Contax SLR lens recommendations

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by mesh, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I am just back into the C/Y system having purchased an RXII recently... just need some lenses ;-) I had Aria some moons ago and used a 50 f1.7 and 135 f2.8 - both of which I thought were very nice. I mainly use a Leica M2 with the 35 Biogon f2.8 and I kind of want a small system to supplement it.

    I realise this is an incredibly broad question with many answers but I'd appreciate a heads-up on the primo C/Y lenses. I'd like a 50 that I can use for reasonably high mag. I don't really need macro but the f1.4 at 0.45m should suit me well. Stopped down is this lens good at close distances? Out of interest is there a general consensus on the 60 macro quality?

    I'd also like one longer lens and a 24-28. I've done a bit of research and read great things about the 28mm. Also the 135 (f2.8) seems like a bargain really. Any other suggestions? Would the 28 / 50 f1.4 and 135 be a good start? Obviously I am thinking smallish budget here so the real top end lenses will be out of my range at the moment.

    Thanks.
     
  2. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I should also mention that I mainly shoot landscape (natural and urban) with a small amount of portrait / street. 95% is black and white. Thank you.
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,192
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not sure what you mean by "small" in the original post, as most of the Zeiss retorfocus wide angle lenses are much bigger than rangefinder lenses.

    You can't go wrong with any of the Zeiss lenses in the Contax mount. I have used most all the identical Zeiss lenses in the Rollei QBM mount since they were contemporary lenses in the 1980s and they are excellent performers. I also have all the Yashica ML wide and normal lenses in the C/Y mount and they are also very good.
     
  4. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My two favorite lenses for that system was the 28mm (my favourite angle of view anyway) in either f2.0 or 2.8 and the 35mm f1.4. I really liked the 28mm 2.0, but the 2.8 was a great little compact and sharp lens that gave a nice 3D "pop" effect. However, my bread n' butter was the 35mm f1.4. I can't say anything bad about that lens -it was magical. Highly versatile, some of the best quality 20x24 enlargements I've made and a very nice signature.
     
  5. elekm

    elekm Member

    Messages:
    2,058
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey (
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Either the 1.4 or 1.7 Planar should serve that purpose nicely. And if you get some extension tubes, you'll be able to do close-up shots on the cheap. You'll want to stop down the lens.

    The 28mm Distagon is a large lens -- about 57mm in length (rear element to front element). Carl Zeiss usually takes a no-compromise approach to its lenses.

    These were shot with the f/1.7 Planar (no extension tubes).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2012
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,179
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The 50 1.4 is an outstanding all-around lens. There are two versions of the 60 makro-planar - the 60 C (for compact) which will give 1:2, and the 60 non-C which will give 1:1. The non-C version is much larger, physically, heavier, and it also will only work in aperture preferred or manual. It is however considered to be one of the best macro lenses for 35mm.

    On a short list of lenses for this system, with a limited budget:

    28mm f2.8
    50mm f1.4
    85mm f2.8

    That would get you a nice well-rounded kit, without forcing you to get a second mortgage. Save up and get the 85mm f1.4 when you can. It's one of the best lenses at that focal length ever. I took it with me to Cambodia and got some awesome photos of the monks at Angkor.
     
  7. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

    Messages:
    544
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto ON
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The ones that I really like are the D25 f2.8, P100 f2, S85 f2.8, and the 2 VS's 28-85 and 100-300. I have read that some don't think the D25 is as good as it should be, but it's one of my favourites. Maybe I got a good one. The only Zeiss lens I had that I didn't like was the TT 300 f4. My VS 100-300 was far better.
     
  8. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

    Messages:
    678
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The 50 and 85 f1.4's are great lens, but I'd like to recommend the 35 f2.8 also. It has become my surprise favorite of the system.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2012
  9. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,801
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've shot an RX for years and recently acquired an RTS and RTSII finding some good bargains. The 85/1.4 is hands down my favorite. Awesome lens. But the right hood can be hard to find as us expensive now. The 50/1.7 my next fav. The 50/1.4 has better build quality but is now so expensive as to not really be worth it unless you absolutely need that extra speed and will shoot wide open a lot. Tests online report both as great performers with the 1.7 having a slight edge overall but only barely. Next fav is the 180/2.8, such a beautiful lens. The 100-300 Vario-Sonnar is one of the sharpest lenses I think I've ever shot but its so big I do not use it that often. The macro 60/2.8 is up there with the best of this type for sure. I also have the 35/2.8 PC which is a true marvel of quality build and workmanship and is a great performer though its expensive and quite big and heavy. Only lens of the Contax Zeiss set I've ever sold was the 80-200, good but not the stand-out the rest have been. And the 50/1.4 when I determined the 1.7 was as good or better. Now I was lucky, I got all of mine mostly back in the late 90's early 2000's for about half what they are going for now (before the digital crowd discovered them once good and cheap adapters were produced) but many are still quite nicely priced. Back then the 50/1.7 could be found for under $100 and the 1.4 for only a tad more. Now the 1.4 is often $300 or more. Another reason I sold it since I had the 1.7 also, no regrets.
     
