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Finally handled the Contax Aria WOW

jim0266

Well-Known Member
I found a Contax dealer who is a 45-minute drive away that had an Aria in stock. I was finally able to make it over. I have to say I was really impressed by this little camera. The viewfinder has to be among the best I've ever seen in an SLR. I've owned or used pretty much ever Nikon from the F to the F4, a Leica RE and a few Pentaxes. My favorite Nikon to focus manually was the 8008. The Aria had very good eye relief as I wear glasses and you could really see images snap into focus when you hit the mark. While there is a lot of plastic in the make it didn't feel cheap. It felt very solid.

I used a pair of 8008's for several years under professional demands and they held up very well. If the Contax can match that there should be no problems at all. I was also impressed by the feel of the 50 1.7 Planar. It had a lovely smooth focus action and f-stops with a nice positive feel to them.

The dealer was in a town that has been pretty hard hit economically over the years. The guy who owned the shop opened it with his brother in the 1950's. It was like walking into a photographic equipment museum! They have totally sidestepped digital and are able to make it by catering to those diehards who still shoot film. He was a lovely gentleman. He had tanks and reels for sale, a near mint Leitz IC enlarger and lots of other items you don't see in stores today, such as a ton of B&W chemicals. I almost bought a Watson Wat-Air Roll Film Washer but resisted the temptation. You don't see those too often new on the self.

I don't think I'm going to be able to resist that Aria. The 45 pancake seems like a lens you HAVE to have if you own this camera. The 28 is a no-brainer. I'm thinking of the 50 1.4 for the speed. Anyone care to talk me out of the 1.4 and into the 1.7?
 

joanjordi

Active Member
50 1.4 has extra stop, but is more expensive and the optical quality is not so good than the 50 1.7

Both are MM
 
M

mike_nunan

Hi Jim,

I'd second that opinion, last week I tested a 1.7 against my 1.4 and I was surprised by the outcome. I'd heard the 1.7 was better, but what I didn't expect was for the difference to become MORE obvious as I stopped the lenses down. There's not much in it at f/2, but by f/4 the 1.7 looked crisper.

Although the glass is in clean condition, my 1.4 is a fairly old German AE, while the 1.7 I tested was a much more recent lens, so maybe it was to do with the particular ex&les I tested. The MTF charts on the Zeiss website show minimal difference between the lenses (if anything they're more favourable towards the 1.4) while the figures on Photodo.com which I just checked are in rough agreement with my own results.

Either way, the 1.7 is lighter and cheaper, slightly more compact and takes the same 55mm filters. If I was buying again, I'd probably select it over the 1.4 but the difference isn't dramatic enough to make me want to go through the hassle of switching now.

HTH

-= mike =-
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
50/1.4 can focus slightly closer. The viewfinder image is slightly brighter.

I own both in MM and can't say I've noticed any difference in sharpness, but I'm only blowing the slides up to 6ft x 4ft, or scanning at 2700ppi. Other factors are often great levellers!

Cheers, Bob.
 
S

spluff

Sorry Bob,

But did you say 6ft x 4ft or did you mean 6" x 4"? Because if it is 6ft x 4ft, then the quality of the lens must be amazing!!

As it is I'm using the 45mm on the Aria - and the whole balance of the camera is wonderful. So Jim, if you have the 45mm, why would you want the 50mm (unless you want the extra two stops on the 1.4)?

I'd be interested to hear if others have both and which they tend to use more.

Cheers, Saras
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Yes Saras, 6ft x 4ft, projected slides! Having 50 people crowded around a 6in x 4in print is not very practical for illustrated Natural History talks! You don't get that "Wow!" factor!

You never forget the expressions on the "public's" faces when they first see the intricate details of a dragonfly, full frame, sharply projected to 6ft by 4ft.

Zeiss lenses are excellent, but like the often quoted saying of Hi-Fi enthusiasts, the "output" is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. I use a variety of lenses from different makers, and try to keep in mind exactly what equipment (in the chain) has produced the "output" I am looking at.

Bare in mind that the audience is usually sitting a minimum of 8ft away from the screen, and usually don't bring their loupes with them


I mentioned "levelling" factors earlier, the projection lens (or indeed, the print processor/enlarger lens)is one.

If you'd like to read more of my comments on this, it's in:
Contax User Forum » Contax SLR C/Y-mount » Carl Zeiss lenses - manual focus » Thoughts on off-brand lenses

Cheers, Bob.
 

wbesz

Well-Known Member
I full agree with Bob, no difference apart from the 1.4/1.7 maximum aperture. (I prefer the 1.4 over the 1.7 for DOF)
 

wergin

Member
>Hallo Bob, I'd be interested to know which projector you are using for the wow effect. Yours Clemens Wergin
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Kodak S-AV 2050 with (usually, and more importantly) a Kodak Retinar S-AV 2000 series 150mm f2.8 lens. I volunteer (insist!) to bring my own gear when giving a talk. I use Kodak's IR hand controller, I don't like long trailing leads for the audience to trip over when I talk from the front! It's so powerful that you can discreetly hold it in the hand and point it in virtually any direction (or should I say NOT have to point it!) for it to operate the projector.

This projection lens seems to "least interfere" with the slide quality. I remember trying out a Zeiss Royal(?)projector, years ago, and liked that too, although not the standard lens that was supplied with it.

I have a permanent set-up at home too. 6ft x 6ft motorised screen disguised as a curtain pole above the real curtain track in a bay window. S-AV 2050/Retinar 150mm/2.8 sat on top of a tall bookcase, 24 ft away from the screen, prefocussed and aligned to the screen.

