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The 35-70 is a better performer than either the 28-70 or the 40-80, close to an excellent prime and better than an average prime, and its macro performance is excellent, although you need to get quite close as it works at the 35mm end, not the 70.
>[The 100/3.5 is reported to be an excellent performer and very compact - >great if you don't need the speed. They are on the rarer side so they are >going for quite a lot these days (relative to the 85/2.8). ]
The 100/3.5 I tried out was very nice, but they just bid up way out of control on e-bay and it just was not worth it to me for a hobby lens. So, based on a suggestion from a forum member here, I found and purchased a well-made macro focusing 2x teleconverter and more or less permanently installed it on a CZ 50/1.7 I already owned. It works great, is very sharp, great colors, small, light, and best of all, cheap! When I don't need the macro function, I just leave the converter focused at infinity. I tried this combo against a recognizable aftermarket 100/3.5 prime and it was visibly better. So now I have a "poor man's" CZ 100/3.5 for an additional cash outlay of less than $50! You might consider giving this a try.
I think the idea of a converter on a 50mm lens is a good idea and I have often done this myself. It is a versatile combination.
I do have the 100mm f3.5 which I use sometimes and I think it is a lovely lens but I had no idea they were going up in value so much. I can't remember what I paid for mine some years ago but I didn't think it was outrageous at the time.
I had thought prices generally were depressed and assumed it was because of the demise of Contax/Yashica and the rise of digital. I wonder if the increase in value is because of the demand for CZ lenses to put on DSLR's with adapters.
Yes, I am very happy with the converter arrangement. Until I read about it here, I think from you, I was not even aware that there was such a thing as a macro focusing converter. I got an older Vivitar model from e-bay, and results from it seem slightly better than from my Mutar I, which surprised me a little.
As for CZ prices, I've been doing a bit of buying on e-bay in this area since I figured CZ prices would only go up and I wanted to round out my lens collection before that happened. In my recent experience, prices have gone up selectively and stayed relatively flat on certain lenses. Higher prices seem to correlate with those lenses that more experienced users here have identified as "best" or most useful lenses and therefore more in demand. For ex&le, one can buy the 28/2.8, 35/2.8, 50/1.7, 85/2.8, 135/2.8, 200 f/3.5, 28-70 and 80-200 zooms very reasonably, but some of the others are going to set you back some bucks. The zooms seem to be all over the board. I've seen the 40-80 go for next to nothing recently. A month ago, I got $600 for a 28-85, and just the other day, a saw a clean one whose highest bid was $330 and the seller ended up keeping it. I had two 28-70's and the older of the two went for $75 more than one that was NIB. Go figure! I notice that UK sellers are asking significantly more for their Contax items in general than are US owners, and I am not at all sure they are getting it. Lots of the listings from them I am following are going unsold.
Again, I suppose what is considered "high" and "low" depends on how badly you need or want a particular lens, what you intend to do with it, and where you are.
Just to reply on some of your points....UK sellers generally ask so much more than US ones simply because UK prices are so much higher. You guys in the US have had it very good for many, many years now! Both used and new prices in the UK are anywhere from 20-60% MORE than in the US. Also, and bearing in mind the origins of Contax & Zeiss, German prices are even higher than the UK!
The US buyers even have the added advantage that US customs I believe do not charge you to import used items, whereas UK customs charge 17.5% tax AND a handling charge for any item over a measly £35 GBP ( 63 USD )..at least the nice exchange rate is helping us to some extent at the moment though.
Re used prices, it is not always the 'best' items that command high prices. Your list is a good ex&le....the 28/2.8, 35/2.8, 50/1.7 & 85/2.8 are all at the top of the Zeiss 'quality tree', the simple reasons for the low prices of these is simply that thay are not talked about anywhere near as much as the more exotic Zeiss items and they are also in very plentiful supply. The items fetching big bucks are items which get so much more publicity and are also scarcer...it is usually, but not always the case that they are also of the 'best' Zeiss quality.
Market forces always play a large part and it is sometimes totally irellevant whether or not the item in question is of 'best quality' when in regard to prices.
It is my understanding that the 28/2.8 is at least as good, If not better than the 28/2 and the same goes for the 35/2.8 against the 35/1.4 and the 50/1.7 against the 50/1.4.
It is usually true that a 'slower' lens is much simpler in construction than a 'fast' one and just from that point alone is usually of better potential image quality.
I fancy a Ford Mustang, but they are approx £25,000 GBP (46,000 USD) over here, but in the US are I believe approx 18,000 USD !!!!!!.....now you see the problems us poor Brits face...
The next time I get ready to buy another Zeiss item, I'll take a moment and hoist a pint in sympathy with my fellow Contaxians in the UK. We really do have it great over here in the US as far as buying items goes.
You know, from a quality standpoint, I am incredibly happy with my 28/2.8, my 35/2.8, both of my 50/1.7's and the 1.4 (all bought for next to nothing), the 85/2.8, the wonderfully inexpensive (by Zeiss standards) 135/2.8, the 200/3.5 and even my 80-200 f/4 zoom. My average cost on these lenses including highs and lows was just below $200 US each. Actually, my most expensive CZ lens to date, the 28-85, about $500 delivered with filter and hood, I could actually take or leave. It makes great pictures, but is so darned big and intimidating to some subjects that I am really not using it as much as I thought I would when I bought it.
I was also recently able to assemble a minty looking G1 outfit with 45/2, 28/2.8, 90/2.8 and a TLA140 flash for $750, which I felt pretty good about. It is getting a lot of use these days.
For each of the Zeiss SLR focal lengths I have, I have the Yashica ML or MC equivalent for comparison. In a few cases, any differences are very hard to spot, and most have to do with the Zeiss lenses having more vibrant colors. But in other cases, the comparison is glaring in favor of the Zeiss in terms of sharpness and I am glad I bought the Zeiss glass.
By the way, as a teenager in the early 70's, I can remember passing on buying several Ford Mustangs for $500.00..don't I feel like an idiot now?