Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

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mnmk New Member • Posts: 7
Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

Hi,

A film user/amateur here.  I just acquired a decent set of Contax G and Zeiss C/Y lenses and interested in trying them with a digital body. From what I can tell, Full Frame, is best to get the most out of them.

Because of budget, I can't buy new or top shelf.  But what would ya'll recommend as a used starter-body to try these out and see how I like it/them?  Open to both mirrorless or dslr models. (of course, I'd buy adapters as well).

Thanks for and wisdom or guidance!

calvin83
calvin83 Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
1

If you need AF adapter for contax G, you will need a Nikon Z or Sony E mount camera. You can't use contax G lens on a dslr as they are designed for rangfinder.

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Tomm111 Senior Member • Posts: 2,345
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

You can adapt Contax G lenses to an L mount camera, Leica or Panasonic, or probably most mirrorless cameras same with the Y/C lenses.

Interestingly a company named Funleader made a reversable helicoids that matched with a Leica M rangefinder for the 35 or 45 Contax G lenses. I don't know if they are still available, but in a quick search I found at least one on Ebay. Not a budget item unless you have the Leica M.

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Diacyclops81 Contributing Member • Posts: 794
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

You might not need a FF body to start, an APS sized, even m43, sensor is fine. As they are manual focus lenses, get something with a decent viewfinder, EVF much preferred for accurate focus, and why not get the benefit of IBIS. It works. Skip DSLRs. The lesser expensive G adapters are adequate for whatever lens mount you get. If this a lark, then go with a used body in decent shape. For FF a Lumix S5 is a good choice, for APS possibly a Fuji H1, for m43 an Oly EM1ii or iii or Lumix G9. All have IBIS and all produce better images than you might expect. And all are Very reasonably priced in the used market. I have G lenses and a multitude of CY and have used all the cameras mentioned.

Dusty-Lens
Dusty-Lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,011
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
2

My personal pick will be a Nikon Z6 or Z7 (MkI or MKII). The Techart G to Z AF adapter works fine with them but doesn't support Z8, Z9 or Zf, at least yet.

Ask Techart on email - if they intend to support the Zf in the future - it is the best option.

Sony FE has AF G mount adapters but the thhhhicck filter on the Sony sensor stack degrades the quality of these lenses and for the wider angle options makes it basically useless. Playing with additional filters helps but the filter itself still impacts the original lens IQ.

For C/Y use a C/Y to M (same for any other mount and brand to M) in combo with Techart M to Z AF adapter. Works perfect. All my different old lenses miraculously became AF that way, real joy!

Don't go for APS-C:

Why make the focal length 1.5 times longer?

Why loose the rendering character by using only the centre of the lens? These lenses were designed for FF.

Why loose more pronounced subject separation?

Why loose better SNR and DR?

OP mnmk New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

This is great, thank you all.  Yes, I've been kind go seeking specific models, etc... more than the big picture issues of adapting-- which I've been researching.

Seems like lots of folks use Sony a7 up and some FF canon dslrs, all of which seemed still fairly high on the used market for first steps trying this out, so seeking good options where I'd be likely to get the full benefit of the lenses at modest price point, then upgrade later if it sticks for me.

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 48,254
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

mnmk wrote:

This is great, thank you all. Yes, I've been kind go seeking specific models, etc... more than the big picture issues of adapting-- which I've been researching.

Seems like lots of folks use Sony a7 up and some FF canon dslrs, all of which seemed still fairly high on the used market for first steps trying this out, so seeking good options where I'd be likely to get the full benefit of the lenses at modest price point, then upgrade later if it sticks for me.

You could go with a Panasonic GX7 which is a 4/3 sensor.  But this camera, now old was well ahead of its time in capability.  Should be quite reasonably priced and is a joy to use compared to a Sony A7 body (or any dslr) - even if they have a FF sensor they are not particularly nice to use.

I tend to enjoy taking the images more than the end product - having the technical best sensor does not compensate for a camera body that is awkward to use.

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Tom Caldwell

Ching-Kuang Shene
Ching-Kuang Shene Veteran Member • Posts: 6,539
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

If you wish to have a small set of light weight lenses, then the G is hard to beat.  On the other hand, the number of lenses for G is rather limited.  However, the CY series has more lenses from 15mm (? have to check for sure) to 500mm and 1000mm (if you can find these two).  There are very good zoom lenses.  However, most if not all CY lenses are heavy and bulky.  Therefore, light vs. heavy and (less choices) vs. (more choices) are the two main factors you have to consider.  The remaining is your preferences

I used these lenses on Sony E and Nikon Z bodies.  Both delivered great results.   BTW, I always used MY rather than AF via an adapter.

