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Author Topic: Contax 645 lenses/P25  (Read 13126 times)
willowsr
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« on: March 10, 2006, 01:21:03 PM »
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I was not altogether surprised by Michael's recent piece on the Ultimate System and the recognition that the Contax lenses cannot absolutely optimize the P25's capabilities.  I use a P25 on the Contax system and on a Fuji 680III and have from the start noted a significant advantage in the Fuji lenses.  In larger print sizes, at normal viewing distances, the difference is visible to me, and almost as importantly, to my buyers.  This does vary, in my experience, from lens to lens-  while the 80mm is pretty good around f8, it is less good than I expected much above or below.  The 120mm I find very useful from 5.6 up almost to f16.  The 140mm I find surprisingly good from f5.6 up to f11.   I do not find the 210mm much use at all (maybe it's my piece).  I would be interested in Michael's, and others, experience of the specifics of the Contax lenses with the P25.  I believe that Charlie Cramer, no slouch regarding image quality, opted for the Mamiya 645 system...
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yodelyo
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2006, 12:00:12 PM »
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I was not altogether surprised by Michael's recent piece on the Ultimate System and the recognition that the Contax lenses cannot absolutely optimize the P25's capabilities.  I use a P25 on the Contax system and on a Fuji 680III and have from the start noted a significant advantage in the Fuji lenses.  In larger print sizes, at normal viewing distances, the difference is visible to me, and almost as importantly, to my buyers.  This does vary, in my experience, from lens to lens-  while the 80mm is pretty good around f8, it is less good than I expected much above or below.  The 120mm I find very useful from 5.6 up almost to f16.  The 140mm I find surprisingly good from f5.6 up to f11.   I do not find the 210mm much use at all (maybe it's my piece).  I would be interested in Michael's, and others, experience of the specifics of the Contax lenses with the P25.  I believe that Charlie Cramer, no slouch regarding image quality, opted for the Mamiya 645 system...
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hey
i am a photographer assistant who has worked extensively with this system......the 210mm lens was a dog with film and with digital, so it is not just yours it is all of them, get rid of it while you can! The 80mm is the sharpest, and in my opinion one of the best medium format lenses made.

do you have any focusing problems with the p25/contax set-up? some people have. Not sure if it was the back or the camera, but i have heard of problems. I am trying to buy a p25 for my contax set-up, are you happy with yours?
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willowsr
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2006, 11:52:26 PM »
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hey
i am a photographer assistant who has worked extensively with this system......the 210mm lens was a dog with film and with digital, so it is not just yours it is all of them, get rid of it while you can! The 80mm is the sharpest, and in my opinion one of the best medium format lenses made.

do you have any focusing problems with the p25/contax set-up? some people have. Not sure if it was the back or the camera, but i have heard of problems. I am trying to buy a p25 for my contax set-up, are you happy with yours?
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Thanks for your confirmation of my experience with the 210-
As to focus problems, yes- I have had some intermittant difficulty, but only when using autofocus.  I initially thought this to be a low light problem, but I now doubt that.  I recently did a job on a factory floor, autofocus relying on my modeling lights with very little ambient (I was working deliberately with the idea of light fall off around and away from my close subject)- wonderfully crisp focus.  The strobes absolutely stopped the movement of lubricant flying off a cold saw blade, with the teeth and stampings on the blade as sharp as you could wish.  Later in the same week I shot, again with the 80mm,  in late afternoon exterior, open shade- not a single sharp exposure.  It  was as if I had used a really lousy soft focus(is that redundant?) lens.  Looking at the files in C1 I couldn't find a true plane of focus- not in front of or behind my intended (selected by autofocus) plane of focus.  A real bummer.  The talent, which included a remarkably well behaved young horse who was shipped out to Kentucky the next day  (so no re-shoot) put in the time- not one good shot (Thanks be to Nikon that I had coverage with D2x files).  This was may be the third or fourth time in about a year that I've had the problem with Contax/P25.   Never had it with manual focus- and of course, never had it with the 680 III.
Am I happy with the Contax/P25?  Yes, but I would recommend back-up coverage.  My impression (perhaps I should say interpretation)  of Reichmann's recent piece is that he finds the improvement available in his new Rodenstock HR/Linhof system goes well beyond the differences within the main stream medium format inventory.
Best of luck putting together your system- there should be some P25s available, as the p45s are delivered broadly.
Jed
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2006, 01:36:36 AM »
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If my understanding is correct, Michael has also moved from Contax to Hassy H systems.

