In Morpheus voice: What if I told you that AF Zeiss goodness can be had for less than half the price of an MF Zeiss lens? I give you Franken-Zeiss.

Scroll down to content

Update: Samples from first trip into the wild added below.

Been a minute, but I am here with another edition of Frugal Photographer.

I really like Zeiss glass. Was already on board with adapting Zeiss glass to Sony w/ Techart’s Contax G AF adapter (KEH review).

Actually proved to be a relatively reasonable way to get Zeiss goodness in Sony FE form. Like I stated in that post:

Currently, a very nice, new manual focus 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar lens costs nearly $1,000. Sony sells a 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss Sonnar branded lens that runs almost $900. Now there is also a Sony Zeiss Planar branded 50mm f/1.4 that is a bit on the large side and runs well over $1,000.

Then through a series of unrelated events I ended at a pretty cool realization yesterday.

Enjoyed the Techart Contax G adapter, but due to it being based on a screw drive AF rangefinder system it did have a couple of drawbacks.

  • While not terribly slow screw drive AF can be a bit noisy.
  • Like most any rangefinder lens close focus is not a strong point.

But through serendipity, I would find a better solution that cost even less.

Step 1.

Fell for a wonderful tank like Contax SLR. Camera cost me all of $50 plus a $17 skin and the Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 I bought for it cost around $99.

Step 2.

Recently picked up a TechArt LM adapter (KEH Review).

As noted in the pic above other SLR mount lenses can easily be adapted (like Helios) via SLR lens to LM adapters, which I did not even realize was a thing until recently. Mortal SLR lenses affixed to mighty M cameras with no cam for rangefinder focusing? Heresy, no? Anyhoo. Glad they exist. Bought and quickly forgot a CY to LM adapter as I was a bit obsessed with the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1.

7Artisans

As much as I enjoyed the 7Artisans I wanted a sharper lens for the LM to Sony FE AF adapter as a companion lens when sharpness was needed more than light gathering. Seriously started shopping for another LM lens. Was looking at the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 …

Leica M3 w/ Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 and Ilford XP2

…I thoroughly enjoyed with an M3 I had for a bit (related KEH post).

Then yesterday…

Step 3.

I realized that I have:

LM mount lens who? We are adapting CY Zeiss glass now. I give you Franken-Zeiss.

Contax Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax Planar 50mm f/1.7

Pluses:

  • This is even more of a bargain than the Contax G/TechArt combo. All three pieces required for this combo come in at little more than $400 combined.
  • The f/1.7 is plenty light and balances quite nicely on the A7III.
  • Due to focus being handled by the shifting adapter, instead of native screw drive, close focusing is not macro territory but does add flexibility over the G adapter by using the lens focus ring.

Additionally, at f/1.7 this lens is a bit brighter than both the Zeiss Loxia manual focus lens and 55mm Sony branded AF Zeiss. So what about the even heavier, more expensive, brighter, and admittedly excellent Sony branded Zeiss AF 50mm f/1.4? Well, you could instead cough up an extra $150 for a CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4, if you have to have that extra .3 of light gathering goodness, and still spend way less overall.

Are there minuses? Of course.

  • While not loud in my estimation it definitely does not focus silently. So not meant for video AF.

Ok, a minus.

Well, that is all I have got for now. Initial home tests proved promising but poor blog post fodder. Once I get out into the real world I will post digital examples to this lens’ gallery. Samples added below and ongoing gallery link here.

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Contax CY Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7

Happy shooting.

-ELW

 

%d bloggers like this: