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Carl Zeiss AE vs. MM

Hans Petter Strifeldt , Jul 27, 2000; 05:08 p.m.

I`m considering buying myself into the Contax MF-system. This time, I`m paying the lot myself, so I`ll spend my bucks on second-hand gear. However, browsing for second-hand lenses, this question arises: Why should I buy e.g. the 300/4 MM instead of the 300/4 AE, which I can get relatively cheaper? As I`m planning to buy S2s, I don`t need the auto-aperture-facility on the MMs. Should I buy MMs whenever I can (so to speak...), or are AE lenses equal in performance? Can any experienced Contax-users out there help me? Sean?

Best regards Hans P.


Y. Dobon , Jul 27, 2000; 06:20 p.m.

Contax/Carl Zeiss's official stance is that AE and MM lenses are identical in optical performance; the only difference is in diaphragm action. The decision is really up to you. I don't use shutter priority nor program AE exposure modes on my 167MT, so I personally wouldn't hesitate to buy AE lenses.

That said, I have not done any side-by-side AE vs. MM lens comparisons. Lens testing is not one of my photographic interests. I've used both types and they all seem to take very nice pictures. Good luck with your purchase decision.

B Macy , Jul 27, 2000; 10:19 p.m.

There have been some design changes with some lenses when the switch was made between AE and MM lenses. The 85/1.4 was updated at that time. The MM 85/1.4 is better, is only slightly. The 300/4 had a design change just before the AE to MM switch. The newer design is more compact and better corrected. There are new-design 300/4 AE lenses out there - they are rare because only a few were made in Germany before the switch. When the switch was made to MM, all 300/4 MM lenses were made in Japan. I can't think of any other design changes/updates around that time, but there could have been.

If the optical design did not change, there is no optical difference between AE and MM lenses. If you don't need MM with the S2, there is not reason to get MM (unless you want the better 85/1.4 design, for example).

B Macy , Jul 27, 2000; 10:22 p.m.

Just remembered one other change. The 200mm/f3.5 tele-tessar is AE, but the revised and improved 200mm/f4 tele-tessar is MM. You might even find an 200/f4 MM tele-tessar that was made in Germany.

Hans Petter Strifeldt , Jul 28, 2000; 09:11 a.m.

Thank you, guys. That probably saved me a couple of bucks. Nice. Maybe I can afford more lenses, then. 'til next time: Hans P.

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