This probably doesn't speak too favourably for the future of the Contaxt system...

Regards,
Bernard
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willowsr
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2006, 02:26:49 AM »
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If my understanding is correct, Michael has also moved from Contax to Hassy H systems.

This probably doesn't speak too favourably for the future of the Contaxt system...

Regards,
Bernard
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I'm inclined to accept Reichmann's view of Contax's future- worse than dim-crapasoola-kaputsky-finito.  Having said that, the equipment is no less good for the corporate decision to bail out.  The body is light but solid.   Mirror slap is well damped (and easy to lock up- a 1Ds mkII should be so easy).  The 80mm and the 120mm can do splendid work.  That the HR Rodenstoks on the Linhof or the comparable Rollei can outperform the Contax stuff neither dismays or disappoints me.  I can handhold the Contax and work very much more quickly than I can with any view system or my venerable Fuji 680III.  Are the files as absolutely good? nope.  Are they better than my
D2x files? Printed at 22" or more on the long axis, decidedly, yes.  Works for me.  My Contax stuff is paid for- if it functions another 24-36 months, I shall be very pleased indeed.  
Regards,
Jed
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2006, 11:40:25 AM »
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I've been reading with much interest the comments about the contax 210 lens.  I have that lens, plus the 80, 120 and 35.  The latter three lenses (coupled with a P25 back) have incredible resolution and contrast.  Only a small percentage of my images with the 210 are in focus and I have thought it was a lens problem.  However I have had enough shots with this lens come out tack sharp to make me think it is my technique that is the problem, not the lens.  I never hand hold, always use a gitzo carbon fiber 1228 with a RRS B55 heavy ball head, mirror lock up and timer.  Still I think 1. I'm getting vibration and 2. the auto focus is off. eleanor
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James Russell
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2006, 11:16:39 PM »
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I keep hearing that certain digital studios and rental houses in NY have bought all the new Contax equipment they can find.

There seems to be an overwhelming opinion of dislike for the H-1 and many fear that Hasselblad will soon make the H series a Imacon only system.

True or not, that is the talk on the street.

Personally I love working with the Contax and today mounted the Hasselbad T series Planar 110 F2 on it with the adpater.

Amazing how well that works and how integrated the contax is to the Aptus back.

They really look like they were designed for each other.

To me, since I only photograph people, the ultimate resolution of the lenses is not as important as the look of the glass and the Zeiss look is very evident, especially on short focus subjects.

Maybe Contax is gone, maybe there will be something new from Zeiss to replace it, but today, for me it's the very best tool for what I do.

Even a quick test of an assistant at 1/30th  f2 handheld shows no blurring or smearing, or signs of mirror slap.

It really is a fine piece of equipment.

JR
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Rick_Allen
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2006, 05:02:02 AM »
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I keep hearing that certain digital studios and rental houses in NY have bought all the new Contax equipment they can find.

There seems to be an overwhelming opinion of dislike for the H-1 and many fear that Hasselblad will soon make the H series a Imacon only system.

True or not, that is the talk on the street.

Personally I love working with the Contax and today mounted the Hasselbad T series Planar 110 F2 on it with the adpater.

Amazing how well that works and how integrated the contax is to the Aptus back.

They really look like they were designed for each other.

To me, since I only photograph people, the ultimate resolution of the lenses is not as important as the look of the glass and the Zeiss look is very evident, especially on short focus subjects.

Maybe Contax is gone, maybe there will be something new from Zeiss to replace it, but today, for me it's the very best tool for what I do.

Even a quick test of an assistant at 1/30th  f2 handheld shows no blurring or smearing, or signs of mirror slap.

