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View Poll Results: Which 35mm combo would you choose ?
Contax G1 + 28 + 45 45 19.23%
Leica R4S + Elmarit 28 + Summicron 50 15 6.41%
Nikon F3 + 28 AIS + 50 1.4 AIS 146 62.39%
Contax RTSII + 28 Dist + 50 Planar 1.7 28 11.97%
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35mm - Which system ?
Old 02-25-2015   #1
littleearth
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35mm - Which system ?

I need a 35mm system that can suit both my personal (landscape, portraits) work and client work (portraits, engagements...)

I want to shoot with a 28mm and 50mm only, and my main concern is reliability and image quality.

I would appreciate your opinions regarding these cameras/lenses.

Thanks !
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Old 02-25-2015   #2
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Size not an issue?

Nikon F3 HP
Nikon 28mm Ais (f/2.8 unless you need the f/2 version. The f/2.8 may be sharper at f/2.8 than the f/2 version at f/2)
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Ais

That would be my set.... Should be under $800
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Old 02-25-2015   #3
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Quote:
I want to shoot with a 28mm and 50mm only, and my main concern is reliability and image quality.
Take the Nikkors and mount them on an F2.
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Old 02-25-2015   #4
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You don't want a M6?
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F3 and 28mm f/2.8 AIS
Old 02-25-2015   #5
Robert Lai
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F3 and 28mm f/2.8 AIS

I had this combination for many years. It is great. The 28mm f/2.8 AIS is probably one of Nikon's finest in manual focus.


The 50mm f/1.4 I was never fond of, as it is too dreamy wide open, and the bokeh is ugly. Much better is a 50mm f/2 or 50mm f/1.8 AI or AIS. Less expensive too.
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Old 02-25-2015   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
None of the above.

I own a Pentax MX (two in fact until one sells) and the MX is a smaller camera than any Leica RF, with higher flash sync, TTL light metering, 96% viewfinder and DOF preview.

Hard to beat already and when you venture in the ridiculous prices for an MX body, a 1.4/50mm and other pieces of kit, it becomes ludicrous to even compare the two!

must admit l love my mx
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Old 02-25-2015   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
The 50mm f/1.4 I was never fond of, as it is too dreamy wide open, and the bokeh is ugly. Much better is a 50mm f/2 or 50mm f/1.8 AI or AIS. Less expensive too.

This. The 1.8 and the 2.0 are better lenses than the 1.4, and much cheaper too.
I have the 1.4 (came with the camera that I bought) and would not recommend it when there are those options.

The Contax RTS series are beautiful cameras, but unreliable. And when they break, chances are they've become unfixable paperweights. Been there twice..
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Old 02-25-2015   #8
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I would go with the F3 and Nikkor lenses.

The F3 has a great meter (heavily centerweighted at 80/20) and can use pre-AI lenses in stop-down mode if you've got any older glass. Solid build, but it's a bit lighter and feels smaller than the F2, which is also a great camera. The only downside is the viewfinder illumination button never seems to work on any bodies I've seen - just poor design and execution I guess.

I just returned from Death Valley and shot both medium-format and 35mm. The F3 was the only 35mm body I needed and probably used the 28/2.8 AIS lens 80% of the time. I don't use my 50mm lenses too much, but for portraiture the 85/1.4 and 105/2.5 are excellent choices if you want to go longer.
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Old 02-25-2015   #9
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Reliability? Probably go with a Nikon but step down to an F2A/AS.

It's possible that you will need to replace the foam seals on all of the Japanese-manufactured cameras.

I probably wouldn't use the Contax G professionally until you get used to the autofocus system.

I don't know enough about the Leica R4S - is that the one that was developed in association with Minolta?
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Old 02-25-2015   #10
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Contax, but I would take the later/younger ARIA instead of an RTSII
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Old 02-25-2015   #11
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Of your options, I would choose the Nikon, but I too have a soft spot for Pentax. Both MX and LX bodies and Pentax 28 and 50 lenses served me well for many years of commercial work.
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Old 02-25-2015   #12
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Leica M4-P, 28/2.8 Elmarit and 50/2.4 Summarit.

