Sunday, February 3, 2008

Contax/Yashica Lenses

Contax and Yashica have their own line of lenses and accessories in the Y/C mount. These are interchangeable and comparable, but the Contax line demands higher prices than the Yashica line.

Regarding the lenses, Yashica has a line of fine lenses marked ML. I have already acquired pairs of 50mm f2.0 and 135mm f3.5 lenses. These came with camera lots that I bought. A lens on its own might sell for as low as $10.

A totally different picture for the Contax lenses. These were made by Carl Zeiss. The line is known as AE series and displays a red T* for Zeiss' proprietary multi-coating. Some Carl Zeiss lenses were made in Germany and the rest in Japan under Zeiss license. A complete list of lenses are given in this link: These lenses are expensive! Expect to pay from $100 minimum (for a 50/1.7 lens) to well over $1000 for some of these lenses.

I currently own pairs of these lenses:

- 25mm f2.8 Distagon ~ $350
- 35mm f2.8 Distagon ~ $250
- 45mm Tessar (very compact lens) ~ $200
- 60mm C (for compact) f2.8 Macro-Planar ~ $400
- 85mm f2.8 Sonnar ~ $200 (pictured above)
- 135mm f2.8 Sonnar ~ $200

The Contax lenses are heavier and definitely better built than the Yashica lenses, but can you tell the difference? I have tested all lenses for matching and I was impressed to find out that all lenses matched perfectly. This applies both to the focal length (same image size) and aperture size (exposure). Not only the Contax lenses but also the Yashica lenses were perfectly matched. Under average shooting conditions, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the Contax and Yashica lenses. So, why pay 2 x $200+ when you can get the same results for 2 x $20?

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