It really is a fine piece of equipment.

JR
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James everytime you post about contax you drive the prices up. Respectfully lets keep all this about contax between you and me. Please I still have lenses I need and a second body. Great to hear about the mam adapter, now where can I find one?
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vgogolak
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2006, 09:00:58 AM »
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I wouldlike to put in a good word for the 35mm and (even the zoom, though heavy).
The 35mm is very sharp and very wide. There is no hasselblad equivalent

On Hasselbled, I would also say that there are good adapters and I quite enjoy, after seeing MR's review of the ARSAT I think, of the fisheye 30mm hassey.

Now for really wonderful alternative to the 210mm (if not dog, maybe puppy!  

That is the hasselblad 180mm. It is a wonderful alternative.(see 100%)

Although MR has switched from Contax for understandable reasons, I see all I want in the Contax and Hassey V series lens (MANY at good prices)

I will save money for next step: ALPA and HR and XL lenses with my P25

regards
Victor
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Let Biogons be Biogons
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2006, 10:44:29 AM »
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The Contax 645 lenses are generally sharper and faster than their Hasselblad equivalents (in addition to their automation/data advantages with the Contax body).  From repeated reports, the 210mm may be the exception -- I have one but haven't used it much at all to say (although the MTF's don't look all that different than the 140mm which is a fine lens).

I would put the 120mm/f4.0 Makro up against just about any MF lens (even most 35mm) lenses -- it is outstanding.    The 35mm is also great, and the 80mm is reputed to be the best MF 80mm available (the Xenotar 80/f.2.8 is close, but a stop slower). The 140mm has exceptional bokeh and is an ideal portrait lens. The 45mm is really good as well. No experience with the 45-90mm zoom or the 55mm.  Also, if you find the 645's 350mm/f4.0 Tele-Apotessar, buy it as they are far and few between.
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James Russell
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2006, 10:42:31 AM »
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The Contax 645 35mm is the best wide angle I have ever used.  Even wide open with the A-22 it's freaky sharp, if you hit focus.

It also has very little barrel distortion, though I admit I don't use wide angles all that much.

My newest most favorite lens is the Hasselblad 110 f2 I put on the contax with the MAM-1 adapter.

Very beautiful and great grainy falloff.

Really something special.

JR
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2006, 12:21:57 PM »
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The Contax 645 35mm is the best wide angle I have ever used.  Even wide open with the A-22 it's freaky sharp, if you hit focus.

It also has very little barrel distortion, though I admit I don't use wide angles all that much.

My newest most favorite lens is the Hasselblad 110 f2 I put on the contax with the MAM-1 adapter.

Very beautiful and great grainy falloff.

Really something special.

JR
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James could you explain what you mean by "grainy falloff?  do you have some online examples usiing this lens camera combination?  I use the P25 back with my contax and use primarily the 35, 80 and 120 (occassionally use the 210 but have problems with lens camera vibraton/and or focus on the latter.  Have not tried any hassy lenses on the contax. Thanks, Eleanor
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2006, 06:14:43 AM »
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"The 35mm is very sharp and very wide. There is no hasselblad equivalent"

"The Contax 645 35mm is the best wide angle I have ever used.  Even wide open with the A-22 it's freaky sharp"

"The 35mm is also great, and the 80mm is reputed to be the best MF 80mm available. The 45mm is really good as well."

Eh? It's good that everyone's happy with their purchases, but this certainly isn't the Contax system that I remember.

Get hold of the MTF curves for the Hasselblad H 35mm, the new Hasselblad 40mm IF, the old Hasselblad SWC903 38mm (before glass changes forced Zeiss to downgrade to the SWC905), the Contax 35mm, and the Contax 45mm. All these MTF curves were produced using the same Zeiss testing equipment and to the same test regimes, so they're directly comparable. Take a close look at the (again directly comparable) f8 curves and I don't think there can be any doubt. The best wide angle by some margin is the Hasselblad V system 40mm IF, and the best wide angle if you need low distortion is the Hasselblad V Biogon 38mm. Both these lenses are noticeably better than either the H system 35mm or the Contax 35mm and 45mm. And why should this be a shock, you could buy any two Contax wide lenses for the price of the Hasselblad 40mm IF, and in photography like most things you tend to get what you pay for.

