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Contax Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 CY why not popular?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:57 am    Post subject: Contax Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 CY why not popular? Reply with quote

I don't get it, why does the Contaxt 45/2.8 receive so little love? The lens is tiny and inexpensive, the clarity is phenomenal, it's sharp and contrasty with saturated colors. It can shoot brick walls without much distortion. The bokeh is so-so, the lens is a bit slow at f2.8 and there are more solidly built lenses but those are minor points. I've seen some truly wonderful shots taken with this lens.

The lens should have cult status but it is mostly forgotten.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ill-informed prejudice I guess. The Tessar 2.8/50 has always been a great lens, going back to the 50s when it was first introduced but most people don't respect it, I think largely because it's slower and cheaper than the Planar/Pancolar/Ultron types.

Same applies with the 2.8/45, people ignore it and want the Planar 1.7/50. A smart shooter would be happy with either because they will both do the job superbly well.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I love mine and will probably never sell it. It is one of favorite lenses. On the X-E1 this lens excells!


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Ian got point , people silly enough to respect only fast lenses. 85mm f2.8 in same boat , I think lot better lens than 85mm f1.4 Planar.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
Ill-informed prejudice I guess. The Tessar 2.8/50 has always been a great lens, going back to the 50s when it was first introduced but most people don't respect it . . .


Yes, prejudice of one sort or another figures largely in people's attitudes. But those of us who've reached their "threescore years and ten", and who took up photography in the 1950s or earlier, will recall when the F2.8 Tessar-types certainly did not have the reputation of being the acme of perfection. The f2.8 Tessar actually apeared during the 1930s and - going by contemporary accounts - was uniformly less good than the f3.5 and f4.5 varieties. I can certainly testify that the f2.8 Tessar on my 6x6cm Super Ikonta was less sharp and less contrasty than the f3.5 on my 6x4.5 - and both were in perfect condition. Franke and Heidecke (Rolleiflex) flirted with the 2.8 Tessar in the 1950s and abandonned it pretty quickly, as did Hasselblad.

In the early to mid-1950s, lens designers still struggled to produce f2.8 Tessar-types that were the equal of the slower versions. Remember that West German Zeiss never even made a 2.8 for the Contax IIa and IIIa. Only with the arrival of new glass types by the mid-1950s were makers able to produce faster Tessars that - stopped down - were supposedly as "good" as the 3.5s. Fashion - driven by advertising and highly supportive reviews in the photo press - pretty much forced the industry into the adoption of the faster Tessar. If you can find Erwin Puts' comparative review of the Leitz 3.5 and 2.8 Elmar, you'll see just how the trade-off worked out in practice.

None of that is meant to diminish the value and utility of later f2.8 Tessar lenses, though. But their virtues remain those of modest size and relatively low cost linked to excellent performance at modest apertures. Many, maybe most, of today's photographers are driven by the devotion to "bokeh" and the misguided belief that faster lenses are always optically superior to slower ones. Maybe we should hope things stay that way, then at least the "little Tessars" will remain affordable Very Happy


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wise words Stephen. I do love a good Tessar and the best ones are really great lenses, the Opton one they put on the Ikoflex for example, or the CZJ one on the Certo 6. A personal favourite is the 2.8/50 for the Werra. The 3.5 was a better lens, but I think the post-war recalculation of the 2.8 changed that. They say the best Tessars of all are the 6.3s, I have yet to own one of those, despite looking, so I'll just have to see for myself one day.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

People are usually blind they look money only, I heard several times Tessar is soft , Planar is much , much better LOL. Tessar not comparable with Planar due different lens schemes... all bullshit final picture talk itself , somebody make better pictures with cheapest Tessar than others with most expensive Rolleiflexes ... I love Tessars and respect a lot and Planars too Smile


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I almost casually got an old red T 3.5/50 tessar, i think from the fifties, and it's one of my best fifties for many reasons, including a beautiful creamy bokeh and 3d pop. Luckily (in terms of price of the lens on the used market) many think that f3.5 is not an adequate aperture for having good looking oof areas.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As was pointed out the 2.8/50 was popularly considered to be not as good as the 3.5/50, and those in the know knew that the Biotar was inferior to either in terms of sharpness.

I can't see much of a difference between the results from my 3.5/50 and my (post 50s recalculation) 2.8/50, they're both sharp lenses - though the 2.8 gives a more "sparkly" boke' effect.

