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Is It Love? Funleader Contax 45mm for Leica M Review


The Contax 45mm f2 for G-series film cameras is a classic and iconic lens in many ways. We’ve seen and heard the hype many photographers make about it. And that’s one of the reasons why the Funleader Contax 45mm is probably going to be loved by so many photographers. They took the old lens and give it new life for Leica M-mount. Make no mistake, it’s a sharp lens. But if you’re yearning for character, you won’t find it here.

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Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 hack is a continuation of the great work they’ve done previously with the Contax 35mm f2. But this time, it’s for Contax’s most iconic lens. You’re honestly best off adapting this to another camera of some sort. Leica M cameras don’t have a 45mm frame line and 50mm isn’t always going to cut it. It’s small, beautiful, and can give you some beautiful images overall. But I don’t know, it’s still missing some sort of magic that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Giving new life to old lenses
  • Funleader says you can do the hack yourself, but I wouldn’t encourage it
  • Nice image quality
  • Very sharp
  • I think $1,199 is a fair price.

Cons

  • I can’t put my finger on it. I think a lot of people might like this lens. But there’s something about it I’m not creatively connecting with. Folks say it’s very sharp, and I’ll agree with that. However, I don’t like things too sharp.

Gear Used

We tested the Funleader Contax 45mm f2 with the:

Innovations

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 isn’t necessarily being innovative. Funleader has hacked and converted Contax lenses before. But in the grand scheme of things, this is pretty wonderful that they’re giving new life to an older lens.

Tech Specs

These specs are copied from Funleader’s listing.

  • Non-Destructive Conversion: When we convert the original Contax G45 lens for Leica M mount, we will not damage the lenses. It feels as good as the original Contax lens after conversion.
  • Contax’s Original Optical Lens Group: With the original Contax G45 optical lens group, this converted lens fully demonstrates ultra-high resolution ratio and beautiful colors that T* planar 45mm/f2 should have.
  • Exquisite Retro Design: the focus ring with wave pattern design, the aperture ring with double ear design, and the small and exquisite red and white numerical scale show the ingenious balance between retro and modern.
  • Easy to DIY: If you have a Contax G45 lens, it is easy to assemble the original Contax optical lens group into our converted helicoid. You can recover Contax G45 if you do not want to play.

Ergonomics

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2, by all means, looks pretty much like a Leica lens. If you glanced at it quickly, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But when you look at it very closely, then you start to see the differences. It doesn’t feel like the shape of any Leica lens that I’ve held for M-mount before.

What you’re really interested in is the top of the lens. There is an aperture control as well as a focusing tab. Additionally, there’s a zone focusing guide on the lens.

Build Quality

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 has an all-metal build quality to it. Both Brittany and Hillary agree that metal lenses are quickly becoming favorites of theirs. I personally want it taken a step further and include weather sealing. However, the Funleader Contax 45mm f2 doesn’t have weather sealing at all. Of course, there’s still the metal build quality overall which can’t be underlooked. Through and through, this lens feels great. And if you didn’t know any better, you’d say it’s akin to Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander in a blind face-off.

Overall, it’s hard to dislike the build quality of the Funleader Contax 45mm f2. Oh, one more thing! If you buy the black version, it will patina over time. Yummy!

Ease of Use

Well, here’s where you might not like things here. The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 is an all manual lens. Want to change the aperture? Turn an aperture ring. Want to focus the lens? Turn the focusing ring. Consider zone focusing with this lens too. I think that people that are way too used to autofocus may really not like this lens. But for what it’s worth, I also converted our entire staff to really liking manual focus lenses. Are they easy to use? No. But that’s part of the beauty of something like this lens. You’re working for the shot. 

Focusing

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 uses manual focusing. With that said, zone focusing is going to be your best bet. The lens also has no communication contacts. So if you’re adapting it, then the camera you’re working with will just have to guesstimate based on what it’s seeing through the lens. This also means that things like focus peaking will be frivolous. 

Image Quality

Using the Funleader Contax 45mm f2 is a fun experience. And then when it comes to looking at the image quality, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, a lot of folks love this lens because it’s so sharp. Indeed, it really is very sharp without using modern tactics like increasing the contrast or something. But in my eyes, I’m just not falling in love with it; though I understand how someone absolutely will!

Here’s the bottom line: the Funleader Contax 45mm f2 is like a flat color profile you’d put on a camera to edit later. And through and through, I think you’ll want to edit the files that come from this lens.

Bokeh

I don’t think anyone can sit here and not be satisfied with the bokeh tha the Funleader Contax 45mm f2 produces. It’s a fine line between being creamy and hazy. But no matter where you may skew, it’s smooth. The lens is sharp enough and has just enough pop to not create distracting bokeh. Overall, I think that most folks will like it if they go for this lens.

Color Rendition

The above photo is from the Leica SL2s. It’s not super saturated at all. Additionally, it’s also not very contrasty. We think photographers will like that.

The photo of the car above was shot on Natura 1600. As you can see, even there it’s really muted. So think of it as Kodak Portra for digital in some ways.

Lens Character

This is a Zeiss lens at the end of the day. So while it’s low contrast and sharp, there are no tricks like how you see in modern lenses. In my mind, this is peak Zeiss image quality. This is from a day when Zeiss just relied on pure sharpness and still focused on making things clinical. As a result, we couldn’t find much in the way of aberrations or anything like that.

Sharpness

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 is very sharp towards the center. as you get closer to the corners, that sharpness disappears. Overall, I think everyone will really like the sharpness of this lens. It’s surely a great lens for shooting portraits with a Leica. But I also think that I’ve seen better from Leica themselves and from other brands. 

Extra Image Samples

From day one, the Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. You’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a whole section in our Extra Image Samples area to show off edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small, and lightweight
  • Very sharp
  • It can give you a very muted look.

Dislikes

  • You’re sure to want to do post-production to your images.
  • It’s missing the magic that the 35mm f2 has.

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 is a good lens through and through. But overall it’s missing the magic that made the Funleader 35mm f2 so much nicer. That lens has quirks that make it very fun to use. This is Zeiss at some of their most clinical. Yes, Zeiss made the optics, and Funleader rehoused them for Leica M-mount. So who would buy this lens? Anyone that wants a solid portrait lens for the Leica M-mount. But the thing is that if you’re buying this and want to shoot it digitally, prepare for doing some post-production or setting your own tweaks in-camera. It’s a sharp, blank slate more than anything else. I’ve seen lots of folks geek out over this lens and film. But quite honestly, you could do the same thing with lenses from 7Artisans at a much cheaper price and similar ergonomics.

The Funleader Contax 45mm f2 gets three out of five stars.






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