Is there a digital body that will let me use analog Zeiss lenses from a Contax 167MT? They are T* MM lenses. Will all adaptors produce the same focus issues?


You should be able to adapt your Contax/Yashica-mount (C/Y-mount) lenses easily to any mirrorless camera system (Micro Four Thirds, Sony E/FE mount, etc.) without introducing any new glass into the system.

Some C/Y lenses can be easily adapted to the Canon EF/EF-S mount line of cameras with a simple non-optical adapter; others would extend too far into the camera body and may interfere with the mirror. That's more of a problem with the full-frame EF-mount cameras, but something to be aware of. There is a compatibility list here. The "1.3" and "1.6" columns in the chart reflect APS-H and APS-C formats, respectively. The "I" in the "5D" column means the lens will interfere with a full-frame mirror. (The "FF" just means the lens offers full-frame coverage. Silly, really, since all of the C/Y-mount cameras were full-frame 35mm.)

Other DSLR mounts would place the lens too far from the sensor to achieve infinity focus without introducing additional optical elements. (Several camera brands have slightly shorter flange register distances, but not shorter enough to allow the adapter to be solid enough for use.) There are optical C/Y-to-whatever adapters made (with varying degrees of quality) by a number of different manufacturers, but that's rather like using a third-party teleconverter with all of your lenses all of the time. The optical quality with remove most of the "star" from the "T-star" lenses. And while those lenses may have been exceptional at the time they were made, the demands of high-resolution digital are somewhat more stringent than all but the highest-resolution films. You don't want to give up any quality at all unless you have to.

There are also companies (including Leitax, mentioned in ruffp's answer) that will do a permanent mount conversion to your weapon of choice. That's not a cheap option, but it can be a reasonable choice if you know you're going to stick to one maker's camera system.

  • Here's a successful mount of the Vario Sonar on my 5D MKII. No it did not smash the mirror :D. The adapter was bought from eBay, HK. I believe it is manufactured in China though. Look for BigIS – Peng Tuck Kwok Jan 20 '14 at 7:39
  • @PengTuckKwok: "the Vario-Sonnar" is like saying "the zoom lens"; it tells you nothing. That's the 35-70/3.4, and it's on page 3 of the list I linked to above - complete with a "Y" in the "5D" column. – user2719 Jan 20 '14 at 16:15
  • I wasn't interested in telling him the details of the lens. The point was telling him I got one mounted without problems using adapters from eBay. – Peng Tuck Kwok Jan 20 '14 at 16:27
  • The Leitax kits are not permanent--they are completely reversible. They're lens mount replacement kits, no permanent modifications are required. The Canon EOS issue has to do with mirror clearance on full-frame cameras, but does not apply to any of the 1.6x crop bodies, and can be overcome by shaving the mirror, if you're very determined. – inkista Jul 12 '14 at 1:18

For what I heard, there is no "easy" adapter that you can just plug between you lense and the body. Most of the time you will loose the "infinity" which in my opinion is just useless expect for very specific purpose (e.g. macro).

But apparently there is an interesting site here which offer conversion kit to many brands.

The site offer conversion kit for other brands and if I had different lenses like this I would try to make such conversion.

However you have to be aware of this:

  • When you take an old lense with a new digital camera, the lenses quality can be quite lower than expected due to the very high resolution of the captor (compared to the film).
  • Only an empiric test can give you the result for unknown combinations (a lense that has not been tested on a new digital camera)
  • The format of the digital camera can gives different results, e.g the full frame cameras can be more demanding than a DX which use only the center of the lense.

    Taking in account these points, I would first check on internet if someone already make such conbination (with a specific lense and specific digital cam body) and then according to the conclusion, make (or not) the conversion, but as they said in their site, the conversion is reversible.

  • Besides macro infinity is good for landscape, night photography as well..... – Peng Tuck Kwok Jan 20 '14 at 7:43
  • @PengTuckKwok Yes I agree but even you do not focus all the time to infinity, it depends what is the maximal distance where the focus is made and it is probably different for each brand. That said, I totally agree it can fit your suggestions. – рüффп Jan 20 '14 at 8:10

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