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CY Lens Collection Question

tscollins

New Member
Hi All:
I am new to the forum and relatively new to Contax. I recently bought an Aria with a 50mm lens which I am loving. I am in the process of deciding which lenses to complement the 50mm. Therefore my question is: If you were allowed to keep only five lenses (one zoom plus 4 primes or 5 primes), which 5 lenses would make up your ultimate all-around kit? In terms of subject, I generally shoot landscapes, macros, portraits, and street stuff. I probably don't have much need for telephoto above 200mm. Thanks in advance.
Tim
 

gunteach

Well-Known Member
Tim, I'm new here too, and sort of "fell into" Contax in that I bought gear from the estate of a deceased photographer. I found myself with 2 167MT bodies, the Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, the 50/1.7 Planar, and the Vario-Sonnar 80-200/4 along with a TLA20 flash unit and other small accessories for $600 USD. I got this stuff in 1990 and at the time had no idea how good it was. I've used the gear hard since then all over the US, the Middle East, Central and South America, both for personal enjoyment and work, and have yet to encounter my first problem. Like you, I really don't use anything over 200mm, and for that the zoom seems to work fine. When I need more on rare occasion, I use a Yashica 2x converter with the zoom, and at least for me it works fine in daylight settings. I find myself using the 28 quite a lot, especially for indoor stuff and street scenes, and I would not be without this lens. My 50/1.7 is a pure joy for general shooting. I'm not sure I have a real "need" for them, but recently I've been getting interested in trying the 180/2.8 and maybe an 85mm too now that the manual focus CZ lenses are more reasonable on e-bay. I added a well-used 139 Quartz as a "knock-around" body and have a bunch of Yashica primes and zoom lenses along with Yashica bodies too for experimentation and work use because they are dirt cheap and some of them are suprisingly good. Just my experience, hope it helps.
Tom
 

deshojo

Well-Known Member
Hi Tim, welcome to the forum, and great choice of camera!

The ultimate kit? It has to start with my absolute favourite lens the 21mm f2.8 Distagon, a real gem. Then the 28-85mm Vario-Sonnar, possibly the finest standard zoom ever made. Of course the 50mm f1.7 for low light (and it's incredibly sharp). The 100mm Makro-Planar is a must-have also, yet another spectacular performer. Finally I've recently added a 135mm f2 to this line up because of it's reputation, and it lives up to it. Wonderfully sharp and has a beautiful bokeh.

I also have the 100-300mm Vario-Sonnar and the 25mm Distagon, but they don't get used as much as the rest so they would have to be left out from the 5 lens line-up. I'm sure there will be plenty of other recommendations as there aren't really any dogs produced by Zeiss, but this is my standard kit and it does just fine thank you!

Best wishes,
Matt
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Hi Tim and welcome,
That's a difficult one. I love my 100mm f3.5 but I also like my 85mm f2.8. They are different but each is lovable. I tend to like to stand back a little with my lenses although I also have the 25mm. Although the 100, is a bit slow, I don't think I would part with it except at gun or bankrupt point. It just makes such lovely pictures and gives an extra bit of reach and is lovely to use.
I also have the 28-85 zoom but have gone off it a bit as I tend now just to go out with one lens at a time and adapt it to whatever I want to photograph. I think the zoom is very large and heavy and a bit slow. I think it distorts at the wide end a bit too, at least I thought that last time I used it to photograph a castle in Wales and decided that the lens made the walls point somewhat towards the centre.
I once had the 100mm before and sold it when I sold all my 35mm gear to concentrate on medium format. I couldn't resist the lure of Contax and had to buy stuff all back again. At that time I had the 85mm f1.4. I thought it was a lovely lens, so bright although people have complained about it being soft at maximum aperture. I have stuck with the f2.8 version since my re-buy because it is so compact.
I also have the 200mm f4 having previously had the huge f3.5. I think it is excellent although I rarely use it. I have a teleconverter for it too.
Biting the bullet, I think I would stick with the 100mm and the 200mm and of course the 50mm f1.4 which would be the one lens I would keep if I had to sell all the others. It is almost a universal lens since if you scan from it at high resolution there is plenty of room to crop and still have high megapxel results.
I would also keep the 25mm,if I am allowed under this criterion, for wideangle shots. I have the 28mm G lens which is superb but have never tried the 28mm C/Y.
It's a bit like the UK radio programme "Desert Island Discs" in which people have to choose the music they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. They can only take so many plus a book and a luxury.

Hope this helps,
John
 

king

Member
> [Hi there, I too own an Aria and have been wondering due to its light weight which lenses are too heavy. I have heard that the 28-85mm 1.4 is too heavy. So which lenses balance the best on the Aria and which are too heavy.

Regards,

Jim ]
 

tscollins

New Member
Thanks all. Those are some good responses. I'm pretty convinced that I will start with the 28mm and 85/2.8 given their relative value and Tom's and John's experiences. Then I think I need to start saving for one or two of the gems: the 21mm, 100mm, etc. Regards,
Tim
 
D

djg

Well, Tim, you better put away LOTS of money - the last 21mm I know of went for $3900 about a week ago :). I'm ready to give up on getting one, and looking to Leica alternatives (is that sick or what?).

I believe the 35-70mm f3.4 lens might be even a bit better than the 28-85. Although not as big a range, it's 3.4 at all focal lengths, smaller and lighter. And it's tack sharp to the corners at 5.6 and up. It's a beaut. My Canon 1DsII is not very lenient on lenses, and it loves this one
. Only catch is at f3.4 it's a bit harder to focus than the venerable 35 & 85 at 1.4.

