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  1. #4611  
    Junior Member Nick Korompilas's Avatar
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    First time posting here... been building out my set of MMJs after following this thread. My first set of glass for video, I am stoked!

    Wanted to put a warning out for buyers on eBay... I have been collecting my kit and had issues with 2/3 lenses that I bought in "Mint" condition from Japan.

    The biggest drag is my 35mm 1.4 MMJ, I was prepping it to be sent off for cine-mod a couple days ago and noticed the elements have started to separate quite severely. Tried to compare it to the eBay picture and noticed it might be visible in their shots as well, although so far they have claimed it had no issues when it was sent out. Pic iattached; original eBay picture (left), brightness/contrast applied to original eBay pic (center) and current state of lens (right). A crescent shadow shape is developing on one side of the lens in a fixed position with some reflective lines following the path of the shadow. These lines are not nearly as colorful as the typical lens separation colors though.

    Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6gmego3wy6bh1f8/lens.jpg?dl=0

    I also have a 50mm 1.4 with quite a few cleaning scratches on the back, but this doesn't concern me enough to return it to Japan. This was also listed as "mint" and hard/impossible to tell from the pics.

    Anyways, much love to everyone for all of the information shared here!
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  2. #4612  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Korompilas View Post
    First time posting here... been building out my set of MMJs after following this thread. My first set of glass for video, I am stoked!

    Wanted to put a warning out for buyers on eBay... I have been collecting my kit and had issues with 2/3 lenses that I bought in "Mint" condition from Japan.

    The biggest drag is my 35mm 1.4 MMJ, I was prepping it to be sent off for cine-mod a couple days ago and noticed the elements have started to separate quite severely. Tried to compare it to the eBay picture and noticed it might be visible in their shots as well, although so far they have claimed it had no issues when it was sent out. Pic iattached; original eBay picture (left), brightness/contrast applied to original eBay pic (center) and current state of lens (right). A crescent shadow shape is developing on one side of the lens in a fixed position with some reflective lines following the path of the shadow. These lines are not nearly as colorful as the typical lens separation colors though.

    Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6gmego3wy6bh1f8/lens.jpg?dl=0

    I also have a 50mm 1.4 with quite a few cleaning scratches on the back, but this doesn't concern me enough to return it to Japan. This was also listed as "mint" and hard/impossible to tell from the pics.

    Anyways, much love to everyone for all of the information shared here!
    oh man, sorry to hear that. great thing about ebay is you can send pretty much anything back. they have to provide shipping if it's not as described too. I know it frustrating tho. i had the same issue when I was putting together my set. I always tried to buy from people here in the states but sometimes for the harder lens you have to buy from japan. they just don't really know whats up.
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  3. #4613  
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    Also, I'm gonna be getting rid of some AE's all with gears, decliked. I went with ae's because I wanted the extra character and don't mind the blades. In fact I love them. I haven't listed anything yet but will shortly so please let me know if anyone's interested. in LA.

    18/4
    25/2.8
    60/2.8 makro
    135/2.8
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  4. #4614  
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    Scarlet W +

    23mm 2.0
    50mm 1.4
    85mm 1.4

    all MMJ, without color correction ... out of cam in








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  5. #4615  
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    I’m looking to buy a 28mm f2 Hollywood if anyone has a lead on one. I’d love for it to be already Cine-modded but it doesn’t have to be
    JAKE WILGANOWSKI
    Director of Photography / Filmmaker
    CINE-AUTOMATIC.COM
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  6. #4616  
    Senior Member Aaron Lochert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Wilganowski View Post
    I’m looking to buy a 28mm f2 Hollywood if anyone has a lead on one. I’d love for it to be already Cine-modded but it doesn’t have to be
    Was about the post the same. So let's hope there's two out there. :)
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  7. #4617  
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    For the 28mm f2 Hollywood, check ebay. Several available in AEG and MMJ, one PL Kimcamera rehoused.
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  8. #4618  
    Hello guys. By now, I’m pretty sure you know me for my passion for Contax Zeiss lenses. Especially, my pursuit for quantifying and demystifying various factors about these lenses, in an effort to allow myself and other people making more informed choices and purchases. This time, I’m offering you two very important tables which I carefully compiled, showing the different batches for each lens model, where and when they were created. The importance of this, is not just to identify some oddities in the production of these lenses but also to allow people having an overall idea of what’s out there, so they can hunt more specifically and make cine sets that match better. One can extrapolate for example some good serial ranges that are great for making a set, like the 58~61 range or the 70~74 range and so on.

