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Contax 645 vs Mamiya 645

nashphotog

New member
I have a choice between these two cameras so I need some help deciding between the two cameras. Can anyone help?
 

yaya

Active member
Are you buying a new back as well? If yes the a Mamiya mount will give you a bit mor flexibility as it can be used on some other cameras; less so if it's in Contax mount
If you buy a new Leaf or Phase One back with either Gold Package (Leaf) or Value Added (Phase) you get one interface change so if you buy Contax you'll be able to change it down the road if needed
 

lowep

New member
I chose the contax because it was more like a dslr camera than a kleenex box -- so I guess it depends on what you want to use it for :p
 

nashphotog

New member
I was planning on buying a used back to save some money but I wasn't aware that switching mounts was limited to the newer backs. For the record I was also planning on getting a Sinar 4x5 so I guess Leaf Aptus-II will be my only route.

Is the interface change limited to one time? I was hoping to switch back and forth between the two cameras.

Are you buying a new back as well? If yes the a Mamiya mount will give you a bit mor flexibility as it can be used on some other cameras; less so if it's in Contax mount
If you buy a new Leaf or Phase One back with either Gold Package (Leaf) or Value Added (Phase) you get one interface change so if you buy Contax you'll be able to change it down the road if needed
 

Mammy645

New member
I'd probably say the Contax is a slightly nicer camera as it stands right now, but I still chose to go Mamiya for these simple reasons. 1.) Contrary to Contax, Mamiya is alive and well and constantly being improved and expanded upon. Also, word is we'll see a completely new and much improved camera from P1/Mamiya in the near future. Then there's the issue of repairs and support going forward. 2.) Versatility, the Mamiya system has a much larger system of lenses, both new and legacy, leaf shutter lenses being one option which Contax does not offer for example. 3.) Price, this does not apply if you're buying new, but there is some terrific legacy glass that can be had for very little money used. You can also pick up a cheap older version body for backup.
 

nashphotog

New member
I do prefer the ergonomics of Contax and Zeiss lenses are very appealing but I hear that it's harder to focus the Contax. That's a huge concern. Is it just that it's more of a challenge to focus or do you find that a good amount of your photos are out of focus?


I chose the contax because it was more like a dslr camera than a kleenex box -- so I guess it depends on what you want to use it for :p
 

nashphotog

New member
Thanks for the information. I wasn't aware that there was talk of a newer version in the near future. That's very appealing. I may go ahead and get a cheap older version for now... So I don't have to worry about the mount on the back as long as I stick with Mamiya?



I'd probably say the Contax is a slightly nicer camera as it stands right now, but I still chose to go Mamiya for these simple reasons. 1.) Contrary to Contax, Mamiya is alive and well and constantly being improved and expanded upon. Also, word is we'll see a completely new and much improved camera from P1/Mamiya in the near future. Then there's the issue of repairs and support going forward. 2.) Versatility, the Mamiya system has a much larger system of lenses, both new and legacy, leaf shutter lenses being one option which Contax does not offer for example. 3.) Price, this does not apply if you're buying new, but there is some terrific legacy glass that can be had for very little money used. You can also pick up a cheap older version body for backup.
 

baudolino

Member
My vote goes to the Contax, mostly because of the lenses and good ergonomics. The 120 Apo Makro lens in particular is one of the best I have ever shot with, in terms of results.
I now shoot with a different system but I still love looking at some of my earlier shots made with the Contax and a Sinar digiback. Key downside with the Contax for me was the somewhat suspect digital integration (sometimes, I had to press the shutter release twice to wake up the back and make an image, plus EXIF data showed wrong exposure values - this may or may not be important for you). There is no support any more but you can buy pretty much all you need second hand, cheaply, including a spare body.
 

yaya

Active member
I was planning on buying a used back to save some money but I wasn't aware that switching mounts was limited to the newer backs. For the record I was also planning on getting a Sinar 4x5 so I guess Leaf Aptus-II will be my only route.

Is the interface change limited to one time? I was hoping to switch back and forth between the two cameras.
A Contax back can be used on a Contax and on 5x4/ 6x9/ tech cameras

A Mamiya back can also be used on RZ and RB, hence why I suggested that it is mor flexible...

interface exchange can be done on both new and older Aptus models, at a charge

Cheers!
 

FredBGG

Not Available
The Contax has a fabulous build, really reliable and the lenses very nice. The 80mm f2 has a very unique look.

I would say that it's limitations are slow auto focusing in low light and no focus support light.

The Phase Mamiya cameras are well built, but not as relaible as the Contax, but keep in mind the Contax is a simpler camera.

