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Archive 2015 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?
  
 
swldstn
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Looking to pick up a Contax Zeiss Lens with a C/Y mount. Just want to try one of their primes. What would users of these lens recommend. Plan is to adapt it to a Sony A7II. Interested in focal lengths from 18 - 135mm.
Links to any great reviews appreciated as well.

Thanks,

Steve



May 31, 2015 at 05:41 PM
bvphotos
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Take a look at this list.


May 31, 2015 at 05:50 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Best in what sense? sharpness? signature draw? Which focal length are you interested in?

The best 21 is still the C/Y 21 (less LCA than the current Zeiss 21). The 28/2 and 35/1.4 has very unique, three dimensional draw. In the right light, the 35/1.4 can produce very nice color images. The 100/2 is also well-known for its strong 3D depiction of the scene.

But to me, the "best" in term of uniqueness, sharpness and historical value would be the 55/1.2 and 85/1.2 Jahre. The 55/1.2 is the sharpest 50ish 1.2 both WO and stopping down; it beats the Lux 50 ASPH stopping down. The 85/1.2 is a step above that with fully usable landscape shot at f/1.2 (sharp corner-to-corner). However, to realize this potential, you need to shoot them either on film or a sensor with thin sensor filter stack.



May 31, 2015 at 05:57 PM
AmbientMike
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Have read that up to 135, they're good. Past that apparently the lack of apo glass makes them more good than great. Had thought about a 300 at one point but a good but not great photodo.com test seemed to confirm this.

However, the 35-70 is supposedly even sharper than the 35/2.8 (which apparently has less distortion, ) so don't completely overlook the zooms.



May 31, 2015 at 06:07 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


What's your budget?


May 31, 2015 at 06:15 PM
swldstn
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Well I own a lot of glass that covers focal ranges from 16-400mm in Canon, Zeiss, and Sony primes and zooms. I own the 18mm, 21mm and 100mm ZE primes so really don't want to overlap these. I also have the Loxia 50mm f/2 and 35mm f/2 on Sony. I've also owned the ZM 28/2.8, 32/2.0, 50/2.0, 50/1.5, 84/4.0 but am selling those since I sold my Zeiss Ikon and they didn't adapt as well to my Sony A7 family as well as I'd hoped.

Trying to keep the cost of this experiment below $500.




May 31, 2015 at 06:31 PM
Sam_W
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


For under $500 (assuming USD), and so it doesn't really overlap with what you have...

Try the C/Y Makro-Planar 2,8/60 C. The C only does 1:2, but it has really nice quality. And is a more recent design compared to a lot of the C/Y lenses. Though it is rarer. As far as I know, they only ever did a small production run of it, in the 7,4xx,xxx series.

Alternatively, try finding a late serial (read: 8,xxx,xxx) of the C/Y Sonnar 2,8/85. The Sonnar has a different rendering style than the Planar, and it's super sharp from wide-open.

Bonus points if you can get your hands on an MMG that's in the 8,4xx,xxx range, meaning that it was made in Germany in the mid-2000s, just before the agreement with Kyocera ceased.



May 31, 2015 at 06:52 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Hi Steve,

I suggest you try one of these Contax Carl Zeiss lenses,

Distagon T* 28/2.8
Vario-Sonnar T* 35-70/3.4
Sonnar T* 100/3.5

You can check used lens prices in the Lens Price Database,

Lens$db, http://tinyurl.com/jcolwell-lensdb

P.S. here's a recent thread on the "photodo" list that bvphotos referenced in the first reply,

- top twenty list, http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1365600/0#13017400
- prices, http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1365600/1#13018759



May 31, 2015 at 09:34 PM
Mike Ganz
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


The C/Y 35/2.8 Distagon is a very nice lens...sharp and light. I had an exceptional copy, but for some reason or other I sold it and have kicked myself ever since. Ditto the previous comments on the 85/2.8. The C/Y 50/1.7 (Zeiss T*) is also another good one.


May 31, 2015 at 09:57 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


From your list of lenses it doesn't really look like you have many, if any, gaps to fill. Maybe in the 85mm range, maybe a 28 or some fast glass?

The two Contax 2.8/28's seem to be slightly different with the AE softer in the corners (I have both). If you buy a 2.8/28 make sure you buy an MM.

The 1.4/50 might fill a gap and this is not a particularly expensive lens, but very nice IMHO.

