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04-26-2012, 07:38 PM   #1
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zeiss contac n mount lens?

So assuming the seller does not renege, I got a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 Lens dirt cheap. It is an auto focus lens but has a manual focus switch on the lens and has an aperture ring for aperture control.

So a couple of questions. Is there a such thing as an n mount to k mount adapter? If not the flange focal distance is 48mm so I'm thinking I can make something without too much issue.

Are these lenses pretty good? Unless I am missing something, they sell for about 300-500$ used (got mine for about 5% of that if it doesn't fall through). I haven't found much info on them but the zeiss n mount lenses seem to be well regarded so far as I can tell.

Any other comments about using one of these on a k mount camera?

04-26-2012, 07:52 PM   #2
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Contax lenses can be remounted. Having said that, the N mount is really only useful on Canon. You can get full price by selling it to a Canon person wanting to do a remount or with an adapter. See....For use on Pentax, you need the MM version of the C/Y mount - that is the later one and not the earlier AE version. See Leitax.com

It is worth more to a Canon shooter than trying to convert mounts - there are no N to K conversions and there are no adapters.

Last edited by interested_observer; 04-26-2012 at 07:58 PM.
04-26-2012, 09:20 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. I did run across a little about using them on canon when I searched. One place mentioned it might not be worth it with this lens (I think it was with this lens) as zeiss made a canon mount version that is often cheaper than getting one converted or something along those lines. I know I won't get auto focus like you could with a canon conversion. Part of why I'm wondering how good they are is that due to the 48mm flange distance, its quite possible that I could build an adapter without any modification to the lens. It would give me the option to try out the lens and use it a little and still have the option to sell it available. It of course would be full manual. Obviously buying an adapter would be easier and perhaps cheaper which is why I asked about that.

Basically compared to a manual focus lens, is this going to perform like a typical 40$ ebay lens (you can get some pretty good old manual focus lenses for around that much like some of the vivitar series 1), or is it going to be something special, like more on par with a manual focus lens that might sell for a couple of hundred like perhaps a vivitar 90mm 2.5. If it is going to have high end optical performance comparable to a manual focus that might sell for a couple of hundred dollars, then it might be worth the trouble of trying to make an adapter.

Another issue is that I have no way to test it. Were I to sell it I would have to sell it as such so I might not get a lot for it.
04-27-2012, 12:08 AM   #4
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I think a bit of history here might help..... and I am leaving a lot out here, but here goes.

Asahi bought the name Pentax from Zeiss (Jena - actually there were 2 Zeiss companies but that is a different story). Pentax and Zeiss worked together for a brief time, essentially designing the K mount, and the K28/f2 is the same lens as the famous Zeiss 28/f2 Distagon from Contax. Rumor has it that Pentax was the origin of the Zeiss T* lens coating (from Pentax's SMC coating). For what ever reason, the corroboration fell apart, and Zeiss went into a partnership with Yashica (later Kyocera bought Yashica) to build the Contax camera line. This was a professional line of 35mm SLRs available from 1975 to until 2005 when the Contax line was folded, with the last camera model being the Contax N Digital (the first digital SLR).

The vast majority of the Contax lenses available are in the initial C/Y mount (2 versions the AE followed by the MM). The N mount was the last Contax mount and it is incompatible with the C/Y mount. The C/Y mount is very similar to the Pentax K mount that Zeiss helped Pentax develop. After Contax stopped production of cameras, Zeiss started offering their current line of SLR lenses with their Z line. The Z line produces lenses across a number of mounts - ZE (Canon mount), ZF (Nikon mount), ZA (Sony mount), ZK (Pentax K mount). Zeiss a couple of years ago stopped producing the ZK mount since Pentax did not have a full frame body to take full advantage of the lenses.The Contax Zeiss lenses in the C/Y mount are the older version of the current Zeiss Z lens designs, which new are pretty expensive. For the most part the C/Y lenses are about 1/3 to 1/2 the new price - however their wider angle lenses - the 18 and 21 mm are about equal in price to the new lenses. The C/Y lenses can be remounted to a number of other mounts via the Leitax.com. These are all manual lenses.

We now come to the Contax N mount lenses. What makes these lenses so valuable is that with a reasonably expensive conversion, they remain AutoFocus lenses on Canon bodies.So you can make a nice tidy profit by selling the lens to the Canon folks, and then turn around and acquire a Contax C/Y lens - 18, 21, 25, 28, 35, 50, 85, 100, 135, 180, 200 prime convert it to a K mount and you too can enjoy a reasonably inexpensive Zeiss lens on the Pentax body. Only the prime lenses are modifiable to another mount, the zoom lenses are still really only useable via adapters on the 4/3 and Canon bodies.

I have converted and shoot with 2 Contax C/Y lenses - the 28/2.8 and 85/2.8 and also have acquired a Zeiss 25/2.8 ZK




Last edited by interested_observer; 04-27-2012 at 05:14 AM.
04-27-2012, 06:43 AM   #5
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Thanks again for the information. I might have to reread that a couple of times to absorb it all. I was wondering why when reading about the n mount ones it seemed like contax and zeiss seemed to be almost interchangeably used but now that makes sense.
So looking on ebay there are contax brand lenses that seem to often if not always also be zeiss. Are all contax branded lenses built by zeiss? I'm just guessing here but there are also yashica branded lenses (in c/y mount). Would it be incorrect to assume that these are not build by zeiss? I did search for zeiss zk mount lenses out of curiosity but it would seem they are a bit out of my price range (by about 10 times).

