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As 2016 winds down . . .

This has not been a good year.

I think 2016 will go down in history as our annus horribilis. It started well, but that did not last. The losses of brilliant artists and friends, the decay of society, and politics have made this year such that I am not sorry to see it go.

I haven’t done well with my photography. There was a lot of suck in 2016. What gives me hope is when I find an image I’ve nailed. It’s like I’ve succeeded in spite of what was going on around me. Mind you, there aren’t many of these, but when I find them, I take heart.

I’ve made some moves for the better, I think. I may buy a single body in 2017, but that’s all. I may buy a couple of lenses, but probably not many. I’m focusing on mastering what I have, not adding more. The two most recent cameras I have purchased, above, will be my backbone for some time.

I’ll be doing more, going out more, this coming year as well. We didn’t take a tour this year, and I missed it. I’m finding the move we made to the suburbs is leading us both to be more sedentary, and that is not good in any way.

I had hoped the book I am part of would be done before Xmas, but that did not happen. Hopefully it can be done before long and I can move on with the related projects that logically follow it. After that, I will be working on a new project that I’ll be starting on in the new year.

So, congratulations. We survived this year. With any luck, we will survive the one to come. And with exemplary luck and determination, we can survive in spite of what it throws at us.

Wishing us all luck and determination.

The Contax Tessar 45mm f2.8 lens-

Good morning everyone, if we can get started, I’ll go first. My name is Andrew, and I am a Tessar addict.

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SS Hercules. Love that Ektar red

I own more Tessars than any other type of lens. I could rattle on about this or that aspect of the lens type that I find superior, but it’s really the totality of the look they produce that makes me love them. They are among my favorite tools.

When I found my Contax RTS II body on the cheap, I went looking for Zeiss glass to put on it. Unsurprisingly, the first lens I bought for it is this Zeiss Tessar 45mm/f2.8.

The Tessar was invented 112 years ago and while it’s not cutting edge, its’ strengths are undeniable. It’s a simple, inexpensive lens design that produces an excellent result, and this Contax version follows that formula well.

First test shot I took with it. HP5+

First test shot I took with it. HP5+

This little pancake lens packs a wallop for it’s size and price. It has the T* anti-reflection coating that Zeiss is well-known for. It can produce images  with excellent contrast and sharpness. And that sharpness is well maintained from edge to edge. Since I bought it, it hasn’t been removed from the front of my RTS II.

Ruby Canyon From the California Zephyr

Ruby Canyon from the California Zephyr

This is the first pancake lens I’ve owned, and I like what it does to the handling of an SLR. When I put this lens on the RTS II and take off the winder, I get a compact, capable camera that can swing to the eye and shoot with rapid ease. It allows me to get the image I want and not give up much space in my backpack or camera bag, which is perfection in my world.

Wide open portrait HP 5+

Wide open portrait. HP 5+

On the bottom of the lens, there are the words “Lens made in Japan” and those words elicit a strong response from some people. They say those words mean the lens, and the camera it is attached to, are not really Contax products. True, the camera and lens were made by Yashica/Kyocera in the 1980s, but as a non-purist, this does not bother me. On the contrary, the rejection of these cameras by the purist Contax community has a great side effect. It keeps them cheap and accessible. As a result, I paid about $100 for the camera body, and picked up the lens for $170. I will say the purists are right on one thing, this lens doesn’t quite have the build quality of the older German Zeiss lenses. However, the build quality of this lens isn’t shabby by any means, and it’s kind of nit-picking to say it.

So if you want to join me in a chapter of Tessar-holics Anonymous, I can highly recommend this lens.