Even though this is not one of the poll choices.
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Old 02-25-2015   #13
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If image quality is your primary concern, I'd go for the Contax G system. Get a G2, if you can swing it. That system has the best lenses of the ones you're considering. It's a totally different experience than shooting with an SLR. Kind of apples-oranges choice you've given us, isn't it?
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Old 02-25-2015   #14
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Unfortunately, reliability and image quality are (almost) mutually exclusive in this group.

For IQ it's the Contax G, hands down. And they are generally very reliable. I've owned maybe 8-10 bodies over the years, only one that I came across ever needed service.
But as we enter 2015, who knows how much longer these cameras will be serviceable or how long parts will be available? The original promise was 10 years from the date Contax shut down (2005.) And it does take some patience to learn what the AF system likes...

Leica R4 --- run away. The least reliable of the lot...stay away from anything earlier than R5 (this is from experience running the used dept at a camera store. We'd take them on trade, they would appear to work, and then flake out later and we'd lose $$ on them.)

Nikon F3: *very* reliable, easily repairable, and the 28 is great. The 50, not so much. Maybe go with a 50/1.4 Planar instead? That said, the F2 is *more* reliable, or how about an FM2n or FM3a?

Contax: excellent lenses, but perhaps choose a different body (I've owned the RX, ST, and Aria. If it were me, I'd go Aria...matrix metering, very light, great big viewfinder, and it is the most recent.)
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Re: F3 meter light
Old 02-25-2015   #15
Robert Lai
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Re: F3 meter light

The F3 meter light requires that the meter is active AND you press AND HOLD that little red button, in order to illuminate the LCD panel. If the meter times out, you need to repeat the process all over again. I usually just brought a small flashlight with me for dark work.

Having said that, my Nikon system is now down to a Nikon F and F2A.
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Old 02-25-2015   #16
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I voted Nikon F3 because that was the choice and I use one.
If meter is no concern, then the original F or later F2(some with meter).
I use the 28mm f3.5 Nikkor and The 50mm f2.0.
I suggest that one also look at the 55mm Micro-Nikkor, 105mm f2.5 Nikkor.
Adding these will not break the bank!
The smaller FM3 and FE bodies are nice.

I love Pentax!
But, there's the but, the MX is smaller, lighter but way weaker..
owned one.Loved it.
I don't think it had a faster flash synch speed?
Sure some Japanese cameras may need new light sealing foam,
but are remarkable in reliability where the Leica R4 is not.
I have seldom used the others so cannot comment.
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Old 02-25-2015   #17
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For something not for personal use I prefer Canon EOS system with L series lenses and other manufacturers modern lenses plus modern flashes compatible with digital and film bodies, which are reliable.
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Old 02-25-2015   #18
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I prefer the Nikon F3. I have been shooting the F3 for decades, I have no less than three F3P bodies right now, one of which was dropped in salt water, yet still works.

You have a lot more options with Nikon lenses, the 28/2.8 AIS is pretty much unbeatable (the Contax is better, but the extra cost does not justify the difference in quality). A huge variety of 50mm lenses exist, plus those made in the Nikon mount by other manufacturers. I have been using the old 58mm f/1.4, which I like, and I have an early 50/2 which has 9 aperture blades, and is a great performer.
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Old 02-25-2015   #19
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The F3 kit, but go with a 50/2 instead.

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Old 02-25-2015   #20
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Or 50/1.2
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Old 02-25-2015   #21
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The best body is Nikon F3 with HP+Dk17M. The best lenses are Zeiss Makro Planar 50/2 and Distagon 28/2, or the Contax 28/2.8 and 45/2. You could adapt these lenses to M mount and get a Zeiss Ikon, or simply get the ZI with the 28/2.8 Biogon and 50/2 Planar. Nikon lenses are basically useful at f5.6-f8.0 only.
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Old 02-26-2015   #22
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I voted for the F3 etc;. I would be happier if I could change the selection 50mm f1.4 to an Ai'd 50mm f1.4 Nikon Nikkor Auto S (which is my own variety and I like the look)
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Old 02-26-2015   #23
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Thanks everyone !