    In order to compile these tables I have done quite a lot of research, reading and cross checking user experiences and extensive testing using more than 50 Contax Zeiss lenses that passed through my hands the past few years. The “source” for this information, exists all over the internet, in the thousands of replies in the Contax Survival Guide, reviews, blogs, photos, and of course my own and this community’s experiences. The point of this table is to become the “source”, so people won’t have to spend years of their lives to understand these lenses and make the right choices the first time.

    While for some other systems things are a little more obvious as the manufacturer offers details about differences between the serials and manufacture dates, this is not the case with Zeiss. The serials are exactly what the name implies: a unique series that increases everytime a new lens is made – of course in batches. The table contains the two first digits of the lenses serial. That does not only include these C/Y lenses. At the same time, Zeiss was making cine lenses for ARRI, Rollei lenses, Hasselblad lenses etc. Later Contax 645, Contax G and Contax N lenses were introduced as well. All those different lenses make use of the same serial line. The digits of the serials do NOT contain the manufacturing year. I’m saying this because I’ve heard it a couple of times here and there. The year of manufacturing in general has been a big puzzle but thanks to some deductive reasoning, some lenses that had their manufacturing year written inside and a serial checking tool for Hasselblad lenses, I’m happy to provide you with the actual manufacturing dates for all these Contax lenses. Of course, it’s rough and it’s not like each year, January 1st, a new serial begins; it’s rather the average, meaning most of those lenses with those serials were manufactured that year.

    I want to first though clear some important misunderstandings:

    - A common misunderstanding is that all AE lenses were made in Germany and all MM lenses were made in Japan. That’s false. Some lenses were only made in Japan, some only in Germany, some in both. Those were clearly logistical choices. Different models of the same kind (AE or MM) have no difference, optical, mechanical or quality wise. The general pattern is that there was no one time that the same lens was manufactured both in Germany and Japan. It usually starts with the lenses being made in Germany and after a few years the assembly line moving to Japan. There are some exceptions to that, creating some unconventional results.

    - Although it has become synonymous with describing other characteristics, AE and MM actually refers to the functionality of a lens. AE lenses were the ones that came out first and MM lenses were introduced with the first MM capable camera, the 159MM in 1984. The MM lenses have a metal flange that lets the camera to set the aperture. This allows for shutter and program priority modes. The older AE models do not have that functionality. In order for that to be achieved, the aperture mechanism was changed – and that’s how MM lenses do not have the “ninja-star” iris.

    - Similarly, AE and MM do not describe optical design or coatings. As you can see the actual timeline spans throughout many years, it is quite a generalization to say “AE” lenses do this and “MM” lenses do that in terms of optical performance or coatings. Because you might have a 100/2.8 AE lens with a 84 serial made in 1999 and a 28/2 MM with a 61 serial made in with glass coated in 1977. What happens instead, is that the coatings change gradually and slightly throughout the years. It’s impossible to know exactly how and when those tweaks and changes took place. Maybe a certain rare element became more expensive in February 1985 and Zeiss replaced with another one. But only in Japan because in Germany they still had it in stock for years. Then another rare element was banned from usage in 1991. But only in Germany, so in Japan they still used it... Boom! Complexity. At the end, the only way to assess things like warmth and flaring is to generalize a bit, look at the serial of the lens, regardless of it being AE or MM, or where it was made.

