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Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6
  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6
I've been using the Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6 lens as my main landscape telephoto for a while. I find it to be impressive with high resolution, micro-contrast and gorgeous colors. I rivals many top of the line primes on this range.
It's optimized for the wider range but stopped down it's very good even at 300mm..

I've tested it against Sony's 100-300 G and it was noticeably better. (I'd say much better). How does it compare to the mighty 100-400 GM though? It's a question I want to answer. Should I trade my Contax for the GM and make my bag 495g heavier?











I put them to the test at infinity distance. Both lenses are well centered at 100mm and 300mm.
Focusing was the best of 3 for both lenses at each focal length. (100mm, 200mm, 300mm and 400mm).

**LR's "Remove chromatic aberrations" was enabled for both lenses at all focal lengths.

First, Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 100mm @ f/4.5 (wide-open)

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Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM: B&H Photo | Adorama ($2499)

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100mm: Center at f/4.5






100mm: Mid-zone at f/4.5






100mm: Extreme-edge at f/4.6




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:36 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 100mm @f/5.6




100mm: Center at f/5.6






100mm: Mid-zone at f/5.6






100mm: Extreme-edge at f/5.6




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:40 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 100mm @f/8




100mm: Center at f/8






100mm: Mid-zone at f/8






100mm: Extreme-edge at f/8




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:42 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 200mm @f/5.6




200mm: Center at f/5.6






200mm: Mid-zone at f/5.6






200mm: Extreme-edge at f/5.6




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:44 AM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 200mm @f/8




200mm: Center at f/8






200mm: Mid-zone at f/8






200mm: Extreme-edge at f/8




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:45 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 300mm @f/5.6




300mm: Center at f/5.6






300mm: Mid-zone at f/5.6






300mm: Extreme-edge at f/5.6




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:46 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Sony 100-400 GM vs Contax 100-300 at 300mm @f/8




300mm: Center at f/8






300mm: Mid-zone at f/8






300mm: Extreme-edge at f/8




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:47 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


The Contax zoom range ends here.

Let's see how the 100-400 GM did at 400mm @f/5.6 and f/8 side by side




100-400 GM @400mm: Center at f/5.6 vs f/8






100-400 GM @400mm: Mid-zone at f/5.6 vs f/8






100-400 GM @400mm: Extreme Edge at f/5.6 vs f/8




Jul 31, 2017 at 12:50 AM
DavidBM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Hmm. At 200 the C/Y appears to be still the go at f5.6 by a long way at!
At 100 the difference seems to be mainly contrast - maybe that could fix in post?

Most reports on the GM say it's best at the extremes and worst 200-300 - but we know from Roger's testing of zooms that where they are best is as much a function of variation as it is of differences in the underlying design.

Edit: at 300 they look close again, and 400 looks pretty good to me - I doubt if any of the classic 5.6/400 primes are better. (I had the Canon 5.6/400 L once)

Edited on Jul 31, 2017 at 01:05 AM · View previous versions



Jul 31, 2017 at 12:51 AM
millsart
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


I'd give the nod to the 100-300, on optics alone, though certainly some advantages to the 100-400, which still puts in a pretty respectable showing for a tele-zoom.

Might be worth trying the comparison earlier in the day though as there is a fair bit of atmospheric distortion present which may be something of a limiting factor



Jul 31, 2017 at 12:57 AM
 

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scrappydog
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


200mm is the weak point for the Sony. The C/Y has more contrast and slightly better color (more magenta), but more CA. Both are very good. If you have an action sequence, the C/Y will be worthless and the Sony will shine. Thanks for posting these, Fred.


Jul 31, 2017 at 01:01 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


My commentary on the above crops:

In general, I still prefer the rich colors my images have through the Contax 100-300 glass. Itís subjective, but to me, color and micro-contrast is the Zeissí strength. The Contax does not seem to improve when stopping down in any area of the frame, performing best wide-open at all focal lengths. That's surprising.

Resolution and contrast are similar but I can easily see higher resolution and micro-contrast in most Contax 1:1 crops up to 200mm. At 300mm, the advantage goes to the GM, especially at mid and corner areas. Itís not a big difference but itís there at 1:1.

Here is what I see. Let me know if you agree with me:

@ 100mm f/4.5:

The Zeiss is noticeably better at center. At mid-field they are very similar and the Zeiss zoom takes the lead towards the corners again.

@ 100mm f/5.6:

The GM zoom improves at center but Iíd still give a small lead to the Zeiss. At mid field, they remain similar and the edges go to Zeiss, although the GM improved greatly from wide-open.

@ 100mm f/8:

The Zeiss still slightly better at center but at mid-zone and edges, they are very similar now.

@ 200mm f/5.6:

Similar at center, perhaps GM very slightly better. At mid-field, the Zeiss does slightly better but at the edges, the Zeiss wins big. Note: My GM zoom is NOT decentered at 200mm. All corners look very similar.

@ 200mm f/8:

The Zeiss zoom is slightly better at center and mid-field and considerably better towards the edges.

