« Photokina Cornucopia | Main | Now THERE Was a Strobist! »

Friday, 14 September 2012

Comments

Damn, you've reignited my fire-like desire for a digital Contax G2. When I finally decided to take some (relatively) serious photos on my holidays, I went for the G1 but swiftly graduated to the G2 because of time lag issues. All my professional life I had been using medium and large format. 35mm was for slides. But the results I got from those Zeiss lenses was unbelievable. Of course, I sold the lot to a lovely Canadian girl at photo school a few years back, but I still yearn for it's return in digital form

Yes Mike, the RX1 will fit nicely on your RTS II.

You can thank me by buying it through my affiliate links ;-)

"(As an aside, second lesson learned: never, ever, ever wait around for a vaporware lens to materialize. Make sure the camera you want has the lenses you need for your work available now—right now—such that you can buy what you need immediately and replace it easily if it's lost or stolen. Waiting and hoping for future products is a fool's errand.)"

*Exactly* the thing that's tempering my excitement for the X-E1 - no 23mm. Make it, and then well talk about switching from my NEX7.

Nice way out :)

Or *will* you buy it? Will you???

"Or *will* you buy it? Will you???"

Andreas,
As I said in the article, if all goes well I'll get to try one for a few weeks in order to write about it. So I don't have to decide now. I can wait to decide until after I try it.

Mike

I'm still bitter, black-of-winter Norwegian death metal bitter, that the Contax G series died before digital. Ignoring that the NEX and Fuji cameras are brilliant(and my intense happiness with my x100), I still kvetch. Of course, i berated Nikon for ages for not having an AF 35 1.4 lens....and then got the 200 buck 35 1.8 as it was too dang good, and the 1.4 just too....much.

Am I the only one who feels that the RX1 seems like a digital version of the trusted old Yashica T4 Super/T5? http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Yashica_T4_Super

I've always loved Zeiss glass. My TLR's had Planar's my folders all had Tessar's and I really like the 24mm on the NEX-7. So much that I plan on changing from Nikon D700's as my work cameras to Sony's a99's specifically for the 85mm 1.4 Planar and the 50mm just announced. A couple years ago I never even considered Sony as a serious camera manufacturer (my own mental hangups with proprietary items across Sony's brand) - my how things have changed.

Waaay off topic for a moment:

"...pj's and other pros needed fast lenses and had the money to spend on them."

I can very much see how it's meant, but the apostrophe in "pj's" looks like a misplaced possessor, as opposed to the abbreviator you meant. In the case of an abbreviator, shouldn't there be another in between the 'photo' and the 'journalist' as well: p'j's? It's awkward to read, and probably not worth it. Or does one only need a single apostrophe to signal an abbreviated word? For what it's worth, I probably would have gone for PJs--the capitalization of which would just be arbitrary.

*Wakes up*

Which manufacturers--or systems, really--actually have a three-tiered structure right now?

Nikon and Canon, for sure, but I do believe there are still some holes in the wide prime end of APS-C (which are well-covered by tiers and tiers of zooms).

Olympus looked like it was making a really concerted effort in 4/3 with its zooms (at least three tiers from 22mm-e to 400mm-e), but the primes were pretty much all pro (or mid-priced macro). Infact only a lunatic would have gone into the 4/3 system looking for sub-300mm-e primes at all.

The Micro 4/3 lines of any given manufacturer has a patchy selection but together they cover up to mid-tele pretty well, though a zoom shooter really only has one top-tier option in the Lumix 12mm-35mm f:2.8. Now if you're looking for a 14mm-42mm f:3.5-5.6...

Pentax is weird because while they've got options, it's often multiple options at similar price-points: (presently) you can get a DA 15mm f:4.0 Limited* for $646 or a lowly DA 14mm f:2.8 for $739. There are no other primes around that focal-length range. There's a DA 70mm f:2.4 Limited currently selling for $697 or you could have the FA 77mm f:1.8 Limited for $785. For the extra $88 the latter not only gives one about an extra stop, but also covers a 24x36mm image sensor, which the DA-Limited does not. Though to be fair these prices are probably wonky due to some bizarre and possibly temporary U.S. only pricing changes, which did not affect the FA series.