No more lengthy set-ups to bore the relatives, friends, click two mains switches, remove the lens cap, mount a tray and I'm projecting (20-30 seconds)!

(p.s. Paul - I'm always "working" cough,cough - even when I'm not at college! I can sign on Contaxinfo at college and it seems as if I'm at home, or sign on to the college intranet from home and it looks like I'm at work. People have threatened to nail my boots to the floor, in the past
)

Cheers, Bob.
 

jim0266

Well-Known Member
Saras, my theory for getting the 45 and the 50 1.4 was to have a compact lens for it's "take anywhere, take all the time" portability and a 1.4 for those times you need the speed.

I would be curious to know if anyone has used both the MM and AE versions of the 50 1.4. I read where the aperture diaphram blades were changed in the MM version so the opening, once below 1.4, are more circular in nature making for nicer OOF areas. (NO! Not the dreaded 'Bokeh' monster rearing its head...).

I have the line on a really nice 50 1.4 AE version in mint condition at a great price, but I would wait on a good MM 50 1.4 if that had a better look to it.
 
S

spluff

Hi Jim,

I have been thinking on the same lines - and I may go down that route at some point - but other lenses to buy though - and I never seem to have enough money!! :)

And Bob thanks for the slide projector info - I've never really thought about that end of the presentation - that'll give me something to think about possibly upgrading. But I think you are right - the Aria & Zeiss with Slides could have been born for each other!!

Happy snapping,

Rgds, Saras
 

redwood

Active Member
> Hi all,

4 or 5 years ago i made the decision to go from Canon AF to manual body and top quality lenses the only question was which brand. My decision was simply based on what was the best manual lens available. I researched the subject but i was always going back to the findings of a dear departed lens tester for AP magazine in the UK. His bench mark lens against which all were tested against was the 50mm f1.4 Plannar. I eventually bought the lens i wanted and then chose a camera on which to use them, a Contax 167 in fact . I have the AE version which is great as speed and setting to TV is never an issue as all images are taken with tripod etc, flexible depth of field is the real issue. I can still remember the day when my first batch of slides came back the developers. WOW. Did i make the right decision!

The reality is that there may be small deviations in performance between lenses but its a bit like driving at 98mph or 103 mph. There is a difference but the reality is you know youre moving quickly in either instant and will get to your destination at roughly the same time. if you can buy a quality lens at a good price then go for it and put some dosh aside for the next purchase.

type your text here!
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Well put David!

It's nice to know that the cars are capable of performing to 98 and 103mph, but seldom used at that speed in everyday driving, (limited by the speed of the car in front .... who is limited by the car in front - the equipment/viewing chain levelling analogy!)

Now, wouldn't it be great if we had the time, skill and back-up support needed to take our cameras and lenses to the "race track" of performance, everytime we used them!

Cheers, Bob.
 
M

mikel

P50 f/1.4, Tessar 45 or P50 f/1.7... I think the choice is extremely simple. P50 f/1.4 gives you everything you will ever need in this focal length. Speed, great sharpness and contrast, light weight, the right size to focus, change aperture, etc and very good weight balance on Aria.

I have P50 f/1.4 MM and don't see absolutely any reason to have any of the other two lenses. As far as quality of image produced - I doubt that P50 f/1.7 MM can be better than P50 f/1.4. And MTF sheets seem to confirm that as well.


Mike.
 

kgardas

Member
> P50 f/1.4, Tessar 45 or P50 f/1.7... I think the choice is extremely > simple. P50 f/1.4 gives you everything you will ever need in this > focal length. Speed, great sharpness and contrast, light weight, the > right size to focus, change aperture, etc and very good weight balance > on Aria.

Seconded! I also have Aria + P50/1.4. IMHO it's excelent combination. If you are deciding between P1.4 and P1.7, then also look at weight of the lens. When I did it, I was a bit surprised by quite big difference and so I thought that P1.7 might be probably less better build. Just my idea about it.

Cheers, Karel PS: Evem P1.4 is heavier, it is really well balanced with Aria body.
 

paulcontax

Well-Known Member
I agree with Bob and William, I had both and sold the 1.7 because of minimum distance and (noone mentioned before) it feels more solid build. optical quality is equal. Paul
 
O

ou1954

>Posted by William Besz (Wbesz) on Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 12:28 pm: > >I full agree with Bob, no difference apart from the 1.4/1.7 maximum >aperture. (I prefer the 1.4 over the 1.7 for DOF)

Wouldn't they both have the same DOF if they are the same focal length and set to the same f-stop?
 

wbesz

Well-Known Member
Hi Don (Williams), yes both the 1.4 and 1.7 have the same DOF at the same aperture, but the "effects" at 1.4 are much better, and some photographers spend BIG for this effect with lenses such as the Leica Noctilux 1.0/50mm, and other similar lenses.

Recently I saw postings from 2 different pros, and can only drool! (obviously, low light photography is the other bonus)

Cheers, William

>type your text here!
 

jim0266

Well-Known Member
Can the same focal length lenses look different at the same aperture? Yes. I would not believe it if I didn't see if for myself.

I have both the last pre-aspheric Leica 35 Summicron (known as the V4) and the Asph 35 Summicron. I've done several tests with these lenses looking to find out how each lens handles OOF areas at large apertures. For my money the ASPH lens has better looking OOF backgrounds (Bokeh). But what really shocked me is that the ASPH has LESS depth of field when you shoot the same scene at the same aperture with each lens. Take a look and see what you think.

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It would be interesting to know how the Zeiss 50's look wide open or at f2 in a similar test. Then that brings up the question if the 50 1.4 aperture blades changed from the AE to the MM version effecting the bokeh of that lens.

So how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin?
 
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