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NEW Contax 645II on the horizon


Well-Known Member
Has anyone heard any rumors concerning an updated C645?
I've run across a few web mentions of a replacement due early this year (????).

What features would you like to see?

MY WISH LIST: I wonder if an assist motor for focusing could be incorporated similar to the way Nikon added in camera motors (I think?). I want faster focusing, but DO NOT want to be forced to replace all my lenses to get it.

At least a more sensitive detector and assist light in camera.
I believe the H1 used an existing Minolta detector and then really beefed up its sensitivity. Anyone know if the H1 has an in camera AF motor, or are all the AF motors in the lenses with just a really sensitive in camera sensor?

Higher top shutter speed and sync speed. (not to mention a better flash system offering a focus assist beam, HHS ability and a full function off-camera dedicated cord).

Better, more efficient power use, and a power source with rechargeable options like the H1 offers.


Hmmm! My Canon SLRs have a custom function to prevent the lens hunting back & forth if its unable to find focus. Something like that would be very nice.


Well-Known Member
A better metering system (matrix) would be nice.

A build-in dark-slide will be even better.

A better polaroid back too.

Wireless TTL support with HHS.

Actually, I am pretty happy with my current C645 cosidering the competitions out there and the RZ and Hasselblad I used to work with.
I guess at least some of the rumours come from Contax UK, I wouldn't want to be precise for fear of jeopardising the career of the person concerned. He's a super guy, right on the photographer's side, and has disclosed some accurate scoops in the past. But if it all turns out to be nonsense then I'll happily give his name!

I heard a Contax 645 II body would be announced early in 2004. Among other improvements it would address two key concerns, auto-focus speed (using existing lenses), and battery consumption. Maybe a battery fix is already being implemented as some users have reported improved battery life after returning 645's to Contax for routine servicing and repairs.

About a year ago I was in Samy's Cameras in Los Angeles and got talking to the West Coast US Contax representative, he said that two leaf shutter lenses were in the pipeline, a "long standard" of about 100mm, and a second leaf shutter lens of about 170-180mm focal length. This claim however was partially refuted by the UK Contax source, who said the next new lens, also scheduled for 2004, would be a longer focal length zoom to compliment the 45-90.

Whatever the truth of it all is, after five years the 645 must surely be due for an upgrade.

Personally I'd like to see something done to improve the flash capability. I'd hoped to sell my Hasselblad outfit when I bought into Contax, but that's not going to happen with the current system. I can only use 1/90 second synch on the Contax with studio flash, which sometimes gives subject movement, hand shake, or illumination from the modelling lights. Also fill flash outside can be difficult with 1/125 second. I'd like to see those leaf shutter lenses tomorrow, and a new Contax flash gun with a "High Speed" option would also be welcome.

Another area that could do with attention is the vertical/horizontal format issue. I'm not expecting a revolving back, but an "L" bracket or a simple tripod socket on the side of the body as well as on the base would be useful.

There's a bigger dimension to this vertical/horizontal issue. In the past a photographer could use the square 6x6 format and throw away part of the negative. Before long there will be (almost!) affordable full-frame digital backs for 645, but with the stratospheric cost of large sensors full-frame 6x6 backs might never happen. So in a digital world we'll have to get used to composing in the viewfinder, and that requires a faster, better method of changing from horizontal to vertical. And to prevent "grass stains on the knee syndrome" we'll need some kind of flippable, right angle viewfinder, so that we can get waist level shots from a 645 whilst standing on both feet! In other words, I want all the practical benefits of a Hasselblad 6x6 in a Contax 645.

After those improvements it's just detail changes that I'd be looking for in a 645II, relatively trivial stuff like 1/3 & 2/3 stop auto bracketing and a better mechanism for the strap lugs.

I really hope they don't chamge the "hewn from the solid" feel, and that refreshing freedom from menu driven systems and button-mania!
Well, the Las Vegas photographic show has come and (almost) gone, but no sign of a Contax 645 II nor of the leaf shutter lenses that were promised five years ago.

