Thread: Zeiss Contax vs. ZE?

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  1. #1 Zeiss Contax vs. ZE? 
    Senior Member Ryan Chapman's Avatar
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    Thoughts? Do the Contax lenses have any problems in the cinema world? Namely with breathing and pulling focus. Also, does anyone have any Scarlet footage with Contax lenses?
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Joseph Coleman's Avatar
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  3. #3  
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    Im still waiting for my Scarlet, but the ZE lenses (to me) is one of those few lenses I absolutely love and can still afford to own.
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  4. #4  
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    I used to own a set of Contax lenses... I really don't have any say in the ZE lenses... But I was very dissatisfied with the Contax's. I felt the focus ring was not smooth. I did not like the fact that the iris ring had stop in it ( I know those can be removed... I didn't have it done though ). Felt the lenses weren't that clean either. Felt it was hard to get a "good" focus off of them.

    Hope this helps!
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  5. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McGrew View Post
    I used to own a set of Contax lenses... I really don't have any say in the ZE lenses... But I was very dissatisfied with the Contax's. I felt the focus ring was not smooth. I did not like the fact that the iris ring had stop in it ( I know those can be removed... I didn't have it done though ). Felt the lenses weren't that clean either. Felt it was hard to get a "good" focus off of them. Hope this helps!
    I've owned a full set of Contax primes for over a year, and never had any of the issues you mentioned. They are just like ZF/ZEs in terms of build and focus. They are similar in every way to their ZE/ZF cousins except that the designs are one generation older. They stopped going into production in 2005. So they are not that old. The coatings are the older T coating. Some say they flare easier then the new coating, but the older coating is reputed to be less contrasty, possibly less digital than the ZF/ZEs.

    All my lenses focus silky smooth, they are incredibly easy to focus with, and deliver an astounding picture. All the DP's that have used my lenses have dug them.

    Obviously, these are still lenses. Like any still lens, whether it be a Leica-R, Contax, ZF, ZE, Nikkor, etc, to get the best out of its manual focus/iris you should get it cinemodded (declicked, focus ring, 80mm front), otherwise it will fail compared to the cinema lenses you are used to.
    Last edited by Nick Morrison; 02-20-2012 at 09:33 PM.
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  6. #6  
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    I own a mixed set of Contax and ZE's (Contax: 28-85/3.3, 135/2.8, ZE: 50/1.4, 85/1.4) they are both amazing build and performance. I dont have my Scarlet yet, so I havent tested them on that, but I use them on my 5D for shooting all the time and I prefer them for video much more than any other "still" lens I have come across. I use them more than my Canon L series lenses. But obviously, if you have the cash, go cine glass.
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  7. #7  
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    Same here , I own Contax zeiss lenses , never used them on a Scarlet yet but they are great built very very smooth and long focus ring (sometimes too long) and picture wise they are ver very good .
    They are full format lenses so cropped at 1,6 I would think they are close to perfect.
    Some say that they are just as good as the new ZF or ZE zeiss lenses which are the same as the Cine primes. I don't think so myself, but for the price they are great.
    You can also use Takumar that are very good too (well built and very smooth) and more contrasty.

    I have
    Contax Zeiss 28mm F2.0 Distagon (surname is "Hollywood")
    Contax Zeiss 50mm F1.7 Planar
    Contax Zeiss 85mm F2.8 Sonnar

    Down side is that you don't get an ultra wide lenses choice, they are either very expensive or impossible to find.
    Therefore on my future Scarlet I would not think that my set of contax zeiss to be complete.

    here you can see a list of old Zeiss
    http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/Contax_db.html

    I wouldn't go for older "Jenna" lens , I don't think they are as good
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandre Arch View Post
    Some say that they are just as good as the new ZF or ZE zeiss lenses which are the same as the Cine primes. I don't think so myself, but for the price they are great.

    Down side is that you don't get an ultra wide lenses choice, they are either very expensive or impossible to find.
    Therefore on my future Scarlet I would not think that my set of contax zeiss to be complete.

    here you can see a list of old Zeiss
    http://www.pebbleplace.com/Personal/Contax_db.html

    I wouldn't go for older "Jenna" lens , I don't think they are as good
    I'm not sure if the ZE/ZF lenses are "better". The coatings are newer, and the designs one generation newer. The CP2's have 14 blade irises, so they are not exactly the same as ZF/ZE. Contax glass represents the best that Zeiss could do 10 years ago. Some of the improvements they've done in the ZF/ZE have come out better, others not so much. Many of the Contax primes still outresolve many other primes. They don't look exactly like ZF's either, its the older T coating. And yes, its hard to build a set, as some of the rare gems are halla expensive.

    The "Jena" lenses are Zeiss lenses made in Eastern Europe, and have nothing to do with Contax. If they are labeled Jena, they are made in the Eastern German plant that Zeiss vacated as the Russians were closing in on Berlin. That plant kept pumping out prewar Zeiss designs for the next 50 years, with some modifications. Some Jena lenses are not so great, but I would dismiss them all. Some are fantastic.
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  9. #9  
    All the footage we've shot since getting our Scarlet has been with Contax primes. We love them.

    Check out the footage and stills here:

    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthr...erth-Australia

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  10. #10  
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    I owned a couple contax zeiss lenses for a while. I was generally happy with the mechanics and build quality and even the performance, quite good for still lenses generally. What I couldn't get over was the buzzsaw aperture shape, it got annoying to see in my shots so I had to get rid of them since I am picky about that sort of thing. I didn't put them on a RED though, at the time I mostly used them on a 5DMK2. If you can get over aperture blades, they are definitely worth considering over ZE/ZF in my opinion, but if possible I would test for yourself if you really want to see, since still lenses may vary quite a bit in their quality, especially older used ones like contax zeiss.
    Noah Yuan-Vogel | noahyv.com
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