*In Asahi Optical Co. parlance "limited" refers to a superior build quality, which most manufacturers would just implement to a degree on mid-tier equipment, and significantly on pro-grade lenses. Just like with weather sealing, Pentax seems to be offering it as an option (so to speak) on something other than a 2.8 zoom or 1.4 prime. Not that Pentax really has any of the latter...

Timothy,
It's been the typographical style on this site to use apostrophes with awkward plurals. A formally very impure and undesirable style point, maybe. It dates from my magazine days when the Nikon N8008s came out. Quick, how do you pluralize that? "I sold my F4 and bought two N8008ss." Doesn't really work, does it? So we use an apostrophe improperly, so it becomes "I bought two N8008s's." It's less correct but more comprehensible, and I've opted to go with the latter.

As for tiered lens lineups, I was talking about c. 1977, give or take. And note that Contax's decision simply didn't "take" in several instances--for example, there was a fast Zeiss 100mm f/2 and a slow Zeiss 100mm f/3.5, but so few people bought the latter that it was quietly dropped from the lineup (and it now rare and hard to find. I've owned one, though, and it's a superlative lens).

These days, superfast lenses are less needed and thus less highly valued, and tend to be technical tours-de-force or super-premium lenses. Even Nikon doesn't bother making much of the speed choice at many focal lengths--the choice has become one more of size/weight/price than of speed, and the speed difference that goes along with those other factors has become fourth most important instead of first. A 35mm Summilux might have been legitimately more useful than a Summicron on an M6, but on an M9? Not so much.

Adding to the confusion is that primes are no longer popular, so they sell in much smaller numbers, meaning that makers don't get the economies of scale they used to. And the people who really want primes are becoming less price sensitive--they want them, and they'll pay whatever the lenses cost. So in many cases even slower primes are becoming quite expensive to market. That explains things like the Canon 28mm and 24mm IS f/2.8's [note apostrophe!], which cost around $800. A 28mm ƒ/2.8 was a bread-and-butter lens in 1977, and simply had to compete on price--now it doesn't have to.

Mike

For your sake and mine I'm really hoping you don't like the RX1.

Fun as it is to see the lens on the RX1 as the delayed answer to your prayers, I believe your prayers were answered half a decade ago when the 35mm f/2.0 ZF (or ZK/ZS) lens came around. I'm assuming none of your cameras at that time had a Nikon, Pentax, or M42 screw mount? I believe it was offered in all three... perhaps one of those could have been adapted to be RTS-compatible? Just saying'...

A beautifully written post Mike. Thank you.

"I believe your prayers were answered half a decade ago when the 35mm f/2.0 ZF (or ZK/ZS) lens came around."

Will,
Ah, I knew I'd forget one. I tried that lens on a Nikon FM3a, and it is one of the very best 35's I've ever used...and I've used...well, not every SINGLE one, but a lot of them.

And dare I mention how annoyed I am that I can't use THAT lens on my A900?? I guess I should kvit kvetching....

Mike

Am I the only one who feels that the RX1 seems like a digital version of the trusted old Yashica T4 Super/T5?

The RX1 has far more control than the T4 Super, which really was a point and shoot. Not that I didn't take lots of great pix with the three that I had.

Three, you ask? Yeah, after a few dozen rolls, the mechanism would invariably start scratching the film. So I'd take it over to the Yashica City of Industry office along with the latest set of prints and they'd give me another one. When the last one started to scratch the film, I gave in and bought a digital P&S. Never bothered to take the last one back.

The RX1 looks pretty sweet. Maybe when the RX2 comes out and the price drops...

You get bonus points today for writing a couple incredibly long run-on sentences.

