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Need advice on buying a Contax ND

edwardkaraa

Well-Known Member
Sorry I was not sure where to post this message. I found an unused ND for 3000 $. After all what we know about it, would you recommend it, or just sit and wait for an eventual new model, which may never come?

Would appreciate your comments.

Thanks,
 

dava

Member
> From reading reviews it appears that the two most common concerns have > been battery life and noise. Having an ND for several months now, > I cannot understand the battery life comments. I have even had the > batteries stored in the camera for an week and picked up the camera > and taken many shots without a problem. I guess this is because the > NiMH AA capacity has increased since the camera was introduced. I > don't consider the lack of a custom battery pack a problem and in fact > find that it is an advantage to be able to pick up sets of batteries > for $10.00 (US). Noise??? It is noisy at iso 400. But I have > owned other DSLRs and my ND beats them for low noise at the low > speeds. They win at ISO speeds over 200. Overall I think the > camera is a dream to use. It is wonderful to have a large viewfinder > on a DSLR. The placement and choice of controls beats any DSLR in my > opinion. Flash exposure is perfect with my cheap TLA280. Auto > Focus might be a little slower than the pro level C and N brand > cameras but it is more accurate in my experience which is what really > matters anyway. If you like Contax and don't mind shooting mostly > at ISO 200 or lower for clean images then definitely buy it.
 
I agree with what David has said, but would add that you need also to look at what type of pictures you take.
The ND is not a sports photographer's camera in the way that a Nikon D2H is, - it's a camera that requires consideration and thought, and is great for subjects such as landscapes where you don't have to rush. I have taken sports with it, but it does not allow you to blast off photos at high speed.
I would also look very carefully at the serial number of the model for sale, and if it is one of the very early ones, try and establish from Kyocera if it has had the various upgrades that were introduced in the first few months after the camera was released.
The range of tones available beats the Nikon hands down - it's supposed to be 10 stops, but I've never tested it. The RAW results are stunning, especially if you like big prints as a result.
If only you could find lenses for the thing at less than half their original shop price!
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Edward, Do take note of where and from whom you are buying this camera. NDs were part a large robbery from a Contax USA warehouse recently.

I also cannot sit idly by without providing a few experiences of my own. I have a ND and all the lenses except the 400/4 and macro (which I don't need due to using the C645, 350/4 and 120/4 macro on the ND with an adapter). I also have had extensive experience with a Nikon 1Dx, Canon's D30, 10D, and now a 1Ds.

Using the ND is labor of love. Like many Contax AF cameras, it is power hungry compared to other DSLRs. IMO, the chief issue is the use of AA sized NMH batteries.

While the batteries have become readily available in strengths of 2200 mAh, they do NOT hold their charge while not in use. If the camera sits for awhile it will be dead, or close to it when you go to use it. When I use mine, it has to be a pre-planned event so I can recharge the batteries overnight for use the next day. It does not have anywhere near the efficiency of a Canon D10 with its batteries that DO hold their charge for months and months, and last, and last, and last when shooting (even when using all the functions including AF and constant LCD review).

So if you are a more casual shooter, the battery issue WILL be an irritation, mark my words.

Next is the RAW function. You cannot review RAW files on the LCD as you shoot. This is one of the major drawbacks of the camera. Plus, the RAW developer provided with the camera produces a moiré pattern visible in most ISOs above ISO 80. Some ND users like Irakly of this forum have devised a work around to minimize this issue, but it's a pain in the neck to do. 3rd party RAW developers like the amazing one included in PhotoShop CS (8), do not support the ND, but do support RAW development of all the NIkon and Canon models. So we are stuck with the one from Contax.

Lastly, the buffer storage for ND Tiffs and RAWs is the worst spec of all the DSLRs. You cannot shoot Tiffs or RAW in any continuously significant manner.