Most Contax lenses are very nice and it is hard to put a foot wrong, but a few lenses are less-nice. On that later list I would include the 2.8/45 Tessar (it's a cheap lens that sells for a lot, go figure), as mentioned the 2.8/28 AE but also the 2.8/25 AE (I've never used the later 2.8/25 MM but understand it is an updated design and optically better than the AE). I've owned or used them and have not been satisfied. The 2.8/180 is not too flash either but that's not relevant here.

The 2.8/85 seems a very nice lens and although I've never had one myself this is one I would like to try. It's probably in your price range too.



May 31, 2015 at 10:04 PM
 

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shirozina
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Here's my take on my lenses;
35-70 is better then any of my primes in that range - out and out exceptionally good lens
50 1.7 (MM) is as a bargin.
50mm 1.7 AE - not as good as the MM version.
50mm 1.4 - not sure what all the fuss is about - nothing special at all.
28mm 2.8 MM - very good.
28mm 2.8 AE - not as good in the corners as the MM
35mm 2.8 MM - mediocre (my version)
85mm 2.8 MM - very good but strugging to find a use for it
35mm PC MM - disappointing
40mm 2.8 - poor(due to severe focus shift)









May 31, 2015 at 10:18 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


Interesting to see the comments about a distinction between the AE and MM versions of the Distagon 28/2.8. This agrees with my personal experience of owning one of each, at the same time. The MM had noticeably better corners. OTOH, I haven't noticed this particular distinction coming up much in past threads, nor in the general literature.


May 31, 2015 at 10:31 PM
Abuttolph
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


You can also take a look at images shot with a wide variety of Zeiss lenses, including C/Y at www.zeissimages.com. From the home page, if you click on "Photos" then "lens browser" you can select a specific lense to see images shot with that lens. There is a lot of variability, depending on subject and photographer, but at least you can get an idea of the image quality and rendering.


May 31, 2015 at 10:32 PM
2ndviolinman
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


I've owned the C/Y 25/2.8, 28/2.8 AE, the 35/2.8, 50/1.7, MM, 85/2.8 AE, and the 135/2.8. Of these, the 25 was the weakest, soft corners- I sold it in a week. The 35 was so-so, not bad, nothing special. The 135/2.8 was OK, but I sold it for the 135L, and later bought a Jena 135/3.5 which I actually like better than the CY/2.8, though I never compared them directly.

I'll own the 28/2.8 forever, I'll sell everything before I sell that one. It just sees the world the way I see it, I guess. I sold and re bought the 85/2.8 and will not make that mistake again. The 50/1.7 is just really good, small, light, cheap, with less of a "look" (I tend to shoot it stopped down more than the 28 or 85), and fits between the other two (plus the Jena 135) for a very good, small, light inexpensive set of lenses.

I've never owned any of the fast C/Y lenses.



Jun 01, 2015 at 01:30 AM
banpreso
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


i have a bunch of C/Y lenses, i think the 28mm f2 and 35mm f1.4 are the best in class for the focal length. i think they are must haves for building an ultimate SLR manual focus lens set (either C/Y or ZF versions of these lenses). they are relatively expensive and heavy, but the performance is really impressive and there aren't too many other options on the market that comes close to the rendering.

for the 50mm range i'd look to the minolta 58 1.2, canon FD 50L, or FL 55 1.2 instead.

for 85mm ish i'd look for leica R 90mm summicron or FD 85L

that's just my personal preference, i like lenses that are sharp wide open and has smooth bokeh. the bokeh for the C/Y 50mm isn't the best. the bokeh of the 85s also get beat out by the respective Canon and Leica IMO.





Jun 01, 2015 at 03:30 AM
rico
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


With a $500 budget, the eternal lenses are the D28/2.8 and S100/3.5. They have a rendition I would call serene: sharp, excellent blur, not too contrasty. I will be buried with these primes. For upmarket choices, I have grown weary of gull-wing distortion, but the D21 is certainly a history-making UWA. I will instead push the P100 as an eternal lens for its awesome handling, bokeh, and linear correction. For great performance and lots of fun, I must mention the F-Distagon 16 which I have only just attached:



As noted earlier, the P50/1.4 has issues: nasty b/g blur wide open and serious linear distortion. It is certainly very sharp and well built. At standard FLs, the better choices are the 60/2.8 (S-Planar, Makro-Planar, Makro-Planar C are optically identical), or the Yashica 50/1.4 ML. The Yashica barely trails its P50 cousin in the corners, but has buttery bokeh from wide open, and has negligible distortion. One image from each:





(All shot on A7ii w/Novoflex adapter.)