"writing a couple incredibly long run-on sentences"

Did not. And it's "a couple of."

Mike

Thanks, Mike. It took years of therapy for me to get over the death of the Contax G line, and now I'm going to start having flashbacks again. I wonder if my stash of Xanax is still good.

RX1. Where is the facility to pre focus for fast street photography. Am I over looking something? To date I have seen no comment on this essential street shooting feature. I am a serious potential buyer.

Mike, this is my first comment after years of daily visits to your site. You are so very special and have enriched and delighted so many of us beyond description (well you could describe it beautifully and humorously). Thank you. You are a beautiful man. Peter

Dear Ken,

"*Exactly* the thing that's tempering my excitement for the X-E1 - no 23mm. Make it, and then well talk about switching from my NEX7."

It's on the 2013 roadmap. And F1.4 no less!

This begs comparison with the RX1, with a combined price of $1000 less (more if you need the VF for the RX1). A stop faster kind of negates the FF advantage, and the lack of AA filter partially makes up for the resolution difference.

Enough left over for a couple more lenses too.

Peter T.,
[*blush*]

Thanks.

Mike

Contax G + 35/2 Planar

Ikon + 35/2 Biogon

Just saying :)

By the way I am still waiting for their mid-tier ZM 85/2.8 Sonnar

Mike Johnston wrote:
> So I have only one question about the Sony RX1 Carl Zeiss
> Sonnar 2/35 T*: will it fit on my RTS II?

The new Sonnar 35/2's back focus is clearly too short for a RTS ;-)

> So I have only one question about the Sony RX1 Carl Zeiss
> Sonnar 2/35 T*: will it fit on my RTS II?

Of course, with this small adapter:
http://www.amazon.com/Tripod-inches-Screw-Flash-Adapter/dp/B005BON4K8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1347675669&sr=8-3&keywords=tripod+flash+shoe

"Make sure the camera you want has the lenses you need for your work available now—right now—...... Waiting and hoping for future products is a fool's errand.)"

Exactly my point. When I saw the RX1, I am trying to convince myself that I do not need it :). Thanks Mike.

Gee, Mike, you could have had a Nikon all those years and the cute little 85mm f2. Except mine always seemed like a low contrast dog. I hated it for the ten years I had it. Replaced it with the 1.4, and a whole different series of problems. And finally just gave up and used the difficult 90s on my Leicas.
The 1.8 AF seems fine as did the old 85 1.8.
Maybe with Photoshop none of that stuff matters anymore? Or matters even more?

I mean, I've been so insufferable about it, such a broken record, such a pain in the ass, that if I don't buy the RX1, I fully expect a ragtag band of former Contax reps and Zeiss lens designers and Kyocera product planners to show up on my doorstep and beat the crap out of me.

I hate to ask a question of the sort that's been troubling Internet forums for days, with vehement partisans on both sides, but I have to anyway: How do you feel about the viewfinder / external viewfinder situation? Does it matter to you?

"I hate to ask a question of the sort that's been troubling Internet forums for days, with vehement partisans on both sides, but I have to anyway: How do you feel about the viewfinder / external viewfinder situation? Does it matter to you?"

Jseliger,
Well, a) I try not to judge a camera until I have tried it (it's difficult, but I did say "I try"), and b) it strikes me that it might be useful to have the option between an EVF and an OVF. That way you could 1) take your choice of one, the other, or none, or 2) buy them both and switch back and forth depending on need, mood, or whim.

I guess my only concern is that the need to buy a separate VF makes the price even more expensive. Especially as Zeiss OVFs (which are awesome, and I use the word advisedly, as in "they inspire awe") tend to be very expensive. I tried two of them with the Zeiss Ikon and they were really lovely, but too expensive for me.

Mike

Don't worry, Mike. You won't have to worry about the Contax and Zeiss and Kyocera reps showing up on your doorstep and beating the crap out of you.

The Leicaphiles will get you first.

