Do any of you Leica Users Also Shoot Contax RF

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by classcamera, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. Hello,

    I am a bit of Contax nut, and am becoming a Leica nut. And I was
    wondering if any of you Leica nuts were becoming Contax nuts.

    I personally prefer the Contax IIa, IIIa to any of the screw mount
    Leicas, but the small size, of the screw mount cameras and the fact
    that lenses are widely available, make them very attractive as snap
    shot cameras. As to the big issue of lens quality, in prewar
    uncoated lenses, I give a slight edge to leica, in post war "Classic"
    coated lenses, the Zeiss Ikon Sonnars win out easily, with the only
    real challenge in quality coming from Nikon Nikkor designs. Oh, I
    suppose I should clarify the Zeiss lenses are the West German Opton
    lenses, not the East German Jena junk. As for built quality, the
    Leica is a much better design, but the construction of the Contax is
    absolutely the finest work ever done by a German (or Japanese for
    that matter) camera manufacture.

    Thanks for your input,

  2. Yes, I have both, and unfortunately don't shoot enough with either.

    I would love to own a Contax to Leica adapter, so I could shoot the Contax and Nikon RF lenses on say an M3.

    But I agree, lovely optics.

  3. I will also gone nuts if I don't get my first leica soon :)
  4. "not the East German Jena junk"

    A rather sweeping statement, surely? I've got some East German lenses and they're far from being junk.
  5. Well, Mark, your opinions certainly contradict the orthodox view of Leica vs.
    Contax mythology.
  6. Oh, I suppose I should clarify the Zeiss lenses are the West German Opton lenses, not the East German Jena junk. - hey, whatever keeps the prices down. The postwar 85/2 Jena Sonnar is regarded to be a sharper optic than the equivalent Opton lens.
    My prewar Jena Sonnar 50/2 (collapsible) actually has higher resolution than my late model, postwar 50/1.5. Of course, the postwar coating is an advantage in many situations. I think any lens made by Zeiss for the Contax RF is top notch. I shoot with two prewar Contax II's.
  7. Over the past couple of years I have picked up a number of Kiev's from the 2 to 4am's and a number of lenses and have alot of fun with them. When I had first looked at getting Contax RF's the price was just a little too much to have both Leica and real Contax's and the Kiev's have
    taken their place with not alot of outlay.
  8. I picked up what turned out to be a pre-war Sonnar 5cm/2 lens in LTM and it is an excellent performer. I sold my only Contax a few years ago.
  9. Don't like the look of post-war Contaxes; just the kind of design that ruined the German camera industry; give people what they should have rather than what they want, with limited viewfinder options and a narrower RF base than pre-war. Nikon made the real post-war Contax.
    Strangely, I think East German cameras were more creative and responsive to market requirements, but had a bit of a quality control problem. Leica survived in that market because it deserved to.
    The pre-war Contaxes had more sophisticated features than contemporary Leicas; the Contax II being my favourite aesthetic design.
    I could be wrong, but don't think Zeiss Ikon did any serious fresh computations for their post-war Sonnars, just coated them. Fresh computations were reserved for their great lumpy Contarexes.
    Pre-war f2 uncoated Sonnars were great lenses for their time, superior for general use to the Summar and highly pized by those who could afford the system. Only used print film through pre-war Contaxes & lenses, so my opinion is purely opinionated. Post war finish seemed more durable; shut up me!!
  10. The 50 1.5 sonnar is an amazing lens, great OOF signature. Just wish I could adapt it to a leica mount :) I do find the non-clickable aperture a bit more annoying than clickable aperture steps, but that is a small price to pay for a great lens.
  11. I had a long posting on my Sonnar 5cm/2 lens. The debate was about its origin; is it a fake one (Russian made) or is it genuine Zeiss. After many postings and discussions, I was told to enjoy the lens and that's it. Everybody agreed on it being an excellent lens. I regret having sold my Contax II with 50/1.5 Sonnar.
  12. I sometimes use a Contax IIa or a nice early Kiev. Mostly, though, I use my Contax-mount lenses on a CV Bessa R2C. It's nice to have 35mm framelines in the viewfinder. I have two Zeiss 35mm lenses: the post-WWII Biogon and an old f/4.5 Orthometar. The latter is a *really* good lens provided you don't need speed. Flare resistance is impressive for an uncoated optic. The f/1.5 Sonnar is probably my favorite 50mm lens, though ask me tomorrow and I might say the DR Summicron or the new Zeiss M-mount Planar instead. At the wide end the 21mm Biogon and the Leitz f/3.4 Super Angulon have the most pleasing signatures of any ultra-wide lenses I've ever used.

