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Author Topic: Why CONTAX refuses to die?  (Read 20087 times)
Carsten W
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« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2009, 04:38:23 PM »
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Quote from: BJL
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.

Honestly, I think that the real problem lies somewhere within Kyocera. If they had swapped out the focusing screen for a brighter one, and sped up the AF a bit, they would have had a camera in league with the H, but without the funky politics of Blad. And it is black.
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yaya
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« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2009, 06:04:51 PM »
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The problem wasn't the 645AF...it was the 35mm Digital N that killed it
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Leonardo Barreto
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2009, 06:43:53 PM »
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I am surprised that nobody would want to buy the brand, as Minolta was. All you need is a back maker, and you have a nice symbiotic relationship. Or at least someone should come with a body that would accept CONTAX 645AF lenses on one side and Phase/Leaf/Sinar backs on the other... maybe PANASONIC - or SIGMA ..

Quote from: yaya
The problem wasn't the 645AF...it was the 35mm Digital N that killed it
« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 06:44:26 PM by Leonardo Barreto » Logged

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Carsten W
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2009, 06:54:38 PM »
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Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
I am surprised that nobody would want to buy the brand, as Minolta was. All you need is a back maker, and you have a nice symbiotic relationship. Or at least someone should come with a body that would accept CONTAX 645AF lenses on one side and Phase/Leaf/Sinar backs on the other... maybe PANASONIC - or SIGMA ..

Apparently several companies have tried, and rumour has it that Phase was one of them. Anyway, Kyocera is apparently unwilling to sell. I have no idea what to believe, but wherever the blame lies, it is a bleeding shame. Great camera, which I would *love* to see resurrected.
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Leonardo Barreto
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2009, 07:10:31 PM »
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But you could do an unauthorized body with CONTAX mount for the lenses in same way SIGMA, TOKINA and the others do lenses for Nikon/Canon/Sony mount, no?

Quote from: carstenw
Apparently several companies have tried, and rumour has it that Phase was one of them. Anyway, Kyocera is apparently unwilling to sell. I have no idea what to believe, but wherever the blame lies, it is a bleeding shame. Great camera, which I would *love* to see resurrected.
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Carsten W
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« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2009, 07:16:28 PM »
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Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
But you could do an unauthorized body with CONTAX mount for the lenses in same way SIGMA, TOKINA and the others do lenses for Nikon/Canon/Sony mount, no?

Who would buy? You would want the Contax name on there. In any case, reviving the body without the lenses solves nothing. The system would remain unsupported. Contax really needs to come back to life.

What do Contax owners here do for an L-plate? One of the Kirk Big-L plates, and if so, which one? I don't use the MP-1 battery pack.
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David Klepacki
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« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2009, 08:06:06 PM »
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Quote from: carstenw
Who would buy? You would want the Contax name on there. In any case, reviving the body without the lenses solves nothing. The system would remain unsupported. Contax really needs to come back to life.

What do Contax owners here do for an L-plate? One of the Kirk Big-L plates, and if so, which one? I don't use the MP-1 battery pack.

I use the RRS L-plate for the Contax 645.  You can use it without the MP-1.  The body lug that appears to obstruct the plate can be removed easily.

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jimgolden
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« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2009, 02:07:28 AM »
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Quote from: Steve Hendrix/Phase One
Does it have fine Corrinthean leather?


Steve Hendrix
Phase One


CLASSIC...
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jonstewart
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« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2009, 02:14:10 AM »
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Quote from: bcooter
Irony and digital medium format.    

...snip

Thank you for that. Absolutely spot on.
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If only life were so simple...
Carsten W
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« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2009, 04:14:42 AM »
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Quote from: David Klepacki
I use the RRS L-plate for the Contax 645.  You can use it without the MP-1.  The body lug that appears to obstruct the plate can be removed easily.

Interesting! I am about to put in a big RRS order, and it would be ideal to get this there too. Does the side then still allow placing the lens directly over the tripod axis? I will be using it for panoramas, among other things.
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bradleygibson
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« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2009, 09:12:44 AM »
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Amen, brother!

Any of the camera manufacturers reading this thread, please read this post.  Then, before trying to explain or defend, please read it again.

Spot on!

-Brad

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.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 09:25:35 AM by bradleygibson » Logged

bradleygibson
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« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2009, 09:19:25 AM »
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Been dere, done dat.