    - A lens with a certain serial has the coating of that era. It doesn’t matter if it’s AE or MM or when it was actually assembled. Perhaps an AE lens was taken apart and was put into an MM body – that lens will carry the original AE lens serial; this is the case for the “odd” 28/2 and 135/2 MMGs with 60, 61 and 62 serials. Some lenses were only ever made in AE models but that doesn’t mean they don’t have MM-era coatings. The 15/3.5, 35/2.8 PC, 60/2.8 Macro and 100/2.8 Macro all come with 73 serial AE versions which will match the corresponding 73 serial MMs of that era. The 84 serial 100/2.8 AE macro, most certainly has the same coatings as the late 50/1.4 MM 84 serials. The 28/2 MM lens with the 61 serial, has the same coatings as the 28/2 AE 61 serial (trust me, I own both and I checked). There is even a 8-digit 151 serial 50/1.4 which will match the Classic ZE/ZF.2 lenses! All such oddities are highlighted in red in the serials table.

    - I do NOT wish to create some new myths so let me be clear about something: when I say warmth, contrast, flaring etc. the differences are extremely subtle. All Contax lenses match very well and just fine; even with Classics, dare to say even with Milvus/Otus. Even Ultra Primes actually have 89 serial T* coatings! But in general, the more wide the gap, the more noticeable the difference. A 58 versus a 88 will definitely feel a little more warm and less contrasty without that much of a deep examination.

    - Last but not least. There are tons and tons and tons of defective Contaxes out there. Everytime I say it, I get kind of attacked by some people claiming it’s only me. Every Contax set I’ve checked, regardless of where they live and how much they paid for the lens, I have found at least one out of three of their lenses to have haze for example. That haze is not something you see by raising the lenses towards your room light or the sun. It’s the one that you shine a very strong flashlight through the lens in a dark room and you try to look in the exact angle – something that takes experience. In most cases doesn’t affect a thing; in some cases though it does alter both color and flaring. Balsam separation is also not straight forward to detect and can affect the contrast and color of a lens. Why I’m saying all this here? Because, the a compromised lens, has to be excluded from any testing and comparisons. If your 80 serial MM lens flares so white and loses more contrast than your 59 serial AE lens, it’s not because this table is wrong, but probably because your lens has haze.

    There are so many more misunderstandings of course and a lot more important information about these lenses. There is plenty of such information on the legendary Contax Survival Guide thread. For me, this time my mission was to simply compile those tables. I tried my best to find all the different batches for each lens but of course, I could be missing a few. If you happen to own such a lens please feel free to provide a photo of it and I will be happy to add it. Also, if you performed some specific tests and you found out anything from the above information might be inaccurate, please feel free to provide sample photos.

    Thank you for reading and have a nice day!

    PS: I've left out some really rare and exotic primes going for 5 figure if not 6 figure numbers. Most of these were extremely expensive at their times as well and produced on request only. Such lenses are the 500/4.5, 500/5.6, 600/4, 800/8 and 1000/5.6. There is also a 500/8 which is easier to find and much "cheaper". Since it's Mirotar design it's irrelevant if it's AE or MM in its type. It's out in 81 serials. I have no idea where it was made (probably Japan though). The point of the table above is to help people that use these lenses for filming to create matching sets and I don't think you should care a lot if the prototype 600/4 matches well with the 1000/5.6.



    Last edited by Georgios Tryfonas; 12-09-2019 at 03:34 AM.
    My Contax Zeiss MM collection: 18/4 21/2.8 25/2.8 28/2(AE) 28/2.8 35/1.4 35/2.8 50/1.4 85/1.4 85/2.8 100/2.8M(AE) 135/2.8 180/2.8 28-85/3.3-4 35-70/3.4
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  9. #4619  
    A handy tip: The way I remember that "MM" are the later out of AE and MM is to think of "MM" as standing for "more modern".
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  10. #4620  
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    Thank you, what a great service to the community!
    Regards,

    Uli

    My Red is called Vertov after a Russian avantgarde filmmaker, a pioneer in modern cinematography, a true revolutionary who later suffered under Stalin's bureaucracy.
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