As far as there being 2 zeiss companies, not that it matters but I gather when Germany was split at the end of the second world war the zeiss company was also split and zeiss jenna was the east German faction of that?

On a side note, I would normally never look at lenses like these because they are out of my budget, often by a lot. It does seem like there might be the occasional one that sells for a bargain price and might sell for a price I could afford. My interest in the 28-80mm n mount is that I just won one on ebay for $20.50 shipped. I gather its worth a lot more than that. It is listed as new with box, case and hood but it is a pawn shop that does consignment so I'm thinking it might very well be like new, not actually new. They have a few reports in their feedback about items not being available. I'm still concerned that if they know what it's worth they may try to back out with an excuse. Then again, it might be a consignment and they may not care (I can see the angry customer now, you sold my 500$ lens for how much!!!!).

Another example of why you should snipe instead of bidding early. My initial bid was about 12$ (I set a snipe for that much but did not actually bid). I expected it to go into the hundreds and thought I had no chance of winning. Someone bid the 10$ starting bid so I upped mine to about 17$. It really wasn't a serious bid and I still expected it to go for hundreds of dollars at the last minute. Another bid came along in the last couple of hours and the bid went up to 10.50 (I guess the first guy did bid the minimum). I decided to up my bid to 26$, still thinking that there was no chance I would ever win it. So I won it for $20.50 with free shipping. You may be able to tell from the tone in the first post, I was still shocked and was not convinced I had actually won what I though I had won. There had to be something I missed.

If it does actually appear new I might consider leaving it alone and selling it. Unfortunately as stated, I have no way to test it. If it looks like it might have been used a little, I may try to adapt it (without any modification to the lens, just a home made adapter). I would think a little more use isn't going to change its resale value if I take great care with it. Honestly, if I were to sell it, I probably wouldn't go actively searching for another lens like it. If anything the money would go towards a new camera body.
04-27-2012, 08:55 AM   #6
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Contax is Zeiss own camera brand. They partnered with Yashica to hold down their production costs. Yashica came out with their own entry level camera line with the same mount and their lenses are also excellent, however does not command the same price.

Zeiss Jena is the East German Company (in the original Zeiss buildings) and Keiv camera is Russian version - Russia took the Contax camera tooling as war reparations and moved the equipment to Keiv. Zeiss moved to West Germany (Oberkochen or something like that) and that is the Carl Zeiss company we know as Zeiss today.

The early Contax lenses were built in Germany - the AE version known also as AEG and also some of the MM version known as MMG. The manufacturing all moved to Japan eventually and hence the AEJ and MMJ versions. All the same lens designs and same quality. Zeiss had their engineers over see the production. Today, all the Zeiss lenses are made by Cosina in Japan, just as all the Voligtlander lenses are.

Congratulations on the winning bid - an absolutely excellent price! Your lens has sold for $500 on ebay recently. I do not think that you need to test the lens at all - if you decide to sell it. Building a mount would not be that easy, as you would need to find a non working junked N body and there were only like 3,000 Contax N Digital bodies produced, and they all go for a very pretty penny ~ $1500+.

04-30-2012, 09:06 PM   #7
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It was sold as new however it was a pawn shop (on ebay). I'm not sure where they would get a new lens unless they got some stuff from a camera shop that closed or something. Anyway it arrived and is in at least like new condition though its been out of the package a few times (plastic bags all crumpled and stuff). It came with original box and packaging, hood, caps and documentation so it could be new? They were nice enough to send it in a padded envelop so the box got a bit crushed, but the original draw string case is over sized and heavily padded so I think it protected it well enough.

I did learn one thing. The aperture is fully electronically controlled (no mechanical control or mechanical link between the ring and the aperture). The mount bayonet is huge and I only have 2.5mm to play with so chances are slim I could make an adapter anyway (can not find my dial calaper to measure right now). No aperture control and slim chance of adapting means sell it. I don't really have the ebay feedback to sell a high priced item (I would be a scammer magnet) so I'm thinking I might try consignment at a local camera shop. I guess there is craigs list too.

In the long run, if I can not sell it for a good price I might consider conversion. It would require mount removal (they do that for the canon conversion too). It would be a huge pain but I would have to fabricate part of the mount (not get part off a camera as that would not be a cost effective solution as you mentioned). It would be manual and I would have to provide aperture. There is actually an n mount to next adapter on ebay germany (gives manual control only). Their solution to no control over the aperture is to put an aperture in adapter itself. I actually have an aperture assembly from a broken lens right in front of me that might work.

As far as c/y mount lenses, I noticed there was a c/y to m42 adapter on ebay but did not see a c/y to k mount? Is there such a thing?
04-30-2012, 10:06 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ripit Quote
As far as c/y mount lenses, I noticed there was a c/y to m42 adapter on ebay but did not see a c/y to k mount? Is there such a thing?
Zeiss Contax lens for Pentax cameras

RioRico just shaves down the bayonet flags. The register is almost the same, the C/Y is fractions of a millimeter longer.

04-30-2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Zeiss Contax lens for Pentax cameras

RioRico just shaves down the bayonet flags. The register is almost the same, the C/Y is fractions of a millimeter longer.
Thanks again. I have used his method on 1 lens (if memory serves it was an olympus) and it worked well enough.
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