    I have the 50mm f/1.5 and 85mm f/2 Sonnars in LTM. They both get frequent use on my M2 and R-D1.

  13. Whoops!
  14. Dave: is your 85mm originally converted to LTM by Zeiss or Leitz or is it a Russian made one?
  15. Raid, the 85mm LTM was made by Zeiss either during or shortly after WWII. If after it was assembled at least partially from older stock...the serial number indicates 1938 as the year of manufacture. Build quality is typical of post-war Jena lenses. The optics are excellent. I sold my pre-ASPH 90mm Summicron after getting the Sonnar.

  16. Mark, search the archives & you'll see that there are a few of us Contax shooters on this list (& on the Classic Cameras list). Here are some old threads on the subject:

    I started out w/a Contax IIa & Kyocera Contax G2 before I got into Leicas. The main reason I have any Leicas are the M series VFs, which are nice if you do a lot of low light shooting.

    Actually, James, many of the post-WWII W. German Zeiss lenses for Contax RF were re-computed/re-designed, the best example being the 35/2.8 Biogon. Also, a few of the Contarex lenses were essentially identical to the Contax versions (e.g., 21/4.5 Biogon & 85/2 Sonnar). It was the E. German Jena lenses that are mostly just coated versions of the pre-WWII designs. However, the prewar designs were great designs & I would agree w/other posters that the *optical* quality of the E. German lenses, if not the build quality of the barrels, etc. is in many ways equivalent or even superior in performance to the W. German ones.
  17. I had a really slick IIIa kit.....Biogon 35, Sonnar 50 and 85.Mechanically it was excellent, but wasn't as nice as my leica glass.
  18. Got a bit over enthusiastic; sorry; don't really hate the post war West German camera industry. I assume the 21mm was used on the Contarex with the mirror up?
  19. Wow What a great response!

    I probably should have not used the "Junk" term, if you get a good one, they are fantastic, however they can be somewhat inconsistent; and that is mainly what I have gotten. The other thing that makes them seem a bit "Junky" is the barrels, in reality they are pretty nice, but by comparison to the West German chrome stuff they appear cheap.

    In terms of both aesthetics and feel for use, I prefer the II to the IIa. But in terms of reliably, the IIa wins hands down. And the II is a real joy to work on, who's only rival is the III, with both you will be hundreds of parts deep before removing the shutter.

    In terms of lenses the West German (WG) 50 f:1.5 Sonnar is my favorite, followed by the pre war 50 f:2 collapsible Sonnar (however it does flare quite a lot), next in line is my Jupiter 12 35 f:2.8 which out performs my WG 35 f:2.8 Biogon, but is not nearly as well made. Last on my list is my pre war 135 f:4.5 Sonnar, good and sharp, but with it only able to stop to 16 it is pretty limited in use. I also have a Jupiter 9 80 f:2, which despite being in a really crummy barrel, produces excellent pictures.

    In closing I will say, that both screw mount Leica, and all Contax cameras, are currently grossly undervalued should make excellent investments.
  20. Oh, one last thing,

    For snap shot work (color slides mainly), I have been using my Tenax II (4cm f:2 Sonnar) with excellent results, so good in fact, that sometimes I think I should sell my Contax stuff, and mortgage the house to get the other lenses.
  21. Nice to hear about another Tenax II shooter. Mike Elek uses 1, too.
  22. I don't typically like to do this on a forum, but here it goes:

    For you Tenax II users, I am manufacturing Slide mounts for myself, and would be willing to do the same for others. At the moment they are in the prototype stage, but I pretty much have the bugs worked out. I LASER cut them out of two ply acid free 100% rag mat board, then I cut archival Seal color mount tissue to act as the glue. All you have to do is fold them over, insert the dry mount tissue and slide, then place the slide into the opening in the dry mount tissue, and then press with an iron.

    Since I have not actively been marketing this product, I am not sure what to charge, a decent margin is $25/100 mounts. but that is not set in stone.

    Let me know if any of you guys are interested, and check my Classified adds for more laser cut stuff.


    Oh, I also have patterns for 3cm x 4cm, 4cm x 6.5cm, 4cm x 4cm and could be persuaded to make 6x4.5, 18x36 and just about any other format.
  23. Sounds cool, Mark, but I keep my slides unmounted (for scanning). You might want to post a notice on the Classic Cameras forum as that's where the folks who shoot Tenaxes & Robots are likely to be found.

Share This Page