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Author Topic: Why CONTAX refuses to die?  (Read 18561 times)
Leonardo Barreto
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« on: March 13, 2009, 08:01:32 AM »
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I have to make the final accounting on the on-going Platform Poll (thank you for your participation) and there may be some interesting up-to-date trends from arguably -The LL- the most populated watering hole of users of this, probably, endangered species of non-miniature cameras.

The one trend that pops up is the amount of users that keep shooting with their CONTAX 645 AFD and how much they love them, collect them or state will never live them. Do they realize this camera is no longer alive?

Isn't it ironic that while the remaining platforms struggle to be loved in this way the one that did it is out of the game?

Can someone resurrect CONTAX ??
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2009, 08:47:15 AM »
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It may be because it is a hansom system or because of the perfect symbiotic relationship of Japanese cameramanship and European finest optic lensmanship?  


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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 08:56:34 AM »
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Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
It may be because it is a hansom system or because of the perfect symbiotic relationship of Japanese cameramanship and European finest optic lensmanship?

Although the camera is handsome, this is hardly the reason. It is just a really well thought out, classic camera, with modern electronics. Only the slightly dim viewfinder and AF speed let it down. The features are great, the lens lineup is nice, and some of the lenses are really great. And... (drumroll...) it is black!
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 08:56:55 AM »
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Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
It may be because it is a hansom system or because of the perfect symbiotic relationship of Japanese cameramanship and European finest optic lensmanship?


Does it have fine Corrinthean leather?


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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 09:02:53 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
And... (drumroll...) it is black!

It's such a small thing but makes such a difference!
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2009, 09:08:08 AM »
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WHAAAT? when, where?   (this reminds me of Jurassic Park somehow)

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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2009, 10:06:52 AM »
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Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
Isn't it ironic that while the remaining platforms struggle to be loved in this way the one that did it is out of the game?

Can someone resurrect CONTAX ??


Irony and digital medium format.    

It doesn't seem to be in any companies best interest to build this type of camera.  Instead we are  offered $45,000, 60 million pixel Mamiya's, which is kind of like making a 1000 horse power Kia.

It can be done but why?

Why seems to always come up in every medium format discussion.

Why does Phase have a deal with Microsoft though their software will not tether in Vista?

Why does the Hasselblad file need conversion to DNG before it will work in third party software.  Even Pentax figured that one out.

Why the hell didn't more companies adopt the HY6 or AFI or why is it even called an HY6 or AFI.   What was wrong with the name Rolliflex?  

I use to naively think the forums were a place where the manufacturers came to learn and by us users posting hopefully it would add thought, like someone would say, hmm, maybe we do need a lcd that is better than a Casio watch, but that was naive.

Obviously, these companies know what we are asking for and they know what the competition brings to the table because the users post the same "requests" today they we asked for 7 years ago.

We ask for better batteries, we get more mpx.  We ask for a better lcd, we get more mpx.  We ask for higher iso and we get a camera that will do it, (maybe), but drops down to the file size of a 4 year old canon to get there.  We ask for more accountability of delivery and instead we get software that is always in beta, wide angles that are "in the process" and a long laundry list of TBD.

We ask for a camera that has a full lens range and we get Russian tilt shifts or told to go buy a technical camera for wide angles and though I appreciate the dealers and manufacturer's participation it seems that online forums have become a place for a maker to defend their position and the dealers to sell rather than give across the board dialog about what is coming, what and when  we should expect delivery from these heavy investments.

Instead of leaf shutter lenses or right angle grips, 90 degree finders or removable prisms, we are offered RRS plates with a hand strap.  I have to laugh at this one cause I've had that on the Contax for 6 years.

It's not that information is hard to come by, it's just real information is vague.

Ask how much is the upgrade from a p30 to a P65+ and the forum goes quiet.  In fact the only time you get real numbers is when a maker is having a close out on demos and then the dealers plaster the place with craig list type of want ads.

The head scratcher on all of this is Hasselblad because it seems they could be in the best position of any company to control their own destiny.

Hasselblad has a brand name that actually carries some weight, they have the only full lens line up of leaf shutter lenses, they have a better than Phase lcd (not much but better, but better)  they seem to have a larger dealer network and from all accounts excellent service.

The best part is they have lowered their prices and stepped out of the silly upgrade game.  The downside is the file format that must be processed through their proprietary software before it can go to any third party application.

That's crazy and obviously nobody at hasselblad has shot 1,200 frames a day on deadline and works with outside retouchers because no matter how or when you process a file the retoucher wants and needs a raw and every retoucher on the planet uses Photoshop to process in.

This might not seem like a problem until you amass many, many terabytes of images then it becomes an obvious issue of time and drive space.

Now the real ironic part of all of  this is no user or buyer of medium format wants to see this segment go away.  Most of us have invested many 10's of thousands of dollars and it's somewhat disheartening to watch what was a $30,000 back drop to less than the price of a D3x in three years.   It's also quite an awakening to shoot a 5d2 and find that in many ways clients prefer the look to our previous 10x the costs medum format cameras that jam, burn through batteries like water and require 10,000 watts of light.

That's why we keep asking for more and offering suggestions, but it is beyond most of our understanding why a $30,000 camera back can't half even 1/2 of the functionality of a $3,000 dslr.

If you are a professional and make your living at "selling" the photograph, the camera isn't the goal, the photograph is and sometimes I think the makers believe it's the other way around.  

We only "talk" about these things because we're not getting what we're asking for and I may be wrong but I haven't heard of any photographer asking for a $45,000 camera.  People complain about the price of a D3x.  You can buy 5 D3x's for the costs of the newest Phase and the Nikon comes with moderate high iso, a real lcd with live view, build quality that can withstand a downpour and about a million lenses.

Regardless, there is no wonder why so many professionals that earn their living in photography use a Contax, or a Hasseblad H1 or a V system?   Because even out of production they are full featured and can be bought today without worrying about  what probably will not come out tomorrow.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 11:24:19 AM by bcooter » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2009, 10:32:11 AM »
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Is there a parallel with junk food? Sales figures of hamburgers (even the ones of good quality) and Coca Cola are higher than those for steak and a bottle of wine. We all have to suffer by the average taste and that seems to be equal in each market segment.

Canon and Nikon are governing the market (they are like MacDonald and Burger King) and they are not reading any forum because that will cost time and - you know - time is money.
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2009, 11:05:26 AM »
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Quote from: Digital Darkroom in Dutch
Is there a parallel with junk food? Sales figures of hamburgers (even the ones of good quality) and Coca Cola are higher than those for steak and a bottle of wine. We all have to suffer by the average taste and that seems to be equal in each market segment.

Canon and Nikon are governing the market (they are like MacDonald and Burger King) and they are not reading any forum because that will cost time and - you know - time is money.


The "taste" or value of the photograph is not in the capture device, it's in the actual photograph itself.  Monthly, even weekly there are 6 and 7 figure productions shot with Canon's and Nikons, (along with old V's, Film RZ's, Pentax 6x7's and Contax).

In fact at the very high end digital is less of a presence that most people know and in todays economy, unless you are shooting a 1,000 image a day lifestyle shoot or catalog, many clients have recognized that film caputre is more "cost effective" than digital.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2009/03/06/chr...fith-interview/

But in the end the only camera that matters is the one that doesn't keep you from getting the shot you want and that applies to the high and the low end of the industry.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2009/03/12/the...in-photography/

Most are photographer's first, with a strong fight to try to develop our art, then business people, with the title of camera owners/users way, way down the list.

With digital capture most of us have learned to be, labs, retouchers, art directors and even some form of pre press house, but that was never the goal




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Leonardo Barreto
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2009, 12:04:11 PM »
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We have to see the glass half full too. I am starting to contribute to a stock agency Alamy.com, they require a minimum of 17mp but this can be extrapolated even from a 6mp camera. My D300 is perfect since it is only a bit short with 12mp. The camera is DX, so lenses are smaller and now we have good wide angles, the LCD is huge, etc. So, no need to upgrade and I can continue sending images to my collection. So here the glass is more than half full.

The I have my old -and getting older- 645AFD Mamiya system and P25. Files are of a perfect 63megas (@8bits) sensel size is biggest at 9 microns, so there is very little or no noise in the shadows. It is true, now we have Canons and Nikons that can get close to it, and they offer some features my back don't. But, the backs can be used on view cameras and technical cameras. DSLR's have half the sensel size, and are near the limits of the envelop with diffraction and lens performance. So, I don't really have a need to upgrade. The back is paid, so I saved $8k. Glass more than full, at leas to me.

I am sure that owners of CONTAX AFD's think in the same way. The camera was built to last --even more so the T* lenses-- digital backs can shoot a million captures...
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2009, 12:21:24 PM »
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Quote from: bcooter
Irony and digital medium format.    

It doesn't seem to be in any companies best interest to build this type of camera.  Instead we are  offered $45,000, 60 million pixel Mamiya's, which is kind of like making a 1000 horse power Kia.

I respectfully disagree with your comparison of a Mamiya to a Kia. But since you seem not to like Mamiya, you can instead buy a P65+ to mount on a Contax, Rollei 6008, Mamiya RZ, Mamiya 645, Hasselblad H1/H2, Hasselblad 500 series, and in addition use hasselblad 200 series lenses, pentax lenses, or use any of dozens of view/technical cameras. We've even had customers jurry rig a digital back to a Holga.

So you can have your 1000 horsepower in any flavor you want.

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« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2009, 12:47:47 PM »
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How about one to mount on the Hy6?
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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2009, 01:14:23 PM »
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To bring it back to the original topic. I always loved the Contax for the reason already stated plus: The Mamiya equivalent wasn't/isn't half the camera, the lenses are fantastic, the prices are/were incredible and it wasn't disposable like some bodies (ie. H series).

The viewfinder was a little on the dim side, but I didn't jump back to Canon because of that. The MFDB makers are what drove me back. The market is really in disarray and showed no sign/is STILL showing no signs of addressing end users concern, ie. usable iso above 200, lcd screens and the bloody price. Good job everyone. You're bound to lose even more market share with your refusal to make changes and the good ole global economic mess isn't helping. Maybe if you just met us HALF way.. but alas..
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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2009, 01:35:55 PM »
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Quote from: Carl Glover
How about one to mount on the Hy6?
 Good question Carl
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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2009, 01:39:05 PM »
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Quote from: Carl Glover
How about one to mount on the Hy6?

There was a huge discussion on this very form ( 2 years ago )about the Hy6, being it was only for Sinar & Leaf. Since it was a Sinar backed body Phase was never to be part of it.
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« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2009, 03:10:49 PM »
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Exceptionally well said.


Quote from: bcooter
Irony and digital medium format.    

It doesn't seem to be in any companies best interest to build this type of camera.  Instead we are  offered $45,000, 60 million pixel Mamiya's, which is kind of like making a 1000 horse power Kia.

It can be done but why?

Why seems to always come up in every medium format discussion.

Why does Phase have a deal with Microsoft though their software will not tether in Vista?

Why does the Hasselblad file need conversion to DNG before it will work in third party software.  Even Pentax figured that one out.

Why the hell didn't more companies adopt the HY6 or AFI or why is it even called an HY6 or AFI.   What was wrong with the name Rolliflex?  

I use to naively think the forums were a place where the manufacturers came to learn and by us users posting hopefully it would add thought, like someone would say, hmm, maybe we do need a lcd that is better than a Casio watch, but that was naive.

