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Zeiss Contax Forum for the classic Zeiss Contax I, II, III, IIa, IIIa , G series, and if you want to push it, the nice Contax point and shoots. Some spill over from the Kievs, the Soviet copy of the Contax II/III can also be expected. Plus the ONLY production camera ever made in classic Zeiss Contax Rangefinder mount WITH TTL metering ... the Voigtlander Bessa R2C.

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Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5 in Contax mount: AWESOME
Old 09-13-2009   #1
mabelsound
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Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5 in Contax mount: AWESOME

I have had this lens for less than a week and have shot about four rolls of Arista Pro 400 on it, all with the M7 sporting Amedeo's Contax-M adapter. WOW. This is probably the best 50 I have ever used--it is amazing. Dreamy at 1.5, VERY sharp at f/2. Excellent contrast, smooth aperture. And tiny! I will be using the Nokton f/1.1 for night scenes but this one is the one that's going to be living on the camera.

BTW, I love the M7's AE! Some of these had a bit of compensation dialed in depending on the light situation (esp. the cameraman), I find this much easier to use than I expected.

[updated the links to some of these photos! 6 October 2015]

Cameraman by J. Robert Lennon, on Flickr

Rich-2 by J. Robert Lennon, on Flickr

From Manhattan Bridge-10 by J. Robert Lennon, on Flickr

Stand by J. Robert Lennon, on Flickr

Lookout 2 by J. Robert Lennon, on Flickr
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Old 09-13-2009   #2
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Nice! I've got to get me one of those Amedeos
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Old 09-13-2009   #3
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TRULY LOVELY...
where does one find an Amedeos Adapter????
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Old 09-13-2009   #4
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Yes..you think you like this lens now....just wait it only gets better. It has a delivers performance on so many levels..the best is yet to come.

All the best...Laurance
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Old 09-13-2009   #5
Brian Sweeney
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Carl Zeiss Opton 50/1.5 wide-open and at close-focus, on a modified Nikon S2. (Helical moved out and RF recalibrated for Sonnar)

It's a great lens. Softer Bokeh than the Nikkor 5cm f1.4, and sharper than the Canon 50/1.5 wide-open.

I'm still trying to come up with a way to move it into an LTM mount without an adapter. The Optics Module is too big for a J-3 or for a Summarit mount.

Amedeo sells on Ebay and is an RFF member. You might try sending him a PM.
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Old 09-13-2009   #6
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Looks great John.
Love mine also. It's beautiful in low light also. You may find that Nokton holding down the fort in your bag
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Old 09-13-2009   #7
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I got the Nokton for 1.1, mostly--the Sonnar is softer at 1.5 than the Nokton is at 1.1, as far as I can see. But it's hard to imagine a better all-rounder than this Sonnar.

And Brian, there doesn't appear to be any separation...I asked whether I should buy this lens in a previous thread, and several people warned me that the CZ (late) versions sometimes have this problem. But I don't see any in my copy, thank goodness.
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Old 09-13-2009   #8
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f/1.5 is where The Glow lives, it seems. This is why I'm happy to have the Nokton--it isn't like a razor at 1.1, of course, but is way sharper than anyone would have had a right to expect. The Sonnar's 1.5 is much softer, but is quite beautiful, in its way.
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Old 09-13-2009   #9
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I have a pre-war uncoated 5cm 1,5 Sonnar which Brian converted to LTM. It is a great lens. I used it for three months non-stop without switching to another 50mm lens. I also like the 5cm 2,0 Sonnar. I have one of those in LTM too, and I have the two lenses in Contax mount for the Contax IIa and IIIa. All other 50mm lenses seem "less" in comparison.
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Old 09-13-2009   #10
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Here is a shot of my daughter with the lens I just hacked (with help from Brian's online instructions): a 1937 C-bayonet Sonnar shell with lenses from a 1977 Valdai J-3 in the CZJ optic mount. This pic was shot with one of Amadeo's adapters on the R-D1, minumum distance, f1.5. Focus point was the tip of Emma's nose.
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Old 09-13-2009   #11
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Is the modern Zeiss sonnar ZM the same design as the older contax/Zeiss?
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Old 09-13-2009   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loneranger View Post
Is the modern Zeiss sonnar ZM the same design as the older contax/Zeiss?
I believe not. In the modern lens the middle triplet has been split into two elements with an air lens between. The exit diameter is also much larger. Modern glass and coatings made these changes possible. In my hands the ZM-C meters about 1/4-1/3 stop brighter than my older SOnnars on the R-D1.
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Old 09-18-2009   #13
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Zeiss-Opton 50/1.5 in C mount - my favourite lens, especially good for portraits...

