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FUNLEADER Contax G35 F2 to Leica M Conversion review


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Hello everyone, here's my review of the new Carl Zeiss Contax G Planar 35mm f/2 FUNLEADER conversion to Leica M.

This is my first review here so I am not used to the technicalities of posting, please forgive me if I readjust things after I post.

FUNLEADER Contax G35 to Leica M Conversions

I have included the 7artisans 35mm f/1.4 M and the Voigtlander VM 40mm f/1.2, the only lenses in the 35mm zone I own.

Disclaimers:
1. none of the lens makers / converters have been involved in these tests and I have personally purchased all 3 lenses, none of them have been provided.
2. the FUNLEADER link above contains an affiliate link with a code that will get you a 5% discount (used to be 15%, I hope they bring that back). If you purchase using the link above FUNLEADER says I will receive 10%.
3. all opinions expressed here are my own and, just like with anything in life (especially photography equipment!), you may have a different one.

A few bullet points about the tests:
- done on my Leica M-P typ 240
- done on a tripod with a 2 second timer to hopefully dampen most vibrations
- no filters or hoods were used and lenses were extremely clean
- captured at M-P's base ISO: 200 (with the exception of a few frames captured at 1.2 and 1.4 because 1/4000 was too slow to keep equal exposures so I set the ISO to PULL 100)
- exposure was manual and the exposure time was adjusted accordingly with every aperture change (generally 2/3 stop) in order to hopefully maintain an even exposure between the samples
- white balance was on AUTO
- all focus was EXTREMELY CAREFULLY done using LIVE VIEW at f/2 for each lens, using both the focus peaking and my own eyes to make sure I get the best possible focus
- focus was redone with every lens change
- the 40mm was repositioned so that the main subject filled roughly the same size in the photos (as much as possible, the infinity tests obviously show the difference in focal length)
- most tests were taken all all apertures but since this ended up requiring so much work I only included up to f/8, to be honest I don't think anything past that is relevant
- all samples processed in Capture 1 PRO with the default output sharpening for screen (any image processor will apply some sort of sharpening from DNG to JPG)
- I am sharing a Google Drive folder with all DNGs, JPGs, comparisons and misc images, all full size. Please check them out and use them for free, a credit would be nice if you end up posting them. 

PART 1 / 5

A morsel of history: if you're reading this you most likely know what this lens is, otherwise this info can be easily found online.

The G35/2 is supposed to be the "lesser performer" of the Contax G suite, the internet is funny like that, some person deemed it once as not being as stellar as the G45/2 (which is whispered to be one of the best lenses in 35mm photography history) and the internet has taken that and transformed it into "not a good lens" kind of rumour. I am here to prove otherwise.

Here's a G35 / G45 specs comparison:

This 35 together with the Hologon 16mm are the only ones I do not own in G mount. I have shot all the other ones (21/2.8, 28/2.8, 45/2, 90/2.8) on my Contax G2 and adapted on my Sony A7R3 with a cheap Ulata adapter. They are sharp, very sharp wide open. And so light.

Build quality: without further ado, I think FUNLEADER and Mr. Ding have done an amazing job here: the conversion is incredible, so tiny and lovely, with a great weight and feel. The focus action is nice and smooth and the little focus tab suits the lens. The black paint version is really beautiful, I have always been a black paint / lacquer fan, hence my M-P. This version will get patina with use (unless you're Lenny Kravitz and give it a good rub to look well used). The "gold" version has lovely sharp black engravings and a black focus tab. The focus tabs are really nice, placed at the perfect position where, when pointed straight downwards, the lenses focus at 4 feet / 1.2 meters. I also purchased a "gold" helicoid as I am planning to do a conversion myself. The "gold" helicoid feels like brass and it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

The helicoid has "MR. DING" engraved on the mount. Pretty cool. I did a bit of digging and "Mr. Ding" is their master craftsman, maybe having been part of MGR Production. They are also behind the Bresson Viewfinder magnifier, which I happen to have on my M-P and love.

I would love to find out more about Mr. Ding, if anyone has info please do share.

The weight of the helicoid is 206g / 7.26oz and the whole lens is 266g / 9.38g

The lens did have a plastic ring glued on the front, on top of the original Carl Zeiss from markings, but I removed it easily and left no marks. Sorry Mr. Ding, I prefer the original Carl Zeiss engravings.

The original lens hood of the G35 / G45 fits nicely, but I have the champagne version and I personally don't think it works with either the black or the gold version. I might spray paint it with a glossy enamel.

