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Future of the Contax N

thedruid

Well-Known Member
As I try to decide which way to go Contax or Canon this is a question that comes to mind. Most of my work is done in medium format but I do get calls for 35mm during the year, in the past I've rented but recently been thinking of adding a body plus a few lenses to cover those jobs. Last week was at a trade show of sorts lots of vendors, with customers mostly swarming Canon and Nikon booths. I saw the Contax rep was alone and felt it would be a good tome to check out the N and lenses...maybe get some info on future lens additions. The rep had little or no info, when asked about future prime lenses he answered "what do you mean by prime lenses". I explained slowly that the 24-85 was a zoom lens and a 28mm lens was a prime lens at this he pulled out the Contax G2 with 28mm....
Anyway what are the feelings here, do you feel Kyocera is commited to the system? Are you concerned.
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
> The "N" system already has an outstanding collection of lenses ... you can carry 3 lenses with ou and have a field of range from 17 to 300mm! Yep, a few more primes would be nice ... but I think that it is an honest statement that a CZ zoom blows away most other manufacturer prime lenses in quality. Yes, you suffer in the f-stop (2.8 at 17 ...) but still, the quality is there and again ... just w/ 3 lenses you have such a range!

You could also, in your bag, go w/ the 17-35 at 2.8, drop in a 50mm at 1.4 and then fill in the upper range at 70 to 300 (at 3.4). Not a bad set of great lenses!

And don;t forget that with the NAM 1 adapter, you can put your medium format 645 lenses on the N1 or the ND!

michael.
 

derekstanton

Well-Known Member
Yes, Dermot. This is why my N1 kit is now for sale. I had to make a choice between Canon, Leica-R, and Contax. With the first two companies, i know what i have and what i can get. Canon already has the digital dominance, in addition to fantastic film bodies and lenses. With the Leica R8, i have the prime glass i prefer, and i can get a small, fast 35/2 or 1.4, 28mm, 24mm.... I don't use zooms any more, and even if the N zoom were optically equal to primes (not sure i buy that), it's still HUGE and can't make images at 1.4 or f2.....

Regardless, i do find it almost offensive that a company that supposedly creates pro-level goods doesn't have elements of a lens line that any working pro would consider essential. And, with no information about a digital future, what are we left to think? The Contax future is too uncertain for me and too indefinite. Perhaps sometime in the future i'll buy back into the system, but i won't ever go into a camera line unless the EXISTING components already satisfy my needs. I can't afford to be so optimistic.
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
> Another consideration regarding primes:

The N system has the following primes: 50 1.4 100 2.8 85 1.4 400 4.0

The N system using the Nam1 adapter can use the following 645 PRIME lenses: (I have put the rough 35 equiv focal length in parantehsis)

35 f 3.5 (20 mm) 45 f 2.8 (25 mm) 80 f 2.8 (50 mm) 140 f 2.8 (85 mm) 210 f 4 (130 mm) 120 (75 mm) 350 f 4 (210 mm) 55 f 3.5 (35 mm)

Remember, the parantehsis are a rough equivalancy of the focal length.

So, I count 4 N mount Primes and 8 of the 645 mount Primes for a total of 12 primes for the system. Not bad for a camera that has been out less than 3 years!!

And don't forget the zooms: there are 5 N mount zooms and one zoom in the 645 system that can be used via the Nam-1 adapter!!! (I think!?)

That is a total of 17 lenses.

Michael.
 

derekstanton

Well-Known Member
Michael,
I thank you for the suggestion, but i'm wondering where you found the information about the equivalent lens focal length conversion. From information i've seen, the focal length of the lens remains the same, but relative to the film format, it changes the perspective/angle of view. For ex&le, an 80mm 2.8 is a 'normal' lens on the 645, but will be a short telephoto (still 80mm) on the N1. Similarly, to get a 35mm prime on the N1, i'd have to buy the 645's 35mm f3.5. This lens sells for $2400, is a relatively 'slow' 3.5 max aperture, and has a honking 95mm front lens element. Not exactly a reason to give up a small 35mm f2 prime available for EOS or Leica-R.

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coyot

Well-Known Member
Derek,

I mis-spoke w/ the eqivalance (I think!). I belive you are right, that the focal length would stay the same. But, the point of yours that I don't understand, is why would you even consider a 35 mm prime (the 645 at 3.5) when you could have the 17 to 35 zoom at 2.8? I think we coverd this material last week, that you just hate the idea of a larger zoom, even if the quality is outstanding.

How much is a Leica-R body? And how much is the Leica Prime for the R body? And, does Leica have a digital body for their the lenses that fit on their R body?

