition that Contax will no longer be a manufacturer of a comprehensive SLR system in the manner of the RTS system, with its wide array of bodies, lenses and accessories. They simply can't compete with the Nikons and Canons, and evidently don't see the value in positioning themselves against the Leica R in the "boutique" marketplace, not having committed to the much smaller N system.

As parts become scarce, older Contax bodies will be relegated to dusty drawers or raided for spare parts. My RTS and 139 are tired and don't warrant fixing. That's why I bought an Aria. My feeling is that the lenses will easily outlive me, but the bodies, especially the electronics, simply aren't as robust.

For me, the G system erases much of the pain and the N system can fill any holes that I don't have plugged with the G and my existing SLR gear. I would have preferred a different outcome, but figure we have to be pragmatic about what's possible in 2003.



>Hmm, I'm not a Contax owner, but came to this board, because I wanted to abandon my Nikon system for a Contax. > However, the activities - or better non activities - of Kyocera scare me off from that idea. I started many years ago with a second hand Mamiya ZE not knowing that Mamiya didn't produce any 135 stuff under their name anymore, and lenses and accessoires weren't available widely in pre-ebay times. Seems I would probably have run in the poo poo with a Contax.


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People are quite negative regarding the brand with Contax, and they have all the reason to do so, afterall there are not many marketing activities with contax. However, I think they should be a lot more optimistic about contax. You have to think what the giant japaness company think, there is only a few option that will happen,

the worst picture is the kyocero went bust, very unlikely, it will take years for such a big company go bankcurpcy.

It lost a lot of money and it hurts, then they will decide whether to sell contax (as one of the option) or to build/intergrate their business with their current business and create "synergy" (I hate this word!). Personnelly, I would choose the later one because the contax is a very good brand, long history of success in photography. It make sense to do so!

The company is not doing too well, not too bad either, it will continue sleeping! Unless there is a new agressive CEO turns out and change the culture of company!

Judging on the products line of Kycero, quite honestly, I think they will likely to lose a lot of money and will hurt, then they will do something about it

dead silence always happen before big changes!