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What's the difference between Contax MM and AE lenses?
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:41 pm    Post subject: What's the difference between Contax MM and AE lenses? Reply with quote

Hi guys,

i think this one might be easy to answer by many of you. Anyway I couldn't find the answer searching the forum and web.


So: Apart from MM lenses having a chip for program and shutter priority mode on CONTAX, is there any other difference between them and AE lenses? I mean, why do people prefer them to the AE version? It's just because of that (which mean they own a contax body)?

Thanks!


PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A chip? I would rather call that a "pin" ... and this indeed is the main official difference, the "MM" (multi mode) lenses have been introduced with the Contax 159MM which has been the first body supporting "P" mode. The AE lenses "only" support aperture priority and manual (whereas MM lenses can support shutter priority (and "program"), too).
Apart from that there are constructional differences, too - for example the "ninja" iris on earlier AE lenses ...


PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:47 pm    Post subject: Re: What's the difference between Contax MM and AE lenses? Reply with quote

igottofly wrote:
I mean, why do people prefer them to the AE version? It's just because of that (which mean they own a contax body)?

I have two 1.7/50mm Planars, one in AE form, the other in MM. Optically, I can't tell the difference between them. The only way in which I can tell which one took a particular photograph is to look at my exposure record book.

MM lenses have an extra lug that tells an MM-enabled Contax body that it's an MM lens mounted on the front, and that it's OK to use shutter priority or program modes. I never have occasion to use these modes, preferring either manual or aperture priority modes. So I wouldn't pay a premium for an MM lens if there were a cheaper AE on offer. I'm told that the diaphragm blades in MM lenses are lighter for faster stopping down, but I'm also told by those who've tried it that you can easily fool the camera into thinking that an AE lens is an MM lens, and the program modes work. I tried it, and it did indeed work.


PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you need MM lenses for full program automatic support.

You can see if it's an MM lens by the coloured f-stop number (mostly f16).


PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
You can see if it's an MM lens by the coloured f-stop number (mostly f16).

One minor caveat... I have encountered an unscrupulous seller (or ignorant re-seller) who had painted the minimum aperture on an AE lens green!

The minimum aperture is green as a reminder to set the aperture ring to that value when in P and Tv modes. These mode indicators are likewise engraved in green on the camera body, so that you know that if you set the camera to a 'green' coloured mode, you set the lens to the 'green' aperture.


PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a few things that were different between at least some AE and MM lenses. I had AE and MM Planars 85/1.4, and the AE one used to have that 'ninja star' bokeh at f/2-2.5 because of the shape of its aperture blades. The MM version has regular blades producing bokeh in the shape of octagonals. Also, I believe the coatings were slightly different, with MM version delivering slightly higher contrast.

I've also heard that some other lenses (Distagon 28/?) were recalculated, improving corner performance and being as sharp wide open as the AE lens being stopped down one aperture stop. Didn't try it myself though.


PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the input!

I believe that probably it has became a myth that MM are better, even though maybe one cannot tell... Wink

If its just for the automatic programs, I don't care cause I'm using manual.

The bokeh difference, I think I've heard before too, yes.

Would love to know further if those things aoleg mention (coating, and recalculation of distagons), have been verified by someone...

BTW, Aren't they made in different countries too? The AE are German, and the MM Japanese?


PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can find all 4 flavours ...

AEG
AEJ
MMG
and
MMJ

although I am not sure if this is true for any lens ...


PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cobalt60 wrote:
You can find all 4 flavours ...

AEG
AEJ
MMG
and
MMJ

although I am not sure if this is true for any lens ...


Uhm, now I am really confused Rolling Eyes Twisted Evil Laughing Shocked


PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

G stands for German and J for Japan made i guess.

That said i have also two versions. One Planar T* 50mm and lately i bought a 2.8 / 85on ebay that was showed on pix as AE, but in fact it was a MM.

The only difference i noticed for the moment is that the MM version has a different lens color than the AE Planar, but that's just me and its on sight. I'll see better on the pictures.


PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right now I am holding two Contax Sonnars 85/2.8. One is MMJ, another one is AEG. They are two different lenses! The appearance is different (I'll post a side by side picture later; the MM has a significantly wider focusing ring); mechanical construction is also very different; the AEG version is physically a few mm longer than MMJ. Coatings are entirely different - different colors of reflections, and the MMJ coatings are visibly more effective, reflecting less light than AEG ones.