Kodak double-x, @iso400, souped in diafine
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Old 09-19-2009   #14
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I'm in love with this lens already, after only using it with one film

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=79687
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Old 09-19-2009   #15
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Nick, I think yours is a Carl Zeiss jena...but you did refer to having a CZ coming to you in the mail. I'd be interested in knowing, once you've used both, how different you think they are.
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Old 10-07-2012   #16
Fabio Ruffet
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Hi guys,

Is this an adapted lens or originally ltm?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/160897175806...84.m1497.l2649

Thanks

F

Last edited by Fabio Ruffet : 10-07-2012 at 13:34. Reason: Wrong link
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Old 10-07-2012   #17
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I hope you didn't buy that lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabio Ruffet View Post
Hi guys,

Is this an adapted lens or originally ltm?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/160897175806...84.m1497.l2649

Thanks

F
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Old 10-07-2012   #18
Fabio Ruffet
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I didn't but Why? What's up?
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Old 10-07-2012   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabio Ruffet View Post
I didn't but Why? What's up?
Because this is a Russian Jupiter-3 lens roughly disguised into a Zeiss Sonnar !
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Old 10-07-2012   #20
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Yeah

I agree. I'm no expert but lenses/cameras from eastern europe are likely to be fake.

LTM Contax Sonnars are rare. You're better off going with a Contax RF mount + Amedeo adapter.
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Old 10-08-2012   #21
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You only can wonder the "ingenuity" of some of the guys in Belarussia ! They seem to have a stock of old russian stuff which they "convert" to old german "collectibles"
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Old 10-08-2012   #22
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alas my contax 1.5 in amedeo is front focus, i have to "manually" over-focus it. any suggestions ?

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Old 10-08-2012   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
alas my contax 1.5 in amedeo is front focus, i have to "manually" over-focus it. any suggestions ?

raytoei
Try the adapter with a Nikon RF 50mm lens. If it then focuses accurately, send the adapter back to Amedeo telling him that you got a Nikon-Leica adapter, although it's written Contax-Leica on it.

As per what I have heard here and there, such things happen with Amedeo's adapters. But he's a good guy and will be helpful.
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Old 10-15-2012   #24
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I love this lens and Contax cameras. I have 3 Sonnars ( I have 2 sweet ones and my Contax II for sale in the classifieds ) They are wonderful lenses and have 2 characters, sharp with impressionist bokeh at 1.5 and sharp as a pin at smaller apertures. It is also a wonderful lens on the amedeo adapter. Mine works perfectly on my m9 and is wonderful for color, with a warm and saturated color rendition


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Old 10-15-2012   #25
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This lens works very well with Fuji Reala 100. The mix of a sharp center with low contrast optices and high contrast film is beautiful. I have one in Contax mount and one that Brian adapted into LTM for me. The 50/2 is also a great lens, by the way.
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Old 11-20-2012   #26
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I had shot 2 rolls of E100 using it and a CONTAX IIA, it is sharp, but the color maybe a little light then curren time lens.
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Old 11-21-2012   #27
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The colors are less saturated than some modern lenses made after 1960.
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Old 12-12-2013   #28
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Anyone shot/compared both the new Zeiss C Sonnar and "classic" Sonnar (coated)?