"...but I discovered a curious psychological phenomenon: for the intimate, "plain" portraits that I was doing at the time, it wasn't as suitable, because I found it tended to intimidate my sitters. A young teenaged girl explained it to me succinctly: she said it made her feel "stared at," and like the camera was going to see every pore and pimple and imperfection on her face. "Like a giant eye," she said."

One very good reason why I never use a lens longer than 105mm and never faster than f/2 to make portraits. I've seen people using 70-200's, 180's, etc. and I never understood how they couldn't perceive the inherent effect it could have on their subject[s]. Maybe people are more used to it now with the proliferation of these super zooms that can from 18-270 [~28-400 35mm eq.], etc. But, like you said, the result can't be very intimate when the person feels like they're being "gunned down" as I choose to think of it.

Funny enough, just about ten days ago I finally sold my last film camera, unused since 2008, a Contax G1 with the 35/2. Before I sold it I noticed it had a roll of film sitting in it -- wonder about the surprise I'll find-- so I got the dog and pointed it at him to get the last couple of frames finished. I had forgotten what a perfect feel that camera had, and of course the lens was pretty well perfect. I have had several shots from that combination shown. The AF sounded noisy but was as fast as I remembered. It really was as far as I was concerned the perfect 35mm frame combination from the film era.

This new camera, well, there it is, seems perfect as a successor. The LCD in the RX100 is fantastic, perfectly clear in sunlight, so I expect no difference there. The AF in the RX100 is fast, actually very fast-- faster than the G1 which was fast enough by the way-- so I expect it to be just fine. Using a combination LCD and OVF with a fixed-lens camera is very easy so long as you trust the AF. You know what will be in short supply? The old Voigtlander mini-finder (28/35 frame lines in one tiny rectangular package). I've hoarded mine for years.

It's been clear to me that Sony is making the best sensors in the world, except maybe the Foveons but they lack some things that I find indispensible, so I expect that the IQ from this thing will be astonishing. The price tag doesn't bother me, you're getting a superb lens plus superb sensor.

We'll see, maybe there is some tragic flaw in the thing, but for now jeez, impressive.

Mike, you know I'm a kindred spirit on the Contax front, I had the 25mm, 35mm, and 85mm, all 2.8's, and a 50mm, altho I can't remember f/ on it, and the 45mm Tessar, which actually wasn't all that sharp. We've bitched on here before about the 85mm not focusing close enough, and to this day, they still don't. Look at any specs, and the multiple mount Zeiss 85mm available today, still doesn't get close. Popular Photography ran a test on all these a while back, and I was amazed that everyones 85mm still focused closer, in many cases, half again as close. I used to walk around with the thinest Zeiss close-up ring on the 85, just so it would do what I wanted. Still, all in all, all the lenses were superlative (not a trait of all the Zeiss/Hasselblad lenses, tho), and since I had a long history of knocking around the studio trade, I got to use a lot of alternate systems.

I'm a complete 35mm lens person, it's my "normal", and I never met a Nikon 35mm that was anything but a dog, in fact, the pro photojournalists I used to know all told me as much. They warned my off buying a faster 35mm to try and get a sharper one, to a person, they all said "...they're all bad...". But when I got to the 35mm Zeiss, it was perfect. I never had a 24mm in any other lens system that was as sharp as that Zeiss 25mm too. I've had a few Nikon 85's that were as sharp as my Contax/Zeiss, but none had the crispness or the Zeiss "look".

But the camera bodies were really superior as well. I could be off on this, but some Contax models seemed to be the first cameras I ever used with a hand-friendly, sculpted, vertical shutter release, and the mechanical setting for auto bracket was just perfect as well.

Nothing, but nothing, as ever given me the results, and the actual "in-use" feeling of those cameras, and I miss them to this day. I never did much small format, so I let my stuff go when I should have saved them and bought the S2 and just kept it all in a case somewhere.