I think the 45mm also is stuck with being a "weird" focal length even though it's more natural than 50mm. But if you already own a 50mm, why would you spring for a 45mm? So I can see why it doesn't get much attention.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Contax Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 CY why not popular? Reply with quote

Pontus wrote:
I don't get it, why does the Contaxt 45/2.8 receive so little love? The lens is tiny and inexpensive, the clarity is phenomenal, it's sharp and contrasty with saturated colors. It can shoot brick walls without much distortion. The bokeh is so-so, the lens is a bit slow at f2.8 and there are more solidly built lenses but those are minor points. I've seen some truly wonderful shots taken with this lens.

The lens should have cult status but it is mostly forgotten.


Personally? 45 is almost 50, and there are loads of f/1.4 - f/2 lenses at 50 that are much more versatile and often even cheaper than this lens. Yes, it has a small profile, but then again a Planar 50/1.4 or Takumar 50/1.4 is already small enough for me and on a huge DSLR body, AND gives me f/1.4 if I want it, AND is tack sharp at f/2.8 like all 50/1.4 lenses are, so there isn't any real need for smaller.

Given that like most photographers, I have a half-decent 50 in my kit already, I wouldn't go out and buy a 45/2.8. That's why it receives little love at least from people like me. Nothing to do with Planar vs. Tessar nonsense, just that I have a couple of decent 50's already.

As for "wonderful shots", that's because of the photographer, not the lens Smile I'm not usually pixel peeping, usually spending more time on my bicycle looking for interesting things to take pictures of ... even contrast, colour, all that is more dependent on lighting than the lens.

On mirrorless or m4/3 though, yes, this lens would make a lot more sense, but then again there are Contax G, M mount, and other more compact MF options for those.

Again, all personal opinions, but just trying to answer your question Smile


Last edited by wuxiekeji on Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:13 pm; edited 2 times in total


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aanything wrote:
Actually I almost casually got an old red T 3.5/50 tessar, i think from the fifties, and it's one of my best fifties for many reasons, including a beautiful creamy bokeh and 3d pop. Luckily (in terms of price of the lens on the used market) many think that f3.5 is not an adequate aperture for having good looking oof areas.


My experience was the same, only with me, it was a Meyer Primtoar 3.5/50, which is a tessar. As you found with the actual Tessar, it's one of my best fifties and is does have a beautiful creamy bokeh and 3D pop. I very much agree about the adequacy of slower lenses when it comes to pretty looking oof areas, I usually use f4 for such shots.

Mos6502 wrote:
As was pointed out the 2.8/50 was popularly considered to be not as good as the 3.5/50, and those in the know knew that the Biotar was inferior to either in terms of sharpness.

I can't see much of a difference between the results from my 3.5/50 and my (post 50s recalculation) 2.8/50, they're both sharp lenses - though the 2.8 gives a more "sparkly" boke' effect.

I think the 45mm also is stuck with being a "weird" focal length even though it's more natural than 50mm. But if you already own a 50mm, why would you spring for a 45mm? So I can see why it doesn't get much attention.


Yup, the Biotar is less sharp, I think it's less contrasty too.

I agree about the sparkly bokeh, it's one of the things that people like to criticise about the 2.8/50, but I've found that it can produce very nice bokeh, depends a lot on the background and the distance between background and subject.

45 is close to the diagonal of the 35mm frame - 43.2mm, so it does make sense in that way, but I agree, if someone already has a very good 50 like the Planar 1.7/50, then they will probably not be interested in the 2.8/45. I expect the main reason why the 45 was overlooked was that it was the cheaper, budget offering and therefore perceived as being inferior, and for the people who were able to afford to buy Contax in the first place, a small saving on the cost of the standard lens was probably irrelevant, so they all bought the 1.7/50 or 1.4/50.

BTW, if you bought a Contax body, did they include a 'kit' lens with it, as makers do today? If so, what lens, 2.8/45 or 1.7/50?


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
BTW, if you bought a Contax body, did they include a 'kit' lens with it, as makers do today? If so, what lens, 2.8/45 or 1.7/50?


