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Whatbs going up with contax

roberto

Well-Known Member
Well, maybe I should have posted this somewhere else, but as my post is S2-related, I will leave it right here.

As we all know, Kyocera has closed down the camera business, killing by the way the contax brand and leaving all us stranded (and I had bought two S2, one Aria and one RXII.).


After that some information had come to light as if Cosina would continue the contax brand (really easy to re-badge the Bessaflex and fit a Y/C mount, adding a switch to choose from selective to centre-weighed metering and a titanium cover and hop! that's a Contax, or contaflex, or Zeiss Ikon S3 to you).

But according to french magazine "Reponses Photo" it seems that Sony has interests in the Contax brand (and don't forget that sony manufactures Zeiss lenses under licence for digital cameras). So will we see anything new from contax? At least not in the short term. The same magazine also read that Sony had a little bit of finantial problems so the deal would be delayed, or cancelled sine die. All we can do is wait... and pray...

As technology goes by, I do not think there is much future for the multi-everything film-based (aka traditional) cameras. This market sector has been fully taken over by Digital SLRs (the only exceptions are the Canon EOS I, the Nikon F6 and the Leica R9, the latter enjoying a new easy of life thanks to the DMR), but the rest of traditional cameras are struggling to survive.

But there is a small market sector which still has plenty of future to survive. You've guessed it, the traditional mechanical cameras, of which only the Nikon FM3a, rests of Zenit cameras and entry level Yashica FX-3 clones made in china with Nikon or pentax bayonet. and how about Voigtlander cameras? They sell, and quite well.

Nothing can beat a mechanical camera when it comes to shocks, accidental dropping, and operating in really really harsh environments, and you can rely on them, their reliability and their ability to work without batteries. I remember taking my S2 out of the backpack at 3800 metres height, with a 50 km/h wind and at a temperature of -25 º Celsius. It worked!

And these cameras still sell, and really well. Just take a look around and watch the Nikon FM3a. A lot have been sold, even many of them regard this camera as an obsolete one, but nothing could be further from reality, the FM3a is a great and real workhorse, designed to withstand anything you can throw at it. Who would not like an agreement between Nikon and kyocera to produce the FM3a with Contax mount and looks? I would buy it, for sure! (and I am pretty sure that many people in this forum would buy it as well)

From my previous posts you will already know that my first S2 was bought in 1994 and some time ago the film lever could not be locked in its "rest" position, where it usually clicked, now it remained loose. I took it to my repair shop and was told that all the winding mechanism would have to be changed, at the cost of an arm and a leg (and Yashica Spain would only supply the complete winding gear train). I was sure it was nothing else than a detent spring, whether worn or broken. Armed with three different sized screwdrivers and the original repair manual, I began to take it apart. Within five minutes I found the offending spring, removed it (broke in my hands) and ordered a replacement to Tocad USA. I am waiting for their answer and for the parts, too (just to be sure I ordered two more, just to have plenty available when supplies dry up and the camera is no longer supported).

Best regards and Contax Forever!
Robert
 

leeming

Member
I remember sony eventually decided to team up with another camera manufacturer instead of Contax. As a staunch N supporter I can only sit in the dark holding all my gears and weep. A well executed 35mm slide has around 10M usable pixels, is that all my N lenses can do? I pretty much have given up hoping for a N digital II... How about I migrate to Contax 645 and get a NAM and a coolscan 9000 or even a digital back? I assume there will be continuing release of new backs compatible with Contax645, right? Kyocera's holding the N mount without doing anything about it is unethical IMO and I can't see any business sense of it...
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Good luck Robert. I wonder if another repairman might have been able to make a spring and fix it? This bodes ill for all those repairs that are going to be needed in the future for our Contaxes.
It would be nice to have a new Contax along the lines you suggest but I think that digital rules now. A digital version of the camera you suggest with a large full frame sensor would be wonderful and we could use our lenses.
There is a very interesting article in last week's Amateur Photographer (UK weekly photo magazine) about the Contax SLR range and history.
John
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
I understand that Carl Zeiss holds the Contax brand name.
It seems to me that the pictures I see printed and on the monitor which have been made from film are superior to those made digitally except those perhaps from the Canon full frame sensors. I know this is subjective and open to debate but that is just the way it seems. Film pictures have more detail and smoothness and are more pleasant to view - or is it just me?
 

leeming

Member
No it's not just you.
It's a little insulting to compare my N/50/1.4 on Velvia to my Nikon D70/kit lense, but the color and detail variation is just much more wonderful on my films, even after scanning them into the computer. That's why I hold them and weep, otherwise I'd have just happily throw them away. I'm actually very curious about the following question: has anyone compared the color gamut range between the films/films scanned/digital sensors? Notice that scanner's sensor is different from DSLR's sensor, which makes the comparison between the three meaningful. Also, anyone can comment on the ND's color (and color alone) as compared to films/films scanned/other DSLR? Last, to the credit of DSLRs, the noise-less property is just a huge leap and helps a lot in geometrical details... I hope it's not my prejudice, but I just can't convince myself to forsake films (again, as compared to D70/kit lense).
 