Michael.
 

derekstanton

Well-Known Member
Hi, Michael.
I didn't mean to imply that i would consider the 645's 35mm as a prime on the N1. I certainly wouldn't. The 17-35 zoom is a consideration, but i really am trying to minimize the size of whichever 35mm system i would be carrying during travels. I'm still not convinced that any zoom can match primes for quality, but even if this one could, it's too large of a lens for the way i'd want to use it.

I recently sold a Leica M7 that was my 'carry everywhere' camera. Instead, i bought a leica R8, that i carry everywhere. I can do this because, with a 50mm prime, it's not so intrusive when slung over/across a shoulder. The same would be true of the 35/2 i will get soon. But, a zoom with an 82mm front element on an N1 is just too much. Under certain circumstances, it's not a problem, as i'm also used to MF gear, but it's too much to replace the M-rangefinder i sold.

I paid $1050 for the R-8, in 'demo' condition. And the (amazing) 50mm Summicron was about $450, also 'demo.' No, Leica does not (yet) have a digital body. They did, though, over the summer, announce that they are in process of developing an R-Module, which will fit onto existing R8/R9 bodies. I don't know that i will ever buy it, as it will be 10MP, and cost about $4000, with a crop-factor of 1.3.... And, it won't be out for another year, but still i take this as a more positive sign than Contax' discontinuance of the N-Digital without even a peep about what may come next. That, and reading hints that they had another digital in the works but scrapped it when Canon beat them to the punch with the Digital Rebel....

Whatever. The digital thing is only a small consideration for me at this point. I had a Canon D60 a year ago, but sold it because of my love of Tri-X. I'm not yet ready to go back. I would if i could get a full-frame body with 10+ MP for less than $3000.... since that's not available yet, i'm about to get a Pentax 67.....

Peace-
derek
 

pops

Active Member
I believe that Canon's digital body with the Novoflex adapter takes the Leica lenses. If it does that'll give me a chance to test my 90 f2 versus the Canon 85 f1.8 and live without autofocus as I do with the Leica R9. I can't compare it to a Contax ND because the one I had was defective and after I finally got it returned I can't get another now that they're "discontinued / abandoned".
This doesn't mean though that during today's Leica/Contax rhetoric I think one side is right versus the other - in my bag right now is just one camera to carry around. A G2. If I tried focusing an M7 every time I wanted to take a picture with these poor old eyes I'd dream a little yellow box at night - but I love the 35 f 1.4 summilux and that's why I also happen to own an M7 - and if could put a Zeiss lens like that on the G2 I'd carry that engineer up and down the street.
Ken
 

thedruid

Well-Known Member
I hope this does not become a Contax v Leica war. Yes, I'm aware of the 50 f1.4 , 851.4 the 100f2.8 pretty basic everyone has them, I applaud the 400 Apo f4 an interesting option with a decent price. The 17-35 seems like an awesome lens but at 95mm the front thread bigger than my MF lenses, lets face it the 24-85 and 75-300 are pretty slow. Prime lenses in the 20-24 and 28-35 range f1.4 - f2 are needed to fill out the range a bit. They did it with the C/Y mount and instead of building on it this total redesign seems to have come to a halt. Remember when the 45-90 for C645 was announced thay also said a 90-180 was on the way...Who here is running TWO systems just to cover the bases??
 
D

dormant

I must agree with Derek while I am a bit more optimistic about the future of N. I prefer primes to zooms not so much because the former has better resolution but because primes are smaller, lighter, and faster compared to zooms.

Although my usual carry-everywhere camera is G1, I still prefer to have more primes for N. D1.4/35 would be terrific, though I shudder to think how big, heavy and pricey it will be. Look what they have done to P1.4/50! ;)

I for the moment remain optimistic about the future of N as I have not seen any concrete indication to make me feel otherwise. Canon is good, but digital isn't yet where I want it to be. I will give N couple more years. But the complete lack of information on Kyocera's DSLR strategy is certainly disconcerting. I wish they would make themselves more available to their customers.
 