Usually 1.7/50. 50's were the kit lenses of film days, that's why they also call 50mm the "standard" lens. It's unfortunate that these days they have really crappy zoom lenses as kit lenses, and given kit lenses bad rep. Of course this is because of a huge market shift from an era in which the only SLR buyers were professionals or at least serious hobbyists who understood what a 50mm does, to nowadays when everyone has an SLR and wants their camera to do "everything" out-of-the-box, even if at crappy quality. Modern non-serious buyers if they got a 50 as kit lens they would probably downrate the camera on Amazon because it doesn't zoom Rolling Eyes

Nothing against zoom lenses in particular but the fact of the matter is that optically good zoom lenses don't come cheap, so they would never be kit lenses; on the other hand optically good prime lenses can be very cheap, and ought to be kit lenses.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, +10

I was saying only the other day that I was a shame they went from giving us an excellent prime as the kit lens to giving us crappy zooms.

I was also reading about the kit zooms, apparently the Nikon 18-55 is very good indeed, and the Pentax 18-55 is very good too. I know from experience that Canon's kit zooms were terrible, including the first version of the 18-55, they say the replacement 18-55 IS is much better, I don't know, never owned one. I don't know if the Sony 18-70 is any good or not. What I do know is that the build quality of the Canon and Sony is pathetic, ebay is littered with broken ones.

The comment about consumers marking a camera down on Amazon because it doesn't zoom is both funny and sadly true.

I agree, optically good zooms are expensive, and zooms that can match a prime are very few and far between.

Personally, I don't like zoom lenses at all, I don't like the size and weight increase over a prime, I don't like the zoom function, I much prefer to move using my legs than to zoom, or change the lens to a different length one. I can't think of anything I like about zoom lenses really, just not for me. Then again, I hate autofocus and autoexposure too, so maybe I'm just wierd. Smile


Last edited by iangreenhalgh1 on Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:56 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a sony 18-70 that came with my alpha 350, and it was just not good.
The 18-55 attached to the a55 was a bit better, but still not impressive at all (anyway, good for use at the wide end, since good 18mm are not easy to find, especially for reasonable prices).
The Nex5n's 18-55 is actually more than usable, it surprises me most of the time, and it's much better built than the others. Still, the focus ring run has no end, as some digital video cameras, which is something that pisses me off a bit.
from what I read, the newer 16-50 PZ should be sharper than the 18-55, more compact and wider at the short end, that is always welcome.

All of them have very bad distortion, especially at the wide end, but easily fixed in pp


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that info. Good to know the NEX 18-55 is good, when I buy a new NEX, I might take one with that lens.

The Samsung 20-50 that came with my NX100 is a good lens too, also surprises me, I should use it more often. I bought the NX after I dropped my NEX and the case split. I managed to put the case back together and a couple of drops of superglue replaced the broken clips. It's been 18 months now and the NEX still soldiers on, works as good as always, so the NX has hardly seen any use.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
Then again, I hate autofocus and autoexposure too, so maybe I'm just wierd. Smile


Seeing as this is mflenses.com, I think we're all wierd here. Smile

Completely agree with you though, I hate any auto stuff, it slows down my creativity. I'm rarely taking pictures of "normal" stuff. Sometimes I even want things to deliberately be out-of-focus.

I also love how much everyone else yak about 70-200/2.8L and whatever other lenses and then they end up not carrying the lens with them because it's too damn heavy and sometimes they are worried about spoiling a $2.5K lens on rough trips. My Contax 135/2.8 which I paid $150 for and have no problem hiking with usually makes them regret ... throw in my Samyang 85/1.4 and my 2 lenses are still smaller than their huge cannon, 1/8th the price, and does f/1.4 for 85, and makes them regret even more ... because when all is said and done the best lens is the one you have with you Razz


Last edited by wuxiekeji on Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:18 pm; edited 5 times in total


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Contax Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 CY why not popular? Reply with quote

wuxiekeji wrote:

As for "wonderful shots", that's because of the photographer, not the lens Smile I'm not usually pixel peeping, usually spending more time on my bicycle looking for interesting things to take pictures of ... even contrast, colour, all that is more dependent on lighting than the lens.


I did notice the smiley and I get your point. But we are discussing differences between lenses and we are gear junkies (and most of us are pixel peepers). When I say wonderful shots, I mean it. Wonderful like in some of the best IQ I have seen.