Do the same exercise for longer lenses and the conclusions are equally inescapable. With the exceptiion of the 120mm macro the Contax lenses just aren't that great. Which is why Mamiya were able to crow in their advertising about the Popular Photography test that placed Mamiya lenses significantly above their Contax equivalents.

I used the Contax system for two years with every fixed focal length in the range, including the 350mm. The Contax lenses are terrific for portraits, giving a fluid, luminous rendition. No surprises there, the key target group they were designed for was wedding and social photographers. But they just aren't that sharp compared to either the Hasselblad H system or the modern Hasselblad V system lenses like the 100mm, 180mm, or 250mm/350mm Super Achromats.

The Contax is a great 645 system with many unique advantages, I enjoyed using it and there's no doubt that it's capable of capturing stunning images. But, apart from the sublime 120mm macro, it was never the industry gold standard for lens performance.
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Let Biogons be Biogons
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2006, 08:19:55 AM »
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Eh? It's good that everyone's happy with their purchases, but this certainly isn't the Contax system that I remember.

Get hold of the MTF curves for the Hasselblad H 35mm, the new Hasselblad 40mm IF, the old Hasselblad SWC903 38mm (before glass changes forced Zeiss to downgrade to the SWC905), the Contax 35mm, and the Contax 45mm. All these MTF curves were produced using the same Zeiss testing equipment and to the same test regimes, so they're directly comparable. Take a close look at the (again directly comparable) f8 curves and I don't think there can be any doubt. The best wide angle by some margin is the Hasselblad V system 40mm IF, and the best wide angle if you need low distortion is the Hasselblad V Biogon 38mm. Both these lenses are noticeably better than either the H system 35mm or the Contax 35mm and 45mm. And why should this be a shock, you could buy any two Contax wide lenses for the price of the Hasselblad 40mm IF, and in photography like most things you tend to get what you pay for.
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Actually Zeiss' MTF's for the 645's 35mm does not show it at F8, only at F5.6. But at 5.6, the Contax 35mm is a bit better in the corners compared to the 40mm IF at f8.  The Contax lens also has less distortion and less light fall-off.  I would cetainly give the edge to the Contax lens looking at these MTF's -- the 40mm Hassy lens is not better "by some margin".

The Contax MTF's also look better than the H-system's Fuji 35mm with the Contax have much better edge-to edge sharpness than the Fuji lens (wide open and stopped down) and it looks better at 5.6 (published chart) than the Fuji does at F8.0 (published chart).  Further, how do you know they use the same equipment and methods to test the Fuji lenses as Zeiss uses?  That is unlikely.

The 38mm Biogon is a great lens, but it is a different kind of lens -- not an SLR lens, so it's a little less flexible.  But even still, looking at the MTF's, the Contax 35mm Distagon lens is nearly a whole stop faster (and just as sharp when wide open is spite of being faster) with less light-falloff (especially stopped-down), and is definately sharper in the corners wide-open.  Stopped down, they are pretty close in terms of sharpenss with the Biogon being a touch sharper at f8.0 than the 35mm Distagon is at f5.6.  The Biogon does, of course, have less distortion (the hallmark of that lens).


