SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

Started Mar 15, 2013 | Discussions
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mx5002 Regular Member • Posts: 213
SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

i have the 85mm 2.8 from sony and i am pleased with it. however, i have heard that the 90mm contax G is superior in sharpness and micro contrast. i shoot mostly portraits and i am seeking the best image quality possible from my nex-7. would i notice an improvement in image quality from the contax 90mm g? other issues such as manual focusing, manually setting the aperture, etc. are not important to me. i just want to hear from experienced members of the forum if they believe that i will see an improvement in sharpness and micro contrast. thank you.

Sony Alpha NEX-7
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nexturtle New Member • Posts: 14
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

Bump

i would like to know this as well, i hope someone can reply with a comparison...

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seachicken2000
seachicken2000 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,181
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

I have both, and the answer is yes, the Contax G seems sharper and more contrasty to me. But this is only my impression, and the difference is quite small. I believe the SAL85 is recording a similar amount of detail, but doesn't appear as sharp because it's a little less contrasty.

If I were to choose only one I'd pick the SAL 85 because:

  • AF can be handy at this focal length especially when the lenses are wide open and used at close range, the photographer or the subject can move
  • I prefer the rendering and bokeh of the SAL 85 for portraiture, the Contax G is a bit harsh

On the other hand, if you're looking for that sharp/contrasty Zeissy look, the Contax G is the one.

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mx5002 OP Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

thank you for that excellent answer.

neonexxer Regular Member • Posts: 131
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

seachicken2000 wrote:

I have both, and the answer is yes, the Contax G seems sharper and more contrasty to me. But this is only my impression, and the difference is quite small. I believe the SAL85 is recording a similar amount of detail, but doesn't appear as sharp because it's a little less contrasty.

If I were to choose only one I'd pick the SAL 85 because:

  • AF can be handy at this focal length especially when the lenses are wide open and used at close range, the photographer or the subject can move
  • I prefer the rendering and bokeh of the SAL 85 for portraiture, the Contax G is a bit harsh

On the other hand, if you're looking for that sharp/contrasty Zeissy look, the Contax G is the one.

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Great to know!  I'm on the edge of picking up an 85 prime too.  I have the FL covered in MF by a Canon FDn 85/1.8 at the moment, but as you said - I'm finding more and more that AF (and maybe OSS) would make life easier in quite a few situations!  More so than having a faster (ie. larger aperture) lens   Now just waiting a teensy bit longer to see how that rumored E-mount 85mm turns out, if at all!

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nrcole Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

Can't compare to the SAL as I've never used one, but...

You say you don't care about manual focusing, but the Contax is really different because these were made to be AF only. It can be really tedious to try to get focus on spontaneous things like a portrait. If at all possible, try one first to make sure you know what you're getting in to. I'm speaking from experience, as I didn't really know what I was getting in to when I bought mine. 
You won't be disappointed with the output though. Punchy, razor sharp,  and with a lot of pop I don't see in any other lens I own (18-55, Sigma 30, 55-210, FD 50 1.4).

iceccream Regular Member • Posts: 108
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

nrcole wrote:

You won't be disappointed with the output though. Punchy, razor sharp, and with a lot of pop I don't see in any other lens I own (18-55, Sigma 30, 55-210, FD 50 1.4).

this.  i'd say just grab the contax 90mm off ebay.  it's arguably the best value lens on the market, and if you decide MF isn't working for you, just resell.  IQ wise, bokeh is subjective, but by all other measures it's about as good as it gets.

also, from my experience i'd recommend the metabones adaptor, as i've found it's focus action to be much smoother (though i've only used a kipon copy).

cptrios Senior Member • Posts: 1,352
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

Also, if portraiture is your main use for the lens, keep in mind that micro contrast isn't necessarily something you want. Too much local contrast can be very unflattering to a face!

mx5002 OP Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

thank you to everyone who answered my call for assistance. you have all given me great advice!

Frytek Junior Member • Posts: 36
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

iceccream wrote:

nrcole wrote:

You won't be disappointed with the output though. Punchy, razor sharp, and with a lot of pop I don't see in any other lens I own (18-55, Sigma 30, 55-210, FD 50 1.4).

this. i'd say just grab the contax 90mm off ebay. it's arguably the best value lens on the market, and if you decide MF isn't working for you, just resell. IQ wise, bokeh is subjective, but by all other measures it's about as good as it gets.

also, from my experience i'd recommend the metabones adaptor, as i've found it's focus action to be much smoother (though i've only used a kipon copy).

what about AF speed with metabones adapter?

iceccream Regular Member • Posts: 108
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

Frytek wrote:

what about AF speed with metabones adapter?

i'm talking about the manual focus metabones adaptor.

Murx Regular Member • Posts: 194
Contax G 90mm 2.8 -- Metabones
1

iceccream wrote:

nrcole wrote:

You won't be disappointed with the output though. Punchy, razor sharp, and with a lot of pop I don't see in any other lens I own (18-55, Sigma 30, 55-210, FD 50 1.4).

this.  i'd say just grab the contax 90mm off ebay.  it's arguably the best value lens on the market, and if you decide MF isn't working for you, just resell.  IQ wise, bokeh is subjective, but by all other measures it's about as good as it gets.

also, from my experience i'd recommend the metabones adaptor, as i've found it's focus action to be much smoother (though i've only used a kipon copy).

Well -

Focusing of metabones/contax G is  not too bad  - once you actually manage to attach the lens such that it fits. Which in fact - at least for my copy --  implies that you need to take the epoxy glue and glue the lens to the adapter. No joking. Otherwise the lens rattles left, right, front and back and the coupling mechanism for turning the lens is somewhere between "fully engaged" (if you point the lens to the sky) and "loose" (if you point the lens to the floor) .

The build quality of this adapter is a very sad story. Tolerances are way too high. Especially regarding the price i would say this adapter in fact stinks. However - if you do the epoxy thing (or if you happen to have an adapter with less tolerances) the focusing works fairly well.

viking79
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,137
Re: SAL 85mm 2.8 vs Contax G 90mm 2.8

mx5002 wrote:

thank you for that excellent answer.

And another point, if you use Lightroom or anything they have a "clarity" slider.  This slider will give you microcontrast you would normally get with expensive lenses.  I call it the Leica Slider, as it makes your Sigma image look like a Leica image.

Eric

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