In real use, differences in images are subtle at most. I can't tell for now whether the MM version is sharper (it does not seem so from the first glance) or more contrasty (this is could be thanks to improved coatings).


PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aoleg wrote:
Coatings are entirely different - different colors of reflections, and the MMJ coatings are visibly more effective, reflecting less light than AEG ones


That's what i noticed first when i got the 85mm : the coating was of a different shade. it is a MMJ. To be honest the lens itself impressed me much just by looking at it, so i didn't even watched if its MMJ ... nevermind Very Happy


PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aoleg wrote:
Right now I am holding two Contax Sonnars 85/2.8. One is MMJ, another one is AEG. They are two different lenses!


Would love to see them compared. In fact I have a Contax Sonnar 85/2.8, that arrived 2 days ago. It's AEJ. I can also post some images!


PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are pictures of AE and MM versions of the Sonnar 85/2.8 in the Marketplace: http://forum.mflenses.com/selling-off-my-zeiss-contax-rollei-voigtlander-lenses-t26776.html

Hope Klaus will not mind if I re-post them here Smile (Free advertising BTW, as some of them are still for sale). Note how different the coatings are, and how the barrel shapes are also different.

AE:



MM:


[/b]


PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know it's an old thread but I just realized that my Sonnar 2.8/85 is a AEJ with s/n 6581xxx BUT it has the same barrel as the MM shown here and the same green coating .

It does not have the usual MM indicators (green f22 & chrome/silver mount color) but has the same mount design as the MM here, and same fonts style on the front...

It must be a transitional lens from AE to MM Confused


-----

Update: Apparently all AEJ look like the MM version.... the difference appears to be only on the AEG ...


PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For some lenses there is an optical difference between AE and MM versions, with the MM having been improved in the corners and wide open.
Notably:

- Distagon 2.8/25
- Distagon 2.8/28
- Sonnar 2.8/135

The above lenses have been confirmed by Zeiss to have been optically improved with the MM version.

There are other lenses that are rumoured to have been improved in the MM version, but have not been confirmed by Zeiss. These include:

- Distagon 1.4/35 (I tried both - false rumour in my opinion)
- Distagon 2.8/35 (I tried both - false rumour in my opinion)
- Planar 1.4/50 (I tried both - false rumour in my opinion)
- Planar 1.4/85 (I tried both - false rumour in my opinion)
- Planar 2/100 (I tried both - true rumour in my opinion)
- Planar 2/135 (I tried both - false rumour in my opinion)
- Sonnar 2.8/180 (I did not try both so I can not compare)

Finally, there is at least a couple of lenses that were surely optimized after the switch to MM.
These are the

- Planar 1.7/50
which has certainly been improved optically sometimes around serial number 8x - I have tested several examples numbered 5x, 6x, 7x and 8x, and the improvement with 8x is impressive

- Planar 2/135
which has been completely redesigned for the Planar Anniversary version (after the introduction of MM), because at the time of the Anniversary, a new law prohibited the use of some materials like lead in the optical glass mixture - this forced the Zeiss engineers to redesign the original optical scheme (by Glatzel or Glatzel's team) in order for the new calculations to support the use of different glass.
So we know that the Anniversary edition of the Planar 2/135 is different - what we don't know though is if it's better or worse than the original version...

Keyser, only a few lenses had the barrel modified between the AE and MM versions; amongst these, the Sonnar 180 and Tele-Tessar 200.
The Sonnar 85 barrel was never modified and it's identical in all version (I have all four versions of the lens, AEG, AEJ, MMG and MMJ).
But this should not be a concern for you, there is no optical difference between the AE and MM versions of the lens, it is one of the most tried and true optical schemes of Zeiss, and it was never changed.


PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio wrote:

The Sonnar 85 barrel was never modified and it's identical in all version (I have all four versions of the lens, AEG, AEJ, MMG and MMJ).


There seems to be a difference in the "nose" of the lens between the AEG and all other versions. Also the focusing ring in all other versions is longer. Also a total weight reduction for economic reasons must also been applied...

I didn't stated anything about optical design deferences but for coating color differences . But I doubt the later greenish has any advantage to the the blueish ones ....




PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio wrote:
The Sonnar 85 barrel was never modified and it's identical in all version (I have all four versions of the lens, AEG, AEJ, MMG and MMJ).
But this should not be a concern for you, there is no optical difference between the AE and MM versions of the lens, it is one of the most tried and true optical schemes of Zeiss, and it was never changed.

The 85/2.8 Sonnar has been changed with the switch to MM. The barrel is different as shown in above pictures; the coatings are notably different, too. I had AEG, AEJ, and still have MMJ and MMG versions of this lens. Interestingly, the MMG version requires the use of a thicker adapter in order to clear the mirror of 5DmkII compared to the MMJ version. Both AE copies I had cleared the mirror just fine with thinner adapters.

Sharpness is similar between all versions, yet my MM copies seem to exhibit slightly higher contrast (which can be easily my imagination) due to different coatings.


PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keysersoze27 wrote:
But I doubt the later greenish has any advantage to the the blueish ones ....

the evolution of coating is to make ghosting less noticeable
new generation coating render ghosting in magenta
arri wrote:
The T* XP coating is optimized with respect to the spectral sensitivity of motion picture film and the sensitivity of the human eye. Additionally the color of any remaining minor ghosting effect will be rendered in magenta instead of green, which is considerably less noticeable on film

http://archiv.arri.de/prod/cam/t_xp_coating/t_xp_coating.htm#TOP


PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

poilu wrote:
Keysersoze27 wrote:
But I doubt the later greenish has any advantage to the the blueish ones ....

the evolution of coating is to make ghosting less noticeable
new generation coating render ghosting in magenta
arri wrote:
The T* XP coating is optimized with respect to the spectral sensitivity of motion picture film and the sensitivity of the human eye. Additionally the color of any remaining minor ghosting effect will be rendered in magenta instead of green, which is considerably less noticeable on film

http://archiv.arri.de/prod/cam/t_xp_coating/t_xp_coating.htm#TOP


Thanks for the info, poilu !!! Interesting !!!

Quote:
Additionally the color of any remaining minor ghosting effect will be rendered in magenta instead of green, which is considerably less noticeable on film


How about the difference in digital sensor ?? How the different coating will react on sensors ... hmmm


PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll stick with the older ones then, I hate purple fringing! Shrek green fringing is fine though Very Happy


PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

poilu wrote:
Keysersoze27 wrote:
But I doubt the later greenish has any advantage to the the blueish ones ....

the evolution of coating is to make ghosting less noticeable
new generation coating render ghosting in magenta
arri wrote:
The T* XP coating is optimized with respect to the spectral sensitivity of motion picture film and the sensitivity of the human eye. Additionally the color of any remaining minor ghosting effect will be rendered in magenta instead of green, which is considerably less noticeable on film

http://archiv.arri.de/prod/cam/t_xp_coating/t_xp_coating.htm#TOP

Since it's called T* XP, it seems to be something different than just plain T*. These cine lenses are way more expensive and more optimized (focus breathing eliminated and such things) than the lenses for still photography, so most likely the T* XP coating isn't the same as T* on Contax (or Zeiss Z*) lenses.


Regarding the Sonnar 85: slrlensreview noted that the AE version that they tested flared more than the MM version. Unfortunately they don't mention if it was an AEJ or AEG version, but I would guess AEG (since AEJ and MMJ seem to have the same coatings).


PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AhamB wrote:


Regarding the Sonnar 85: slrlensreview noted that the AE version that they tested flared more than the MM version. Unfortunately they don't mention if it was an AEJ or AEG version, but I would guess AEG (since AEJ and MMJ seem to have the same coatings).


They state on the first paragraph on page 2 :

Quote:
The three versions of the lens were an AE copy made in West Germany, and two MM copies made in Japan.



As I have already stated AEJ is the same as MMG & MMJ barrel and coating wise ...


example of AEJ





PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys, what counts is that optically there is no change between AEG, AEJ, MMG, MMJ.
I have the four of them, I have verified that.
Who cares if the barrel has a ridge or not?
_


PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio wrote:
Guys, what counts is that optically there is no change between AEG, AEJ, MMG, MMJ.
I have the four of them, I have verified that.
Who cares if the barrel has a ridge or not?

Coatings are part of the optics and they do make a difference (in colour rendering and flare resistance).