M

mikel

Taylor,

It's a well-known thing about Japanese companies. They're very tight-lipped. You will never know what exactly they have in their plans, what their difficulties are and definitely you wouldn't know about their failures. Which means - you will only hear from them once they're ready to show you something. It's annoying, because they keep you in the dark, but Kyocera isn't the only one that does it. Canon for one, practically never says anything about their future products. Everything you hear around is mostly rumors! Very rarely you hear some far-reaching product plans coming out of Canon. I will give you one ex&le. When Canon last year or so released their first weatherproof lens, they made a news from this. However, when they were asked what lenses are going to follow the suit - no answer. So, anyone thinking about getting that Canon EOS1V and weatheproof lenses will have to wait and see what they're actually going to manufacture and what will turn out to be too expensive to even think about it.
Same thing with Kyocera. Nothing is known about their "future" manual focus film cameras or lenses for C/Y-mount cameras as well as nothing is known about their future products in N-mount line. They keep you in a dark and don't give a damn about the fact that you don't like it


However, I personally see one problem for N-mount line down the road (excluding the problems associated with small market and demand). Since I owned N1 for almost two years before I sold it,
I can say that one of the biggest shortcomings of N-mount line is their manual focus. Yes, you read it right. Compared to manual focus line of lenses, N-mount lenses are harder to focus manually, especially in the dim light (that, of course, is also because it's AF system and most zooms are relatively "slow" optically). Precise focusing is even more difficult.


Derek,

it's funny that you switched from M7 to R8. I personally don't think about R8 as unobtrusive. It's pretty big compared to most other SLR cameras. Personally I think that most unobtrusive SLR cameras are Pentax ZX-5N (and other Pentax cameras of the same family), Contax Aria and probably Contax S2/S2b (I say probably, because I never saw them myself, only one pictures in catalog
)

Anyway, I would personally say - stop worrying about future of N-mount line or any other line of cameras for that matter. Whether you're worrying or not won't make a difference. What will make a difference is where you spend the money. If you won't spend any money for any equipment - all camera manufacturers will quickly go out of business


O, and of course, introduce your workers, friends, etc to photography - that will help as well!


Mike.
 
D

dormant

Mike,

Well, yeah, I know how them Japanese companies work. But it's good for Canon to do whatever it pleases, as it's the market leader. If Kyocera behaved exactly the same way, how can they dig out of the hole they had put themselves in? If they can't deliver, they should at least come across as nice guys.


If Canon delivered a DSLR flop, investors might worry but photographers would generally stay with the company their beliefs unwavered. But when Kyocera delivered a flop, the future of the entire Contax N line was in doubt. I don't believe it works in Kyocera's favor to keep their mouth shut. At least they should try to reassure their customers.
 

colin

Well-Known Member
Dermot, The rep. may have been considering that all Zeiss lenses are PRIME(i.e. first class), or he was a bit "thick" One would hope that company reps. were trained in the products they sell but life's experiences show us differently.
I know that I can use an adapter to connect my C645 lenses to 35mm, however, this is only a compromise. Don't buy into that sales pitch(crap) that because you are only using the "centre" portion of the lens that your images are better. Whilst it is known that lenses perform better in their centre compared to the edges, it isn't that simple.(or we'd all be using lenses from 8X10 cameras for 35mm!) MF and LF lenses don't have(need) the resolving power of the 35 format.
Colin
 
M

mikel

Taylor,

Well, I wouldn't hold a breath for Canon. They have had their share of failures. They're certainly a leader in digital camera market now, but how mature is this market? Is it going to stay the way it is now in 5 years? I highly doubt it. Just check what happened to camcorder craze.

And by the way, they did release couple "pilot" digital cameras that weren't exactly super great. D30 and D60 are prime ex&les. Sure, they were popular. But so were cheap Casio, Kodak, Pentax, whatever-else digicams, palm pilots, black berries, yo-yos with speedometer, you get the idea. It's a hip thing now. Every hip person must have email account, cellphone and digital camera. He can have an empty skull, but these three things are an absolute must-have


And now he also must have Segway, or at least boast that he rode one


Besides, Kyocera is in bad position for many reasons. One of them is they kept Contax as a purely niche market for all these years. They can't just cut the corner now and say, hey, look, we've got the most dazzling digital camera on the market! It even makes coffee for you!

That's why Olympus have pretty much quit competing with Canon and Nikon and now are trying to push their 3/4 stuff. Good luck to them, but it ain't gonna work.

Also, did you notice that there are two more companies that make digital cameras that accept Nikon lenses? That's a very important aspect, since it allows Nikon to get some additional share of the market that it wouldn't have otherwise. I'm talking about Fuji and Kodak.

And I believe that could cost Canon dearly when DSLR market matures, because as prices drop and feature sets become more or less standardized, it will get back to the same thing again - which lens should I use for this or that. And then people will have a lot more choice, since they will be able to use cameras from three different manufacturers if they're using Nikon lenses, or just one if they're using Canon lenses.