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I used the Contax system for two years with every fixed focal length in the range, including the 350mm. The Contax lenses are terrific for portraits, giving a fluid, luminous rendition. No surprises there, the key target group they were designed for was wedding and social photographers. But they just aren't that sharp compared to either the Hasselblad H system or the modern Hasselblad V system lenses like the 100mm, 180mm, or 250mm/350mm Super Achromats.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61571\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I've directly compared the Zeiss MTF's for the Contax 645 and the Hassy V-system lenses (and am lookingat the them right now), and in virtually all cases the Contax lens was faster and sharper (or just as sharp).  I'm not sure what it is you are looking at.  I do think you are right about the the Hassy's 350 Super Apochromats.  They are very good and I think they are a  better than the Contax 350/f4 Tele-Apotessar -- but the Contax lens is a whole stop faster, and it is cheaper.  The MTF as shown for different aperture so not directly comparable (but perhaps inferable).  In the MTF's, the Hassy 350 is sharper at one stop slower than the Contax is (ie. comparing f5.6  to the Contax at f4.0, and F11 to f8.0)
Outside the 350mm lense, a lens by lens comparision of the Hassy V-system or H-system equivalent  lenses -- the 35mm (vs. the Hassy 40mm), 45mm (vs. the V's 50mm), 80mm, 120mm Makro and 140mm( vs. the V's 150mm),  (I'll conceed on the 210) the Contax comes up a winner -- even where sharpenss is similar, the Contax lens is faster.
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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2006, 09:23:35 AM »
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However, if you want to talk about the new undisputed medium format lens champions, take a look at the new Zeiss lenses for Sinar:
http://www.zeiss.com/C12567A8003B58B9/Cont...12571110038C241

The new Sinar 40mm/f4 blows EVERYTHING out of the water, as does the 80mm f2.8. (MTF's are availabel for these 2 lenses).  Addionally, the new 120 f4 and 180/f4 lenses look promising as well.  Just look at how much they weight!  The 180 weight 1300g (compared to about 800 for the Hassy 180) and the 129 makro weight 1100g (compared to the about 700g for both the hassy and Contax 120mm's).

I can just imagine how much they will cost.  (where are my lottery tickets!)
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2006, 10:36:45 AM »
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I've directly compared the Zeiss MTF's for the Contax 645 and the Hassy V-system lenses (and am lookingat the them right now), and in virtually all cases the Contax lens was faster and sharper (or just as sharp).

You have me at a disadvantage in that I'll be away from my computer for the next week and so don't have direct access to my files. However, perhaps you could post the relevant MTF charts so that the forum can make up its own mind?

But let me first clarify a few points. Your original post was that "The Contax 645 lenses are generally sharper and faster than their Hasselblad equivalents". I'll concede the "faster" part, and so didn't comment on that, but I disputed your point about "sharper". In my reply I said, "But they (Contax) just aren't that sharp compared to either the Hasselblad H system or the modern Hasselblad V system lenses like the 100mm, 180mm, or 250mm/350mm Super Achromats.

So let's take a practical example. Assume a photographer is looking for the sharpest medium format telephoto lens, and narrows his or her choice to the 180mm Hasselblad V, the 150mm or 210mm Hasselblad H, or the 140mm or 210mm Contax. As I say, I don't have the MTF charts to hand, but I did exactly this exercise when I was deciding what system I'd use for a P25 and from memory the answer was clear. All the three Hasselblad optics were extremely close, and the two Contax lenses trailed behind. But perhaps you could post these five MTF charts and if I'm wrong (which happens all the time) then I'll freely concede the point.

Following this same pattern assume our photographer wants the sharpest possible  wide angle lens, so let's take another five options. The 40mm IF Hasselblad V (not the older 40mm CFE, it's an important distinction and one I previously made), the 38mm CF 903SWC (not the 38mm CFi 905SWC, again I emphasised this in my previous post as the 903SWC uses magnificent optical glass, unfortunately it contained arsenic and lead and is now prohibited), the Hasselblad H 35mm, and the Contax 35mm and 45mm. My recollection is that it's the two V series lenses that set the standard, with the other three showing similar performance amongst themselves but falling behind the V series candidates. However, if there's any way you could post the charts then we'll open the debate to the collective wisdom of the forum.

