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Thread: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

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    martin
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    Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    I would like to hear from users of BOTH Contax 645 35mm/3.5 and Hasselblad 40mm/4 IF lenses if they have formed any clear preference concerning image quality, based on their practical comparisons. The MTF charts are not clearly helpful on Zeiss' site as f stops differ (C = 3.5 & 5.6, H = 4 & 8).
    Zeiss' opinion is " we can say that there will be no significant difference in performance between the Contax 3,5/35 and the latest Hasselblad IF 4/40 CFI in practical use".
    I have a 503cw and C645, but am leaning towards just keeping the Contax because for my needs it has overall more versatility than the 503, has the 120 apo which I just love and can't use any other way. Also, I can put the 250 sa, and maybe later a 110/2 on it with adaptor, but not the reverse. Amateur needs with mostly tripod, so no heavy use, workflow pressures, etc. Just to add, for what it's worth, Zeiss considers the Contax 55 and Blad 60 identical in performance. My lens choices would probably not extend beyond the 35-40, 55-60, 100-120 and 250mm lengths. Thank you.

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    I had both the the Contax and Hasselblad lenses a few years back and shot them comparatively to see if I preferred one to the other. (I had the Contax lens first and bought the Hassy 40/4 CFE IF to see if it was significantly better.) The bottom line, for me, was that they were both excellent lenses with no clear cut winner so I decided to stick with the Contax for the slightly wider focal length and the ability to shoot it on my Contax kit without the MAM-1 adapter. The Hassy was also significantly more expensive than the Contax (probably still is) so I sold it to fund other gear and haven't looked back.

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    I can't offer any opinions on the 40, but own the 35, and that and the 120 are by far my most used lenses on the Contax, probably 90% of everything that I do, in spite of having access to the 80 as well, and the 50/2.8, 110/2 and 250/4 FE lenses with a Novoflex adapter. This might change after I finish my current project, but those two lenses are just awesome to work with, very sharp and a beautiful look. I believe that the 35/3.5 is the MF version of the Contax/Yashica 21/2.8 Distagon, in case you are familiar with that.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    I have owned and used both lenses extensively. Both lenses are equally sharp. The choice comes down to whether you require the AF of the Contax or not.

    The 40IF is a more flexible lens, since it can be used with adapters not only on the Hasselblad V and Contax 645, but also on Mamiya, Phase, Sinar M, and Hasselblad H, as well as 35mm Nikon and Canon (including HD video). I would also expect a Hasselblad V adapter to show up for the Leica S2 in the near future.

    The 40IF can also be used effectively with a Hasselblad Flexbody and a digital back, where a 36x48 size sensor will allow plenty of shift and tilt capability. There is also a Hasselblad 1.4X shiftable extender for the 40IF called a PC-Mutar, and a tilt-adapter for the Canon from Mirex.

    On the other hand, the Contax 35mm lens does not have any of these features. And, it functions only on the Contax 645, which is no longer supported. So this lens will not have as much longevity over time as the 40IF lens .... but, the Contax 35 will give you AF for as long as you can keep shooting with it.

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    i've tried the 40 IF and hate the exaggerated distortion... so i've bought a 50 Cfi Fle... and went with a 35 schneider digital on an arca fLine.

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    Martin, indeed distortion is a major concern with both of these wide lenses. IF you decide to shoot with a Hasselblad digital back, then the 40IF can be best corrected with their Phocus software. With the Contax 35, there is moustache distortion, which you can mostly remove with various software as well. Neither of these lenses are sufficient for much of professional architectural work.

    One other thing to consider is what will you do if such a lens has a bad fall some day. Both of these lenses use internal floating elements that happen to be somewhat delicate. Any bad fall or repeated "bumps" can easily mis-align these elements which you will discover when your images appear to become soft. Zeiss still supports the 40IF and it can easily be repaired, cleaned and MTF calibrated ..... but no longer the Contax lenses.

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    Really? I thought they did. So who maintains the Contax 645 lenses now?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Zeiss 35mm/3.5 (contax 645) vs 40mm/4 IF (Hasselblad V)

    The Contax 645 lenses were always serviced only by Zeiss Japan. Even if you sent your lens to Oberkochen, they were actually shipped to Japan for service. Today, there are no more parts or equipment to service these lenses in Zeiss Japan. ToCAD USA purchased whatever remaining parts and equipment that Zeiss had, but I don't believe that it included the MTF calibration equipment, since Zeiss could still use that equipment with its other lenses. Basically, if your Contax lenses become soft for any reason, it could be difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose and repair them.

    In addition, not all parts are generously available anymore. For example, if you scratch your front element, then it may not be possible to replace it anymore. And, similarly for various other parts for the electronic autofocus and aperture controls.

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