Cheers,

DJ
Feeding Contax Zeiss to his EOS 1DsII
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Morning Jim,
I find that the 28-85 f3.3-4 works OK on the Aria although the balance is better with the RX. The Aria seems pretty strong and I wouldn't rule out using the 28-85 on it.
Cheers,
John
 

thedruid

Well-Known Member
The 28mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f2.8 is a great starter kit...the 28-85 is a better zoom in my opinion just don't point it near the sun as it flares badly. I would of said later add a 21 but Canon digital users have put this lens into orbit pricewise...above 135mm Contax primes show their age.
 

tscollins

New Member
Thanks guys on the 21mm advice. It sounds like I won't be getting rid of my Nikon 20mm for a while. Anyone have experience comparing the 60mm AE macro versus the 100mm macro? Any pros and cons other than the obvious focal difference. Thanks,
Tim
 
A

antonyb

i have an Aria with 60mm f2.8 Makro-Planar, 28mm f2.8 Distagon, 45mm f2.8 Tessar 100 years, 135mm f2.8 Sonnar, extension rings set and Mutar II - i'd love a 21mm but as DJG says... they are VERY expensive! I would also like 1 zoom for convenience, probably the 35-70 and the famous 50mm f1.4 - i have held off a little because i have the 45mm tessar. The 100mm makro-planar is indeed great, but I can highly recommend the 60mm too.
 
D

djg

Actually, unless you really need the extra half stop, the 1.7 is actually a slightly better performer from all reports I've seen. As we speak I'm waiting for mine to get here from its seller ...
 

nickser

Well-Known Member
'the 1.7 is actually a slightly better performer from all reports..........' So good I have one for each body. And to be honest I can't tell the difference!!
 
D

djg

And I just read that apparently there's more variations on the 1.4 because it was the "kit lens" and more mass produced, so there are some copies that may be better than the 1.7 ...

I guess either way you're not hurting.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
DJ, used the Contax 70-210/3.5 Sunday for an AM engagement photo session ... which was the first real job with it. YOU GOTTA GET THIS LENS !!!! There's nothing like it out there. Even the clients asked how come everything looked so sharp, yet smooth and beautiful (bokeh) at the same time.

 
D

djg

Sheesh, Marc, I'm going broke already, enough with the peer pressure
... How was the focusing at 3.5 - about the same as the 35-70? Maybe a little easier because of the shallower DOF?

My 18 arrived today from Italy, in excellent shape and an excellent deal, but obviously far from the 21. I still can't believe I was the only bidder! It's the German model, at least, FWIW
. Now I need to wait until the week-end to really try it.

I have to say I'm in love with the 28/2.8. Can the 28/2 be that much better????
 

med007

Active Member
Marc,

What camera were you using. I'm hoping it was a Canon and then what screen for focusing?

Asher
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
I once had an f1.7 which came to bits and had to be repaired... It's years ago and I cannot recall the details but the impression which remains is that it came apart while I was on holiday away from home and I had to seek out a local repairman.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
DJ, according to my mentor (big time NYC based photographer), there were certain lenses developed by a number of lens makers over the years that never have been equaled since, and despite computer aids probably never will again due to the staggering costs involved. They came into being because those in control had a passion for developing glass with unique characteristics and spared no expense to make them the hallmarks of their companies ... kind of like a car company making a Formula One race car.

These include many Contax lenses like the 55/1.2, 85/1.2, 70-210/3.5, and the 28/2 as well as the 21/2.8, 100/2 and 135/2. These lenses are more than just a stop or so faster than others. They have a set of properties that set them apart as image making tools of unparalleled excellence.

This phenomenon isn't the exclusive domain of Contax/Zeiss alone. The Nikon 58/1.2 Nocti-Nikor is a passionately pursued lens also, as are lenses like the Canon 200/1.8 and the Leica 180/2 among others such as the Hasselblad/Zeiss 110/2FE which can be had still pretty reasonably and can be adapted to a number of Cameras including the N1, ND, and Canon 1DsMKII.
I also am pursuing some legendary Leica glass for use on Canon digital cameras, recently getting a mint 50/2 three cam for a song that is so much better than the canon 50/1.4 it isn't funny. I'm looking for a 90/2 also because my mentor said it's an unparalleled lens that costs less than a cheap plastic kit lens.

Yes, asher, the Contax 70-210 was mounted to a Canon 1DsMKII, and I use a split prism Canon screen to facilitate manual focusing of a slew of Contax lenses.

Yes DJ, I also am going broke ; -) But I think these items will disappear into passionate shooters collections and do nothing but become more rare, thus more expensive. The 55/1.2, 85/1.2 and 21/2.8 have already moved out of my price range.
The 35/1.4 is climbing in price if e-bay auctions are any indication.

BTW, whoever was talking about the Zeiss 45 Pancake lens, I'd advise keeping it. Placed on an Aria, this little package can perform right up there with a Leica M and 50mm.

Here's a high key shot taken with a Contax 645 using a Kodak ProBack 645C and a 110/2F Zeiss lens mounted on it.


 
A

antonyb

marc, i know where there are some L 90/2 3-cam lenses for sale ranging between £275 and £475 + P&P/import. Let me know if you are interested and I will PM you the details. They have a 90/2 Apo ROM too... Antony
 
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