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Thread: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    I was offered this lens, with a few scratches on the outside but what appears to be perfect glass on the inside for $400 today, plus $100 for an m43 adapter. Seemed like a good deal, so I reserved it for pickup next week. Does anybody have experience with this lens on 4/3 or m4/3?

    I was also offered a Contax Zeiss 135mm f/2.8. Anybody used that one?

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    Senior Member apicius9's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    I'm sure someone else will have more practical experience - I got mine just a few weeks ago and have not yet had a chance to play with it as much as I would like. But the first impressions have me very excited. It's actually smaller than I expected but with the added adapter it may still look better on a G1/GH1 than on the smaller cameras. In any case it is a relatively heavy piece of glass, noticeably more so than the 45-200 or the 14-140 (subjective, not measured). $400 is a bargain price if it is in really good condition, especially if you can have a look at it before buying. Mine fits well with a cheaper adapter from one of the Chinese ebay sellers, so the adapter price seems a bit high to me but for $500 as a package I would definitely take it. In the unlikely case that you don't like it, you can easily resell for the same or more. Don't know the 135mm.

    Just my 2cts,

    Stefan

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    Subscriber Member Jonathon Delacour's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Jorgen, is it an MM or an AE lens? You can tell by the color of the smallest aperture marking: white for AE, green for MM. The MM lenses are later than the AE models and, according to this post at FredMiranda.com, the MM version of the Contax 84/1.4 is slightly better than the AE version.

    MM versions of this lens are currently available on eBay for USD 650 and more. So I'd have to agree with Stefan that USD 400 is a very attractive price, even if it's the older AE version.

    Here's a comparative test of 7 lenses at 85mm, including the Contax Zeiss 85/1.4.

    You might also want to consider the Rokinon 85/1.4, which is about USD 265 on eBay. People who have it, love it. There's a lengthy discussion about it (and other 85s) in this thread on Alt 85mm lenses and specifically about the Rokinon in this thread.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Thanks for the comments and links. It's an MM. I will mostly use it for portraits, so center sharpness, colours and bokeh around f/2.0 is what is most important to me. Since I live in Thailand, eBay isn't really an alternative (cost of money transfer, shipment and the risk that some customs officer finds that he wants $100 as well). The Rokinon is available here as Vivitar for $450 (the Zeiss is $370, but should I decide to sell it, I could probably get more for it in Europe). The advantage of the Rokinon is that I can have it in F-mount and use it on the S5 as well, but I already have the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 that works well with AF, and the Nikkor 105mm f/1.8. The problem with that 85 is that it's useless for manual focus, and the 105 is too front heavy for the GH1.

    An advantage with the Zeiss is the compact size. It's small enough to go into my carry everywhere bag mounted on a camera. The Rokinon is a bit larger. I don't know about build quality on the latter, but the Zeiss seems to be built like the proverbial tank.

    The adapter is expensive, but again, eBay isn't an alternative, and this is a Fotodiox.
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 6th April 2010 at 05:34.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Hi There Jorgen
    Decisions decisions.
    I know it's slower (f2.8) but the macro panaleica 45mm m4/3 lens is wonderful for portraits, lovely gentle bokeh, added to which it's small, doesn't extend with focusing, and of course it has IS and AF into the bargain.

    Just a thought.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Seeing your very well taken food images in the Fun with... thread I guess you know what you are doing. But... 85mm for portraits, doesn't that feel awfully long?

    I have used the Samyang (the maker of the Samyang, Vivitar, Rokinon, Bower and more 85/1.4 with a FF camera). It is a tad sharper in the center than the Zeiss and the bokeh can be described as being the 85mm version of the Sigma 50/1.4; smooth, creamy and with defocus CA. The build quality is good, not metal as the Zeiss but modern plastic actually feeling good. I have seen no complaints about the Samyang (and more) build quality.