D

djg

Sure, the less expensive digitals are worse than film, but the stuff I'm getting from my 1DsII with Contax and Leica lenses blows away anything I ever got from a Bronica GS-1 (6x7) or a Fuji GX-680 (6x8) using Reala printed at 11x17 for the digital vs. 11x14 for the film stuff.

I think what turns some people off is that it does look different - how could it not? Seeing a totally grainless sky can be unnerving, because our brain expects to see grain. But that's just a normal reaction. Frankly I'm ecstatic I don't get grainy skies any more.

Plus you'll be able to get far more color accuracy in the digital realm. It's the nature of the beast. Getting accurate and consistent response from at least three individual layers of chemical emulsion is a more daunting task than from a high-quality digital sensor.

I should add that color accuracy is not one of my prime motivators - I'm more into subjective interpretation, which can amount to less accuracy for more feeling and impact
.
 
D

djg

As far as the ND I no longer have, I thought it was as good if not better than film in capturing overall color and dynamic range when properly exposed.

Exposure with digital needs to be approached differently than either slides or negs. With slides I tended to under-expose. With negs I would over-expose. Digital you want to over-expose but need to make sure you don't blow your critical highlights - when it goes, it drops totally, unlike film which will have a bit of a toe.

One nice thing about digital is that although less forgiving if you over-expose too much, you can check and adjust pretty much instantly on-location. And as with any process, familiarity wil bring consistency.

My wet darkroom including the Jobo ATL-3 and Omega D-5500 is now a fond historic memory of lots of hard work
.
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
One would hope some enterprising person handy at repair work would take up the banner for Contax mechanical cameras. My father once had a Packard automobile, and there was a repair man in Chicago that actually machined new parts for it, or had bins of parts taken for lost cause cars. Currently there are a number of expert repair people keeping ancient Leicas alive and shooting... I once had a Leica made in 1932, that I had repaired so it worked like the day it was built. Mechanical stuff lets that happen. Electronic stuff just gets tossed. Which is what will happen to all these digital cameras eventually. They won't be worth saving like some of these great old Contax machines (I still have a ST and RX).

I admit to having a fondness for film and still shoot a Leica M and Hasselblad on a pretty regular basis (occasionally the Contax units also). Film has a special look that isn't there with digital. For me it isn't just smoothness ( something I actually don't like about digital), but has more to do with a feeling of depth. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the rawness of street photography using old Nikons and Leicas with Tri-X is becoming a disappearing art form. And if you really want to see some great B&W film works, take a look at the most recent issue of Black&White. You forget how beautiful these images can be as the world migrates to Zeros and Ones.

However, digital is seductive, and the perfect medium for a society that has to have everything now. Not minutes or days from now. NOW. I myself am up to my eyeballs in it, and am spending the day learning about my new H2D which is totally dedicated to digital capture on an unprecedented level.
 

roberto

Well-Known Member
> Thank you for the news, John. I will do my best in order to try to find this issue of amateur Photographer. I guess I will have to order it from the editor. Best regards, Robert >
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Hi DJ,

I agree that 1DsII with LZ lenses are powerful combination and they are great for landscape. They produce great colours and good spatial look.

In terms of resolution of fine details, digital suppresses film easily by increasing the no. of pixels.

Digital images, no matter how many pixels they have, still lacks the realism provided by film images. I think this degree of realism matters less in landscape as it matters less how the rock should look like to us. In human face, the difference is big.

I find looking at film prints,even small ones, provides me with a lot more confidence before I engage how an operation should go on the human face. Digital prints of human faces, no matter how big or small, do not provide me with as much informations as film do. I have tried very hard including the use of IDsI and RAW(help from my friend), but still cannot get what I want from film. The contour of the face is so much better rendered by film than digital. Digital images or prints are simply flatter and carry less meaning.

For important tasks, we shoot with both now, digital and film.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Robert,
Here is the link to AP:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

I have found the editor very friendly and receptive to emails so maybe that might be a way forward. Unfortunately, I missed buying that edition and I read it when I happened to be in the library yesterday otherwise I could have scanned the article to you. Our local public library is a week out of date with AP because each copy has to circulate around all the libraries in the area.
It will probably be expensive to buy it with international postage and so on.
I think I have seen Amateur Photographer for sale when we have been on holiday in Spain so perhaps you might be able to get it at your local newsagent.
John
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all the helpful comments.

I still cannot make up my mind about which digital camera to buy or indeed, if any. I am very happy with my Contax and Mamiya gear which has represented a considerable investment down the years and with my scanned film results.
I don't need instant results and if I do need a quick snap, I use my wife's ageing digital Casio compact (having said "snap", one of my pictures from the Casio has just been used on a 13th century church web site).

DSLR's are very expensive and have only a short span before they are superseded by something better.

Film cameras can last pretty well indefinitely and the quality of their results does not depend upon upgrading them for the lastest model nor are there dust problems to anywhere the same extent as with digital.

