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Old September 12th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #1
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Lens Selection: Much More than just Nikon or Canon

Since the AF100 doesn't need lens adapters the world is our oyster when it comes to lens selection. You could literally use a $50 buck non-AI Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 or a $250K Panavision zoom - if you were crazy enough.

Yet it seems that ever since video-camera lens adapters became widely available (and high quality) that the go-to standards for SLR-type lenses are always either Nikon or Canon. Of course, mostly because that's what the majority of still-photo shooters already have on-hand and the market is flooded with used MF and AF glass from both brands.

But if you wanted to take a serious step-up in noticeable image quality without the expense of true "cinema" lenses there are two other brands you should be considering:

Leica R-system and,
Contax (NOT the G or N series).

Why?

While Leica has had a long standing relationship with Panasonic for their video and even still-camera lenses, their own R-series of SLR lenses have been at the top of the list for pro shooters for decades. The only reason the R-series was never fully adopted by full-time pros as much as Nikon or Canon was simple: Price and lens selection.

The other serious contender for AF100 consideration is Contax. Also German-engineered, Contax glass has always been highly sought after by pro shooters and serious quality-phobes (like me) since I can remember.

In fact back in the day (way back when Moses was a boy) I used an adapted Contax 85mm f/1.4 Planar on Canon my F1-N, Canon EOS system, Nikon F3HP, F5, F6 and even D3 for good reason: It had the BEST color, contrast, flare reduction and drop-dead gorgeous bokeh of any lens I'd ever used. And when I got out of shooting stills I sold it. Had I known video cameras would eventually never need adapters... eh, what'ya gonna do?

Another favorite is the Leica R 50mm f/2 Summicron 3cam version.

Here's a sampling of what's out there:

Contax Fixed Focal Length Lenses - KEH.com

Yes, the Leica and Contax stuff is harder to get and it's pricier than your average Nikkor, Canon EF/FD... or just about anything else that an SLR-type lens. But there is a palpable and distinct uptick in overall image quality across the board when using Contax or Leica glass. If they worked wonders for still photography just imagine how nicely they'll play with the AF100's imagery!

Sometime next month I'll be posting samples of Nikon vs. Contax vs. Leica clips, stay tuned.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 04:22 PM   #2
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Re: Lens Selection: Much More than just Nikon or Canon

I'll second the value in Leica-R lenses. I don't have many, but very much like what I do have: a Elmarit-R 28/2.8 and Summicron-R 50/2 - at least gives me a normal and tele. Probably amongst the cheaper of Leicas, but it's a good start. They're easy to declick for smooth iris changes and the movement of the focus rings is delightful.

Here's another that's largely ignored: Olympus OM. My "full" prime set consists of OM Zuikos in 24, 28, 50, 100, 135, and 200mm lengths. I got the whole set for just above nothing and love the character. They weren't half as easy to declick (a downright pain, actually), but the focus rings are buttery smooth with just the right amount of resistance and length of throw.

There's a paucity of teens-length wide angles for Leica, especially in anything approaching affordability, but I'll grow the prime set as I can.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 11:31 PM   #3
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Re: Lens Selection: Much More than just Nikon or Canon

Kevin,

This will be good news for you: Panny actually makes a Leica-R to MFT adapter:

Panasonic DMW-MA3R Leica R Mount Adapter for Leica DMW-MA3R B&H

I plan on trying this myself very soon.
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Old September 14th, 2011, 07:50 AM   #4
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Re: Lens Selection: Much More than just Nikon or Canon

I've been using a plain Fotodiox R->MFT adapter, it's been nice n' tight. I'm tempted to try their tilt-shift R-MFT and Nikon-MFT adapters (why not make every single lens a tilt-shift?)

So far I haven't had bad luck with a Fotodiox unit.
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Old September 14th, 2011, 02:28 PM   #5
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Re: Lens Selection: Much More than just Nikon or Canon

It's worth noting that the Carl Zeiss company, makers the Zeiss ZF/ZE primes, CP series cinema lenses and DigiPrimes, made all the lenses for Contax/Yashica. That's one hell of a pedigree.
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