Using E3 or E520 With An Adapter for Contarex Lenses

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by brent_bennett, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. I have a set of Zeiss Contarex lenses. I have never had any digital camera. The only adapter I have found for these lenses is the Olympus 4/3. I would like to hear pros and cons from anyone who has experience with this combination. One thing I have read is that the focusing is very difficult, and the viewfinder is not very good.
    I will appreciate your comments.
  2. I don't know the Contarex lenses but I have had good experiences using old Rokkor lenses on an E-410. There are no optical focusing aids so focus takes longer than on a manual focus SLR but I would not describe it as very difficult. I think the viewfinder in the 410 is reasonable by modern standards: whether you would find it a step down from the Contarex I don't know because I have never used one.
    One of the pros of the experience is that you will probably get a kit lens with your dSLR purchase and you will find out how good the digital Zuiko lenses are. Mine is the 14-42mm zoom and it is an excellent lens. You hear so much criticism of the kit lenses that are attached to the Canon and Nikon dSLRs but this Zuiko is in a different class.
  3. I use M42 lenses with my E500. Focusing does take a little longer but as with Brian, I don't think it would be described as difficult. I like the kit lenses that came with the camera, however when I need something a little faster I'll switch to an M42 lens, like a 50mm f1.8 prime. They are extremely cheap to pick up used and really very sharp.
  4. I use an adapter with a focus-confirmation chip to mount M42 Takumar lenses on my E-510. While I like the Zuiko 14-54 lens, the primes give me additional speed. I have found that the Takumar 55/1.8 lens makes an excellent portrait lens.
    At times, the FC chip fails to work; I've never found out why this is. Even without the chip working, focusing is not all that difficult.
    Don't forget that, on the 4/3 system, the viewed angle is the equivalent of a lens with twice the focal length when compared to regular 35mm film format. Take that into account when deciding which prime lenses will be useful.
  5. E500-520 have a small viewfinder that makes manual focusing more dififcult. I have the magnifier that helps a bit but it is still far behind the E-3 viewfinder. That is usable for manual focusing even without AF confirmation.
    Some manual focus lenses work better than others. It is very hard to know without trying which ones are good and which ones not. The good thing about the 4/3 system is that just about all old lenses can be adapted to it.
  6. I use a variety of OM mount Zuiko lenses on both my E500-510. The 50mm f/1.8 works beautifully as does the 50mm f/3.5 MC macro. The zooms are a little more finicky for focus on moving objects. It took some time to get used to the focus, but now I use a lot of guesstimates just by judging distance to subject when I'm on the street. I also use zone focus outside in bright light. Nothing like set and forget.
  7. It looks like the Contarex lenses can also be mounted on Canon EOS:
    I've been using an Olympus 24mm on a Canon 5D. It's a full frame camera, so I get the full benefit of the wide angle lens. And the corners are sharper then some of the Canon offerings. I got an adapter that provides AF confirmation, a big help to me, even with the big viewfinder of the 5D.
    Another option is the Panasonic G1. I just got one and it has a very nice EVF and rear LCD that both can be magnified. There are not many adapters available now, but I'm sure they will come out.
  8. One cannot go wrong with a Zeiss lens on most any camera.
    I have found an adaptor that fits my Hasselblad Carl Zeiss, f2.8, 80mm lens on my E-series cameras. It's equivalent to 200mm in the 4/3 format. And it's awesome! Because of the speed, the viewfinder is brighter and allows for better focusing performance, albeit it's manual. Focus with the lens wide open and then shoot down at f8 or f11 and you have one sharply focused subject. This lens is ultra high quality and will outperform any Nikon or Canon lens. I use this lens for long portrait work. It's a bit heavy glass, but who cares when it's sitting on a tripod.
    For a short portrait lens, equivalent to 110mm in 4/3 format, I use the Zuiko f1.2, 55mm lens. These two lenses offer greater quality than any of the AF zoom lenses directly for the E-series cameras, especially for portrait work.
    When involved in extreme low light conditions, the Zuiko f1.2, 55mm lens comes through with flying colors. If I have to boost the ISO to 800 or 1600, I shoot b&w and the effect is wonderful. Digital noise is not a problem.
    If the Zeiss Contarex lenes are fast, then you will find the focusing in a brighter viewfinder much easier than any manual focus of the slower AF lenses.
  9. Thank you all for your comments. Very helpful.
    A few questions: Ilkka, you mentioned that the E3 has a much better viewfinder than the others. Can you quantify that statement some? And how about an E1 or E2 (I have not studied all the cameras that Olympus makes, so I'm not at all if there were such models)? It seems to me there was an E1. If so, is that viewfinder as good as the E3 in terms of seeing the images from manual lenses?
    Ron, I had previously seen the Atkins article, but thank you. The problem is that I have not seen any commercially made adapters for Contarex lenses for any other make DSLR cameras. I may have to make my own, because I would assume that I would be better off with a larger sensor than the 4/3 cameras have. This is another issue, so comments on that question would certainly be appreciated.
    Here is the link that got me started on this idea; you will probably find it interesting, especially if you have film SLR camera lenses that you would like to use with a DSLR:
  10. [​IMG]
    Panasonic G1 fitted with Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 plus Pentax-A Rear Converter 2x-S