Obviously, these companies know what we are asking for and they know what the competition brings to the table because the users post the same "requests" today they we asked for 7 years ago.

We ask for better batteries, we get more mpx.  We ask for a better lcd, we get more mpx.  We ask for higher iso and we get a camera that will do it, (maybe), but drops down to the file size of a 4 year old canon to get there.  We ask for more accountability of delivery and instead we get software that is always in beta, wide angles that are "in the process" and a long laundry list of TBD.

We ask for a camera that has a full lens range and we get Russian tilt shifts or told to go buy a technical camera for wide angles and though I appreciate the dealers and manufacturer's participation it seems that online forums have become a place for a maker to defend their position and the dealers to sell rather than give across the board dialog about what is coming, what and when  we should expect delivery from these heavy investments.

Instead of leaf shutter lenses or right angle grips, 90 degree finders or removable prisms, we are offered RRS plates with a hand strap.  I have to laugh at this one cause I've had that on the Contax for 6 years.

It's not that information is hard to come by, it's just real information is vague.

Ask how much is the upgrade from a p30 to a P65+ and the forum goes quiet.  In fact the only time you get real numbers is when a maker is having a close out on demos and then the dealers plaster the place with craig list type of want ads.

The head scratcher on all of this is Hasselblad because it seems they could be in the best position of any company to control their own destiny.

Hasselblad has a brand name that actually carries some weight, they have the only full lens line up of leaf shutter lenses, they have a better than Phase lcd (not much but better, but better)  they seem to have a larger dealer network and from all accounts excellent service.

The best part is they have lowered their prices and stepped out of the silly upgrade game.  The downside is the file format that must be processed through their proprietary software before it can go to any third party application.

That's crazy and obviously nobody at hasselblad has shot 1,200 frames a day on deadline and works with outside retouchers because no matter how or when you process a file the retoucher wants and needs a raw and every retoucher on the planet uses Photoshop to process in.

This might not seem like a problem until you amass many, many terabytes of images then it becomes an obvious issue of time and drive space.

Now the real ironic part of all of  this is no user or buyer of medium format wants to see this segment go away.  Most of us have invested many 10's of thousands of dollars and it's somewhat disheartening to watch what was a $30,000 back drop to less than the price of a D3x in three years.   It's also quite an awakening to shoot a 5d2 and find that in many ways clients prefer the look to our previous 10x the costs medum format cameras that jam, burn through batteries like water and require 10,000 watts of light.

That's why we keep asking for more and offering suggestions, but it is beyond most of our understanding why a $30,000 camera back can't half even 1/2 of the functionality of a $3,000 dslr.

If you are a professional and make your living at "selling" the photograph, the camera isn't the goal, the photograph is and sometimes I think the makers believe it's the other way around.  

We only "talk" about these things because we're not getting what we're asking for and I may be wrong but I haven't heard of any photographer asking for a $45,000 camera.  People complain about the price of a D3x.  You can buy 5 D3x's for the costs of the newest Phase and the Nikon comes with moderate high iso, a real lcd with live view, build quality that can withstand a downpour and about a million lenses.

Regardless, there is no wonder why so many professionals that earn their living in photography use a Contax, or a Hasseblad H1 or a V system?   Because even out of production they are full featured and can be bought today without worrying about  what probably will not come out tomorrow.
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« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2009, 03:14:25 PM »
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To Go Back to the REAL Reason for this Thread:  Why I personally love and will not abandon my Contax 645.

I shoot mainly nature and landscape.  I moved up to the Contax 645 while on a two-year road trip because I wanted the increased sharpness and slide size for large printing.  I was not even thinking digital at the time.  I shot Canon 35mm "L" glass and used only Velvia slide film, printed in Cibachrome (still hardly without equal, but very toxic).

