Using a Contax/Yashica Zoom Lens on a Panasonic GH5 and a G85. Interesting...

I've become quite agnostic about camera formats and brands over the last two years. If I buy a new camera these days it has to bring something valuable and different to the table. While I have a camera (the Sony A7rii) that is arguably one of the top cameras in the marketplace today for dynamic range, resolution and color I recently purchased the Panasonic GH5 for its video prowess (features not equalled in the current marketplace, under $6000). It was the fz2500's video performance that convinced me and the handling and image stabilization of the G85 that made me write the check.

I have a handful of really wonderful, old Olympus half frame lenses that I intended to press into service with the new cameras, as well as the nice 12-60mm kit lens from Panasonic but, on a lark, I decided to buy an inexpensive adapter for the Carl Zeiss C/Y lenses I've picked up over the past two years. I specifically wanted to try out the heavy, massive but well corrected
28-85mm lens.

I went to Zach Theatre yesterday evening to shoot images at the technical rehearsal. I'll shoot again tomorrow night at the dress rehearsal but I like getting a preview of what I'll be shooting so I can plan. It's also wonderful to be able to shoot with no audience because I can move freely through the house and position myself closer to the stage. Since all my imaging eggs aren't resting on the tech rehearsal I feel freer about testing new stuff. So I left the Sony cameras and the bridge cameras at home and arrived with only the GH5 and G85 in my bag. I switched the 28-85 from the G85 for the first half of the show to the GH5 on the second half of the show and then supplemented it with the kit lens for safety. 

I must say that I find the G85 a camera that is very, very satisfying to work with. I was coming in pretty cold with the GH5 but it too turned in a good performance. Of course I was working with a manual focus lens that's not part of the Panasonic system so I couldn't take advantage of the feature that automatically "punches in" when you touch the focusing ring. This made using the lens either slower or at the mercy of the accuracy of each camera's focus peaking indicators. In this situation the G85 focus peaking was more accurate. (More testing required....). 

Within the limits of each camera's resolution the files look pretty amazing to me. All were done at either ISO 800 or ISO 1600 and no additional noise reduction (other than that included in the Jpegs) was added after the fact. Click on the images to make them bigger. I think you'll agree that the cameras are well suited to shooting theater. And since I also used the Zeiss lens wide open I think I'll have to admit that it's pretty damn good...

Wide open and shooting directly into bare stage lights. Flare? I laugh at flare. 
Again, direct light into the lens with no flare and no reduction of sharpness on the actor's pant leg.
Gorgeous flesh tones right out of the camera in Jpeg. Move over Olympus!
I'm shooting again tomorrow evening (probably "tonight" by the time you read this). I'm juggling decisions about what cameras to take this time.... These guys are the front runners.


  1. Hi Kirk
    I was wondering how you set up your IBIS (re focal length) when you used 3rd Party Zooms?

  2. Just thinking about that. I have been trying to figure out what focal length I lean on most and set that but lately I've realized that I'm pretty good at handholding stuff around 1/125th and faster so in those instances I just turn it off. In video I rarely zoom so after I've comped a shot I set the focal length in the IBIS menu.

  3. I was debating using the word "gorgeous" to describe this entire series, but you beat me to it. To the bold goes the glory.

  4. Wow Kirk, these look great. I have a few C/Y Zeiss lenses (28,50 & 135mm) collecting dust and you've inspired me to get a m43 adapter.


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