The Mamiya DF does not support film backs. For that you would have to get a used Mamiya AFD III or a Phase One 645 AF.

Used Contax backs are hard to find and will be expensive, however fantastic lenses will be cheaper thanks to plenty of nice used Contax gear around.

You can also use Hasselblad V lenses on a Mamiya DF or AFD with an adapter but in manual stop down mode and focus confirmation.

Kapture Group makes some very nice digital back adapters for 5x4 and they are available in Contax mount. Leaf still makes Contax mount backs.

There is a Contax mount P45+ up for sale on ebay.

Another option is the Fuji gx680 with a kapture group adapter.
A gx680 III is an slr, but with a tilt shift lens mount. You would have tilt and shift on all lenses from 50mm to 500mm. The 180mm 3.2 is unmatched. You would also be able to shoot 6x8 film... and 6x8 Portra looks splendid.

While I like the Contax I decided to go with the Phase One due to it's flexibility and better autofocus as well as snappier focus confirmation on manual lenses.

I also use Fuji gx680 cameras with both film (my preference) and phase one backs.

I have also machined a Phase one body to Fuji gx680 lenses adapter that gives me tilt and shift on the Phase one from 50mm to 250mm lenses The "Mamuji" or "Fujiya" . I have also managed to make a semi automatic stopdown system for the "Mamuji" or "Fujiya"
 
You can also use Hasselblad V lenses on a Mamiya DF or AFD with an adapter but in manual stop down mode and focus confirmation.
The same is also true for the Contax, using either Contax's MAM-1 adapter or any number of third-party ones.

There is a Contax mount P45+ up for sale on ebay.
A link puh-leeze? I looked, but it's not coming up on any search I ran.
 

FredBGG

Not Available
The same is also true for the Contax, using either Contax's MAM-1 adapter or any number of third-party ones.



A link puh-leeze? I looked, but it's not coming up on any search I ran.
Oops sorry it was a P25... it sold in a blink at asking price $ 6,500

Yes you can use Hasselblad lenses on the Contax, however the focus assist is slow and has no direction indicators.
 

nashphotog

New member
My vote goes to the Contax, mostly because of the lenses and good ergonomics. The 120 Apo Makro lens in particular is one of the best I have ever shot with, in terms of results.
I now shoot with a different system but I still love looking at some of my earlier shots made with the Contax and a Sinar digiback. Key downside with the Contax for me was the somewhat suspect digital integration (sometimes, I had to press the shutter release twice to wake up the back and make an image, plus EXIF data showed wrong exposure values - this may or may not be important for you). There is no support any more but you can buy pretty much all you need second hand, cheaply, including a spare body.
Thanks for the recommendation. I wasn't aware of the 120 Apo Makro but from what little I've thus far it looks really impressive.
 

nashphotog

New member
The Contax has a fabulous build, really reliable and the lenses very nice. The 80mm f2 has a very unique look.

I would say that it's limitations are slow auto focusing in low light and no focus support light.

The Phase Mamiya cameras are well built, but not as relaible as the Contax, but keep in mind the Contax is a simpler camera.

The Mamiya DF does not support film backs. For that you would have to get a used Mamiya AFD III or a Phase One 645 AF.

Used Contax backs are hard to find and will be expensive, however fantastic lenses will be cheaper thanks to plenty of nice used Contax gear around.

You can also use Hasselblad V lenses on a Mamiya DF or AFD with an adapter but in manual stop down mode and focus confirmation.

Kapture Group makes some very nice digital back adapters for 5x4 and they are available in Contax mount. Leaf still makes Contax mount backs.

There is a Contax mount P45+ up for sale on ebay.

Another option is the Fuji gx680 with a kapture group adapter.
A gx680 III is an slr, but with a tilt shift lens mount. You would have tilt and shift on all lenses from 50mm to 500mm. The 180mm 3.2 is unmatched. You would also be able to shoot 6x8 film... and 6x8 Portra looks splendid.

While I like the Contax I decided to go with the Phase One due to it's flexibility and better autofocus as well as snappier focus confirmation on manual lenses.

I also use Fuji gx680 cameras with both film (my preference) and phase one backs.

