Contax C/Y - EOS adapter in practice

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by jim_rais, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. A while ago I remembered Stuart K. alerted me of the existence of Contax C/Y - Canon EOS adapter to "drag" the superb Carl Zeiss lenses into the digital era. After reading almost all material about the stuff found on the net and did the usual thinking and pondering work, I finally decided to give a try. The basic will be a Canon EOS 300D black body and a couple of these C/Y-EOS adapters. After contacting Jorge Torralba of DSLRExchange the order was smoothly placed and exactly ONE week after I transferred the payment via Western Union, the adapters arrived here in the Netherlands from Portland, Oregon. This is one amazing fast professional service, almost as fast as if Portland is a local place somewhere in the Netherlands!
    The adapters themselves, of which all is about, are professionaly made and of good material. I can't find any irregularity in the product. They are smooth and neatly packed in small plastic bags, each one completed with a wrench and Eos' rear cap! Especially the cap is a nice, useful and thoughtful idea. For obvious reason the old Contax rear cap is useless after mounting the EOS adapter to the lenses and I don't like the idea of my lenses being bare-bottomed exposed to dust, scratches and everything, either.
    Mounting the adapter is easy after thoroughly reading DSLRExchange's online instructions. I read some issues about one encountered AF trouble with his D1sMkII after using the combination C/Y - EOS adapter, so I checked the camera with the original Canon kit lens several times after using the Carl Zeiss on EOS, but found NO AF problems there. The AF still functions with the original Canon kit lens. Personally I don't think that the "risk" of damaging the camera/lens combination is due to using those adapters. Ignorance does. So, reading the (online) instructions first before handling would have avoided a lot of trouble afterwards.
    The lenses I use for the purpose are the Distagons 4/18mm and 2.8/25mm, Planar 1.7/50mm and the Vario Sonnar 4/80-200mm. In combination with the 300D they are (due to 1.6x crop factor) equal to 29mm, 40mm, 80mm and 128-320mm lenses in 35mm. Once the adapter has been mounted, the Carl Zeiss becomes a part of the EOS camera. Mount it to the camera, choose the exposure mode one is familiar with, manually focusing it (might be easier with open lens then stop down) and shoot. Focusing is rather tricky as the focusing screen isn't provided with the split-image or microprism like the screens of non-AF cameras, but with a good sight and knowledge of DOF, the results are as one used to know from Carl Zeiss lenses: unmatched clarity and sharp with beautiful tones and colours. But still I miss the DOF preview button and a bigger viewfinder image, though. I wonder how would the 20D do.
    AV, TV and M are provided. For some reason I found M on the 300D awkward and not very practical, but AV is just like in the old Contax days: choose the desired aperture and the EOS provides the correct shutter speed. TV does not provide automatic aperture value, but with a handheld meter it's easy to determine shutter speed/aperture combination then trasfer the outcome of the meter to the shutter speed on the EOS and the aperture value to the aperture ring on the Carl Zeiss lens. Back to the creative photography of the good old days, and yet digitally!
    In my opinion the often underestimated and plasticy EOS 300D black body matches very well to CZ primes 18mm, 25mm, 50mm, 2.8/85 and 2.8/135. There is something sweet and classic-like about this combination. Proportionally the size of these lenses (without the original Contax lenshood) matches the body and the combination is small but not too light (because of the glasses) with exact weight in my hands, yet low profile and basic enough not to attract the crowd's attention. The voluminous Distagon 1.4/35mm or Planar 1.4/85mm would have a better balance when the 300D is attached to BG- E1 grip, but since I don't want to be seen as "the fast guy with that big camera" I don't think I will use the battery grip very often and leave it home rather - but it's there when needed.
    For those who are used to auto everything, this is clearly not your photography style, so safe your money and disappointment. But for those who are enthusiastic about manual digital photography, I can't recommend better than the combination of Carl Zeiss C/Y lenses and a EOS body. People like Jorge Torralba of DSLRExchange, Stephen Gandy of CameraQuest, or Bob Shell have made our photographic lives richer by offering the possibility of choosing the best of both worlds: analogue with Contax camera and digital with Canon EOS using the same set of fantastic Carl Zeiss lenses.
    I put some test pictures here. They are cropped a bit in order to get 4:3 dimension, resized to 1024x768, then sharpened with no further manipulations at all. Make sure that you also click the larger version of each photo to examine the quality of the Distagon.
    Rest only to tell that I can't help shaking my head everytime I read the advertisements on (Dutch) auction sites which said "Due to switching to digital photography, Contax C/Y lenses for sale."
    Guys, girls .. if you only see the light like I did ... :)
  2. Glad you like the adapter and are making good use of it.