I'm seriously considering the Nikon F3 HP because I want the AP mode, the FM3A would be perfect but it's too pricey.

As to the glass, I'll probably go with the 28mm AIS, but for the 50mm I'm considering adapting a 50mm Summicron R with the Leitax adapter.

As much as I love the results I see from the Contax G glass, I'm not entirely sure about it's AF and small viewfinder.
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Old 02-26-2015   #24
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My vote might be biased because I own and love an F3
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Old 02-27-2015   #25
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The 28/2.8 AIS drives the decision for me.

I'd go F/F2 with plain prisms but that is me. The F3 with a P screen (too busy for some, just right for others) and an AR-10 would be my tweaks.

My system would be the same 28 but with an 85/1.8 from yesteryear. While a very large chunk of glass I love the way it renders. I would have to run some tests on different 50s from Nikon to decide which. I've read reviews going just about every which direction as to the best 50mm Nikkor so I think it's very sample specific.

Good luck.

You mileage may very but if you stick with a F/F2/F3 and a 28/2.8 AIS your results and fun will not.

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Old 02-27-2015   #26
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I voted for the Nikon setup because of your reliability requirement. Image-quality is almost as good as the Leica and Zeiss lenses, but for professional purposes you gotta have a rig you can rely upon. The Nikon meets that requirement, the other bodies not so much.
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Old 02-27-2015   #27
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I said go for the Nikon system, much though I love the 45mm Planar that goes with the G1. The three things which would incline me that way for the stated purposes were avaialbility and price (including for both purchase and backup), ease of repair/replacement should that be required and visual (optical/mechanical) confirmation that focus is where you want it and think it is. While I've come to terms with focusing my G2 and can mostly put focus where I want it, there's still that 5-10% of doubt which might matter a lot if used when working for clients.

None of the offered options would be my choice for an equivalent system, but that wasn't the question.

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Old 02-28-2015   #28
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I voted Nikon F3, mainly because they are quite reliable and the lenses does not cost a fortune.

Saying that the Nikon lenses only are useful at f5.6/8 is really just - to put it very nicely - opinion. An interesting photograph seldom hinges on the brand of the lens - more likely on brain and eyeballs.

See if the lenses work for you and if not, change them out. Doing handheld work tends to level the field to a great degree.
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Old 02-28-2015   #29
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... no point having a F mount nikon if you don't also own a 105/f2.5

Just a thought
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Old 02-28-2015   #30
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Agree with that, Sparrow!
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Old 02-28-2015   #31
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I voted Nikon, as that's pretty much the setup I have: albeit with a 50mm F1.8 rather than the F1.4. Oh .... and the 105mm F2.5

To be fair though, I never owned or used any of the other options.
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Old 02-28-2015   #32
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I'd suggest the F3 hp also (easiest for portraiture) with a cheap completely manual backup body if necessary. Late 28/3.5 and a late, multicoated 50/2.
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Old 02-28-2015   #33
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Reminder: "Contax" is a brand name and not a manufacturer. Yashica had the rights to use the Contax brand, and when Yashica became part of Kyocera, those rights were transferred to Kyocera.

Kyocera didn't shut down. It only ended camera production.

For commercial work, I'd go with the workhorse. Nikon. For personal work, buy what you want. There are no rules that say you can only own one system. The only limits are those you place on yourself - unless you live in North Korea. But, hey, this isn't a political discussion.
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Old 03-01-2015   #34
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I shoot mostly with RF cameras. I have a Nikon F5 and love the nikon F series . Great cameras and have lot of lenses and can do all kind of photography on this
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Old 03-01-2015   #35
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I'd go with the F3. If you're a fan of Zeiss they made the ZF series lenses for Nikon F mount after Kyocera stopped making Contaxes. I imagine they're optically the same as the C/Y version but quite a bit more expensive - the 50mm 1.4 ZF planar is about double the price of the C/Y version at used prices.

