Using a 645

Hi,

As usual I'm on a quest for another camera, and this time I'm looking at the Contax 645, I have currently a G2 and three lenses. Obviously the size difference between these cameras is significant, and the image resolution too. Generally I take my camera most places and I print B&W soon colour too, in the dark room to the size of 16x12. Do any of you 645 users, taking into account what I've said, think it would be a worth while investment. Or would you recommend sticking to the G2, for a cheaper smaller outfit. Normally I do, landscapes and architecture, but recently I've been craving a little more control, but instead of a N1 or something I thought for the same size almost I could go down the 645 route.

Your opinions would be appreciated.
 

boilerdoc

New Member
\/--\/--\/-- The Contax 645 AF is, quite simply, the finest medium format camera in the world. Solid, Zeiss lenses, lots of control, and the images are so good that they appear 3 dimensional in transparency form. I have a nearly complete system, including the auot bellows, and only need the digital back to complete my system. It is solid (read heavier) than the 35mm but well worth the price. Go for it! Boilerdoc
 

albert4321

Well-Known Member
while most people paying big bucks to build up the C/Y lenses for their Canon dSLR body, I am now trying to complete my C645 system. The price of C645 camera and lenses are dropping in eBay. There are a lot of bargain out there. Rather than paying $4K for a used C/Y 21mm or $5K+ for a 85mm 1.2, and a $8K for a Canon 1Ds MK II, I would rather save those money for a future digital back.

The C645 is not heavy at all comparing to my Canon 1D2 + 24-70L or the monster 70-200IS. with the 45-90mm zoom + bracket and a Quantum, it will be a different story.

If you look at those chrome taken from the C645 on a light table, you will be amazing what this camera can do. Superb image, color and metering. BTW, I love the pre-flash feature.
 

boilerdoc

New Member
Exactly. The pre flash feature, which is unique to this camera, is way cool! Especially when using the bellows. Boilerdoc
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Plus, the 1DsMKII, even with the best Zeiss lens adapted to it cannot compete with the C645, even with a 16 meg back on it.
Take my word for it, I own and use both.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
I don't think C-Y 21 2.8 can be replaced by the Contax 645 system completely. Its can focus closer than distalgon 35 3.5. On the other hand, the king of wide angle is actually Zeiss 38 4.5 for Alpa and Hassy, it can certainly focus as close as the C-Y distalgon.

85 1.2 holds a unique place in photography and I don't think it can be replaced any medium format system. None of the medium lenses have an f 1.2.

My 21 2.8 costed me less than 1K 2 years ago. My 85 1.2 costed me less than 4K two weeks ago and it is in good condition.

I will certainly go for the 38 4.5 after winning the lottery.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
F/1.2 in a MF lens would have such a thin close focusing DOF that no human could focus it. The Zeiss 110/2 is sort of the 85/1.2 of MF systems ; -)

4K for a decent 85/1.2 is a pretty good price Chi.

As far as MF WA, the SWC 38 isn't all bad.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Oh, by the way, welcome to all the Zeiss lovers new to this site. We need to stick together and keep the legend alive. Let's get more people to participate here and maybe even organize a meet. DJ and I got together in NYC awhile back and really had a good time talking and shooting. DJ had some amazing images from his China trip and brought along some big prints.
 

avid

Member
Dermot, I hope you mean that the Contax is the finest MF camera in the world. If so, even if it sounds a bit over esteemed, it's not too far from the truth. As far as the Rollei 6008i goes, I had bought one with high hopes after all the heaping praise the system is given. I had used it only twice in 8 months of owning it because I hated it. Hated everything about it; from it's heavy weight, boxey shape to the way film is spooled (especially the convoluted film spooling bit) and not to mention the loud slap of the mirror. On top of that, I saw no difference in the way the images rendered with the Rollei's 80mm compared to Contax' 80mm for all the trouble. Didn't try the Schneider lenses because of their exorbitant costs but I can imagine what they can do from my LF Schneider lenses. The camera's thoughtless design itself discouraged additional expenditure on lenses, however fine they may be. The only good thing about 6008i, IMO, was that it averaged 5 seperate spot readings that the Contax doesn't but my Sekonic 558 serves me well there. I also found out, to my dismay, that the older Rollei TLRs have better resale value (about 2-3 times the original price) than the more modern 6008's. It was a waste of my money and made me appreciate the Contax a whole lot more. Fed up with it, I wanted to toss it in a garbage but someone kindly rescued it by paying me half of what I bought it for. If ever I itch for a square format camera again, I will look into the Hasselblads, particularly the 203FE (as it comes close to Contax' features). Until then, the Contax 645 is what I am most comfortable with. It is truly a well thought out photographic instrument. Get the 645, you will not regret it.

Sorry if my opinion of the Rollei 6008i does not agree with anyone else's.
 

thedruid

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the input Avi...no I'm not saying the Contax is the best, whats best is what works for you and the C645 works for you. I've used 67,66 and 645 for publication and commercail work over the last ten years or so and like I've said before no one ever asked me the name of my camera. They asked for a certain size original but mostly it was about the shot.