Now, all that said, The camera can been used in J-Peg-1 which CAN be reviewed on the LCD, and the buffer problem basically disappears. I find that even in J-Peg the tonal capture to be better than most other DSLRs, IF your exposure is accurate. You cannot underexpose with this camera very much compared to all the other DSLRs (probably related to the limited ISO issue). But when it's on, it produces superb images.

And it should be noted that I grudgingly love the camera enough to be looking for a second body to buy.
 
S

spluff

Hi Marc,

Just read your comments with interest. Firstly, there appears to be a number of ND's that have appeared on ebay - I assume they are legit (as opposed to the ones being sold from Austria a few months ago!!) - they are all being sold by a wholesaler which suggest that ND's are being dumped on the market.

I was thinking of getting one (if I win the auction) rather than waiting for the next Contax DSLR. However, your comment on the RAW function concerns me. Are you saying that there is no 3rd party program that can read the Contax files? And equally, are you saying that the RAW files are unusable above ISO 80?

Also, can you review the TIFF files on the LCD as you shoot? And how does the quality of the TIFF file compare with a J-Peg-1 file?

Sorry for all these questions, but your comments are the first working comments I have read from a user. It has been difficult to get reaction to this camera over here in the UK - and the reviews when the camera came out were mixed to say the least!!

Thanks, Saras
 

dava

Member
> Don't bother bidding on the camera unless you want terrible noisy > images and want to change batteries after each shot! : ) > I really want a backup ND!!! : ) Seriously though, you may > want to request the serial number from the seller and then contact > Contax. I'm not sure if everyone will cooperate, but I have sold > items on eBay before and potential bidders have asked me for serial > numbers. Does anyone know if the stolen ND serial numbers are > listed anywhere?

> I do wish the batteries had the life of some of the latest DSLRs > batteries but the ND with the latest NiMH batteries (I use Energizer > 2100 mAh) compares more to the D1 and DCS 14n which have relatively > short battery life compared to the D2H and D100 cameras. The ND > advantage is still that battery sets are $10 as compared to $100 for > the Nikon or Kodak. And, in an emergency you can buy a charger and > batteries just about anywhere. The batteries on those cameras do > drain after long periods of storage. From my experience, the ND > should not stand out as being any worse in that regard.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Dave, try this test. Charge both different batteries Contax NMH and a Nikon D1x or Canon 10D or 1Ds. wait a few weeks and see which one is ready to shoot. Guarantee it won't be the Contax.

Saras, I find little to no difference between the J-Peg-1 and Tiffs in terms of image quality. Convert the J-Peg sRGB files to Tiff RGB after downloading (yes, that's right, the ND only shoots in sRGB color space). No, there isn't any 3rd party RAW developer. There is a work around to shoot RAWs at approx ISO 160 (e-mail Irakly for the technique). Above 200 it is useless.

BUT, the images for those who work at using this camera are terrific.
 
S

spluff

Hi Marc & Dave,

Thanks for your feedback. I think I'm going to dip my toe into the water and get one!!

I'd only be using it in a studio - so I'd be using it at around the ISO 25 to 50 mark, so I think I'll be safe using the RAW mode.

Just one final question, instead of batteries, can it be plugged into an AC Adaptor? In a studio I would have a power supply at hand!!

Cheers, Saras
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
>Saras, Yes, you can use the AC adapter in the studio. And when I shoot, if the ND has been sitting for a few days, I simply ALWAYS put in freshly charged NIMH 2200 mAh batteries and am able to take approximately 80 shots in JPG mode. And that is with quite a bit of playback to the LCD. The worst thing about the ND is that when you look at the LCD and see the image, you go. Hmmm. looks good. Then when you download the images to the computer, you look at them and panic. But, if you use Adobe, or Thumbsplus (great, great software), you can easily up the brightness and bump the contrast and get some really nice looking images.

Good luck,

Michael.
 

coyot

Well-Known Member
> Edward,

I just posted two shots to the Contax Gallery rtaken with my ND. You can also see my review of the ND and some s&le shots at
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
Just click on the Contax ND review on the top left of the page. I think it is a great camera, but with some quirks.