  10. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,318
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Heh. Even Zeiss suffers from sample variation. My 80-200 is a fabulous lens, sharp and clear and beautiful. It's what's keeping me from buying a Canon 70-200L. Apart from that I'd say the 25 is my favorite and possibly the most frequently used lens that I have in that mount, then the 28-85. I really don't think there's a dog rocket in the bunch.
     
  11. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Thanks for all the info. Can someone please confirm the close focus distance of the f1.7 - I see different figures. I believe the f1.4 focusses much closer? The 85 f2.8 sounds interesting and seems affordable. I just saw some great shots taken with the 180 f2.8 also on Flickr.
     
  12. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

    Messages:
    544
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto ON
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My 85 f2.8 is very sharp. Pretty small and light too.
     
  13. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Thanks Jeff - I will certainly keep an eye out for the 85.
     
  14. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,742
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, M
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I used to have a 25mm Zeiss for my Contax 139. It was very sharp and one of my favorite lenses.
     
  15. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I tried the 25 in M mount Alan and it was superb. If the C/Y mount is similar then it must be great. It's a focal length I love also - 21 is sometimes just too wide...
     
  16. ContaxRTSFundus

    ContaxRTSFundus Subscriber

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2009
    Location:
    Crickhowell,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have owned every Contax Zeiss lens other than the N-Mirotar and the 1000mm Mirotar and was very lucky to also have their 600 f4 Tele-Apotessar. Having been using the camera system since 1977, the only poor lenses (by Zeiss' high standards but acceptable in use to most people) were the original run of the 25mm AE and the 60mm Macro C (the S is superb). The 25mm was found to be soft and was quietly reformulated by Zeiss and the lens has been an excellent performer since the late-numbered AE types. Unusually, the Yashica 24 ML matches the performance of the Zeiss 25 and costs about 65% less; ditto the 55 2.8 ML Macro outperforms the Zeiss 60 Macro C and the 100 Macro is a close match to the Zeiss equivalent. Leaving the exotica to one side, a great starting kit would be the Yashica 24 ML f2.8, the Zeiss 50 1.4 or 1.7 (if you don't need the extra speed, choose the 1.7), Zeiss 135 2.8 (an under-appreciated little gem) and 180 f2.8 which is sharp and fast. You could also buy a Zeiss Mutar (they really have little impact on optical quality) so that you can increase the reach of most of the lenses and would cover-off the gap between the 50 and 135. You might want to think about substituting the 85 2.8 for the 135 2.8 if you are really keen on portraiture (or the 85 1.4 if you could find one at a sensible price!). An alternative approach might be to buy the Zeiss 28-85 lens, which is sharp and pretty free from distortion at both ends, the 50 1.7 and the 135 or 180. Unless the extra stops are vital, with that zoom, you could even leave out the little 1.7 Planar and use the one lens to cover wide-angle to portrait, and then choose a telephoto.
     
  17. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,179
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The one (well, two) downsides to the 28-85 is that A: it's a physical pig of a lens (not as bad as the 35-135 to be sure, but still big and heavy), and B: it's also not cheap.
     
  18. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,318
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Scott, you forgot C: It has an 82mm filter ring. I love mine, but I have to use it without filters. I'm just not ready to invest in a set of 82s.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,179
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Fred- C is a subset of B. There's nothing cheap about that lens :smile:
     
  20. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Thanks everyone. I googled the Yashica 24 - cheapest was over $400! Must be good ;-) I think I have decided on the 50 f1.4 (for the closer focussing), the 135 f2.8 and either the Yashica 24 or Zeiss 28 (whichever I find first at a decent price). Some Ext tubes also. Thanks for all the advice - much appreciated.
     
  21. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,318
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Good luck. I think the Yashica 24s are being snapped up by a predatory ebay reseller and resold at a much higher price. I bought the Zeiss 25 and have never regretted it.
     
  22. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

    Messages:
    544
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto ON
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    +1
     
  23. MikeTime

    MikeTime Member

    Messages:
    65
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The choice really is between 2.8 and 1.4, as Zeiss doesn't really do 2.0 in a lot of focal lengths. So, compact or big? 35 and 85? The 50's are all good, the 1.7 might be even be a fraction better than the 1.4.
    The 25 and the 180 are the only ones (that I have) that I found slightly disappointing. The rest is all great.