Sorry you had such a lousey time with the 6008i,but I doubt you'll fare any better with Hassey prices they also went in the toilet with digital.
 

avid

Member
Thanks Dermot. You are right, the camera being a tool, whichever one the photographer has the least conflict with, will yield the best result. I feel the C645 is that camera for now. The harsh resale value of the 6008i came to my attention only when I wanted to dispose of it after being utterly disappointed.

BTW, I was actually suggesting Ross to get the C645. However, the ultimate choice is best based on personal experience. A weekend rental should tell you.
 
D

djg

You're kind, Marc. China was my first stint with the 1DsII and was mostly shot with the 24-70L. Since it was usually smoggy and hazy, it probably wouldn't have been much better with the CZ & Leica lenses
.

Ultimately, it's best to shoot what brings you joy and makes you happy, both subject- and equipment-wise! It will show in your work. It's hard to get good images if you're feeling miserable.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
I may be playing the devil's advocate here, but if one were to invest in the C645 now, would it be a bit like supporting beta over VHS or the squaerial over the Sky dish, i.e an excellent concept overturned by market forces and destined for oblivion.
The C645 is no doubt a terrific camera and will go on for years but there will surely be no new development of it and no new developments in the digital backs for it. Or perhaps this does not matter in view of the excellence of the camera as is.
I have been thinking of trading all my gear to invest in the C645 and I would want to use it to go digital and would welcome comments.
 

wang

Well-Known Member
As far as the Zeiss 110 2 is concerned, only Rollei and Hassy are using it. As Contax is not using this lens, I am not choosing it. Rollei and Hassy, which is better ?
 

wang

Well-Known Member
As far as the Zeiss 110 2 is concerned, only Rollei and Hassy are using it. As Contax is not using this lens, I am not choosing it. Rollei and Hassy, which is better ? 203 FE ?
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
John, there is a danger with anything electronic based that's not made any longer. But I don't think it is a Beta v/s VHS issue (both obsolete now). Repair and maintenance becomes a long term concern. No new lenses concerns me a bit, but other Zeiss lenses are easily adapted to the C645.

The current new crop of digital backs still support C645, and most likely will continue to do so. However, with digital backs, the real danger is that most require dedication to the 645 system, and cannot be used on other cameras. So a Leaf Aptus or Phase One P25 can be used on a C645, or Hasselbald H1, or Mamiya 645 as dedicated capture only. Or you can select a back configured as a Universal mount, which is Hasselblad V oriented and can be adapted on a Mamiya RZ or mounted on 4X5 type Graflox unit, or any of the specialty cameras (Alpa ?), taking a standard Hasselblad back.

Given that the recently announced 39 meg 645 sized sensors will represent a threshold where one can finally make a long term commitment to a MF digital back (financially and operationally), one has to seriously debate the wisdom of selecting such an expensive dedicated back for a discontinued camera ... in other words, the cost of a back coupled with your specific shooting needs, actually is a driving consideration as to which system you commit to. For me it is the Hasselblad V system.

For that reason, I made the decision to significantly strengthen my Hasselblad V system, while maintaining the status quo of the C645 kit for now. The Hasselblad 500 series is an infinitely easier system to maintain given the depth of support, availability of parts, relatively straightforward mechanical nature of most system pieces. And fabulous lenses, while not exactly inexpensive, have become far more affordable than in previous years.

Rollei, is a great camera better recognized in Europe than the USA. BUT the US the prices for most system elements have traditionally been more expensive due to their rarer nature here,
and repair is far more complex with fewer sources for that work.

In many ways, it is the best of times, and the worst of times in photography.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Chi, I use a Hasselblad 110/2FE on a C645, and it is one of my favorite on that camera. The Hasselblad branded MAM-1 adapter was specifically endorsed and sold by Contax to use all C and F Zeiss lenses.

As far as selecting Rollei verses 203FE, I selected the 203FE because I already had many CFE lenses for my 503CW and CM bodies. If one selects F lenses for use on the C645, you don't have to purchase the more expensive FE lenses, but instead the older F lenses without the Databus contacts. For ex&le, I recently secured a 203FE and some FE glass, which made my 150/2.8F I used on the C645 obsolete. I recently replaced it with a 150/2.8FE for full use on the 203FE, so this fabulous mint lens is now for sale for under $1,000. A beautiful addition to the C645 camera.

For ex&le, by adding a MAM-1 adapter to a C645, it becomes my focal plane shutter back-up camera to the Hasselblad 203FE when shooting weddings. 2 different cameras, same set of lenses. While you lose AF, you do retain focus confirmation with the C645.
 
Very insightful, and compelling, thanks. I'm not worried about a digital back and I don't think I could ever justify one anyway. I'm not a pro and I enjoy the darkroom too much to ever want to spend my evenings pixel pushing, since that's what I do for a living anyway. I think I'll hit ebay...
 
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