Which Contax System suits best to your needs

G

Guest

I remember wanting to do a test with the AX a few years back. I traveled 140 miles to see the it. I had cash for the entire purchase in my pocket. The camera shop (Atlanta) wouldn't let me do any testing with it. I have yet to own the AX. I feel the reason to own Contax is having the best glass available. Sure Leica is good but...
There have been situation where clients have requested large prints of approximately 1\5 of a negative. Had I been using lenses less sharp than Zeiss it may not have been possible to deliver. At least this is the way I feel.
Also, I think it has kept me in 35mm instead of necessitating medium format on some jobs. With lesser glass larger format might be necessary. I think in some cases Zeiss saves me the hassle and cost of the larger camera via its quality.
 
G

Guest

I got sidetracked. I think the reason to buy Contax is the glass as I have found the dealers to be to few and far between or less than enthusiastic as in the one I ran into in Atlanta, Georgia.
 
G

Guest

There is another Contax system that you have left out: the compact 35mm point and shoots like the new T3 which are also autofocus. For portability they can't be beat for having Zeiss lenses always close at hand.

Personally, I have a couple of Contax Y/C mount SLR bodies, a Contax G2, the Contax T3 and...just for fun...a 1960's Zeiss Ikon Contaflex super with all the pro-tessar lenses and even an Ikoblitz 4 flash with bulbs!!

I would certainly consider moving to the 645 system before the N mount because, I think, I am done buying 35mm and am now looking at different formats. I expect my next purchase will be a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B which uses 120 film and has a nice Zeiss Tessar.
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Hi Meryl,

that sound like a die-heart Contaxian


You are right, I did not include the compact models in this comparison. I was not absolutely sure whether I should consider this as a truly fifth option.

I use my T3 and TVS III regularly, but I would consider them more as an addition to my SLR or G system.

Maybe I am wrong, but I thought that somebody new to Contax would not like to start with the compact models.

On the other hand the quality is already so good with these so called "P&S", that I ask myself sometimes why bothering with heavy cameras and lenses...

I put already a detailed review of the T3 in the appropriate thread. If I have more time in a couple of weeks, I will add my TVS III review there too.

Since you are interested also in Contax cameras of production date before 1974, I can recommend you the classic Contax site, of which I put a link in the "link-section".

I never used an older Contax camera then 1974. This is why I focused with this site on all Contax cameras after 1974. I am afraid more is just not manageable for a one-man show.

As soon as you have your 645, keep us also updated with your impressions about the "big brother". We have to few Medium Format fans here on the site


dirk
 
G

Guest

It may take me a while to save up for a 645 system but I have just purchased a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B 532/16 from ebay and I shall see what I can do with that. It is a 6x6 so I'm not sure how I will get the negs scanned but we shall see how it works. I expect I'll have my first shots in a week or two... allowing for shipping time..etc.
 
G

Guest

great, hope to see some nice picture then from you in this forum
 
G

Guest

Hi all

Contax/Zeiss vs Nikon
I am quite keen on a contax/zeiss system since having read so much on superior quality of zeiss lens.

I am currently using a very good Nikon system. (F100 and FM3a as backup with serveral fast prime lens. Do carl zeiss lenses really produce better quality pictures than Nikon's primes? Is it a lot more better Nikon that I don't even have to consider much further? Is the contax/zeiss better only margainally? If it is , I would perhaps live with Nikon and save the money on more Nikon prime lenses.

Contax Bodies
While the Aria is the lightest, smallest and cheapest in the contax line, would quality be compromised comparing with other bigger and more expensive bodies such as AX, RX and RTSIII? What would be the difference if I use an Aria compared
with the others in terms of photo quality? For your informatin, I am doing alot of protrait.

Thank you


Boone Wong
Singapore
 
G

Guest

Hi Boone,

Some of the Contax bodies offer useful features that few (or no) other brand offers.

For portraits, if you use flashes you might consider the RTS III. This body has a TTL pre-flash meter that works with any flash system, even large studio flash units. This makes the RTS III a perfect studio camera.