I have also machined a Phase one body to Fuji gx680 lenses adapter that gives me tilt and shift on the Phase one from 50mm to 250mm lenses The "Mamuji" or "Fujiya" . I have also managed to make a semi automatic stopdown system for the "Mamuji" or "Fujiya"
Thanks! These are some interesting points you've made. I assumed Mamiya DF shot film so that's good to know. I guess that means the 645 II probably doesn't either. The Fuji looks really nice but not as it's portable as the Mamiya or Contax and that will be the main function of this camera choice for me.
 

chrismuc

New member
I would recommend the Contax 645. That cam is wonderful to work with, the lenses (I use 35/55/80/120M/140/210/350) are not too expensive 2nd. hand, they are sharp and render so very nicely. Ok, autofocus is slow, but's ok for my purposes. Enclosed two sample pictures with Leaf II-7 and Planar 80 at f2.8 and the Sonnar 140 at open aperture. You also can use the whole range of Zeiss Hasselblad V-mount lenses via adapter.
 
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FredBGG

Not Available
Thanks! These are some interesting points you've made. I assumed Mamiya DF shot film so that's good to know. I guess that means the 645 II probably doesn't either. The Fuji looks really nice but not as it's portable as the Mamiya or Contax and that will be the main function of this camera choice for me.
If portability is important keep in mind that the Mamiya DF is lighter than the Contax.
You also have a vast choice of lenses with the Mamiya. The bayonet is the same as older Mamiya cameras.
For example you can use the old 6345 80mm 1.9 that is beautiful wide open and can be found for for about $ 350.
That is pennies for such a fast MF lens. However you will have to use it in manual stop down mode.

But I also forgot to mention the Mamiya RZ.

MamiyaLeaf (bless them) still makes the RZ. You can use Mamiya mount backs on both the RZ and the Mamiya DF. The RZ is a film and digital camera offering you 645 digital and wonderfull 6x7 film support.
 

Cineski

New member
I use the Contax 645 system. 2 bodies, 4 lenses. It is a very nice system that has (like most cameras) limitations. Manual focus is hard but I have split field diopters in my bodies so it's easier in some respects. If shooting wide open, you don't want to focus and recompose for closer portraits because the plane of focus will shift enough due to thin dof. After a bit of practice my keeper rate is very high. There's also the (overpriced) Maxwell screens that I've been meaning to look more into. The Contax Zeiss glass is quite nice and the main reason I got into the system. The way the camera handles is outstanding. The vacuum backs are a must have in my experience. I shoot Kodak film which has 220 avail which is all that works on the vacuum backs but does keep the film flatter for wide open shooting.
 

lowep

New member
My vote goes to the Contax, mostly because of the lenses and good ergonomics. The 120 Apo Makro lens in particular is one of the best I have ever shot with, in terms of results.
I now shoot with a different system but I still love looking at some of my earlier shots made with the Contax and a Sinar digiback. Key downside with the Contax for me was the somewhat suspect digital integration (sometimes, I had to press the shutter release twice to wake up the back and make an image, plus EXIF data showed wrong exposure values - this may or may not be important for you). There is no support any more but you can buy pretty much all you need second hand, cheaply, including a spare body.
+1

If you also want to shoot with Sinar LF then a Sinarback MFDB with Contax645 adapter may be worth considering.

If it turns out you don't like the Contax645 you can just swap it for a Mamiya and get a Mamiya adapter instead of having to replace your whole digital back, and same goes for if you then don't like the Mamiya and decide to opt for Hasselblad V then Hy6 then... in other words it is quite a flexible solution
 

FredBGG

Not Available
I assumed Mamiya DF shot film so that's good to know. I guess that means the 645 II probably doesn't either.
No. Only the Mamiya 645DF no longer supports film backs. Something to do with the faster electronics in the DF so as to support the leaf shutter lenses fast 1/1600th. The new electronics does not support the older film back and Mamiya chose not to make a new film back. A bit sad, but I guess the market would be too limited. Also Phase one that owns a controlling share of Mamiya may just not be interested in film.

However the Mamiya 645 AFD I, Mamiya 645 AFD II and Mamiya AFD III, as well as the Phase One 645AF all support film.
 

FredBGG

Not Available
Thanks! These are some interesting points you've made. I assumed Mamiya DF shot film so that's good to know. I guess that means the 645 II probably doesn't either. The Fuji looks really nice but not as it's portable as the Mamiya or Contax and that will be the main function of this camera choice for me.
+1

If you also want to shoot with Sinar LF then a Sinarback MFDB with Contax645 adapter may be worth considering.

If it turns out you don't like the Contax645 you can just swap it for a Mamiya and get a Mamiya adapter instead of having to replace your whole digital back, and same goes for if you then don't like the Mamiya and decide to opt for Hasselblad V then Hy6 then... in other words it is quite a flexible solution
Contax mount digital backs sell for more than Mamiya mount digital backs on ebay. You would probably save more money buying a Mamiya mount on ebay and selling the Contax back.
 
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