    JT :)
  3. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for posting your experience. I have been using Contax 35mm equipment for about 20 years and have an assortment of Contax lenses that I would like to use with a Canon 20D that I am planning to purchase. I was wondering how the image quality of photos taken with the Zeiss lenses on the Canon dSLR compare with those taken with the Canon lenses you've used. Some people claim that the extra resolution, contrast etc of Zeiss lenses is wasted to some extent on a digital sensor. Do you see a noticeable improvement?

    One of the lenses I would like to use with the dSLR is the Distagon 18/4. How is the image quality with this lens?

  4. Jason,
    I'm sorry I can't tell you anything about Contax - Canon lenses quality comparison as I'm from the Contax corner myself like you are too and don't have any experience with Canon lenses. All I'm interested in is to work with the good old Contax glasses I've known since 12-13 years ago and someone of this forum (and also one Kyocera official in Japan) pointed me at the possibility of combining the CZ lenses with a EOS (digital) camera. On the websites DSLRExchange and Rob Galbraith you will undoubtedly find talks about quality comparison of these two brands.
    My experience with the CZ Distagon 18mm is that it's rather soft at its largest opening, but one stop is enough to undo this. Colours, sharpness and clarity are comparable to other CZ lenses, though.
  5. Here are some samples if you want to see . These are froma various contax lenses on 1ds II

    and my favorite :)
  6. Hi Jim,

    I'm (well, I was :-( ) an happy Contax user. I've recently bought a Canon 5D having in mind to use my Carl Zeiss lenses (18/4, 80/1.2, 50/1.4, 28-85, 80-210) with the adapter.
    But in some forum I've read that as the 5D have a larger mirror (the 5D uses a full 24/36 CCD) it is not possible to use with some lenses.
    Do you have heard something about this?


  7. Where can one find more information on the EOS - C/Y adapters? I have an adapter but I feel that it's more trash than worthwhile.

  8. > But in some forum I've read that as the 5D have a larger mirror (the 5D uses a full 24/36 CCD) it is not possible to use with some lenses


    I do not have experience with using a C/Y lens with an adapter on the 5D specifically, but some logical reasoning:

    The adapter is mounted to the back of the lens, and as far as I see there are no rear parts of the lens protruding even further from it. Take a look here:

    If the Canon lens mount is the rearmost part of the whole assembly, then the mirror of the 5D should clear it without problems.

    My suggestion would be to get one of the 30$ adapters and try out how it works and if there are parts of the lens that protrude further than the metal adapter ring. In that case, compare with a standard Canon mount lens and decide for yourself if you want to try it.

    Best regards,

    PS: Just another comment ... I was lucky in securing a Planar 85/1.4 in Rollei QB mount from eBay ... so far so good.

    The bad thing is that I am now on my third Rollei-Eos adapter that does not physically fit on the lens (also checked with a Rollei-built 70-200 lens, same result). Until I find an adapter manufacturer that is capable of making an adapter that has the correct tolerance and shaves off the ~ 0,5-1 mm that seems to be conflicting (not working e.g.: Roxsen who otherwise have a good reputation), I can only advise others to stick to C/Y mount lenses.
  9. OK, obviously it is not as simple as I suggested.
    Did some research and found this:

    Canon EOS 5D Lens Compatibility List - shows which Zeiss/Olympus/Leica lenses work on the 5D and which not.

    Best regards,

Share This Page