    As I prefer shorter focal lengths for portraits I think of the Zeiss Planar G 45/2 (a budget option, very sharp, not very good beleh at f/2 but everything is right from f/2.8), the Olympus ZD 50/2 Macro (if you like focusing by wire or very slow AF, EXIF and AE of course), the Olympus Zuiko OM50/2 Macro (if you prefer manual focusing) and some other lenses as "better" options for portraits for use with our cameras.

    EDIT: The "sharpness"... these FF lenses do of course perform somewhat less stellar with 4/3 and 4/3 cameras than with the FF cameras we usually see images from.

    regards,

    /Jonas

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    Member Winkel's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Hi Jorgen,

    I too have the MM version and have used it frequently on my Olympus E-520. It's heavy but reasonably balanced on the camera thanks to the grip. And surprisingly it's not too bad to hold on the E-PL1. However, it looks a little ridiculous with the Contax Metal Hood 4 though it does effectively reduce flaring.

    At f1.4 the images are soft and exhibit pronounced CA (too much for me) but these issues are much reduced at f2. Contrast and colours are very nice when slightly stopped down, too.

    It's still one of my favourite lenses - beautiful bokeh and amazing build quality. Enjoy!

    Jim

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Thanks for all the great responses. I already have the OM Zuiko 50mm f/2.0, and it's the most beautiful lens one can imagine. I wouldn't mind the Panaleica 45mm, but it's $900 here, and still a stop slower than the Zuiko. The reason why I would like a longer focal length as well, is that I often do portraits sitting behind the journalist who does the interview, so I work at some distance and I need a large aperture to get a shallow depth of field when that is needed (Interviews are often done at some rather ugly locations that look much better blurred.).

    Often, I use the S5 with 105mm for this, but that's a big, heavy combo, and I'm lazy, so I would prefer something more compact. I'm obviously also hoping for a Fuji m43 camera, but knowing Fuji, that may take one week or ten years

    An alternative would be the OM Zuiko 90mm f/2.0 Macro or 100mm f/2.0 (I have the 100/2.8, but it isn't really sharp until f/4), but they are hard to find as well as expensive. Another (almost ideal) alternative is the Pentax 77mm, which works well for manual focus, but that's $800 plus adapter.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Jorgen, given that eBay isn't an option and the way you intend to use the lens, I'd say the Contax Zeiss 85/1.4 and Fotodiox adapter is a no-brainer: a great lens at a reasonable price. If you're not happy with it -- I'd be very surprised if that was the case -- you should have no trouble selling it.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    I'm with Jonathan
    I used to have this lens with my RTSII lots of years ago . . . and really loved it.

    Just this guy you know

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Thanks again Jonathon and Jonathan. There is of course another argument that isn't without importance: ZAS (Zeiss Acquisition Syndrome!). I haven't had any symptoms that I know of previously, but it's never too late to contract such a desirable disease, is it

    Ummm... did I mention that they also have a mint Aria for $300? Not that I shoot much film these day, but just as a safety precaution, in case the shops run out of memory cards one day

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Thanks again Jonathon and Jonathan. There is of course another argument that isn't without importance: ZAS (Zeiss Acquisition Syndrome!). I haven't had any symptoms that I know of previously, but it's never too late to contract such a desirable disease, is it

    Ummm... did I mention that they also have a mint Aria for $300? Not that I shoot much film these day, but just as a safety precaution, in case the shops run out of memory cards one day
    Well, from what I understand, once you've contracted ZAS your immune system is so weakened that you will almost certainly succumb to MFAS (Medium Format Acquisition Syndrome). Apparently, a new strain -- labeled P645D -- has recently been discovered.

    Also, I doubt you'll have any problems getting the Department of Rationalization and Self-Justification to approve the Contax Aria purchase.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Delacour View Post
    Well, from what I understand, once you've contracted ZAS your immune system is so weakened that you will almost certainly succumb to MFAS (Medium Format Acquisition Syndrome). Apparently, a new strain -- labeled P645D -- has recently been discovered.