Regarding your observation about the Zeiss/Sinar lenses, yes I agree they look incredible, as does the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar Digital HR lenses. But it's a bit disengenuous of Zeiss to describe them as "medium format" when they only appear to have a 60mm image circle. Okay for me using a titchy little 37mm x 49mm sensor, but on this basis we should judge the all the lenses only out to 30mm from the centre. Which incidentally was exactly what I did when I was deciding what system to use with a digital back. In fact what I've found from experience is that as long as I'm using lenses that deliver about 40% MTF for the 40 lppm curves out to 30mm from the centre then I'm delighted with the results on a P25. It's sobering to consider however that with the denser pixel count of the latest 39MP backs even this demanding criterion probably isn't enough.
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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2006, 11:37:53 AM »
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You can find all the Zeiss data sheets at Zeiss' website
go to; http://www.zeiss.de/c12567a8003b58b9/Conte...12570f90049667d
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BJL
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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2006, 03:51:06 PM »
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However, if you want to talk about the new undisputed medium format lens champions, take a look at the new Zeiss lenses for Sinar:
http://www.zeiss.com/C12567A8003B58B9/Cont...12571110038C241

The new Sinar 40mm/f4 blows EVERYTHING out of the water, as does the 80mm f2.8.
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Dear "Let",
   I would not go quite that far. The MTF of of two lenses at 40lp/mm seem very comparable to that for the 47mm and 80mm Schneider Digitar's, once you note that the Digitar MTF graphs go to larger radii so that the rightmost parts should be ignored in comparisons.
The Zeiss MTF graphs go only to radius 30mm while
- the graph for the Schneider 47mm goes to radius 40mm, so only data up to 75% Relative Image Height on the bottom axis is relevant in comparison to the Zeiss 40mm lens graph.
- the graph for the Schneider 80mm goes to radius 45mm, so only the part out to 67% Relative Image Height should be compared to the Zeiss 80mm lens graph.
(These radii come from halving the image circle diameters of 80mm and 90mm given on page 1 of the Schneider data sheets.)


Dear Gary,
   I was interested to note Zeiss giving MTF for a 60mm image circle diameter, corresponding exactly to the new  defacto "digital medium format" standard of 36x48mm. Yet another little piece of evidence that the MF industry (sensor, body, and lens makers) have talked amongst themselves and do not expect sensors to go beyond the current maximum size, so that lenses and bodies are being designed around that size limit.
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« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2006, 05:08:31 PM »
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Sorry. I should have been more clear.  When I said "everything" I was refering to the group of medium format SLR lenses (Zeiss for Hassy and Contax, Fuji, etc.) we had been discussing in the thread.

The Schneider Digitar and the equivelent Rodenstock lenses are just as amazing (if not more so).  The Zeiss Sinar lenses are, however, more typical SLR lenses that are  fully automatic including autofocus, and therefore promise to be a bit faster and convenient in use than Schneider/Rodenstock digital lenses (although I realize that may not be true for all -- especially if you can't lift the nearly 3 pound 180mm lens).


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Dear "Let",
   I would not go quite that far. <snip>
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2006, 05:53:27 PM »
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Yet another little piece of evidence that the MF industry (sensor, body, and lens makers) have talked amongst themselves and do not expect sensors to go beyond the current maximum size, so that lenses and bodies are being designed around that size limit.

It's an interesting idea, it fits the facts and makes perfect sense. But based on the current digital lens offerings I'm sceptical that the lens manufacturers have better insight than any of us.

Take the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar Digital and Digital HR series which are being touted as the perfect solutions for current digital backs. I'd argue they're anything but perfect. The Digital lenses have an image circle that's wastefully large, as if designed for the 46mm x 58mm format (which I'm guessing is a scanning back size). Conversely the Digital HR lenses are too restrictive, as if chiefly designed for the previous generation of 24mm x 36mm and 40mm x 40mm sensors.

The sensible image circle for the current 37mm x 49mm sensors with technical cameras would be about 85-90mm in diameter, small enough for excellent image quality, large enough for a reasonable range of movements. But I don't see too many current lenses delivering that specification within a coherent range.

In fact one of the neatest fits for the 37mm x 49mm sensors is a historical accident, the Hasselblad Flex Body. It gives a generous range of tilts plus about 15mm of rise and fall across a good selection of V series  lenses, perfect in fact for the weight conscious landscape photographer. But that is pure serendipity rather than lens manufacturer insight, as it was discontinued when the 37mm x 49mm sensor was still a twinkle in the designer's eye!
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