The cheap Zeiss Y/C lens works. I'll keep it.

Belinda was making fresh corn soup on Monday. Here are the primary ingredients. 

I'm pretty happy with the Zeiss 50mm f1.7 for Contax. I bought the lens and an adapter last week and got the duo on Monday. The lens is relatively old but in great shape. I'm guessing it was the current cheap 50 for the Contax RTS system in  the late 1980's and early 1990's, and then fell away when the Contax N system came out as the last iteration of the Yashica/Contax cameras before being swept away by the digital revolution. 

I finished up my "must do" work and took some time out to do a brisk walk through central Austin with the 50mm f1.7 cobbled on to the front of the A7ii. I did one thing differently today; I put a .9 ND filter on the lens so I could easily shoot at the optimum apertures instead of being pushed into the range where there's practically no difference between cheap or dear lenses, in terms of performance. I tried to shoot mostly at f2.8-f4.0 today, along with keeping my ISO at 100. That's why the left and right sides of the fence shot (below) go out of focus. It's not a fault of the lens, it's the limited depth of field available. Where the lens is in focus is pretty darn sharp. 

From time to time I took the ND off the lens so I could make sure I wasn't killing the overall performance of the lens by inserting two more air/glass interfaces into the basic lens structure...

Shooting with this lens on the Sony A7ii was a blast for me because it took me right back to the feel of my first cameras. I'm from the generation that started with manual focus lenses and I'm always most comfortable (if the finder works well enough) when I turn off the automation and just use my fingers and my eyes to get stuff focused. Once you are focused you can take your fingers off the ring and shoot to your heart's delight, right up until you change the camera-to-subject distance. Nice for faster shooting.

I didn't notice any faults in particular with the lens, and the package of lens/camera/adapter is still small and has a low impact on the user when carrying the collection around. We are now officially on the search for more wonderful and elusive Zeiss glass from this particular system. I hear they made three different 100mm models. Sounds like something I might need....

On another note: I am doing an interesting self-experiment. I have not touched the novel (The Lisbon Portfolio) since I launched it on Amazon back in the Summer of 2014. I picked it up last weekend and decided to re-read it after a two year passage of time. Would I still like it? Did it hold up? Were the editing oversights as egregious as everyone says? 

What I found is that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and, after the scene with the gun fight in the bathroom, I could not put it down until I finished it. So, I will toss this out again.... If you know J.J. Abrams (the director of the latest Star Wars movie, etc.) please toss a copy of the book to him and implore him to read it. I'll be happy to option the movie rights to him. But, if he doesn't get on the stick it may be too late. I may have to send a copy to Sam Mendes (latest Bond movie, Spectre) and see how interested he might be......

If you have not read the book you probably should. It's entertaining and all about photography----kinda. Give it a try. The Kindle version is super cheap on Amazon and the Kindle app is free for many, many devices.... Really, get a copy...


Bumpy said...

If you haven't found this yet it is a nice guide to c/y lenses

If you like contax look at the G 45 and 90 - tiny, much shorter flange distance. Slower at f2 and f2.8, but soooo nice.... and cheap adapter for manual focus or not so cheap and you get decent autofocus.

Henry Richardson said...

In 2013 I happened upon a Yashica ML 55mm f2.8 macro + 52mm Kenko skylight filter + original front/rear caps for about $4 here in Japan. Lens in almost like new condition. Bought an adapter on ebay for $9. Works great!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk

I think your images make this a good choice.

I recently tried the Zeiss 50 Makro (pre-Milvus) in Canon mount and my results were not this good. In my case the lens and sensor cover glass did not play nice when the focus distance got to be more than 40 + feet. It became very apparent if the aperture is open and the background is very bright compared to the foreground. Foliage really looks strange.

I'm glad to see your lens is working well. As a local dealer has a C/Y 50 in the used case that might be a worthy experiment.

Have more fun.

bpr said...

This is s very nice lens but beware! My cheap Contax 50/1.7 came from a Charity shop (thrift store) but was probably the most expensive £10 purchase I ever made... I now have C/Y lenses in 18, 25, 35 PC, 45, 50, 60, 85, 135, 180 & 300mm and have tried others. I even have a couple of Contax cameras for the occasional bit of film shooting too.