RX, RXII, ST, Aria, S2 and RTSIII make better choices for Contax bodies than the RTSII which doesn't have a great reputation for reliability. Contax SLRs seem to be coming down in price a bit these days, with the exception of the RTSIII and S2 they can all be had for about the price of a comparable condition F3.

Personally I'm not sure if I'd bother adapting a Summicron to Nikon F unless you already own one.
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Old 03-01-2015   #36
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I've said this before, but if you're going for a Nikon and a 28mm, the 28mm f/2 is better than the f/2.8 model, at least in testing I did. My f/2.8 was the vaunted AIS model (the f/2 was an AI). This was only obvious in the corners and at equivalent apertures. The f/2 model wide-open has a touch of spherical aberrations, but, the f/2.8 model can't open up another stop!

The 28/2.8 is very good for close up though.

They seem to be about the same price.
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Old 03-01-2015   #37
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The best body is Nikon F3 with HP+Dk17M. The best lenses are Zeiss Makro Planar 50/2 and Distagon 28/2, or the Contax 28/2.8 and 45/2. You could adapt these lenses to M mount and get a Zeiss Ikon, or simply get the ZI with the 28/2.8 Biogon and 50/2 Planar. Nikon lenses are basically useful at f5.6-f8.0 only.
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Old 03-10-2015   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littleearth View Post
I want to shoot with a 28mm and 50mm only, and my main concern is reliability and image quality.
Of the choices you listed, I voted for the Nikon F3.

Over the years, I have used the Nikon F, F2, F3, and F4. All were very reliable.

Today, I still use the F2 and F4 with the two focal lengths you listed (28mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4). Both lenses produce excellent image quality.

For head & shoulder portrait work, I also use the 105mm f/2.5 and/or the 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. Either works well with the two lenses you listed.


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Old 03-10-2015   #39
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Over the years, I have owned and used all of the poll choices, bodies and lenses. My humble advise is to stay away from Contax and Leica R4 because of reliability issues as all other posters have pointed out. They are real and a royal PITA.
The only camera and lenses combination that have survived over the years are a couple of Nikon F3, the 28/2.8 AIS and a Summicron-R 50/2 converted to F mount thanks to Leitax. The F3 have tolerated gracefully all sorts of mistreatings and they seem like they will continue working as the first day.
If you do not use glasses, the plain non-HP finder has a bigger image than the HP, and somehow it feels more comfortable to me to focus the Summicron.
A Leica M6 is also a reliable tool, but more limited.
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Old 03-17-2015   #40
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Personally, I think more than the body, you should be looking for the best lenses. I can only comment on Contax. I had a Contax 139Q that I worked pretty hard until it died on me. I can't attribute that to any Contac unreliability as it was right after a house fire and house fires wreak havoc on electronics. But the 50mm f/1.4 is a superb lens. I currently have a Contax 167mt, which actually seems to fit my hands better than the 139Q, and isn't as heavy as one might suspect with its motor drive. But if you decide to go for a lens line, your next problem will be ensuring you get one that is still good. My two Contax 50mm lenses have held up well. But so have all my Fujinon lenses.

I am surprised that you would want to use 35mm for portraiture, especially since you only want 28mm and 50mm. I know you can use any lens for anything, but some are pretty well acknowledged to work better for different things. Above suggestions for a longer lens for portraiture are at least worth considering imho. I would also wonder why you would not want a MF for both landscapes and portraits. What do you use now?

But that said, I have used 35mm cameras for everything you can imagine at different times myself. Not knowing your style or clients, I have to guess you know very well what you are doing.
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