And then a smiley Very Happy


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Contax Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 CY why not popular? Reply with quote

Pontus wrote:
I did notice the smiley and I get your point. But we are discussing differences between lenses and we are gear junkies (and most of us are pixel peepers). When I say wonderful shots, I mean it. Wonderful like in some of the best IQ I have seen.

And then a smiley Very Happy


Totally, I'm a gear junkie too Smile BUT ... to a certain limit. I'd really challenge anyone to differentiate, based on IQ alone, a Tessar 45/2.8 at 2.8 and a Takumar 50/1.4 or Planar 50/1.7 stopped down to 2.8, for example. Assuming we establish that this is a difficult task, wonderful photo only depends on the photographer from there. You'd be hard-pressed to make me buy Tessar 45/2.8 unless my comparison statement above is wrong. Only remaining advantage I see is size, but my DSLR body is already huge.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can give two good reasons from a Canon user perspective who wishes to adapt one:
1. the long protrusion of the auto diaphragm lever, and the mm coupling sleeve interfere with the mirror box on a Canon 5D/II/III. It takes a skilled guy like Jim Buchanan to custom adapt them so they work without jamming into the box and interfering with the mirror. And even at that, they will have infinity focus issues.

2. with the release of the 40mm F 2.8 Canon EF pancake lens, there is not much motivation left to mess with the C/Y Tessar. The Canon Lens is optically superior, has AF (I know, I know...), and is MUCH cheaper to purchase. Plus it works out of the box without any major surgery (adding more expense to the cost of the Tessar)


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pontus wrote:

...we are discussing differences between lenses and we are gear junkies (and most of us are pixel peepers). When I say wonderful shots, I mean it. Wonderful like in some of the best IQ I have seen.


I don't doubt the 2.8/45 can produce some of the best IQ you've seen, i bet it's a truly great lens, just as you say it is.

However, I don't feel the need to go hunt one down as I'm quite happy with the performance of my ancient Tessars, I know the 2.8/45 is a technically better lens than my Meyer Primotar 3.5/50, but with my level of skill and my shooting style, I doubt I would see enough of a benefit to justify the expense of upgrading.

That said, if I had plenty of disposable income, I'd be shooting T* primes. Smile

A friend recently bought the Canon L 4/80-200. It's big and he thinks he's the dog's nads because he has a huge gray coloured lens with a red stripe on it, like the pros do. However, I've seen enough of his shots with it now to conclude that it definitely hasn't improved his photography and unless he's making it look poor, it's not a lens I'd want, the images are sharp enough but they are so flat, dead, lifeless. Maybe I'm a better shooter than him, but I think the major factor is the lenses I use, whatever the case, my humble NEX-3 with old cheap lenses (very cheap compared to a modern L lens) produces better imagery than his 600D and L 4/80-200 combo does. I haven't seen his RAWs to pixel peep them, and I haven't properly used his equipment to know it's capabilities, but I strongly suspect, from what I have seen, that I'm not missing anything by not having the cash to buy these modern cameras and lenses.

That said, if I had the chance, I'd love to have a good play with a new model EOS and some L glass, just to see for myself what they can and can't do. Smile


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Contax Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 CY why not popular? Reply with quote

wuxiekeji wrote:
Pontus wrote:
I did notice the smiley and I get your point. But we are discussing differences between lenses and we are gear junkies (and most of us are pixel peepers). When I say wonderful shots, I mean it. Wonderful like in some of the best IQ I have seen.

And then a smiley Very Happy


Totally, I'm a gear junkie too Smile BUT ... to a certain limit. I'd really challenge anyone to differentiate, based on IQ alone, a Tessar 45/2.8 at 2.8 and a Takumar 50/1.4 or Planar 50/1.7 stopped down to 2.8, for example. Assuming we establish that this is a difficult task, wonderful photo only depends on the photographer from there. You'd be hard-pressed to make me buy Tessar 45/2.8 unless my comparison statement above is wrong. Only remaining advantage I see is size, but my DSLR body is already huge.


