Pure Magic. Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G for Leica M Review

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is one of my favorite 35mm lenses ever made.

In 13 years, I never thought that the megapixel wars and the hunt for clinical perfection would create soulless images. But thankfully, the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is slapping that idea in the face. While all the other brands try to create clinical perfection, it takes the fun out of photography. It’s worse that it happens in two ways: in post-production and in-camera. Anyone that has told me to put lens character into an image using post-production hasn’t actually tried it. It’s hard. The truth is that it’s far easier to have a “flawed” lens and get rid of those “issues” in post-production. Every brand champions that they’re better than their competitors at it. The industry has been like this for the last 20 or so years. It’s created a monster, but I feel like the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is a rare gem among all that.

We previously reviewed the Funleader 18mm f8. But this one is far more interesting. Funleader buys up old Contax 35mm f2 G lenses for the Contax G series of cameras. Then they adapt them to M mount. The result is a recycled lens that’s given new life. There’s a lot of benefits to this. The previous housing can be recycled into something else. The old optics are being reused in a modern format. And Funleader is feeding a market that I feel has been brewing for years. 

More companies need to find old lenses, rehouse them, and sell them as brand new with the improvements. There’s a market for those old lenses. Years ago, a company called Dog Schidt tried this with old Zeiss lenses, and Zeiss stopped them. This is where I have very mixed feelings. Those older Zeiss lenses aren’t being supported by the company anymore. So if a company suddenly comes around and decides to give them support, a company that abandoned its old work shouldn’t have a say anymore. All this is tied into the Right to Repair, environmental issues, and the bigger problems of modern lens companies. 

I think every reviewer here on the site gets bored with the same optics over and over again. So when sometimes truly unique comes in, we get excited. The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is one of those lenses.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Metal build
  • A reconditioned lens for around $1,200 that’s very hard to get because there’s only a finite amount.
  • Comes in a few colors
  • Beautiful, sharp image quality
  • Lens flare that you can’t easily or affordably duplicate in post-production.
  • Small
  • Making it for Leica M mount is brilliant
  • In many ways, this is a peak Zeiss lens

Cons

  • There will only ever be so many of them.

Too Long; Didn’t Read.

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is an old Contax lens that was reformatted for Leica M mount. It boasts wonderful image quality. It may be expensive for some. But once you realize that you have a very rare lens, it’s totally understandable.

Innovations

Funleader is taking an old lens and rehousing it. It isn’t weather-sealed or has autofocus. But we get a brand new body with classic optics that you can’t beat at all.

Gear Used

We tested the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G on the Leica SL2-s.

Tech Specs

You can buy the conversion for around $599 or get the lens for $1,200. Here are the details.

  • Non-Destructive Conversion: When we convert the original Contax G35 lens for the Leica M mount, we will not damage the lenses. It feels as good as the original Contax lens after conversion.
  • Good User Experience: The way of using this converted lens is just like using Leica Summicron 35mm/2.0. With unsurpassed optics and images, you won’t feel much difference compared to Leica lenses when you use it on Leica M.
  • Easy to DIY: If you have a Contax G35 lens, it is easy to assemble the original Contax optical lens group into our converted helicoid. You can recover Contax G35 if you do not want to play.
  • Distinctive Patina: This lens is fun and similar to Leica MP “correspondent.” You can create a distinctive patina by sand paper, which would usually point to many years of constant use. To achieve this look, every lens can be ‘aged’ entirely by hand to create absolutely unique individual products.

Ergonomics

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is a beautiful lens. It can come in silver, gold or black. The exterior of the lens is made of metal. And it fits onto an M-mount camera with ease.

The lens has an aperture scale and a focusing scale. Those two work together for the zone focusing and depth of field scale. It makes focusing the lens much easier.

Then there is the front lens element. This lens doesn’t come with a lens hood. Arguably though, it doesn’t need it.

Build Quality

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G has an all-metal body. Just like pretty much every M mount lens, there is no weather sealing. But the overall durability is excellent. You can feel it with every aperture click and the smooth focusing. This is a welcome touch as the original Contax lenses were made from metal too. It also helps to justify the pricing. Specifically, the body is made of brass. So over time, it will patina and look gorgeous.

More importantly, this is a tiny lens. If you’ve ever used a Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M, you’ll know how perfectly paired it is for the cameras. The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is very comparable. For my testing, I used it on the Leica SL2s. Overall, the pair worked very well together.

Ease of Use

If you’re not into vintage lenses, you’ll probably be a bit frustrated with the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G., But if you use M mount lenses, you’ll see that this is easy to work with. There’s an aperture ring, a focusing ring, and a distance focusing scale. Otherwise, this is a rangefinder coupled lens. So you can just focus it easily as you would any rangefinder lens.

Focusing

The focusing on the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is done manually. So you need to carefully focus on whatever your subject is. You can do that with a rangefinder, focus peaking/magnification, or zone focusing. Either way, it’s easy to do. You’ll just need to do it yourself. This makes you take fewer photos and more carefully compose too.

Image Quality

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is in just the perfect place. It’s sharp, has beautiful bokeh, delivers unique lens flare that’s beautiful, boasts wonderful colors, and has no issues with fringing. What’s not to love? If you hate the lens flare, you can realistically fix it in post-production. But you can’t easily put that lens flare back into the image. This should be celebrated by lens manufacturers instead of making the public believe that it’s a problem.

Bokeh

It’s very, very creamy. This lens has probably 7 aperture blades. Because of the size, that’s enough to make the bokeh look really beautiful. Couple that with the stunning colors, the sharpness, and the overall package to make a beautiful lens. A lens like this will rarely be creamy instead of hazy. But it is indeed creamy despite the 3-foot minimum focusing distance.

Color Rendition

The color rendition really blew me away here. It’s tough to create an image like the one above, but it happened. This lens isn’t super contrasty, and that’s how we’re getting so much detail in the darker areas. Further, the colors are a bit more muted than true to life. I like it in this case.

Lens Character

Look at this lens flare. Do you know difficult it is to make this look in post-production? Further, do you know how difficult it is to make it look organic? On the flip side, do you know how easy it is to remove that lens flare in post-production? It’s much easier to do. A simple dehaze slider can get rid of most of it. With that said, the vintage optics in the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G give us a beautiful lens character that I can’t get over.

Sharpness

This lens is very sharp, wide open at f2. But it becomes the sharpest at around f4 or f5.6 while balancing the depth of field. Overall, it’s sharpest at f8.

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.

All of the images below are unedited.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Lens character that has been sorely lacking from the photo industry
  • Build quality
  • Fair pricing at $1,200 for the lens and labor
  • Beautiful image quality
  • I love the idea of recycling lenses

Dislikes

  • Not a damned thing.

If you can’t already tell, I’m very head over heels for the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G. It gives me everything I want. There’s nice bokeh, a sharpness that’s not relying on contrast, lens flare, and solid build quality. If I were very picky, I’d want weather sealing. But overall, I hope Funleader does this with other lenses. As they become more advanced, I’d love them to make the lenses in more mounts. This would be amazing in Sony E, Canon RF, or Fujifilm X mount. Autofocus would be nice but isn’t necessary. However, weather sealing, I think, is an essential part of build quality. A guy can only dream, though!

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G receives five out of five stars and our Editor’s Choice award. Want one? Check out their website for more. 

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.