CK

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backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 444
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
1

For adaption of vintage 35mm lenses, do not take a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras make it all so much easier: Adaption itself, focussing, exposure, etc..
If you're on a budget, I'd choose a Sony A7(R)2. They have been on the market a long time and I'd assume, they will be quite cheap in comparison.
I have the A7R3, which has the same sensor as far as I know and the G45 and G90 work great with it.
However if you'd like to use 28mm and below, maybe a Nikon Z6/7 will be the better choice. It is common knowledge that they will provide better corners with wideangle rangefinder lenses due to a thinner filter stack in front of the sensor.
I have the G 28mm Biogon too and it works pretty well using a PCX filter, but sometimes I still have problems with the colors in the corners, which usually makes me take the CY Distagon 2.8/28 instead.
Samples (shot on Sony A7R3):
G45

G90:

G28 (not a good sample of what it can do, but the only one I could find at the moment, probably shot wide open too):

If this makes a difference, I will look harder for other samples of the G28 on Sony.

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OP mnmk New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

This is great, thank you.  Especially the wide angle info.  I don't hav the G28, but I do have the G28, but I do have the G21/2.8, which I've not even been able to use yet.

So that info helps.  Maybe a perk to go toward the z6/7.

If I did go with the sony, I guess I could send it to a new home to help fund the purchase.  We'll see.  I do have a yashica ml (not Zeiss) 24mm that I could use in it's place.

Excited to get a body soon and try these all out.  thanks for the great info!

backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 444
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

mnmk wrote:

This is great, thank you. Especially the wide angle info. I don't hav the G28, but I do have the G28, but I do have the G21/2.8, which I've not even been able to use yet.

I don't know how that one behaves, but from what I've read it's also good enough using a PCX front filter (see this article: Front end filters on wide angle rangefinder lenses about that).

So that info helps. Maybe a perk to go toward the z6/7.

I'm sure it's a solid choice and probably the better one if you intend to keep using rangefinder lenses, that certainly are very appealing, but also expensive. If money is an issue, I think a used Sony will be cheaper and like I hope I was able to show, it takes very nice images using the G lenses, even the G28 (with PCX). Also all vintage SLR-lenses will work very well on a Sony camera. Many of them aren't much larger or heavier (like maybe the Contax Distagon 2.8/28) and there's a much larger variety to choose from in every price range (which is much less the case for rangefinder lenses).

If I did go with the sony, I guess I could send it to a new home to help fund the purchase. We'll see. I do have a yashica ml (not Zeiss) 24mm that I could use in it's place.

Excited to get a body soon and try these all out. thanks for the great info!

I can relate. It was great fun to explore all the options you get when you start adapting lenses. I still continue to enjoy that very much. So have fun!

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Dusty-Lens
Dusty-Lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,011
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
1

backsidewalkaround wrote:

mnmk wrote:

This is great, thank you. Especially the wide angle info. I don't hav the G28, but I do have the G28, but I do have the G21/2.8, which I've not even been able to use yet.

I don't know how that one behaves, but from what I've read it's also good enough using a PCX front filter (see this article: Front end filters on wide angle rangefinder lenses about that).

So that info helps. Maybe a perk to go toward the z6/7.

I'm sure it's a solid choice and probably the better one if you intend to keep using rangefinder lenses, that certainly are very appealing, but also expensive. If money is an issue, I think a used Sony will be cheaper and like I hope I was able to show, it takes very nice images using the G lenses, even the G28 (with PCX). Also all vintage SLR-lenses will work very well on a Sony camera.

The thinner stack filter on Nikon, Leica SL, Panasonic S actually gives a noticeably better image quality with any film-era lens, incl SLR.

The Panasonic S1R / Leica SL2S are best due to the aspherical micro lenses on their sensor. But Nikon has AF adapters available due to pdaf. On the other hand the Panasonic/Leica benefits in terms of IQ due to the lack of pdaf sensors (limiting pixel well capacity).

Anyway both are great depending on what one needs and better than Sony for any old lenses.