The camera and lens set arrived in the summer of 2000, while I was in Alaska and the very next morning I was out with it shooting icebergs in stormy weather in a small boat.  The camera handled like a dream, it was simple and very intuitive.  I had to rely on auto exposure all day due to the difficult conditions (basic center weighting meter).  Autofocus was a little slow but incredibly precise.  The camera was rained on, salt-sprayed on, bumped around in the rocking boat (as were an assortment of lenses that I used).  It worked all day, no problem.

When I got the slides back, I literally could not believe my eyes.  Not just the incredible resolution of the zeiss lenses, but the absolutely beautiful, vibrant colors, wide tonality, dead-on exposures and focus.  Some of these photos are on my site, www.guyharrisonphoto.com.  I would post some of them but I am new here and don't know how.

The camera is simple, direct, tank-like in its construction.  Easy to hold in either direction (with vert. grip), instantly easy to access all important controls.  I have used it from -32 F (that's right) for hour-long moonlight exposures in Yellowstone Canyon, and at +115F for cacti in the desert.  Exposed to extreme dust, wind, humidity, rain, snow, ice, spray (I actually took photos from inside a waterfall), temperatures, and NEVER spending time in the luxury of a studio the camera is faultless and never even sent back for a factory service or cleaning (I do carefully clean my gear every day).

The lenses are simply the finest optical instruments I have used.  The 35, 120 macro, and 350 APO are just unbelievable and the rest are "merely" superb.  Modern design, fast aperture, and, despite diffraction, useable and acceptable at f/32 with incredible depth of field that more than compensates for the slight resolution loss.

I have no doubt that I can expect at many more years from the body and am looking to add another for a back-up (that's right, no back-up and I never lost a day of use).  The lenses seem like they will go for 20 years or so with taking average care.

I am now thrilled at the prospect of adding a digital back like the Phase One to step into modern digital imaging.  I see no end to the usefulness of this system.

With respect to Mamiya and Phase, which are good gear, I looked at Mamiya very carefully (at the time Hassy was not quite so advanced with regard to autofocus) and the quality did not seem to me to be in the same league as the Contax.

I knew that Mamiya was a more established line and they had great marketing and pricing promotions that Contax did not have, securing a large professional base.  I did not expect Contax to fold, but, honestly, I have no regrets so far and plan to keep using this system indefinitely.

One photographer's view . . . . hope it gave some insight.

As far as reviving the system, OH YEAH! It's nice to think so . . .

Guy
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« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2009, 03:30:36 PM »
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You have to remember that this are apples and oranges. In film time you had a 6x7 RZ that was much heavier that a Nikon, it shot only 12 images, changing the film was a fine craft. If you put the motor drive and view finder it weighed one and a half tons. Film came in ISO 100, or ISO 50.... my 4x5 had no AF, or Program, you could not hand hold it. Focusing was hard, putting the film inside the holders on a hot day with the hands inside a changing bag.

I always enjoy the difference. There was a time for motordrive spray and pray shooting ant one for looking at an inverted image circle on an 8x10 focusing glass. The timing was different, with the view camera you try to be as fast as the setting sun, but when you exposed the plate it was like an important moment in the day. You didn't do "1,000 exposures" with a view camera.

Same as in the motor world, there are SUV's and there are sport cars .. and delivery trucks.

Maybe I'm just complaining to mother Nature for taking away those grand dinosaurs, or maybe it just depends on how you look at things...

Quote from: Anthony R
To bring it back to the original topic. I always loved the Contax for the reason already stated plus: The Mamiya equivalent wasn't/isn't half the camera, the lenses are fantastic, the prices are/were incredible and it wasn't disposable like some bodies (ie. H series).