A special lever stops down the lens, sends a signal to the PC socket to fire the flash, and gives you a readout in the viewfinder telling you if your shot would be over- or underexposed, showing 3 stops in either direction. The flash meter is a spot meter that occupies the microprism patch in the center of the viewfinder, so you can carefully meter critical areas very precisely. You can even use a kind of zone system, taking readings of different areas. Simply adjust your aperture or your flash units until you get a correct exposure. It works much like a handheld flash meter, except you can use it without taking your eye away from the camera or switching your sync cord to a meter.

The only other camera that has this is the Lecia R8, but Contax had it first.

The RTS III also has a switchable spot or averaging meter, mirror lockup, and a 5 fps built-in motor drive. The vaccum pressure plate ensures that the film is not curled during exposure. It's a very heavy camera, but I personally like the weight. Many of the Contax lenses (especailly the faster ones) are quite large and heavy, and the weight of the body balances well with these lenses. Another thing that I like is that even though this is an electronic camera, it has analog-type controls similar to what a mechanical camera would have - knobs and levers instead of multifunction pushbuttons and menues.

Just a general comment on the Aria versus the other bodies you mention - the Aria is not really intended for professional use - it's a lighter-weight body. The heavier bodies you mention would balance better with many of the Contax lenses, but this really depends on which lenses you use. The other bodies offer other unique features that no other camera offers - the AX can autofocus your manual focus lenses, while the RX has a viewfinder display that gives focus and depth-of-field information.

The 85mm f/1.4 is an amazing lens for portraits. While being very sharp, the out-of-focus areas at wide apertures are velvety-soft.

Hope this is helpful.

- Paul
 
G

Guest

Dirk,
There is much about the superiority of the rangefinder image vs. the SLR even in Contax literature. Have you ever made a comparison between a G2 image and the N1 (I believe that's what you are shooting with now) at specific sizes say 10 inches by 15 inches; excuse the inches but my metric is not up to snuff! I'm curious if there is any "real world" difference.
By the way, my first 35mm camera was a Zeiss Ikon I bought used back in 1962. Unhappily it did not survive the curious pokings of one of my children!
Pete Smith
 
G

Guest

I own a 167MT and several Y/C mount lenses. I am considering purchasing an AX so that I can have autofocus if I want to.

However, I'm not sure if the AX with Y/C mounted lenses can complete or even come close to the N1.

Basically, what is the difference in optical quality of an N1 with say lense X, compared to AX with a similar lens?

Was AX real a success? If so why?
 
G

Guest

Another stupid question...

Is it technically impossible to create a digital body for the Y/C mount lenses? If they can make the Y/C mounts autofocus witht the AX, they sure should be able to create a digital body for it.
 
G

Guest

Of course it is possible to make a digital camera with C/Y lenses. In fact it is possible to make a digital back for non-digital contax cameras. Why they don't do it is perhaps because they want to force people to buy into the autofocus lenses that they spent so much money developing.

I don't like the autofocus lenses because, in my opinion, they don't focus as smoothly, they are twice as big, twice as heavy, and twice as expensive. They should just have made an AX2 with better autofocus.

Eitan
 
G

Guest

Eitan,

Do you mean that the autofocus mechanism of the AX is weak? or could be improved? >
 
G

Guest

I mean that the autofocus system on the AX could be improved -- meaning it could have more sensors, more sensitive sensors, a faster microprocessor, and a better algorithm.

The way it is now, it cannot focus well in low light (the nikon f100 is more sensitive to light), it can only focus well on things near the center circle, and the continuous autofocus is too slow.

Eitan
 

dirk

CI-Founder
"Basically, what is the difference in optical quality of an N1 with say lense X, compared to AX with a similar lens"

The N-lenses will be the newer lens design and therefore have a better image quality. Even if Zeiss is using the old design in N-mount (i.e. 50mm) it will be better in the corners.

The larger the diameter of a lens, the easier to correct the corners. This is important for using the capability of the fullsize chip.

"Is it technically impossible to create a digital body for the Y/C mount lenses?"