    Also, I doubt you'll have any problems getting the Department of Rationalization and Self-Justification to approve the Contax Aria purchase.
    MFAS? Never heard about it. But then, I close my eyes every time I pass the new-in-box Contax 645 with the standard 80/2.0 lens that has been sitting on the shelf of the same shop for at least a couple of years now

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    at the risk of tossing in a curve ball, the OM and FD 100mm lenses are very sweet too, and cost much less.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Ohh ... I see you're already down that path ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    An alternative would be the OM Zuiko 90mm f/2.0 Macro or 100mm f/2.0 (I have the 100/2.8, but it isn't really sharp until f/4), but they are hard to find as well as expensive. Another (almost ideal) alternative is the Pentax 77mm, which works well for manual focus, but that's $800 plus adapter.
    its interesting that I find my OM 100mm f2.8 tack sharp on film at 2.8 but I can't say I've compared it on the G1 .. well I only have one 100mm lens ;-)

    from this overview @ f2.8



    The top section is from that neg (bottom section is OM 50mm @2.8)

    click for larger

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post
    Ohh ... I see you're already down that path ...



    its interesting that I find my OM 100mm f2.8 tack sharp on film at 2.8 but I can't say I've compared it on the G1 .. well I only have one 100mm lens ;-)
    My experience as well, but Olympus actually warned about that when they released the E-1. It;s probably because it's very far from being telecentric, which is an important principle for all 4/3 lenses. The 100/2.0 is supposed to be much better in that respect.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    I was offered this lens, with a few scratches on the outside but what appears to be perfect glass on the inside for $400 today, plus $100 for an m43 adapter.

    I just noticed that a famed Zeiss glass is only 4x times (or less?) the price of an empty metal tube.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    I just noticed that a famed Zeiss glass is only 4x times (or less?) the price of an empty metal tube.
    well now that you put it that way ...



    I think I'll have to get me one ... for the EOS

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    P, When one pauses and thinks about it (like I did- this is coming from one who has downed a lot of cash and time on adapters/adapting), this happens.

    There is a lot of traffic on the m4/3rds because of this adaptability business. After G1, everything (including the announced G2 with touch screen menu) look not that attractive.

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    Senior Member pellicle's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Vivek-san

    thinking is something that no matter how much of it I do, I still benefit from the thoughts of others. Thanks for sharing yours

    I did nearly just buy a Contax, but have stayed my hand as the EF100f2 USM is nearly the same price ... is barely a wee bit shorter and will give me some advantages in operation (AF and auto aperture control) over the contax ... as I have an OM 100 f2.8 I'm not sure if I'll benefit largely over the Contax ... unless someone can show how nicely it performs against a OM 100mm f2.8 (on a G1)

    the 135 does not lure me much on the G1 but does on the 35mm frame size.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    One of the nice things about the adapting thing, is that one can carry two bodies, like a GH1 and a 5D, and two lenses, but actually get four completely different results. This way, it becomes possible to tailor-make a system consisting of bodies and lenses from many different sources, making the process of taking a photo even more rewarding.

    Life is kewl

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    One of the nice things about the adapting thing, is that one can carry two bodies, like a GH1 and a 5D, and two lenses, but actually get four completely different results.
    I know ... its why I sold my 9-18 ZD lens ... I already have the 21mm and on full frame its a sweet as pie wide ... my G1 works better than a x2 teleconverter making my 300mm a fantastic lens for small birds

    actually a used G1 is cheaper than a good used Canon x2 teleconverter

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    isn't it just!

