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Contax G - Too Modern?
Old 10-21-2019   #1
Slates4049
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Contax G - Too Modern?

I recently bought an Contax g1 with a biogon 28mm and planar 35mm. It's the first serious camera i have bought and the lenses are obviously sharp and impressive, but i'm wondering whether my images lack a little bit of character that some older lenses might bring to the table. It's obviously a personal preference but I almost feel like the images it creates almost look a little digital. It also doesn't seem to produce the best results at infinity. Does anyone else agree? And if so, what lenses/setup would anyone recommend for a slightly more vintage look?

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Old 10-21-2019   #2
chipgreenberg
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Some of my favorite images were taken with the G lenses
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Old 10-21-2019   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slates4049 View Post
I recently bought an Contax g1 with a biogon 28mm and planar 35mm. It's the first serious camera i have bought and the lenses are obviously sharp and impressive, but i'm wondering whether my images lack a little bit of character that some older lenses might bring to the table. It's obviously a personal preference but I almost feel like the images it creates almost look a little digital. It also doesn't seem to produce the best results at infinity. Does anyone else agree? And if so, what lenses/setup would anyone recommend for a slightly more vintage look?

Thanks

Contax G lenses are 20 years or more old! Hardly modern.
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Old 10-21-2019   #4
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I once did a comparison test between a 1950s Zeiss Flektogon 35mm f2.8 (Werra mount) and a 2016 Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2.8. But for better flare resistance and a slight degree of extra colour I was hard pressed to tell the difference. Both on film of course.

If you don't like Zeiss sharpness and contrast and want something old fashioned, try old Russian glass (for an inexpensive test). It will certainly look different, although it won't work on a G.
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Old 10-21-2019   #5
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G lenses are renowned, but if you don’t like the look there are lots of alternatives.
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Old 10-21-2019   #6
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I have the 16mm, 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses for the G1/G2. I now have the 45mm and the 16mm lenses converted to M mount with RF focusing. They are that good.
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Old 10-21-2019   #7
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Just keep shooting...that little itch will soon be gone. Otherwise you're just asking for excuse to succumb to unbound GAS. In that case no answer but a "yes, buy it" will satisfy you, and down the rabbit hole you'll go.
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Old 10-21-2019   #8
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I have and love the Contax G system, but I completely understand the OP's reaction to the rendering. I do think the G lenses have personality, but the rendering is definitely what I would describe as modern.

You could go crazy with screw-mount lenses from before WWII, but for my money, a sweet spot between those extremes are some of the M lenses from the 60-70s. One of my all-time favorite 35 for BW is the 2.8 Summaron, sharp, corrected, but lower contrast.
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Old 10-21-2019   #9
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IMO choice of subject & light, timing, exposure and processing, putting something of yourself into the photos... This is where real "character" comes in. I prefer a neutral rendering from the lens.

I have a pair of Contax G2 and have liked them very much; the lenses are legendary!
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Old 10-21-2019   #10
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You have to go old for a noticeably vintage look. Think 50mm f/2 Summitar era lenses.
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Old 10-21-2019   #11
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Am I missing something? I thought you could only mount the handful of Contax G lenses on a G kamera is it is a specific auto focus mount?
How would these other lenses that people are mentioning work on a G?

Also if you are not getting sharp images at infinity, sounds like the focus is off.
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Old 10-22-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have the 16mm, 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses for the G1/G2. I now have the 45mm and the 16mm lenses converted to M mount with RF focusing. They are that good.
I have the 20mm, 28mm, 45mm, 90mm lenses for the Contax G1/G2.

I also consider the images produced by these lenses so good that I would consider converting them to the Leica M mount with rangefinder focusing.

Where would I have it done and approximately how much would it cost?
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Old 10-22-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narsuitus View Post
I have the 20mm, 28mm, 45mm, 90mm lenses for the Contax G1/G2.

I also consider the images produced by these lenses so good that I would consider converting them to the Leica M mount with rangefinder focusing.

Where would I have it done and approximately how much would it cost?
Japan Camera Hunter can arrange for the conversion. Go to their website.
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Old 10-22-2019   #14
Erik van Straten
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Contax G1, Planar 45mm f/2, Tmax400/Adox MCC 110.

Erik.

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Old 10-22-2019   #15
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Love Contax G lenses. I'm not sure the ZM lenses are on the whole as good...

For character, the 90mm, 45mm and 35mm are really good. Especially the 35mm lens which is the odd one out in the lineup - a fair bit softer and more 'glowy' than the rest, but still a very good lens.
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Old 10-22-2019   #16
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Contax G Zeiss lenses truly stand out in how they render the mid tones. You will see it your in color negatives or slides. B&W images seem to need a little 'zip' from a Y or YG filter to bring out the best tones.