It is very unlikely that Contax will step back in technology and use an inferior 2/3 size chip instead of the fullsize chip. As explained above, to produce affordable improvements in the corners, you have to make the lens bigger. Therefore the C/Y is no satisfying alternative.

If all the panic about megapixels in a chip will fade out in 1-2 years (because everybody has a xy megapixel chip), people will realize again, that the quality of a lens is the most important thing. There you will see then the advantage of the bigger N-lenses.

dirk
 
G

Guest

Hello, All
I am looking very hard at buying a Contax SLR. What I am having trouble deciding is if I should go with the NX or go with an RX and manual lenses.
The majority of my work will be in wedding and portraiture photography. I am looking to Contax for the quality of glass. I am trying to avoid buying med. format equipment as long as possible. I will eventialy go with Med. format when I have the funds.
I have shot with Nikon for a few years. I had an F100 and an FM2n and a FM3a. The build quality on these cameras just wasn't great. I found problems with each body. The problems seem to have come from poor quality control at the manufacture level. I have tested an RX for a week I liked it. having read the posts here I am concerned that the RX is going to be discontinued. Also I am concerned with the future of the MM mount. It looks like Contax will be moving toward all their R&D toward AF systems.
The concern with the NX is Build. I hate plastic! I do not have the funds to get an N1 yet. I am also 2ondering about build quality of 28-80 and 70-200 N lenses. These are much less expensive than the other N zooms I wonder where Contax cut the corners.
Please any advise would be helpful


Thank You

Mark
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Hi Mark,

first a warm welcome at Contaxinfo.com!

You are at the right spot for these questions. You asked many questions in one thread, so let me try to cut it down to the major points:

1. It is official now, the RX will be discontinued. Now doubt about this. But it is still a great camera.

2. You are planning to upgrade eventually in the future to medium format. If you are serious about this, there is not much choice left, if you want to stay with Contax. Then you have to start with the N-system.

3. The NX has not the same "feeling" as the N1, but it is still solidly build. But I am afraid that the days are over for bodys in the material of a RX or RTS III.

4. I doubt that there will be anything new in the old C/Y-MM line, but I could be wrong.

5. For your lens questions, please look in the Zeiss lens folder. I wrote a comparison between the different N-lenses.

I would strongly recommend you to try a Nx/N1 vs. a RX over a week-end. In my experience the "stomach" faktor is very important to make the right decision. On the used market you have a huge choice in MM-lenses, the 2nd hand market for the N-system barely exists. BUT I find the image quality of the N-lenses better AND you can upgrade to the 645.

Just my 2 cents...
 
G

Guest

Mark,
Yes, look seriously at the N system. I shoot weddings and other commercial work, and have used the N camera to great effect. One key advantage is that when you do go to Medium Format you can consider the wonderful Contax 645 system whose lenses can also be used on the N 35mm camera via the NAM 1 adapter. All functions AE & AF are retained. Another factor is planning for the future which may include Digital. The choice again is narrowed to the N system. Contax is
slow to come out with their N lenses, but there are enough to do most work now available.
I'd stay away from the Nx except as a back-up camera based on what you need to acomplish with your camera. Likewise, I'd opt for the better lenses starting with the 24-85, a lens that will do just about everything you outlined .
 
G

Guest

Dirk and Marc
Thanks for the imput. I will be going up to Chicago this weekend. ( That is the closest Contax Dealer) I will check both the NX and N1. From what I am reading here it seems as if the new N lenses are better than the older c/y lenses. Does this even include primes?
If I go the manual route I would buy a 28, 50, 85 and 135 initially then probably a 80-200 zoom. Are you saying the new N's are optically better than these?

Thanks, Mark
 
G

Guest

Dear Mark,

Firstly I don't think you should be worried about the future of the manual focus contax lenses. They have characteristics that cannot be found in the autofocus N lenses. Manual focus Zeiss lenses are about half the size, half the weight, and half the price of the N lenses. Therefore there will always be a demand for them from people who care to have those better features. There is also a huge number of those lenses in circulation. So any lens you will ever want will always be obtainable either new or used.

Now which camera should you go with? I think you should go with an AX or RX.

Best Regards, Eitan
 
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