Interesting to note, I was reviewing a pals fashion photography on-line a while back, and there was just some superlative images, especially when it came to color and look and feel. I asked him what program he was using to get those results, thinking he was using one of those film emulator programs, and he said: "...nah, those are all scans from film I shot with the Contax 645, best camera system I ever shot with, and perfect for the way I shoot, I should have never sold it."

Well, what can you say....

I'm in! This clearly isn't an all-purpose camera, but for street photography and carry-camera use, it appears to be practically perfect in every way, at least for me and my particular set of tastes-and-preferences.

Sure, I wish it was less expensive, but if it performs well enough, the price will be quickly forgotten.

Assuming that one is willing to pay the price for the RX 1 (which will be well over $3,000 dollars with accessories) just to be able to use what is likely a superb lens, one will eventually have to deal with the issue of obsolescence. In the digital age, 5 years is a lifetime for a camera. I know that some will argue that the RX 1 will still be capable of taking great photos 10 years from now, but that is not how most people will see it. Rather, they will see newer cameras that are far more advanced technologically, and they will find it hard to resist their siren song, though it will mean giving up the Zeiss 35/2. But people are free to spend their money as they please, even if it does not make sense as an investment.

Quote from Mike "Since lens speed (maximum f-stop) at that time was still crucially important"

It still is, even with ISO 128,000 approaching useable for print, depending on client needs, having a extra one or two stops so you can drop ISO by one or two levels can make all the different in the word, especially in the ultra wide world. As a aerial 360 shooter, I would pay a very high premium for a 1.4 full frame fisheye lens. Best today is 2.8. Or a 1.4 20mm rectilinear. As far as I know no one makes one. Yes there are 24mm 1.4's, but at times that is just not quite wide enough for my clients needs.

In the digital age, 5 years is a lifetime for a camera. I know that some will argue that the RX 1 will still be capable of taking great photos 10 years from now, but that is not how most people will see it

It really does not matter how most people will see it. What's more, it will still be able to take pictures with better quality than almost all small format film cameras which have ever existed.

But people are free to spend their money as they please, even if it does not make sense as an investment.

@ Rob:

I learned long ago that digital cameras (and pretty much digital anythings!) are not investments, but consumables.

If I use my RX1 for two years and I then sell it for $1,000, depreciation will have cost me an average of $75/mo., which I find reasonable enough so far as hobbies go. (Truth be told, my purchases of paper and ink -- Yes, I'm one of the few who still make prints! -- average a bit more than that each month, but no one has ever claimed that photography was an inexpensive hobby.)

Of course, this assumes one can afford to fund the initial purchase and does not take into account the opportunity cost of having the money tied up in a camera for a two years, but for $2,800 in today's economy, that's almost de minimus.


There's still something about Zeiss, they seem to not only know how to make high performance lenses, but also understand what matters for real world use. The articles they've been publishing in recent years highlight some of this.

During this summer, I read a bunch of reviews before purchasing a Zeiss 25/2. It's a brand new design, with not many user experiences on the net. I haven't regretted; the performance is very well balanced, avoiding a lot of the nastiness that matters for real world use (like color smearing at frame edges), while producing beautiful images. It's not that reviews didn't provide a positive image, it's that there so much to lens performance and drawing that isn't captured in net reviews.

Really Mike, you should try some of the new Zeiss ZF designs; I think they are great for actual photography, provided you like the look.

PS. I would say that historically Mercedes is the #1, although BMW has been more exciting as of late.

@Lukasz

"In the digital age, 5 years is a lifetime for a camera. I know that some will argue that the RX 1 will still be capable of taking great photos 10 years from now, but that is not how most people will see it.

It really does not matter how most people will see it. What's more, it will still be able to take pictures with better quality than almost all small format film cameras which have ever existed."

I wouldn't bet on that. Ten years hence, smaller sensors may be as good as the FF sensor in the RX 1, if not better. As an example, today's APS-C sensors are tough competition for the FF sensors of a few years ago.

The comments to this entry are closed.