Over the years I've found it I get the best results (to suit my style of shooting) by slightly overexposing color negatives and slightly underexposing slides (in those long ago days when I shot 'chromes'). B&W I shoot spot-on at box ISO speed.

As another poster has commented, the 35mm Planar has what is probably the most unique 'look' of all the Zeiss G lenses. Slightly soft definition but no lack of sharpness.

They are unique lenses and many dedicated shooters are coughing up serious money to have them converted to the Leica M mount or for digital use.

Someone wrote years ago (I saved the link but unfortunately I can't find it in the mess of my online photo archives) that the 45mm Planar was actually a better lens in terms of definition than the 50mm Leitz Summicron.

Any Zeiss G lens used with Tri-X or HP5 and careful film processing will give you all the character you will ever want. Experiment with a few rolls and vary the processing. You'll definitely notice the differences.
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Old 10-22-2019   #17
Erik van Straten
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Contax G1, Planar 45mm f/2, Tmax400/Adox MCC 110.

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Old 10-22-2019   #18
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Quote:
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Japan Camera Hunter can arrange for the conversion. Go to their website.
I usually don't do this but I found Bellamy's communication lacking when I dealt with him on two occasions. I won't deal with him anymore. I did send in a non working Nikon 35Ti to have the lens converted to Leica M. The work was done and the lens eventually arrived back to me but the conversion wasn't the usual MS Optical quality I'd seen before. There were scratches and other flaws in the lens body.

FWIW, I had a MS Optical converted Contax G 28mm lens. Purchased it through Japan Exposures who used to sell converted lenses. Japan Exposure used to arrange the conversion for owners but they don't do it anymore. I know one other person who is in Japan who might be able to arrange the conversions. I'll contact them and see what they say.
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Old 10-22-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Am I missing something? I thought you could only mount the handful of Contax G lenses on a G kamera is it is a specific auto focus mount?
How would these other lenses that people are mentioning work on a G?

Also if you are not getting sharp images at infinity, sounds like the focus is off.
There exist lenses with focal length 16mm, 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 45mm, 90mm made for the G1 and G2 cameras.
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Old 10-22-2019   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
There exist lenses with focal length 16mm, 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 45mm, 90mm made for the G1 and G2 cameras.
...and a zoomer.
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Old 10-22-2019   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjlapier View Post
I usually don't do this but I found Bellamy's communication lacking when I dealt with him on two occasions. I won't deal with him anymore. I did send in a non working Nikon 35Ti to have the lens converted to Leica M. The work was done and the lens eventually arrived back to me but the conversion wasn't the usual MS Optical quality I'd seen before. There were scratches and other flaws in the lens body.

FWIW, I had a MS Optical converted Contax G 28mm lens. Purchased it through Japan Exposures who used to sell converted lenses. Japan Exposure used to arrange the conversion for owners but they don't do it anymore. I know one other person who is in Japan who might be able to arrange the conversions. I'll contact them and see what they say.
In the USA: DAG did the conversion for my 16mm/8 Hologon to M mount.
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Old 10-22-2019   #22
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...and a zoomer.
Yes, this is correct. There exists one zoom lens too. 35mm-70mm.
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Old 10-22-2019   #23
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The 35 G lens was the dog of the lot, but no hound. More purebred.
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Old 10-22-2019   #24
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Love the 35 Planar!
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Old 10-22-2019   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slates4049 View Post
I recently bought an Contax g1 with a biogon 28mm and planar 35mm. It's the first serious camera i have bought and the lenses are obviously sharp and impressive, but i'm wondering whether my images lack a little bit of character that some older lenses might bring to the table. It's obviously a personal preference but I almost feel like the images it creates almost look a little digital. It also doesn't seem to produce the best results at infinity. Does anyone else agree? And if so, what lenses/setup would anyone recommend for a slightly more vintage look?

Thanks
Congrats on your camera, it's reputation is well deserved. Of the two lenses you own the 28mm is the "better" lens if you look at MTF charts, sharpness across the image, etc, but they're both excellent quality. The 45mm lenses are now inexpensive enough that you should probably try one if it won't break the bank. One of the finest normal focal length lenses ever made during the film era.

I would suggest working more with the Contax while you define what you mean by "character" in your imagery. Try a roll of Kodak P3200 and see if you like the look compared to Ektar, for instance. Character can come from your camera, the film, the processing, the post processing, the printing, and most importantly you.
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Old 10-22-2019   #26
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Old 10-22-2019   #27
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