Michael.
 

msadat

Well-Known Member
labor live this is, you must treat the ND like your kit and let it = develop and grow on you. it will take a while before you get the hang of this = camera and for it to produce what you want it to do. as mentioned before the = raw process and its workflow associated with the contax developer is useless = and not needed. also the raw developer is/was an option and you need to make sure the ebay stuff or your good deal has the developer if you want to = use it.

=20

I have had the ND for a while and like mark, have used all the others (d1x,d2h,d10,1d,1ds and kodak 645 back). once you get to use the nd properly, it will produce pleasant result and in this crop it will hold = its own, later after pma i don;t know=20

=20

i needed an anger management course, while i was getting use to the ND, = i was expecting similar experience list the other digital but this one was different
 
S

spluff

Michael,

Thanks for that - your shots on your website look ace - now I just have to win the auction on ebay!!

Ciao, Saras
 
G

guyg

Marc,

I am not an ND shooter but why would you want to convert your sRGB file into RGB? I understand that pretty much all small format (35mm) DSLR cameras shoot in sRGB. Unless you're shooting for a graphics client or a client who really wants RGB you're better off staying in sRGB. All printers that I know of use sRGB as their working space. Say you take an sRGB file and convert it to RGB. If you end up with any data in your RGB file that's outside the sRGB space and it gets printed in an sRGB space, as with most all printers, anything that's outside the sRGB box will be lost unless it's reconverted back to sRGB and every time you convert you damage your information anyway, albiet only slightly.

There's good information on this sRGB vs. RGB debate at
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!


Guy
 

dava

Member
> There is an AC adapter that is part of the standard kit. The > standard accessories are: Strap, AC adapter, AA battery charger, 4 AA > NiMH batteries, CCD parameter disc -- this is required if you intend > to use the RAW developer, RAW developer disc, and firewire cable. >

> I shoot mostly jpegs with the camera and dial the K temp for white > balance or use custom if I can. That brings to mind an area of > complaint: The white balance temp is adjustable in large steps only, > this is not a problem if you shoot RAW or use custom white balance. > But really, 4700, 5500 and then 6500 doesn't allow one to get very > close without using custom. The Canons and Nikon D2H allow you to > set the WB temp in increments of 100. Maybe I'm missing > something???
 

dava

Member
> To monitor the exposure I have the camera display the histogram after > every shot and that seems to work well since the on camera displays > are often misleading.
 
G

guyg

Marc,

I may need to correct myself. Is the format called "Tiff-RGB" with the ND? Egg on my face...

Guy
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Hi Dave. I don't think that you would you have any of these white balance problems if you shot film and scanned it.
John (tongue in cheek)
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Actually Guy, the article you pointed out is interesting. With the Canon 1Ds you can select to shoot either RGB or sRGB.
When I get some time, I'll test the notion with prints from a Epson 2200. But I think when preparing images I like to maintain the greatest amount of info possible for future use. You can always dumb down the file to sRGB for use now IF what he says is true.

The thing I don't get is this piece of advice... which leads me to believe there IS a visible difference in end quality.

..."But if you want the best possible image you can squeeze out of your digital camera, especially if you’re shooting landscape, fine art, or commercial work, then shoot RAW, convert to 16 bit AdobeRGB, then convert to your specific printers 8 bit output space (we recommend getting a custom profile for your printer) in Photoshop and send it to your printer. That’s proper digital workflow.
But if you're shooting senior portraits, or weddings, or corporate headshots why spend hours and hours processing all these 16 bit RAW files?...

Wedding prints ARE art for me. I want the best I can squeeze out of the camera. And digital cameras need all the help they can get.

BUT, on the other hand I get terrific prints from the ND...???? 
 

dava

Member
> Film?? My G1 shots with the 45 f2 still knock me off my feet! Heck, > I only use digital to test lighting!!! : )
 
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