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  1. #1

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    Contax Aria or NX ?

    Hello, I am considering a travel 35mm slr. There are many options - one of them would be Contax Aria with 25/2.8, 35/2.8 and 85/2.8, or just the (unfortunately heavy, but very good) 28-85 zoom. So far so good.

    However I just realize that there is a rather forgotten Contax N system - few lenses and 2 cameras. But what got my attraction is the 24-85/3.5-4.5 zoom which is reportedly very good and it would cover my needs for the purpose intended. The 70-200/3.5-4.5 sounds interesting too.

    Aria with 25, 35 & 85 weights as much as NX with 24-85 and covers the same range, but the latter does not need to change lenses. The former is faster and is lighter in hand when shooting. With both systems one may add a 50/1.4 for low light.

    So - here I am with a few questions:

    1) How does the Aria and NX cameras compare from the user point of view? It seems that Aria has nicer (larger) viewfinder ...

    2) Would it be possible (with a help of adapter or permanent conversion) to mount the N 24-85 lens on the Aria? Generally speaking conversion of N mount to C/Y mount. That would be a great combination.

    3) How is the viewfinder & focusing screen of the NX? I would be fine with AF, but how does the system feels when focusing manually?

    4) and obligatory question - what would be your choice from the two? Why?

    thanks ..

  2. #2
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    Before I would consider buying Contax/Yashica equipment I would think it wise do some research into the availability of service facilities and spare parts .
    Ben

  3. #3
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    I also use a long "dead" system with Zeiss lenses (Rolleiflex) and don't have sleepless nights over spare parts.
    Just don't spend too much on a body (probably a reason not to get the NX, as it's quite rare)...


    About the 25mm: avoid earlier versions (about pre-1985) as they use a different optical scheme and are quite soft. You might still find a poor later 25 sample, but when good is quite good.
    You might consider the 18mm instead. Lovely look and more of a difference compared to the 35mm (the 25mm is effectively a 26mm).

    My own Rollei light travel kit is the 18mm plus the 35 & 85 f/2.8.
    Apparently the latter two are optically slightly different in the C/Y version, but at least the ones I have are wonderful and small lenses.
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I would go for the Aria, because there are so many more lenses and accessories available for the C/Y manual focus system, but if you can get your hands on both of them, give them a try in person before buying. To me, the Aria was too petite for my hands - I was used to the 167MT with the AA battery grip, and found at least one finger dangling off the bottom of the Aria which was uncomfortable for me. I never used an NX, so I can't say what they would feel like. Another option for the Aria would be a two-lens set-up: if memory serves, they did sell a 28-70 zoom that was compact and light weight, intended to go with the Aria, and then add the 85 f2.8.

  5. #5

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    Thanks.

    The point about servicing is indeed valid, but I somehow learned to live with using nearly exclusively dead systems, so I would take the risk. After all - there are very few non-dead systems in film photography out there.

    - Rol_lei_nut -
    You mention that I should avoid the early 25/2.8 models - do you know approximately which serial numbers would that be?

    - TheFlyingCamera -
    I am aware of the lightweight zoom (28-70) which was introduced for the Aria, but reportedly its performance does not match the heavier and faster 28-85.

    I have checked the prices, weights and availability. Indeed the "N" system is not too plentiful, but both NX and 24-85 N can be found for about 350 Euro each. Not cheap but somegthing I would consider acceptable. Aria and 28-85 can be had for about 150 and 450 respectively what makes them comparable.

    For the camera body I would probably prefer the Aria, for the lens the N 24-85 as it goes wider and is lither - that would be the perfect combination - if it would be possible .. (is it?)

    So my further questions would be:

    4) How does Aria "feels" with the rather heavy 28-85 zoom? I have read that it does not balances too well, but how "usable" it is?

    5) Is there anybody out there who has experience with the NX and/or 24-85 N ?

    2) Back to the second question - any idea about the possible conversion of N mount to C/Y mount? I am really interested about that.

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Yes, the 28-85 zoom in the C/Y mount is a real pig - very heavy lens, and it barely balances with an RX or RTS III.

    The lens mounts are pretty well incompatible. For one thing, the aperture control on the N/NX lenses is electronic, whereas on the C/Y lenses it's mechanical. Also, the Flange-to-Focal-Plane distance on the N lenses is greater than on the C/Y lenses, so you'd have to have a machinist make a mount adapter.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    The lens mounts are pretty well incompatible. For one thing, the aperture control on the N/NX lenses is electronic, whereas on the C/Y lenses it's mechanical. Also, the Flange-to-Focal-Plane distance on the N lenses is greater than on the C/Y lenses, so you'd have to have a machinist make a mount adapter.
    Thanks - that is a start. But this would mean that some kind of C/Y-to-N adapter could be used and removing the N mount from the lens would probably not be necessary. The difference in control would most probably mean only stopped-down metering I guess ...

  8. #8
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I don't think it would work - you'd have to always shoot wide open, as the aperture control is electromagnetic. There would be nothing to tell the lens that the shutter is about to fire, triggering the stop-down.

  9. #9
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Personally for travel I'd go rangefinder for compactness and smaller fast lenses. But the Contax SLR C/Y lenses are awesome (I have the 35/2.8 PC, 50/1.7, 60/2.8 MACRO, 85/1.4, and the 100-300/4.5-5.6). With the C/Y manual focus lenses you can use the lenses on digital cameras with adapters later (like the Sony NEX), not sure about the N-series stuff. Aria is nice and small and lightweight. Frankly I do not like it (too plasticky feeling and too light) much preferring my RX and RTS. If you're thinking almost pure mechanical consider a Yashica SLR body for real savings.

    And that's some pretty slow glass you're talking about. I'm sure that's for weight and cost but if you plan any low lighting shooting at dusk or even early evening with street lighting unless you're shooting fast film you'll be forced to hand-hold at 1/15th or less, which can work in a pinch for RF but you'll get soft shots otherwise. Personally I learned the hard way about carrying slow glass when traveling too often wishing I had just one or two more stops and ending up with some soft images as a result. I'd drop one lens and carry two faster ones at either end than carry three slow ones. But that's just me.

    -----------------
    Richard S.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    I don't think it would work - you'd have to always shoot wide open, as the aperture control is electromagnetic. There would be nothing to tell the lens that the shutter is about to fire, triggering the stop-down.
    I see - I guess you are right. I have checked the webpage of conurus - guys that actually convert the N series contax lenses to Canon EOS while preserving the AF. It costs about $550 for the 24-85. And that is already developed product they offer. So even if possible I would guess it would not be economically feasible.

    - rich815 -
    You are right about the slowness of the lenses selected (though I would probably add a 50/1.4 to the setup for exactly that purpose), as well as about the usability of the rangefinder. In fact - I have used Bessa R3A in the past and use Mamiya 6 today (speak about slow lenses ). But I just recently used Minolta 7 and it was so nice and fast to use and focus - I just enjoyed using the SLR. I would also like to get some nice matrix metering (one of the plus points for Aria). I plan to shoot mostly slides and present them with projector - so the results should look 'out of the box'.
    Last edited by Matus Kalisky; 06-14-2011 at 01:54 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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