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  1. #11  
    Senior Member Tom Greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Morrison View Post
    As many of you know...I have been a strong proponent of Contax Glass on REDUSER for a while now. I get asked lots of questions. So I figured I would write up a little CONTAX SURVIVAL GUIDE that tries to answer them all at once...

    Nick, this is a fantastic compilation of information...thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with all of us on RU! Without a doubt, you have been a tremendous resource for me as I built my own set of Contax. Glad to see that the interest is building...
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  2. #12  
    Senior Member Nick Morrison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Pasquariello View Post
    SUPER thanks for this guide.

    Just went and checked what I have:

    50/1.7 SN: 6470215
    35/2.8 SN: 7411738
    50/1.4 SN: 15176908

    The latter two have the LAST NUMBER on the aperture ring in Green instead of white. But there is no Green Dot anywhere. All three lenses say Made in Japan. And I got some Ninja Star bokeh (not pointy though; take the points and file them down flat. So the aperture blades definitely aren't lining up perfectly, but they aren't creating points either) on the 35. Or it may have been the 50 1.4. But it wasn't the 1.7, because I didn't get that lens until after the shoot where I saw the bokeh effect.

    I bought the 1.7 because the price was too good to pass up; what I really need is a wider lens, but lack the funding at the moment. I haven't done enough shooting yet to really compare and contrast the 1.4 and the 1.7. Nor have I done enough shooting to comment confidently on the quality of flaring or contrast on any of them.

    Still, having read everything you've written up (which, again, SUPER helpful), given the serial numbers and the lack of any green dots, I still don't know if I have AE or MM. And the serial number on the 50 1.4 seems incredibly high, no?
    The "green dots" is a misnomer. I meant the last number on the aperture ring is green. The first catch of the day!

    By the serial numbers alone, the 35 2.8 and 50 1.4 are DEF MM's. That 1.4 serial number is out of control HIGH. It was probably made RIGHT BEFORE THE TRANSITION TO ZF/ZE lenses. Super Cool! It would be really interesting to compare that to an early ZF 50 1.4 to see how much the T* coating evolved. Did it really change from Contax to ZF/ZE? Or has the T* coating just been CONSTANTLY UPDATING. If your 1.4 is very similar to the ZF/ZE, then we'll know the coatings have been evolving organically. If there is a BIG DIFFERENCE, then we'll know categorically that Zeiss changed their special sauce when they went to ZF/ZE.

    Your 1.7 is almost certainly an AE, and will have the Ninja start at F2 and 2.8 for sure. I have an AE 1.7 in that exact same range.
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  3. #13  
    Senior Member Nick Pasquariello's Avatar
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    I'm not that far from NYC, and head down every so often. If you want to get in the same room and do a test to compare the 50/1.4 to a ZE/ZF, I'd be more than willing; just shoot me a line.
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  4. #14  
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    Great write up.

    How much worse is the Yashica ML in your opinion? And do you think the coatings match the Contax. I have several of the ML lenses and I find them to be remarkably good quality but only had a Planner 50 1.7 to compare it to, which I've since sold.
    Jimmy Gilmore
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  5. #15  
    Senior Member Shervin Mandgaryan's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
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    I had a feeling Nick was up to making a guide like this. Expect there to be bidding wars on eBay now, the gates of CONTAX HELL have been unleashed. :) Thanks buddy.

    From what I've found, eBay is definitely a reliable source of getting cheap Contax glass... I've gotten some incredible deals on there so far, but it's definitely a crap shoot. You'd have to troll the Contax listings for a few months to put a perfect set of lenses together.

    Glad I got my entire set. 28/2, 28/2.8, 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4 & 135/2.8. Might get them fully rehoused, or just do a cine-mod, we'll see. I might outgrow them faster than I think. Still out hunting for the 21/2.8 and the 100 Makro.

    PS: I went all MMJ, except a few lenses I own that you can't find MMJ of. Hate the ninja star BS on the older glass and I like that somewhat punchy look of current ZE/ZF glass. The flare's don't really bug me, nor would I have gotten AE lenses specifically for the flares.
    Last edited by Shervin Mandgaryan; 12-28-2012 at 09:04 PM.
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  6. #16  
    Senior Member Lliam Worthington's Avatar
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    Brilliant job Nick. Really. Informative and equally hilarious in parts :) I'm sure it will prove a resource for many many people over the years. Well done mate. Though I have to say, until you put in a lens review on each lens, I think you will continue to be fairly regularly PM'd :)) Though I'm sure that info is pretty well covered actually if you read through your post history :)

    " it’s a lot like the Cooke 8-blade star you see in the back of every True Blood “Merlots” shot"

    Uh! Have noted and wondered at that many times! Even googled it but couldn't find any info. Never shot with Cooke's so thanks for solving that.