And by the way, couple years ago, Mitsubishi Motors finally acknowledged numerous significant safety problems in their cars. So, they had to have them recalled and repaired. Number of cars affected was in the millions. The problem? Mitsubishi kept "reassuring" their customers for years that all complaints about safety issues are baseless.

So, do you really want any reassurances from Japan-based Kyocera?


And by the way, where is Canon's reassurance that if I buy EOS1V today it won't be discontinued tomorrow?

See my point?


Good night everyone. Or good morning



Mike.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Mike and all, there are no reassurances that I won't be killed by a truck tomorrow either. All you can do is look at the history, and then roll the dice. For ex&le, who would have thought that a solid investment in Hasselblad V series gear would go south so quickly?

Canon made a big switch years and years ago to a larger lens mount. It irritated a lot of Canon users at the time, but was the wisest thing to do in retrospect. Although other manufacturers make digital bodies with a Nikon lens mount , they are all semi-flops because of the restricted sensor size/lens mount issue. The full frame Kodak 14n should have been a run-away success, but isn't partially due to this design problem.

What baffels me is that the N series lenses also have a larger lens mount which works with a full frame sensor. Despite being plagued by other design and engineering problems, the lens system and mount isn't one of them. Yet, C/K can't seem to use that initial advantage to their marketplace advantage. If the ND had a good power source, and most of all better FIRMWEAR/SOFTWEAR, the camera might have held it's own. Today we may have been looking at a 12 meg full frame ND2 in the near future.

BTW, that larger lens mount is one reason why the N series is larger. So are most of the Canon L lenses.
 

dirk

CI-Founder
"...It's a well-known thing about Japanese companies. They're very tight-lipped.."

This is true. But there is a big difference between Canon and Kyocera. Canon brings out a new digital SLR model every 6 months, a digital P&S even more often. I can easily wait 3 months with tight-lipped marketing guys, if I have then also a new model.

With Kyocera it is different. They neither talk, nor do they deliver. They are just sitting there praying for better times. This is the worst behaviour. It is a shame for a Japanese company to be so bad compared to its Japanese competitors.

The fact that more and more people ask here in the Contax forum about alternatives to a Contax camera speaks for itself.

As far as I know, there will be no new Contax digital SLR before photokina. But Photokina means "prototypes", not at the dealer's shelves. And we will see whether Kyocera will remember this time, that christmas is on December 24th and not in March. In the past Kyocera never got it right to deliver products for the christmas business. Mybe in Tokyo they do not have a calendar.

"....because as prices drop and feature sets become more or less standardized, it will get back to the same thing again - which lens should I use for this or that...."

This is also true. The only problem is that once you invested in a system of a competitor, how likely is it to sell it for low second hand prices and then buy a significant higher priced Contax System? People do not have a money machine. It is hard saved money and you can not spend the same amount every year again and again.

Of course there will be people who are doing this. The question is only whether Kyocera/Contax can live of these numbers and whether Zeiss will look at this for years or pull the plug at a certain point. IMHO there is not so much time left for Kyocera to rethink their behaviour.

So I find it very useful and realistic to talk about alternatives. And there are many out there - also with very good lenses. Competition is always good for the costumer.
 
D

dormant

Mike,

I was hoping for a more genuine kind of rapport developing between Kyocera and its customers, but maybe I have had too much beer.


Empty lip service means nothing, but if Kyocera is in a niche market then it should strive to develop a better relationship with its customers. It's one of the few ways to turn its current position to its advantage, or so I believe.

Ah, well, maybe I should pick up a used Y/C body and a D1.4/35.
 
W

writing4me

I'm also one of the people who am going to have to go back to Canon L series lenses to fill certain photographic needs. When doing stills, nature, scenics, or portraiture I could be well served by the fast semi-tele primes in the N series line up. But, the problem is, I've just been offered a possibly chance to do some of the old type of work I did many years ago, photographing horses in competition next summer and fall. If I do it, I need an equivalent to the fast L series zooms Canon offers, which I used last time I did this type of work. I know they never failed me when I did this years ago, and produced stunning images. I wish there was an N-series fast zoom that could perform wide open at 2.8 the way the 70-200 2.8 L series does. When photographing competitions, I can't really swap lenses too well without missing important shots, so it has to be a good fast zoom. I wish I knew what Kyocera had in mind and was actually bringing to market, but since I don't, I have to look to Canon who has never let me down. If they dropped new products on the market now, they might just be field tested long enough to understand their quirks and limitations in time for next summer. Just my view of things. -Lynn L.
 
W

writing4me

Please excuse the glaring grammatical errors in my last post! That's what happens when I type and edit and hit send too quickly. Sorry. -Lynn
 
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