I have Zeiss-Opton 1,5/50 (Contax mount) which I use on my Kiev II and M6 with Amedeo adapter. I LOVE it. I think it's a perfect match for slide film which I decided to shoot while it's still around. Still, focusing and aperture rings turn in the "wrong" direction.

Funny thing is, I did own the new C Sonnar but I shot it mostly on digital and foolishly sold it. Anyone went from old to new Sonnar and lived to tell?
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Old 12-13-2013   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brbo View Post
Anyone shot/compared both the new Zeiss C Sonnar and "classic" Sonnar (coated)?

I have Zeiss-Opton 1,5/50 (Contax mount) which I use on my Kiev II and M6 with Amedeo adapter. I LOVE it. I think it's a perfect match for slide film which I decided to shoot while it's still around. Still, focusing and aperture rings turn in the "wrong" direction.

Funny thing is, I did own the new C Sonnar but I shot it mostly on digital and foolishly sold it. Anyone went from old to new Sonnar and lived to tell?
Hello brbo,
I thihk I'm the one to answer your question, as it was me who bought your ZM 50mm C-Sonnar about 2 years ago!

I have an uncoated Opton Sonnar in Contax mount (which I used on a Contax II until that camera broke), and then I've used your former C-Sonnar on a Leica M4-P. I've shot both these setups at different times, and never "tested" the lenses, I only shot with them in my normal use. I've shot C-41 colour films with them both, but not the same exact film (old Porta NC 400 before, and now new Portra 400).

So my impressions are far from a scientific analysis. But I sold your modern C-Sonnar a couple of months ago and kept the vintage Zeiss lens (from 1939 I believe). For me the determining factor was not so much image quality (more on that below), but whether or not I could use the ZM C-Sonnar as my "everyday", all-around, do everything 50mm lens (I hoped I could be due to its fast aperture and relatively small size (stubby profile)).

But I really didn't like the 1/3 f-stops on the ZM lens, and the general ergonomics compared to all my other lenses with are 1/2-stop Leitz/Leica lenses. The IQ from the C-Sonnar was excellent though, but I little too modern/contrasty for my taste.

Once I realised that I didn't want the C-Sonnar as my "everyday", all-around, do everything 50mm lens, then it became a specialised lens in my eyes, and if I'm reaching for a specialised lens already, I might as well go all the way, and use the old, uncoated Zeiss Opton whose images have more of the "vintage look" (softer and less contrasty).

By the way, I didn't notice any significant differences between the two lenses in terms of bokeh. The ZM C-Sonnar was sharper (or gave the impression of sharpness via higher contrast).

I'm now testing the MS-Optical 50mm f/1.1 Sonnetar as my "everyday", all-around, do everything 50mm lens. It is quirky ergonomically, but so far I like it as it is very small and light-weight, 1-stop faster than the Zeiss Opton Sonnar, focuses to 0.8 meters, and doesn't seem to suffer from focus shift (magically). I tested the Sonnetar under controlled conditions on a tripod mounted Sony NEX-5n which I briefly owned, and found that (a) it REALLY was 1 stop faster, and (b) I could not see any focus shift when stopping the lens down.

And indeed, so far in real-world usage I seem to be nailing focus better with the Sonnetar than I did with the C-Sonnar.

I think in the end I'm going to pair the 50mm Sonnetar with a 50mm modern Elmar-M that I also own, and which is the best 50mm lens I have ever used - but of course only opens up to f/2.8!
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Old 12-13-2013   #30
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Thanks for your input sleepyhead!

1/3 stops might even come handy for me since I'm using slide film 90% of the time. But you got a point there, C Sonnar would be a perfect match to 2,8/35 C Biogon (both small, 1/3 click stops), but I don't think I'm ready to let go of my 35mm lens (Canon 35/2 ltm).