Jun 01, 2015 at 05:49 AM
tigerbengal
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


interesting opinions about the c/y lenses....from my personal experience
35-70 f3.5 Zoom the best zoom in this range period, 3d rendering strong, zeiss signature.
But if you prefer primes, 28 f2 MM is a really good one, expensive
35 f1.4 MM my favorite, color, signature and 3d strong, expensive lens
100 f2 MM another excellent lens, with almost no CA, 3d strong, expensive
50 f1.7 mm sharp lens a bargain, too small for my taste
I haven't tried 50 f1.4 or 85 f1.4 (bought the 100 f2 instead)
I just ordered the 80-200 f4, haven't tried yet, no comments for it

opinions about 135 f2.8 ( I know 135 f2 is a stellar but too expensive for me)
what about 180 f2.8?

wish that my camera was at least 24mp...

sony a7s and Contax 35 f1.4





sony a7s with contax 35 f1.4







sony a7s with contax 35 f1.4







sony a7s with contax 35 f1.4




Jun 01, 2015 at 05:52 AM
sceptic
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


The one lens I kick myself for selling is the Distagon 28/2.8, it really was spectacular. The 50/1.7 is also a no-brainer (if you´re ok with full-stop increments in aperture values).


Jun 01, 2015 at 07:25 AM
shirozina
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


jcolwell wrote:
Interesting to see the comments about a distinction between the AE and MM versions of the Distagon 28/2.8. This agrees with my personal experience of owning one of each, at the same time. The MM had noticeably better corners. OTOH, I haven't noticed this particular distinction coming up much in past threads, nor in the general literature.

Contax changed the optical formula - I've read about it several times on various forums. The very far corners are still soft on the MM version but it's pushed further out than the AE version. Few 28mm lenses of any price are this good and it needs something like the Leica R 28mm ROM V2 to better it at significantly more money ( 5x the price) - if you can even find one for sale.




Jun 01, 2015 at 07:37 AM
JohnJ
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Contax/Yashica Lenses - Which are the best?


rico wrote:
.... The Yashica (ML 1.4) barely trails its P50 cousin in the corners, but has buttery bokeh from wide open...


I don't agree with this at all. In my own experience the Yashica's bokeh is certainly not softer than the Contax, they are about the same.

When I compared the Contax 1.4/50 with an ML 1.4/50 with identical images/composition I found that they had almost equal rendering/bokeh however the Yashica was slightly softer at all apertures, never reaching the sharpness of the Contax (although to be fair I really wasn't testing sharpness anyway). I've also seen lots of purple fringing with the ML but not the Contax although I've not compared them in identical circumstances. I don't think the ML has any advantages over the Contax except price.

The Contax 1.4/50 is not particularly special, it's reasonably priced and performs very well. There are lots of other fast 50's that do that and generally there is not too much difference between them. Here we split hairs, that's what this forum is for.

A couple from the 1.4/50 Contax at F1.4

http://photocornucopia.com/images/Lenses/Contax/50/IMG_3734_C501p4_1p4_1000.jpg

http://photocornucopia.com/images/Lenses/Contax/50/IMG_3125.jpg

shirozina wrote:
Contax changed the optical formula - I've read about it several times on various forums...


Unfortunately that's probably the only place you will read about it because it doesn't seem to be documented by Zeiss/Contax.

shirozina wrote:
...Few 28mm lenses of any price are this good and it needs something like the Leica R 28mm ROM V2 to better it at significantly more money ( 5x the price) - if you can even find one for sale.


I have the Leica R 28mm ROM V2 and I must admit I don't use it very much as I find the 2.8/28 MM close enough. I have compared them but I honestly don't remember the Leica being much better. They are both excellent. I should sell the Leica!

The Contax 2/135 has very nice bokeh, very soft yet it's sharp even wide open. It's more than $500 though.

Pano (9 shot) from a Contax 2/135 at F2

http://photocornucopia.com/images/Lenses/Contax/135/IMG_8140_Con135_2F0a.jpg

Contax 2/135 at F2

http://photocornucopia.com/images/Lenses/Contax/135/IMG_8171.jpg



Jun 01, 2015 at 10:25 AM
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