The viewfinder was a little on the dim side, but I didn't jump back to Canon because of that. The MFDB makers are what drove me back. The market is really in disarray and showed no sign/is STILL showing no signs of addressing end users concern, ie. usable iso above 200, lcd screens and the bloody price. Good job everyone. You're bound to lose even more market share with your refusal to make changes and the good ole global economic mess isn't helping. Maybe if you just met us HALF way.. but alas..
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« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2009, 03:44:31 PM »
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Amazingly loyal user. Have you considered the Hy6/AFi?  ... anyway, we may very well see it back, no? even the stock market is going up (at least for 2 days now)

Quote from: guyharrison
To Go Back to the REAL Reason for this Thread:  Why I personally love and will not abandon my Contax 645.

I shoot mainly nature and landscape.  I moved up to the Contax 645 while on a two-year road trip because I wanted the increased sharpness and slide size for large printing.  I was not even thinking digital at the time.  I shot Canon 35mm "L" glass and used only Velvia slide film, printed in Cibachrome (still hardly without equal, but very toxic).

The camera and lens set arrived in the summer of 2000, while I was in Alaska and the very next morning I was out with it shooting icebergs in stormy weather in a small boat.  The camera handled like a dream, it was simple and very intuitive.  I had to rely on auto exposure all day due to the difficult conditions (basic center weighting meter).  Autofocus was a little slow but incredibly precise.  The camera was rained on, salt-sprayed on, bumped around in the rocking boat (as were an assortment of lenses that I used).  It worked all day, no problem.

When I got the slides back, I literally could not believe my eyes.  Not just the incredible resolution of the zeiss lenses, but the absolutely beautiful, vibrant colors, wide tonality, dead-on exposures and focus.  Some of these photos are on my site, www.guyharrisonphoto.com.  I would post some of them but I am new here and don't know how.

The camera is simple, direct, tank-like in its construction.  Easy to hold in either direction (with vert. grip), instantly easy to access all important controls.  I have used it from -32 F (that's right) for hour-long moonlight exposures in Yellowstone Canyon, and at +115F for cacti in the desert.  Exposed to extreme dust, wind, humidity, rain, snow, ice, spray (I actually took photos from inside a waterfall), temperatures, and NEVER spending time in the luxury of a studio the camera is faultless and never even sent back for a factory service or cleaning (I do carefully clean my gear every day).

The lenses are simply the finest optical instruments I have used.  The 35, 120 macro, and 350 APO are just unbelievable and the rest are "merely" superb.  Modern design, fast aperture, and, despite diffraction, useable and acceptable at f/32 with incredible depth of field that more than compensates for the slight resolution loss.

I have no doubt that I can expect at many more years from the body and am looking to add another for a back-up (that's right, no back-up and I never lost a day of use).  The lenses seem like they will go for 20 years or so with taking average care.

I am now thrilled at the prospect of adding a digital back like the Phase One to step into modern digital imaging.  I see no end to the usefulness of this system.

With respect to Mamiya and Phase, which are good gear, I looked at Mamiya very carefully (at the time Hassy was not quite so advanced with regard to autofocus) and the quality did not seem to me to be in the same league as the Contax.

I knew that Mamiya was a more established line and they had great marketing and pricing promotions that Contax did not have, securing a large professional base.  I did not expect Contax to fold, but, honestly, I have no regrets so far and plan to keep using this system indefinitely.

One photographer's view . . . . hope it gave some insight.

As far as reviving the system, OH YEAH! It's nice to think so . . .

Guy
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« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2009, 04:30:27 PM »
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Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
The one trend that pops up is the amount of users that keep shooting with their CONTAX 645 AFD and how much they love them, collect them or state will never live them. Do they realize this camera is no longer alive?
This is perhaps a scary observation: the Contax 645 was discontinued despite being an auto-focus MF system of good modern design and quality and with well-considered lenses carrying a prestigious German brand name. One possible reason is that there were simply more good auto-focus MF systems than the market could support, so simply being very good was not enough. Other factors like not having a well-established professional support network might have come into play.

The scary thought is that this could be a precedent for other very good quality MF systems also not surviving; that is what many including Michael seem to think.
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