    Have a couple of possibly helpful thoughts on your magnificent guide, but please feel free to ignore.

    *Maybe a brief note to your Cinema "mechanics and qualities" noting that as you'd expect of Zeiss, the overall build quality is superb. (Probably the 50 1.7 the most notable exception) I think in this day and age it can be more relevant than a few people might realise. I mean I love my 11-16 Tokina, but in a fist fight with a Contax... And is probably the main criticisms I've heard of the Rokinon cine primes for example... One of the things I love most about buying lenses is that they don't easily become redundant. So investing in lenses makes sense, and investing in lenses with great build quality makes even more sense. I think this is overlooked by many new and emerging shooters who probably aren't thinking realistically about ten years + from now, building sets that still perform brilliantly and potential resale value...

    * You reference it a few times, so maybe a short section on Cine Mod? The what and why. Some people seem to think you "need" to cine mod... which they may. But may not, and should not see investing in Contax as also the expense of always "needing" to cine mod. A shout out to RP lens as well as Duclos would be good too.

    Again, amazing job mate.

    Happy new year to you and yours,


    Last edited by Lliam Worthington; 12-28-2012 at 09:56 PM.
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  7. #17  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Los Angeles
    Nice write up Nick!

    Here's a list of of the full names of Contax lenses that are easy to adapt to EF.

    15mm F3.5 Distagon
    16mm F2.8 Distagon-F (Fisheye)
    18mm F4.0 Distagon
    21mm F2.8 Distagon
    25mm F2.8 Distagon
    28mm F2.0 Distagon
    28mm F2.8 Distagon
    35mm F1.4 Distagon
    35mm F2.8 Distagon
    35mm F2.8 Distagon PC
    45mm F2.8 Tessar
    50mm F1.4 Planar
    50mm F1.7 Planar
    55mm F1.2 Planar Anniversary
    60mm F2.8 Makro Planar-S (1:1 Macro)
    60mm F2.8 Makro Planar-C (1:2 Macro)
    85mm F1.2 Planar Anniversary
    85mm F1.4 Planar
    85mm F2.8 Sonnar
    100mm F2.0 Planar
    100mm F2.8 Planar-Makro (1:1 Macro)
    100mm F4.0 Planar-Makro (1:1 Macro)
    100mm F3.5 Sonnar
    135mm F2.0 Planar
    135mm F2.8 Sonnar
    135mm F3.5 Sonnar
    180mm F2.8 Sonnar
    200mm F2.0 APO-Sonnar
    200mm F3.5 Tele-Tessar
    200mm F4.0 Tele-Tessar
    300mm F2.8 Tele Apotessar
    300mm F4.0 Tele-Tessar
    500mm F5.6 Tele Apotessar
    500mm F4.5 Mirotar
    500mm F8.0 Mirotar
    600mm F4.0 Tele Apotessar
    800mm F8.0 Tele Apotessar
    1000mm F5.6 Mirotar

    28-70mm F3.5-F4.5 Vario Sonnar
    28-85mm F3.3-F4.0 Vario Sonnar
    35-70mm F3.4 Vario Sonnar
    33-135mm F3.3-F4.5 Vario Sonnar
    40-80mm F3.5 Vario Sonnar
    70-210mm F3.5 Vario Sonnar
    80-200mm F4 Vario Sonnar
    100-300mm F4.5-F5.6 Vario Sonnar

    I'll have to send an update to Pebble Place:

    Their list does have accurate MM/AE info for you purchasing needs.
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  8. #18  
    One thing I want to mention here is that I have found the new 50/1.4 ZE and ZF's to be MUCH softer wide open than my Contax 50/1.4. No comparison. So not everything has gotten better over time. I have no idea why this is so and why they continue to sell this dog which takes until at least 2.8 to get reasonably sharp. The 50 should be among the easiest to get right because the optical path is among the simplest.

    As I have been in the market for a set of CP.2's this is really a pain. The standard 50 1.4 and 2.1's are the same poor lens and paying 4700 USD for the "superspeed" version is crazy. So the only other choice is the 50 macro T2,1 which is grotesquely oversized to the point where the huge barrel actually gets in the way of the close focusing capacity of the lens! Insane.

    To use your own terminology, when it comes to the 50mm I wish Zeiss would wake the fuck up as well.
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  9. #19  
    Senior Member Scott Miller's Avatar
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    Carlsbad, Ca - San Diego/OC
    What an amazing amount of learningand research condensed and shared....

    thank you very much! I had a Zeiss 70-210 and loved it...
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  10. #20  
    REDuser Sponsor Gunleik Groven's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
    Thanks Nick!

    Great stuff

    Appreachiate it a lot!
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