Richard Dutton Contributing Member • Posts: 976
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

I have both cx G and C/Y lenses and prefer to use them on a FF MILC.

I first used them on a A7 ( mark 1 ) and now on a Z6

I think a used A7ii ( with IBIS ) or a Z6 is going to be good and cheap.

If you need high mpx then the A7Rii is well liked.

The C/Y lenses are by far easiest to use. The cxG need a fiddly adapter with a focus wheel to drive the screw drive in the lenses. Finding a nice adapter is not easy and focussing is not as nice as with a manual SLR lens.

In addition, WA rangefinder lenses usually have issues with digital sensors ( apart from Leica M ) -

see-

https://phillipreeve.net/blog/rangefinder-wide-angle-lenses-on-a7-cameras-problems-and-solutions/

If you use a smaller format such as apsc or m43 then the problems with the biogons goes away but you end up with longer effective focal lengths.

Dusty-Lens’s comments on using L system bodies is interesting.

It turns out both Sony and Nikon Z have the same filter stack thickness ( about 2mm ) in spite of earlier information which was mid interpreted.  I shot the 21and 28 Biogons with PCX filters on both an A7 and Z6 and found no essential difference re colour smearing in the corners unfortunately.

I really wish I hadn’t sold my Contax G2 bodies - these are all exceptional lenses on film but not (imo ) on digital Sony or Nikon Z.

Dusty-Lens
Dusty-Lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,011
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
1

Richard Dutton wrote:

I have both cx G and C/Y lenses and prefer to use them on a FF MILC.

G can be converted beautifully to M. It isn't cheap but many still do it, if anyone wants to try I recommend doing it yourself it is very easy and much cheaper. Just email the gents at Mr Ding they will provide the kit and everything needed, it is very high quality.

I first used them on a A7 ( mark 1 ) and now on a Z6

I think a used A7ii ( with IBIS ) or a Z6 is going to be good and cheap.

If you need high mpx then the A7Rii is well liked.

The C/Y lenses are by far easiest to use. The cxG need a fiddly adapter with a focus wheel to drive the screw drive in the lenses. Finding a nice adapter is not easy and focussing is not as nice as with a manual SLR lens.

The AF G to Z and to FE adapters are also an option.

In addition, WA rangefinder lenses usually have issues with digital sensors ( apart from Leica M ) -

see-

https://phillipreeve.net/blog/rangefinder-wide-angle-lenses-on-a7-cameras-problems-and-solutions/

If you use a smaller format such as apsc or m43 then the problems with the biogons goes away but you end up with longer effective focal lengths.

Dusty-Lens’s comments on using L system bodies is interesting.

Given it is interesting, I will provide some details, also good to have this info on the forum for future reference.

So, what's the deal with the sensor made by Panasonic's affiliate TowerJazz:

1. The absence of PDAF sensors integrated into the imaging sensor eliminates issues like lens internal reflections forming a grid pattern around AF pixels

(1.1), potential PDAF striping in certain situations where stripes align with AF pixels

(1.2), instances of banding in low-light conditions

(1.3), and notably enhances SNR since there is no loss in pixel size for PDAF.

2. The S1R sensor incorporates aspherical micro lenses on its surface, enhancing its capability to capture higher resolution and acutance, it can record amazing sharpness provided that the attached lens can deliver and match such quality.

3. The sensor stack filter, positioned atop the sensor, boasts a thinner design, resulting in significantly reduced blurring when compared to Sony sensors commonly found in most cameras. Also no issues with wide-angle Amount lenses.

4. Of course no AA filter at all.

It turns out both Sony and Nikon Z have the same filter stack thickness ( about 2mm ) in spite of earlier information which was mid interpreted. I shot the 21and 28 Biogons with PCX filters on both an A7 and Z6 and found no essential difference re colour smearing in the corners unfortunately.

Different manufacturers report filter thickness differently. Nikon exclude some if the layers, thus making it look better.

But in the Nikon Zf that I have the images from old glass indeed come better than from Sony cameras using the same sensor, so there indeed is some difference in the filter stack in the Zf, perhaps because it is positioned as their model to be used with older MF lenses.

I really wish I hadn’t sold my Contax G2 bodies - these are all exceptional lenses on film but not (imo ) on digital Sony or Nikon Z.