Honestly, it looks amazing on the M-P. It is a gem of a little lens and a great performer.

Customer service: excellent, very responsive, I had quite a few questions for them and they replied very quickly.

Packing: excellent, pragmatic, not fancy.

Shipping: wowsers, the lens was in my hand in Vancouver BC Canada in 6 days, dayum!

 

PART 2 / 5: colour, focal length, sharpness close and mid distance

Two notes about colour and focal length:

- colour - the G35/2 renders the most accurate and neutral colours, next is the VM 40/1.2, while the 7artisans 35/1.4 M renders quite warm
- focal length - the G35/2 is a little wider than the 7artisans 35/1.4 M, I wonder what their real focal lengths are. Please do share if you happen to know.

Sharpness: the G35/2 is very sharp wide open, it nearly matches the VM 40/1.2 at f2, actually honestly we are splitting hairs between the G35/2 and VM 40/1.2. Keep in mind that the VM starts at 1.2, so from a lens design pov it has a lot of room to be sharp at f2. It's quite a feat how consistent the G35/2 is all the way up to the widest apertures. The G35/2 is sharper than the 7artisans 35/1.4 M at every aperture. I was surprised as well. In all honestly, I really love the 7artisans lens, it has a really nice 3d pop and the built is absolutely amazing.

Check out these 100%s of this starling at f2! I used live view, there's no way to nail that in the viewfinder patch, I also took a bunch of shots and these were the best 4, maybe out of 12 or so.

100%

full images for context

I have done a few test sessions but not included all here (so much to process and compare), so here are a few. Before every comparison chart you will see a half size G35/2 image at f2, for no reason really other than to show you what the whole scene looked like.

Session 1 close:

Session 1 mid distance:

Session 4 close:

Session 4 mid distance:

Session 5 close:

Session 6 close:

 

PART 3 / 5: sharpness at infinity

Session 3 infinity (center and corner):

Session 7 infinity (center and corner):


PART 4 / 5: bokeh and conclusion

Session 1 mid distance:

Session 2 mid distance:

Session 6 close:

Vignetting: yea a bit, but nothing out of the ordinary at large apertures. See for yourself.


Focus shift: I did not test for it, but from my walks it seems to be fine.


CONCLUSION:

The Carl Zeiss Contax G Planar 35mm f/2 is a gem. Coming from great heritage, it is now encased in an amazing conversion from FUNLEADER for our Leicas. The G35/2 is an honest lens, you won't find clinical sharpness here, but since you're reading this you're probably not looking for that, but for the resurrection of a highly underrated Carl Zeiss optic. The G35/2 renders the world gently with neutral colour rendition, pleasant bokeh and a sprinkle of pop. The tiny form has a great weight and feel and it simply looks incredible on a Leica. The black paint version is shiny and will brass while the "gold" version has lovely sharp black engravings (bit of a fingerprint magnet though). I honestly look at my camera sitting on my desk now and hear the whispers: "take me out and make photographs". Well done FUNLEADER and Mr. Ding, hat's off to you.

Just like the original little piece of history it now protects and focuses, the FUNLEADER conversion will also be remembered as a gem amongst the connoisseurs.

FUNLEADER Contax G35 to Leica M Conversions

I hope you enjoy the test results, please let me know if you have any thoughts, suggestions and questions.

Here is the Google Drive folder:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-mgIUEIScjebkdNY-GAouTlJE3FTCrDy

I am leaving you with a bunch of samples, enjoy.

 

PART 5 / 5 samples

All the following samples are just snaps from my walks and I barely spent a minute on some of them in C1 :)

f2

f5.6

f8

f2

f2

f2

f5.6

f5.6

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f2

f4 (i think)

f2

f2

Cheers! :)

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This is awesome thank you; i actually feel that the g45/2 is the most beautiful lens for 35mm film photography, it gives me amazing results and I’d love to be able to use it on a digital body too (contax come back!!!). This 35mm seems to work great too. Is the conversion only for this specific lens or are there similar ones of the g45?

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1 hour ago, shirubadanieru said:

This is awesome thank you; i actually feel that the g45/2 is the most beautiful lens for 35mm film photography, it gives me amazing results and I’d love to be able to use it on a digital body too (contax come back!!!). This 35mm seems to work great too. Is the conversion only for this specific lens or are there similar ones of the g45?

The G45 is amazing, I love the portraits I get with it. This conversion is their first one, sort of just came out. I have high hopes for a G45 conversion from them very soon. 

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