@ 300mm f/5.6:

I can see that the Contax does very slightly better at center. At mid-field, the GM jumps ahead and at the edges, it's still better.

@ 300mm f/8:

Similar at center, mid-field and edges! I would still give the edge to the GM for mid and edges.

@ 400mm f/5.6 vs f/8 for the 100-400 GM:

There is a nice improvement everywhere in the frame for the GM going from wide-open to f/6.3 and f/8 (shown here)



Jul 31, 2017 at 01:09 AM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


The older Contax zoom lens holds its own, I would say. Surprise, surprise. Are you going to replace yours? Maybe there is something not quite right with your first copy... Who knows.

Fred, a more apple to apple comparison would be the GM vs. Canon Mark II. Both lenses have the same FL and aperture range.

Edited on Jul 31, 2017 at 01:11 AM · View previous versions



Jul 31, 2017 at 01:10 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


millsart wrote:
I'd give the nod to the 100-300, on optics alone, though certainly some advantages to the 100-400, which still puts in a pretty respectable showing for a tele-zoom.

Might be worth trying the comparison earlier in the day though as there is a fair bit of atmospheric distortion present which may be something of a limiting factor


I agree. That was later in the afternoon but it's hot and hazy in San Clemente. At least the same atmospheric condition was present for both lenses. I'm getting marine layer in the morning so no luck for morning shooting.



Jul 31, 2017 at 01:10 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


scrappydog wrote:
200mm is the weak point for the Sony. The C/Y has more contrast and slightly better color (more magenta), but more CA. Both are very good. If you have an action sequence, the C/Y will be worthless and the Sony will shine. Thanks for posting these, Fred.


Agree on CA. I forgot to mention but the GM zoom is better corrected for CA aberration, especially from 200mm and up.



Jul 31, 2017 at 01:12 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


AGeoJO wrote:
The older Contax zoom lens holds its own, I would say. Surprise, surprise. Are you going to replace yours? Maybe there is something not quite right with your first copy... Who knows.

Fred, a more apple to apple comparison would be the GM vs. Canon Mark II. Both lenses have the same FL and aperture range.


I am not going to replace my Contax for landscapes. It's about 500g lighter with Leitax adapter and much more compact. I wasn't expecting the GM to do much better because I know how good this Zeiss is. Finally there is a telephoto zoom that challenges it.

My 100-400 GM is fine. I am just very picky about focusing (if you read about my issues with it in another thread). It's nicely centered and that's always rare in a zoom. I didn't have the same experience with the 70-200 GM.



Jul 31, 2017 at 01:16 AM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Fred Miranda wrote:
I am not going to replace my Contax for landscapes. It's about 450g lighter with adapter and much more compact. I wasn't expecting the GM to do much better because I know how good this Zeiss is.

My 100-400 GM is fine. I am just very picky about focusing (if you read about my issues with it in another thread). It's perfectly centered and that's always rare in a zoom. I didn't have the same experience with the 70-200 GM.



Somehow, I was expecting the GM to perform better than the Contax, to be honest with you. Maybe not by a lot but still it should be able to improve the performance of a zoom lens from yesteryear. With that said, I realize that the FL range of the Contax is more limited.



Jul 31, 2017 at 01:23 AM
Charlie N
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


I'de love to own the GM over CY, except for the weight.... I'm running out of patience on the weight of the CY as is....


Jul 31, 2017 at 02:14 AM
kdrk888
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


Interesting comparison Fred. I remember Ronny Olson uses the CY too. Now I am intrigued. I want something lightweight for travel. I have the Sony 70-200 F4 but probably the CY is better.

Are there different versions of the CY? What adapters do I need?

Many thanks,


Douglas

Edited on Jul 31, 2017 at 02:47 AM · View previous versions



Jul 31, 2017 at 02:28 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Sony FE 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM vs Contax 100-300/4.5-5.6


I analyzed this further:

CENTER:
At 100mm, 200mm and 300mm wide open, the Zeiss is slighly better and already at its best. However, they seem to be similar at f/5.6 and f/8 because the GM catches up.

MID-ZONE:
They are very similar at 100mm and 200mm wide open. However, at 300mm f/5.6, the GM is noticeably better and that advantage remains at f/8.

EXTREME EDGES:
The Zeiss is better at 100mm and 200mm wide-open but the GM zoom is slightly better at 300mm. Stopped down to f/8, 100mm and 300mm become similar with more visible CA for the Zeiss. At 200mm, the Zeiss advantage remains even at f/8.

So, to summarize, the Zeiss is exceptional from 100-250mm, except for the visible CA at the long end.
The GM zoom competes well at 100mm at f/5.6. At 200mm, it canít keep up with Zeiss at the edges. However, at 300mm, the GM becomes better at mid-zone and slightly better at the edges.

It's worth mentioning that the GM improves one stop down and the Zeiss already peaks wide open in all areas of the frame and all focal lengths.



Jul 31, 2017 at 02:41 AM
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