Alun Thomas Regular Member • Posts: 138
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

That's interesting information (and new to me) about the particular technology used on the S1R camera. How does the S1 24MP sensor compare in terms of being able to be used with older lenses? I'm only asking because that's what I currently own. I have noticed better results with many older lenses over the Sony A7II I had prior to that, and am curious whether the same technologies were applied to that sensor.

Dusty-Lens
Dusty-Lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,011
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
1

Alun Thomas wrote:

That's interesting information (and new to me) about the particular technology used on the S1R camera. How does the S1 24MP sensor compare in terms of being able to be used with older lenses? I'm only asking because that's what I currently own. I have noticed better results with many older lenses over the Sony A7II I had prior to that, and am curious whether the same technologies were applied to that sensor.

The S1 sensor is also developed and made by Panasonic/JazzTower. It seems to be an evolution of the Leica MP240 sensor which was also made by them.

I don't know if the sensor design and architecture are the same as those of the S1R though.

FKS
FKS Veteran Member • Posts: 3,640
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

Before Nikon released the FX Z bodies, I was using a Fuji XT-1 and Lens Turbo II with my C/Y lenses. It's one option if you want to start cheap.Not quite 35mm, but good enough.

I currently use a Z7, and having IBIS along with the larger EVF than the X-T1 is a nice advantage.

No experience with Contax G lenses tho.

mnmk wrote:

Hi,

A film user/amateur here. I just acquired a decent set of Contax G and Zeiss C/Y lenses and interested in trying them with a digital body. From what I can tell, Full Frame, is best to get the most out of them.

Because of budget, I can't buy new or top shelf. But what would ya'll recommend as a used starter-body to try these out and see how I like it/them? Open to both mirrorless or dslr models. (of course, I'd buy adapters as well).

Thanks for and wisdom or guidance!

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fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 8,560
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?
1

mnmk wrote:

Hi,

A film user/amateur here. I just acquired a decent set of Contax G and Zeiss C/Y lenses and interested in trying them with a digital body. From what I can tell, Full Frame, is best to get the most out of them.

Because of budget, I can't buy new or top shelf. But what would ya'll recommend as a used starter-body to try these out and see how I like it/them? Open to both mirrorless or dslr models. (of course, I'd buy adapters as well).

Thanks for and wisdom or guidance!

I think Nikon FF should be a top choice. For Contax G you may need one expensive adapter but I would suggest theTechart for Contax G (Nikon only), which will Auto-Focus the Contax G lenses with most of the functions intact...Then the C/Y lesnes would be your manual lenses (adapter costs $20).

https://techartpro.com/?product=techart-contax-g-to-nikon-z-autofocus-adapters-tzg-01

OP mnmk New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

Dusty-Lens wrote:

The thinner stack filter on Nikon, Leica SL, Panasonic S actually gives a noticeably better image quality with any film-era lens, incl SLR.

The Panasonic S1R / Leica SL2S are best due to the aspherical micro lenses on their sensor. But Nikon has AF adapters available due to pdaf. On the other hand the Panasonic/Leica benefits in terms of IQ due to the lack of pdaf sensors (limiting pixel well capacity).

Anyway both are great depending on what one needs and better than Sony for any old lenses.

Okay.... so this has been super helpful, and here's where I am looking at, for practical reasons-- any advice?

The most reasonable used market prices seem to put me either in a Sony a7r ii OR a Nikon z6.  Those seem plentiful around my breakpoint. Almost actually bought a a7rii, but realized they are pretty plentiful out there (which actually kind of steers me away from them.  Though I like the high MPX.

If I am patient, it seems like I might be able to get an a7riii OR a z7 (long shot). Of the a7 models, I lean toward the R versions, not the standard.

My main issues holding me back from just buying one of the a7rii I have seen is that: 1) they are the oldest camera out there of my pics and 2) there's a lot of them for sale.  Not sure the second point matters but seems like lots of folks upgrading out of them.  Where as the z6 or z7 is pretty scarce second hand.  I figure if it doesnt work out or I don't take to it, maybe the resale is easier/better on the Zs?

Okay, that's my final thinking..... thoughts or advice?

Diacyclops81 Contributing Member • Posts: 794
Re: Body Recommendations: Contax G and C/Y lenses?

Advice. If you’re being patient… Find some place to get your hands on one or both or a Lumix S1R.  If 24MP as in z6 is ok, then the Lumix s5….all will be just fine in image quality but might as well find something that feels right in your hand, with controls especially manual focus aids, that you will use.

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