Monday, 12 November 2007

Contax, from Dream to Reality

I has been nearly a year since I fell into the Contax world. It has been a 'nerve-twisting' experience with the camera and its lenses, which made me believe that some thing belong to dream and something works in reality. So what are they:

Planar 85mm F1.4

I bought this lens first, before every thing else branded 'Contax' while I still had a canon 5D. Yes, I bought it for the full frame digital SLR.
When I was purchasing this lens, I had 2 options, a Leica R summilux 80/1.4 and this planar. I did so many test shoots with both of them. You know what, I can see the difference in the image quality between these two. Even today, surfing though my image library, I still find it difficult to tell which are the ones shoot with the Leica and the ones with Zeiss. So the decision was tough, but realistic, price! It was a lot cheaper than the Leica. Well, that pretty much tells how good it is, and we all know it.

I still want to mention this, the Bokeh is Beautiful, I don't understand why the 35mm 7element was crowned the Bokeh-king (Which I also have). In my opinion, the Planar should be the King-of-
Bokeh, and the little 7-element can be the Queen.

However, every hero has its dark sides, so does the Planar. Wide open, it is 'horrible', especially on film when you have now control over the image characteristics, I still can live with that. What was really the filler to this lens is the focusing, it was so difficult! which make all the ferry tale of this lens meaningless. Yeap, it is a lens belong in dreams to me, not in reality.

Distagon 35mm F1.4

The second Contax lens I bought. It is in the class of its own, the world's first incorporated aspherical elements and flouting element designs, the result is simply a Legend! Many say "You either crazy about it, or you are crazy not to like it". In my opinion, this is as good as you can get in 135 world. Don't need any more words for it.

Well, something feels too good to be true, it is most the time too good to be true. This is the lens just like that, yes, I'm crazy, and I don't like it, it's personal.


After I got those two beasts, I decided that a Contax body would be a nice backup body to the 5D. I guess my unfaithfulness to the DSLR was beginning much earlier than I thought, or may be it is because of the RTS' "sexy" body, that lead to the oblivion the poor Canon.

RTS II Quartz, what a beautiful camera! A second iteration in 1982 of the 'Real Time System' which was introduced in the 70s. Crafted by famed Porsche Industrial Design Group, the first RTS was already excellent, but its successor is even better. This camera is truly a masterpiece combining Japanese efficiency and German skills.

Planar 50mm F1.4

I have very mixed feelings about this lens. Planar was certainly a milestone in the lens design. It is capable of rendering sharp images that out resolved my film scanner! However, at wide open, it is a bit soft, poor color. Still, looking though the viewfinder on the RTSII hooked up with this lens was such a joy. Focusing was fast. It reminds me someone's comment on this lens: the water is too deep, be careful. Meaning there is a lot about this lens need exploring, I'm just getting started.

Distagon 25mm F2.8

I bought this lens to accompany the Planar 50/1.4 on the trip to Europe. It turns out that this lens alone make the trip worth remembering. There is so much more to this piece of glass than I previously expected. The color was so rich, the field of view was more than excellent to capture street scene, people, buildings... you name it! Some time, you have to learn to get use to 'what'd f**k!'.

This is how my Contax dream ends, back to reality, the journey is just getting started with the RTSII and the little 25/2.8 and the 50/1.4.

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