I also don't want to have to embark upon the expense of a whole new system. Buying and processing film is much cheaper than buying a whole new DSLR system but there again, for ex&le, one of my favourite films is no more; Agfa Scala - I have a stache of ten rolls left and the lab in the UK which processes them is aparently running out of chemicals and has asked for films to be sent in for processing before the end of December.

Having said all that, the convenience of digital is, as Marc says, very seductive.

I expect that I shall have to do it. I had thought of the new Olympus being a reasonable price comparatively speaking. I have handled it and it is very nice although the viewfinder is small. I'm sure the lenses will be excellent but I cannot believe that the small sensor is adequate especially for future development.

The new Nikon D200 looks as though it will be excellent and is much lower in price than the Canon 5D. I am awaiting reviews but my Zeiss lenses will suffer from the crop factor on it.

I have handled the Canon 5D and liked it and the price has come down substantially.
An adapter is avalable for CZ lenses AND it is full frame. I have read nothing but praise for it and I think it must be the one despite it having the potential built in dust spot problem. But here is the rub, I should have to trade in Contax gear to get it and that is a very sad thing to do especially as the Contax gear will in effect never date but the Canon will likely be replaced by a newer and better model sometime next year. I have read that Canon propose to introduce full frame sensors across their whole range as manufacturing costs come down.

Decisions,decisions... of course the easiest and perhaps most sensible thing is just not to bother and make no change but that is rather like burying one's head in the sand.

If I go for it, I'll let you know how I get on.
John
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
John, the trick with digital is to ignore the hype, and get what works for you. While I have to keep up with the Jones for commercial work, the ND would have been enough for most personal digital work.

Frankly, a camera like a Canon 5D is waaaaay more than most people need (depending on what you are really doing with it ... not some speculative acid test idea of what you may want to do .. which could be done on MF film and scanned... for the amount of times that really happens).

12 meg full frame is plenty good for well into the future no matter what they come up with and hype to death so people feel compelled to have it or they'll just die.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Please excuse my ramblings but I expect that many people may suffer from the same dilemma.
John
 

grumpoid

Well-Known Member
Hi,
Just to say, regarding the 'amateur photographer' Contax article, it is actually not that good. It does not present any new info or photos of any sort and contains at least two large factual errors. I e-mailed the editor who passed me on to Ivor Matanle who wrote the article, who was glad of the corrections I gave him. The number of CZ C/Y mount lenses produced (28) was way short of the actual total (at least 43) and the info re German/Japan made lenses was also wrong.
Cheers Steve.
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Hi all,
As for film - I will stick with my Contaxes (35mm) (although I'm about to start selling a few to pay for a couple of missing lenses!) and Mamiya 645s for medium format. As for digital John, I've jumped ship entirely and gone for the Olympus E-system. The four thirds system is so smart, producing lenses that are physically small and lightweight and yet the premium ones are razor sharp. My current favourite is my 50-200 F2.8/3.5 giving a 35mm equivalent of a pretty fast 100-400 which can be used hand-held. Some of the new lenses are awesome. No issues with build quality of the lenses, E-1 body or accessories. Fantastic for wildlife or travel work because of the compactness and low weight. Waiting for the new E-1 with a few more pixels. Just a shame you can't use CZ on them!

Cheers, Graham
 

gunteach

Well-Known Member
Graham et al,

Interesting discussion. I too like what I get from film a lot, but also realize that at some point a DSLR is in my future for some things. At present I only use an Olympus digicam for snapshots and some work related matters, and we have a few of them around and are familiar with their menu layout, etc.

I'm wondering if an Olympus DSLR such as perhaps the E-500 I think it is called wouldn't be a good idea for me. I know about the advantages of Canon, but am curious about the Olympus camera using an adapter that would allow me to use my Zeiss C/Y manual focus lenses. I see that Cameraquest sells one, that stays on the camera and you only have to buy one and change lenses. Does anyone have any input on this idea?

Tom
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Hi Tom,
Wow! I had no idea there was an Evolt/Contax adapter (never thought to put the option into Google!). Thanks for the steer - I'm ordering one and will report back on its use. Cheers,

Graham
 
A

Andi

Hi Marc,

If you compare your (former) ND equipped with a CZ VS 24-85mm lens with a 5D equipped with a CZ VS 28-85mm mounted via adapter - are there any visible differences in terms of image quality ?

Regards

Andreas
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
Hmmm, well the Canon absolutely kills the ND for higher ISO work ... meaning ISO 400 and above. The lenses are kinda apples and oranges ... the Contax N 24-85/3.5 is an incredible lens at any price, let alone what you can buy one for these days.

I haven't done much work with the C/Y 28-85 on the Canon 5D, so I can't really comment. The 5D full frame is a pretty good camera, and sports twice the meg count of the ND. But I can safely say the 5D isn't twice the camera the ND is. I do use C/Y 85/1.2, 70-210/3.5 and 35-135/3.3 on the Canon 1DsMKII and love them a lot.
 
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