    The very best camera I've used to date with adapted manual lenses is the Panasonic G1. For the Contarex lenses, you would use the Contarex to FourThirds adapter and mount that on the front of the Panasonic DMW-MA1 FourThirds to micro-43 adapter.

    All adapted lenses operate fully manually on both focus and iris. The G1's EVF allows you to see the field of view brightly even stopped down, and its "MF Assist" magnification allows you to nail critical focus even with very short focal lengths ... and even stopped down. Also, since metering is done off the imaging sensor, metering (both manual and aperture priority AE) is spot on the money regardless of the lens used. The G1's 12Mpixel resolution, low noise at even ISO 800, small size, light weight, and relatively low price make it the winner for this purpose in my opinion.

  11. E3 is a professional body. It has much bigger viewfinder image than any other 4/3 camera. The 400 and 500 series are like looking through a tunnel with a small image at the end of it. Not that much worse than other small sensor amateur bodies, like Nikon D70 or Canon 350D etc. But much worse than pro bodies. E1 was better but not as good as E3. The new E30 is also better but not as good as E3. E3 is just about as good as similar Canon and Nikon bodies, but not as good as full frame Sony A900 for example. There never was any E2.
  12. I have used the E-500, the E510, and the E-3 in wedding assignments. The viewfinder of the E-3 is considerably larger; this was a major improvement. But, let’s not forget the swivel LiveView 2.5” LCD. At first, I thought this to be a “nice to have” feature. But the more I use the E-3 and a tripod, the reason to use the LiveView over the viewfinder was a no-brainer.

    The Live View feature has empowered me to easily compose my subjects live on the LCD and see precisely how the settings I select impact the image before the shutter is released and the image is captured. By altering settings like white balance and exposure, and visually confirming how these changes affect the final image, this real-time monitoring offers a level of versatility and creative control that cannot be achieved by other digital SLR cameras that only offer an optical viewfinder.
  13. Brent, the E-3 has a 1.15x magnification (one of the best viewfinders in the DSLR market) and does not have the tunnel effect of the previous E-series cameras. I never had the opportunity to peek through the viewfinder of the E-1 and therefore I cannot make a comparison.
    I’m not sure how or why a large sensor, greater than the 4/3 format, would have any effect upon adapting 35mm lenses to a DSLR. The only impact would be the focal length. For example, the ratio of 2:1 is expected on the E-series when adapting an OM lens. A 50mm lens becomes a 100mm, a 135mm becomes a 270mm, and so on for the E-series. The ratios would be different for Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
    The Contarex to a DSLR adapter may have to be made by a local machinist. I’m looking to do something with my Bronica ETRSi lenses.
  14. Thanks to all of you for your input. Your responses have been very helpful.
  15. Brent, I am sure you will get a lot of fun when using the old camera lenses on new digitial SLRs, especially the Olympus ones. I have an E520 and several carl zeiss lenses and M42 lenses. They are doing a very good job and I really like them. It is much better if you can get an adapter with AF confirmation, but you still need your eyes to determine whether it is focused. One problem is that, the adapter is more like a small extension tube (about 6mm?), so the DOF scale will be a little bit misleading. I know the E520 has a good live view, but I rather like using the view finder (better for focusing).
    BTW, you can find many great photos taken by olympus DSLR and old film lenses from flick.

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