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Interesting ideas. I have been considering the Panasonic 7-14, but I do have the OM Zuiko 21mm f/3.5, and I'm sure I can find a used 5D for around the same price as the Panasonic lens. I've never had a lens wider than 21mm anyway, so I probably won't miss the widest part.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Hi

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Interesting ideas. I have been considering the Panasonic 7-14, but I do have the OM Zuiko 21mm f/3.5, and I'm sure I can find a used 5D for around the same price as the Panasonic lens.
    yep ... just fyi

    21mm f3.5 wide open


    9-81 @11 wide open


    but its on the print that the bokeh looks the worst ... even at 10x15 size I don't like it. Of course if you photograph everything at a distance this is not an issue (there is no bokeh) and the Olympus 9-18 is stunning


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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    while I'm gnawing at this topic (and a carrot) I thought you might find this interesting:

    I like to use wide angle lenses on interior subjects (like at workshops).

    often I don't have enough width (28mm width on this occasion)



    I normally work at a fixed distance to my subjects even if moving around ... so picking a number like 3 meters to dial into a manual focus lens and setting f5.6 you get an interesting DoF result ... plugging this into a calculator I get:



    which even if you haven't worked with the lens will show you that its good for getting all the stuff in the scene and gives a nice gentle fall off to the background while keeping close obstructions from getting too much attention in the foreground (as they may walk in or wave at the wrong time)

    nothing is faster focus than fixed focus ... ask a street shooter :-)

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    I was offered this lens, with a few scratches on the outside but what appears to be perfect glass on the inside for $400 today, plus $100 for an m43 adapter. Seemed like a good deal, so I reserved it for pickup next week. Does anybody have experience with this lens on 4/3 or m4/3?

    I was also offered a Contax Zeiss 135mm f/2.8. Anybody used that one?
    The 85 1.4 is a great lens. The only better portrait lens I know of is the 50 or 60 Jahre anniversary 85 1.2. I have the 50 Jahre version and absolutely love it.

    Have fun with your new lens.

    Woody

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    One of the nice things about the adapting thing, is that one can carry two bodies, like a GH1 and a 5D, and two lenses, but actually get four completely different results.
    Are you ditching, Nikon?

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Are you ditching, Nikon?
    I'm not ditching Fuji. As for Nikon, I will wait and see. I'll probably buy a Canon anyway.

    I was considering a D90 as a replacement for my worn out D80, partly because of the favourable price at the moment. Then Canon launched the 550D, which, except for the viewfinder and a few ergonomic details, is a million times more of a camera, for a price just marginally above. A good viewfinder and good ergonomics are important to me, but there's a limit...

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post

    I was considering a D90 as a replacement for my worn out D80, partly because of the favourable price at the moment.
    . . . . . just as a side note, my son-in-law purchased a D90 a month ago. Has gotten a lot of errors regarding camera not recognizing the lens and another issue with the memory card. He has found a lot of comments on D90 web sites.

    You may want to take a look at the issues before you get that bargain price.

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    . . . . . just as a side note, my son-in-law purchased a D90 a month ago. Has gotten a lot of errors regarding camera not recognizing the lens and another issue with the memory card. He has found a lot of comments on D90 web sites.

    You may want to take a look at the issues before you get that bargain price.

    Life is Grand!
    Even without issues, the D90 is looking like mediocre value at the moment. In this country, the 550D is already cheaper. I still prefer the handling of the Nikon, and I have a lot of F-mount lenses, but it seems like the Fujis will be my F-mount cameras for the foreseeable future.

    Unless Nikon comes up with a D9000 with features that can't be resisted, or a mirrorless camera that will AF with my old Nikkors. The latter will probably happen the same day as Norway sends out it's first space mission to Pluto

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    Re: Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on m4/3?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Unless Nikon comes up with a D9000 with features that can't be resisted, or a mirrorless camera that will AF with my old Nikkors. The latter will probably happen the same day as Norway sends out it's first space mission to Pluto
    Look at this scenario: Norway, joins the EU, rescues Greece with its surplus petro Kroners and Nikon debutes a FF mirrorless cam (back illuminated sensor to the boot. ISO 1 Million dial is there) that is backward compatible with all its lenses.

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