Out with the Old, in with the... Old

So I've almost finished selling my Canon SLR gear, to pay for my... Canon SLR gear. That is, the old-school manual-focus SLR gear to pay for... well, old-school manual-focus SLR gear, in the guise of old-style AE/MM Zeiss Contax lenses mounted on a digital Canon EOS. Monday I was lucky enough to snag a new 28 ƒ/2.8 for less than the price of a nice used one, by following up on someone else's Ebay transaction gone wrong. Hurrah.

I've noticed in practice that I much prefer using manual focus with my EOS 300D, despite so many earnest users telling me that it's a bad idea, that the screen is hard to focus on, the AF is terrific, etc etc. The only thing lacking, really, has been manual-focus lenses that are built to be focused manually, with a longer throw on the barrel for exacting manual control, combined with a hardy, solid feel (Canon's 50mm ƒ/1.8 Mk II is a lens that, while inexpensive, is built to keep margins low — in other words, it's lightly built, and the front elements wander). The Zeiss, built for cameras like the Aria and pro-level RTS, has that solid feel in spades.

Even better luck, I hope, on the 50mm ƒ/1.4, a lens that's sharper than either Canon version and yet cheaper due to the small demand from Contax shooters. Used ones usually run $150 to $200. On a hunch, a few days ago I started looking to see if I could get a better deal by simply buying an old Aria or 167MT, with a 50mm attached — lucky me, I found a 50 for a low-end price, complete with an attached RTS! If it's at all in good shape (particularly the shutter, which is impossible to service these days) I should be able to turn the body alone around for nearly the cost of the lens. Or consider it a free camera :)

On the subject of how few Contax users there are — 'twas ever thus, even in the beginning days of the Japanese Contaxes. A tragedy, really. It's not easy to find much about them on the web, either — which is why I tried to pile as many links as possible into this entry. My friend Knut, while tossing back Tuborgs a couple of months back, opined that he was the only Contax user he knew of in Denmark.

Comments on "Out with the Old, in with the... Old"

February 18, 2004 11:24 PM

Contax users are few and far between in the UK, but I went to an art event a few days ago where there were three Contax G2s, including mine. The camera seems to have something of a cult following amongst art/photography students here.

March 3, 2004 02:08 PM

Yearning to use a nice 50 again on a SLR I picked up a CZ 50/1.4 recently and a 167MT and then a 139Q. I have to say the 139Q is one sweet little camera. The little I've been able to use the 50/1.4 I would say it's better than my Leica 50 Summicron.

March 4, 2004 03:01 AM

A beautiful, serene image.


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