IMO, the camera (at least with the e75r--I've not put an AFI back through its paces) still needs to mature somewhat before its ready to be used as a nature photography tool.  That AFi II-10 back looks pretty sweet, tho.

Quote from: Leonardo Barreto
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)
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 09:38:58 AM by bradleygibson » Logged

bradleygibson
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« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2009, 09:24:54 AM »
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LOL!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZp7uekTd20

The 'scoop' on Corinthian leather...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnZdMeEfG1Y...feature=related

Quote from: jimgolden
CLASSIC...
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 09:31:23 AM by bradleygibson » Logged

Khun_K
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« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2009, 10:00:54 AM »
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Quote from: David Klepacki
I use the RRS L-plate for the Contax 645.  You can use it without the MP-1.  The body lug that appears to obstruct the plate can be removed easily.
I also use RRS L for my Contax 645 + MP1, also another RRS plate made specially for 645 w/o MP1 and I was quite bugged with the fact that the RRS does not support the L plate for just the body, I don't like to machine the parts that the camera may pivot against the plate, as a result, I live with my 645 with MP1 all the time. In studio it is OK, but on location when sometimes I put a bron-color ring flash, with the cable, with the radio transmitter and VS 45-90, shoot whole day under sun in temperature above 90F is a tough job.
But, what a lovely system, never let me down.  And I am moving up to P65+ from 45+ next month and still on Contax.
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David Klepacki
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« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2009, 10:28:38 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
Interesting! I am about to put in a big RRS order, and it would be ideal to get this there too. Does the side then still allow placing the lens directly over the tripod axis? I will be using it for panoramas, among other things.

Not without a spacing block and/or rail.  You will also need a small spacer for the bracket to clear the film/digital back.
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bcooter
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« Reply #35 on: March 14, 2009, 12:38:19 PM »
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Quote from: dougpetersonci
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.

__________________
Doug Peterson


Well, I still think the car analogy makes sense and let's be realistic, these cameras have been compared to cars since day one.  Michael mentions Mercedes and Toyotas in his article and in fact most reviewers rarely fail to draw a medium format camera to luxury car comparison.  Personally I don't see a Mamiya 645 as a luxury item, but to each his own.

Even the current pricing of medium format mimics cars.  Today you can buy a 2 year old Maserati for the price of a new Cadillac, a two year old Cadillac for the price of a new Toyota and looking at the demo prices from all the medium format makers today might be a good time for someone that is jonesing for a medium format back to buy a demo back, a used blad or Contax and start shooting, pretty much at the Toyota price.  

What I really fail to understand is everyone talks about the upgrade path of medium format cameras (not backs, cameras)  and seems to worry that their blad or contax has no where to go.     For some of us, no where to go is a good thing because I doubt if my Contax will need a firmware upgrade and I have yet to travel through a city where Contax 645's weren't for sale.  On this forum Hasselblad has a deal to have your H1-2 refurbished at bargain prices, so in my mind these old cameras are sill very viable.     I have had 3 brands and 5 models of digital backs mounted on the Contax and each in focus image is razor sharp, so I'm  not real sure what any new system will give me that I need. Need vs. want is a different thing.

For digital I looked at the Mamiya, (briefly) but didn't understand the advantage over a Contax other than the dealers were selling them in bundles.  The Contax has a fast lens line with the only hole a 100 to 110 f2 prime and regardless of current thought I do use the waist level finder a great deal, as 70% of everything I shoot for commerce is now horizontal and try shooting ground level horizontal with any fixed prism camera and you'll wish you had a chin guard.  Even if two or three years from now some company like Mamiya or F+H comes out with something I just can't do without, the costs of the Contax is so low and the used market still so robust that selling it would probably not result in a single lost penny.  The digital back won't hold it's value, but the camera and lenses will.

Let's be realistic.  From a professional standpoint few of the new cameras are a "must" buy except for a few rare cases or for rental houses whose photographers know little about the digital process and just say "give me the biggest one on the shelf".  

For rental guys 60mpx makes sense, for photographers that shoot for  commerce and own their own equipment, I have doubts.  

This doesn't mean anyone shouldn't buy what they want because it's just fun to have new stuff, but just like cars, buying a Maserati won't make you Lewis Hamilton, buying a 60mpx back won't make you Weston and had Weston's photographs had 20% more detail it would have changed nothing.