I guess that'll teach me to listen to rumours!

More seriously, many photographers must be thinking about a digital 645 back, and that kind of wallet-busting expenditure will concentrate the mind wonderfully. They'll be asking if they want to be locked into Contax with limited flash synch, a so-so viewfinder and arthritic auto-focus, or cut bait and switch to a competitor.

Contax seem to be asking for an awful lot of loyalty from their customers, what with discontinuing the DSLR and c&aigning a 645 that's falling further and further behind the market.


Well-Known Member
Well Gary, I would hazard a guess that there are more Kodak C645 DCS backs out there than ones for the H1 now that Kodak has stopped production of them and gotten out of that business. Which means more used ones at a reasonable price. The totally portable 4X4 alternative for H1 buyers in future is going to cost in excess of $20,000 compared to under $10,000 for a used Kodak (a buddy of mine paid $6,700 for his).

I've seen H1 shots and they ain't Zeiss by any stretch of the imagination. The Bokeh alone is enough stick with Zeiss. Hi flash sync with leaf shutter IS a nice feature, but so is 1/4000th of a second with the Contax fast lenses (allows wider apertures in daylight to blow out the backgrounds).

I've found that the higher sync speed is nice only in daylight applications. I solved the occasional 1/125th top sync issue with use of a B+W ND filter on the Contax lenses. In darker situations I use a slower shutter speed with flash anyway, with the flash duration providing the stop action function.

This leaves Mamiya as the alternative, which isn't an alternative IMO.

I also had hoped for a faster focusing C645II and maybe a few leaf shutter lenses. But it's still the only one offering Zeiss because the H1 buyers who were waiting for the promised adapter to use Hasselblad Zeiss glass are still waiting... just like us.
Marc, you make some good points. I guess I'm feeling grumpy because my master plan isn't quite falling into place as neatly as I'd hoped!

I went for twenty odd years with a fairly simple outfit in each main format size, and can honestly say I never gave equipment a second thought. Then came digital and for the last five years all I've done is chop and change systems, read instruction manuals, and watch the quality of my photography go down the drain!

Where I was hoping to get to is a full-frame digital 645 back, a back I could also use on a specialist movement camera that additionally has a 6x9 film option. The big expense would be the digital back, so big that it'll lock me into one 645 system for a very long time. Not unreasonably I'd like to make that commitment with a manufacturer who boasts an unblemished record of delivering on their promises...and in today's camera market I don't see too many players fitting the description!


Well-Known Member
I hear you Gary.

I went through that crap on the 35mm sized digital cameras. Went Nikon D1, then Canon killed them with their 1D cameras (still are IMO). So I sold the Nikon gear and went Contax ND, which is fine except I discovered I couldn't use it for weddings (to slow focusing and inoperable RAW feature: -( So I finally landed on Canon which was the right move as it turns out.

For MF I fortunately kept my Hasselblad gear resisting the big dump everyone made. That turned out to be my smartest move to date. A Kodak DCS ProBack kept it alive and provided the image quality from the Zeiss glass. Plus I still shoot film with it. (See attachment of my sweet 555ELD with Kodak ProBack)
That same back fits my RZ, so it does double duty when I want certain Mamiya glass for a job, (or as a back-up in studio). Plus an adapter fits it to a 4X5 if need for T/S work that the Hasselblad shift adapter can't do. BTW, did you know you can use the Hasselblad P/C adapter on your Contax 645? You need the Hasselblad 40mm to do it, but it works quite easily.

As for the full frame 645. It's just a matter of time before the prices get down to where a mere mortal can afford one. In the meantime I've had no problem fulfilling all my commercial clients needs with the Kodak ProBack, and for wedding formals I use the Contax with it's dedicated back 645C ProBack for pure portability.

BTW, the new non Kodak 645 backs are not dedicated. You can use them across platforms. Check out Phase One and you'll see.