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Why are there so few 17-35, 85 and 400 produced?

 
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ManWearPants



Joined: 18 Feb 2010
Posts: 74

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:07 am    Post subject: Why are there so few 17-35, 85 and 400 produced? Reply with quote

I read the below quote from the FAQ section. I am curious as to why there are so few N17-35, 85 and 400 compared to the other focal length. What are the likely reasons?

(a) They are complete new designs, hence they came onto the scene towards the end of the life of Contax N.
(b) The optics or parts used in these lenses are specially made and available in limited quantities
(c) These are produced in a limited quantity for testing before full production - both in demand and lens performance
(d) They are deliberately released in limited quantity to keep the cost of these lenses high
(e) They are simply for specific application and not expected to or catered for mass adoption.
(f) Others. Please state.


Quoted from FAQ:

"We record serial numbers of lenses we have worked on, and estimate the total number of lenses manufactured using statistical techniques.

Estimate 1 is simply the difference between the smallest and the largest serial number we have on record.

Estimate 2 assumes serial numbers form a rectangular distribution. This would only work if the serial numbers are consecutive, with no gaps in between. So, take our estimates with a grain of salt.


lens est#1 est#2
100/2.8 3179 3065
17-35 2045 1971
24-85 19481 17650
28-80 12571 10884
400/4 530 584
50/1.4 8844 5765
70-200 10456 9387
70-300 9958 8533
85/1.4 1568 1491
Total 68632 59330 "
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conurus
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Joined: 15 Aug 2006
Posts: 795
Location: Vancouver, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

a. Very plausible. 100/2.8, 24-85, 70-300 and 50/1.4 were launched as the founding lenses of the Contax N system. 17-35, 85 and 400 were the last ones.

b. Sounds plausible, too.

c. Not likely. Judging from the way how the serial numbers of how completely different kinds of lenses fit together, it is evident that Contax knows exactly how many they are going to produce. (e.g. the 50/1.4 s/n's starts almost exactly where the 24-85 s/n's ends)

d. Not likely. Contax probably overestimated demand and overproduced which ultimately lead to their demise and the subsequent liquidation of the remaining stock at fire-sale prices in 2005. (Speculation on my part. I have no solid evidence to substantiate this.) Prices rebounded and supply dried out in recent years, of course.

e. It is true. All these 3 lenses are very specialized lenses.

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ManWearPants



Joined: 18 Feb 2010
Posts: 74

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have emailed Zeiss and got the below reply.

- The Contax N is an expensive niche system of its time and demand for it was very low compared to the SLR.

- There are definitely special glasses used in the optics.

Does anyone have access to this book? It may shed clues on how many Contax N lenses were produced.
http://www.lindemanns.de/shop/photobookshop/64020t-hartmut-thiele-fabrikationsbuch-photooptik-iii.php?sid=4f0872b0f145e&iproj=limainst&direkt=10&ruck=/shop/photobookshop/uusuch4f0872b0f145e.php&anker=ank16
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divB0



Joined: 21 Jan 2012
Posts: 11
Location: Europe

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the referenced book the following numbers can be figured out:

lens / #of lenses / reconstructed first ser#
100 2.8 / 2200 / 15071775
50 1.4 / 5000 / 12716208
85 1.4 / 1000 / 15147994
400 4 / 400 / 15174183
17-35 2.8 / 1700 / 15129802
24-85 3.5-4.5 / 15200 / 12696094
70-200 3.5-4.5 / 5000 / 15116618
28-80 3.5-5.6 / 10000 / 15096898

Zeiss manufacturing order:
1. Contax N 24-85
2. Contax N 50
(3. several Contax 645 lenses (45, 140, 210, 45))
4. Contax N 100
5. Contax N 28-80
6. Contax N 70-200
(7. Contax 645 55)
8. Contax N 17-35
9. Contax N 85
(10. Contax 645 45-90)
11. Contax N 400
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divB0



Joined: 21 Jan 2012
Posts: 11
Location: Europe

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 70-300 is also in the book: misleadingly, it is listed there as C/Y mount (which is definitely wrong since I have a 70-300 N which falls into the listed serial# range).

Contax N 70-300 4.5-5.6 / 10000 lenses / estimated first ser#: 12681001
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conurus
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Joined: 15 Aug 2006
Posts: 795
Location: Vancouver, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I noticed that our estimates by collecting serial numbers tend to be lower than those given in the cited book.

If you let me guess, it is likely because a certain percentage of lenses did not pass stringent Zeiss QC standards and were rejected. Both of our own estimation methods assume consecutive serial numbers, but when you have rejects, then the serial numbers are no longer consecutive.

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ManWearPants



Joined: 18 Feb 2010
Posts: 74

PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is interesting both your estimates based on lenses received are higher than the published quantities. Of course, one likely reason as mentioned by you is that the number of rejects is high. However, I would think affixing the front bezel would be the last step in the manufacturing process and Zeiss could very well not have wasted any of these serial numbers on the rejects.

I also find it interesting that the 28-80 and 70-200 were released later than the bunch of lenses before. I have though these 2 are earlier models, with design adopted from elsewhere.

Anything else this book unravel? Smile
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