But to be clear there is nothing wrong with a Kia, maybe even one with 1,000 hp, but the valet won't park it in the front of Capo and just like cameras, Kia and Hyundai are probably doing better than Jaguar and Land Rover.  

Obviously Mamiya is doing better than Contax, Bronica, Pentax, but that doesn't mean that had Hasselblad had kept the H system open or Contax was still in production that Maimiya would have ever been a thought in Phase One's corporate mind.

The only problem I have with the Contax isn't the camera it's that the backs have not kept up with the development of the dslrs.  Everytime I look down at that tiny lcd I think about selling the backs, but I doubt if I will ever sell my Contax'.  

Still, when you start talking about Luxury items, or who needs/wants/can afford something in the world of modern cameras the AFI (god I wish they called it A Rolleiflex) followed by the Blad would be 1 and 2 in bling factor.    

I live and die for the photograph, but don't think bling doesn't matter because if it didn't we would all be wearing hemp and walking to work.

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revaaron
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« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2009, 08:00:08 AM »
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I use it all the time. I have 80 f/2 and 45 f/2.8 lenses, 2 film backs and a polaroid back.  I'm looking around ebay for a very cheap aptus 11 or 17 for it. I'll put a digital back on it when they get cheap enough used. Until then, I can shoot and process a crap load of film with the 1000's that it would cost for a DB.
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siba
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« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2009, 09:02:33 AM »
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The only good thing about processing films was sitting in the pub while waiting for them. It was a justifiable part of my workflow.

I guess the anticipation of the roll film coming out of the machine and the relief of seeing the exposure being correct was kind of fun.

But I would rather spend the money on a digital back than on film, developing and contact sheets. That was and still is very expensive. Just your average 10 film smaller shoot on my 6x7 would be at least $100, and the client is not paying for it, I am.

I don't go for all this doom and gloom regarding digital backs. The day I put a phase one digital back on my Contax 645 I became a happier man. That was three years ago. I don't care if it's the P25 I had initially, or my P45 I have now, or the P65+ I'll try to negotiate for myself in the next year or so. As a photographer I'm just over the moon that they exist at all.

I was wary of the Contax 645 initially, because I was very attached to my Pentax 67II, and had thought of 645 as inferior to 67. Sort of a compromise. But, that was then, and this is now, and I don't want to have to ever let go of the Contax system. Just as before, when there were Hassy people, mamiya users (2 types:645 and RZ), Pentax 67 (not really many Pentax645), and a few who for some reason used a Bronica, the Contax, amongst these, was a sexy camera.

Nowadays there is less of a choice and the Contax coupled with a digital back hasn't aged, and is still sexy. Anyone who has squeezed the shutter release of the Contax 645 can appreciate what I'm talking about. It feels incredibly solid. The no-bullsh*t design is a joy to handle, both ergonomically, and functionally. And then there are the lenses. The 80 f2 is probably the best basic lens available. It's razor sharp when you hit the sweet spot and then goes and does something beautiful in the out of focus areas. The new Hasselblad lenses are sharper over the whole area of the lens, but they lack soul, and yes I am biased. Then there's my little 35, 45, and 55mm family who each do there thing depending on what I need. The 45mm is incredibly versatile. The one time a year I get the 210mm out it's worth every minute.

Out of what's available I would argue that the reason most of us Contax users are passionate about the camera is that it's the only available system that was designed for film. So, if we're using digital then we feel that maybe there's a different look we can attain. Or, maybe it's just a different feel. Maybe it's just in our heads, but when I did a side by side test with a hasselblad friend of mine, I liked the fact that in my file there were some areas which were inexplicably not as sharp when other parts were. Nobody would have ever noticed if we weren't pixel peeping. My friend used to use Fuji and I Kodak in the bad old days. Maybe it's these subtleties that allow us to enjoy the photography more.

If I was still shooting film I would possibly still be using the Pentax 67II that I was very fond of. That clunk of the mirror was great. But in hindsight the forced move to Contax 645 because of digital was a piece of good fortune. Maybe one day I'll be forced to move on to something else, and be feeling the same way. I don't want to think about that now, though.

cheers
Stefan
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evgeny
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« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2009, 02:04:09 AM »
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Does it look less attractive than the current models?  

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bradleygibson
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« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2009, 08:36:12 AM »
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They definitely got the color right!

Quote from: evgeny
Does it look less attractive than the current models?  

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