Nikkor 50/1.4 ltm would probably solve the "problem" of ergonomics, but those are too expensive.
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Old 12-13-2013   #31
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I'm currently shooting my Dad's old Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm 1.5 on my M3 via Amadeo adaptor (which also allows me to shoot my W-Nikkor 35/2.5.) The adaptor works great, and I highly recommend it. Someone (maybe here on RFF) did a side-by-side test of the C-Sonnar with the '50s version like mine, and I remember how much alike they were until the corners, where the older lens fell behind, as we might have expected. Both are great lenses. I may weld mine to the M3.
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Old 12-15-2013   #32
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Sorry, I made a mistake above, my Zeiss Opton Sonnar is not uncoated. It has a light bluish-purple coating. I guess compared to the beautiful coating of the ZM C-Sonnar (with multiple colors) I always thought of the old one as uncoated.

Its serial number is 1055211. I don't know what year that's from, but someone pointed out that it is not 1939 as I thought.
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Old 12-16-2013   #33
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I agree, the Sonnar 50/1,5 is perhaps the best 50mm. lens ever made for 35mm. film cameras. I'm a fan of the Contax RF system (also in its Soviet "variation") and it's interesting to compare the results between an uncoated pre-war lens, a wartime, red "T" one and the Zeiss Opton one made in the West. All, with their own character, are capable of excellent results.

Best wishes,

E.L.
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Old 10-05-2015   #34
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Add me to the list of fans. I think this late lens (post war, labelled simply Carl Zeiss) is my favorite classic sonnar so far:



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Old 10-05-2015   #35
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Here it is, 1937 CZJ 50/1.5 which I got with a post war red dial IIIa. In this case it's amedeo to M to E on stock Sony A7, and wide open:


Mark
by unoh7, on Flickr

And stopped down on the M9:
[
All fall down by unoh7, on Flickr

That last shot the M9 thinks was f/11, but it was at least F/8 for sure. I just looked at the full and at this range it's good to the edges

Usually I look at the longer landscapes where tiny distant details reveal very subtle changes in performance. I memory is that the edges went soft, but that might have been a Sony sensor thing. I should try some on the M9.


DSC02414 by unoh7, on Flickr
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Old 10-06-2015   #36
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As I was saying in the Sonnetar thread, I sold this lens along with all my Leica stuff...now I'm back into RF and buying some of it back. I'm giving the Sonnetar a try, but if it doesn't suit me, I'll probably find another of these...
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Old 10-06-2015   #37
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Keep it quiet, please guys. I've just got myself a Contax, and I'd rather like to still be able to afford one of these.
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Old 10-07-2015   #38
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Nice thread, great pictures from the contributors and I like the lower contrast rendered by these older lenses. I also love the idea that you are all using and preserving these great jewels for the future - what ever that future might be - and so enjoying them along the way.

It seems to me that these older Zeiss lenses produce pictures closer to the colours and shadings that I see with my eyes, modern lenses and sensors producing an unnatural sharpness and with garish colours. This may be the decline in my eyesight!
On the 'soft corners at full aperture debate'. It is fairly unlikely that a picture made at full aperture has any important information in it's corners that needs to be sharp, and not a single viewer of any of my pictures has ever commented on my soft corners. My poor technique or camera shake is far more likely to be my cause of image degradation.
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Old 10-07-2015   #39
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this thread seems like a setup for me to go and buy a contax + sonnar
I might sell my ZM sonnar and use the rest of the cash for other stuff.

questions:
The Amadeo adapter focuses to 0.6m I've read, is this correct or what is this dedicated 50mm adapter about? is it coupled that close?
That would be a huge advantage over my ZM sonnar!

How close does the lens focus on a contax body?
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Old 10-07-2015   #40
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The vintage Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5 is an amazingly good lens. I have it in Contax mount and also in LTM mount (modified by Brian). The Jupiter 3 is its clone, and you can get a J3 in either mount. The Amedeo adapter makes the lenses much heavier.
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