I very much agree about the differences between good 50-ish lenses being tiny. I have compared many of them in the past and gave up, because it was hard to spot any meaningful differences once you close them a couple of stops, and I do 90% or more of my shooting at f4 to f8. When I can get results that I find very pleasing in both aesthetics and technical aspects from a 10ukp Jupiter-8 or Industar-50, you're gonna have a hard time convincing me I need the latest, greatest, all singing and dancing uber-lens.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anscochrome wrote:

2. with the release of the 40mm F 2.8 Canon EF pancake lens, there is not much motivation left to mess with the C/Y Tessar. The Canon Lens is optically superior, has AF (I know, I know...), and is MUCH cheaper to purchase. Plus it works out of the box without any major surgery (adding more expense to the cost of the Tessar)


I can think of one possible caveat. I maybe totally wrong though, maybe you can tell me. Smile

If the Canon 2.8/40 has the same build quality as the EF II 1.8/50 or EF-S 18-55 then to put it mildly, it's junk waiting to fall apart.

For me, plastic and modern standards of construction are a massive, massive downside to the purchase of a modern lens. If a lens is made out of brass, aluminium and chrome, has already survived many decades of use, then it's going to serve me until the day I either die or get too old to use a camera. That is a huge plus point for me.

Maybe I'm wrong and the 2.8/40 is better built than the EF II 1.8/50? If it is, then how much better? I know it's never going to be as sturdy and solid as an old lens precision machined out of solid metal, but just how sturdy is it?

Whenever I think of modern Canon gear, I just can't get that image of the 1.2/50 L where the optical block fell out after a few months light use because it was only held in by a small ring of double-sided sticky tape. To me, that's like finding out the side impact bars in your car are made out of balsa wood. I certainly wouldn't feel safe driving such a car, and I wouldn't feel secure owning a Canon lens if it's as cheaply constructed as some of them are.

Please feel free to correct me if the 2.8/40 is a solid, sturdy lens, I just don't know because I've never seen or held one.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
For me, plastic and modern standards of construction are a massive, massive downside to the purchase of a modern lens. If a lens is made out of brass, aluminium and chrome, has already survived many decades of use, then it's going to serve me until the day I either die or get too old to use a camera. That is a huge plus point for me.


+10
I had a Canon 50/1.4 fall apart in 3 pieces the first time I took it on a cycling trip because of constant pressure from stuff in my backpack. And the worst part is you're in a faraway, wonderful place and don't have a lens to take pictures with. Bought a Contax Zeiss 50/1.4 and happy ever since, survived at least 4000km already and still in perfect functional shape.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anscochrome wrote:
I can give two good reasons from a Canon user perspective who wishes to adapt one:
1. the long protrusion of the auto diaphragm lever, and the mm coupling sleeve interfere with the mirror box on a Canon 5D/II/III. It takes a skilled guy like Jim Buchanan to custom adapt them so they work without jamming into the box and interfering with the mirror. And even at that, they will have infinity focus issues.

2. with the release of the 40mm F 2.8 Canon EF pancake lens, there is not much motivation left to mess with the C/Y Tessar. The Canon Lens is optically superior, has AF (I know, I know...), and is MUCH cheaper to purchase. Plus it works out of the box without any major surgery (adding more expense to the cost of the Tessar)


Point one: Fair enough. For a Canon user.
Point two: Cheaper- good, AF - good or bad depending on how you look at it, optically superior - how do you know?


PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wuxiekeji wrote:
iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
For me, plastic and modern standards of construction are a massive, massive downside to the purchase of a modern lens. If a lens is made out of brass, aluminium and chrome, has already survived many decades of use, then it's going to serve me until the day I either die or get too old to use a camera. That is a huge plus point for me.


+10
I had a Canon 50/1.4 fall apart in 3 pieces the first time I took it on a cycling trip because of constant pressure from stuff in my backpack. Bought a Contax Zeiss 50/1.4 and happy ever since, survived at least 4000km already and still in perfect functional shape.


Ouch, did you get a refund under warranty?

Reminds me of the story my uncle in Florida told me once, some drug addict broke into his house late one night, my uncle is an insomniac so he was awake and was laid on the couch when the guy surprised him. The guy pulls out some fancy modern auto pistol and points it at my uncle and pulled the trigger, all he got was a click. While he was trying to clear the duff round from his pistol, my uncle pulled out an ex-police 1920s Smith n Wesson revolver he paid 75 bucks for many years ago and shot the guy in the head.

Not a very nice story, I know, but the point is, my uncle could have chosen any modern auto pistol as his last line of defence, but instead he chose to keep an old revolver because he knew it would fire first time every time. If it didn't, it was such a heavy and solid hunk of steel he could always club the assailant to death with it. Smile