Contax AX v Leica R8
I'm looking to buy a 35mm camera and have looked at the Contax AX and LeicaR8 as possible options, which one would you recommend and why ? Thanks in advance for any feedback or advice, much appreciated.
Contax, as they are cheaper, and the zeiss lenses are wicked sharp.
The R8 is a great camera, but expensive for repair, lenses are outrageous.
I'd recommend a Contax RX instead of the AX, but otherwise I'm with Andrew. Lenses are at least the equal of Leica glass, at a fraction of the price. They're also lighter in weight (the Leica lens bodies are I think still substantially brass, as opposed to aluminium in the Contax lenses). But I could be wrong about that - it may only be the older R-series lenses that had brass barrels. I had an extensive Contax setup at one time, with an RX and two 167MT bodies, the 35 f2.8, 50 f1.7, 85 f1.4, 35-70 f3.5, 80-200 f4, and a Sigma 18-35 zoom. I took many wonderful images with that outfit, but the bulk of shooting SLRs when travelling got to me and I switched... to a Contax G2 outfit.
The R8 might ultimately be more reliable (though it had early electronic problems - probably/hopefully taken care of on any working ones today).
About Zeiss vs. Leica lenses, you really can't go wrong with either.
They sometimes/often have different signatures which are largely a matter of personal taste. Grossly generalising, later Leica lenses might be "technically" better while Zeiss often has a "look" I like better.
Used R lenses aren't as exaggeratedly expensive as legend has it (at least in Europe) if you shop and choose carefully.
Leica lenses *are* heavy (even the later ones), so if that's an issue, go for Zeiss.
I use both... :-) Zeiss belongs to my SLR travel kit (Rolleiflex SLR), while Leica R is my main "home" SLR kit.
M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa
Last time I looked in the KEH catalog, R lenses were no more expensive than C/Y lenses, though there were far fewer R lenses available. And while I would dearly love an R8, I have an AX, RX, and RTS III that I'm quite satisfied with. I consider the RX to be one of the finest 35mm SLR ever made, though I use the T90 far more often.
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Having just received an AX in a trade, I must say that I'm impressed with its fit and finish as well as its ease of use.
The extra 10mm of focus extension is great for macro work and the autofocus is a welcomed bonus that Leica can't match. Granted, the AX's autofocus works best in bright light, but manual fine-focusing is very convenient under tough conditions. This is being written many months after the OP's query, but I just felt like adding my two cents.