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G 21 black no longer available

I received this message from B&H photo today. Looks like I'll have to buy it used if I want to stay with all black lenses.

Dear Customer

Thank you for your inquiry.

We would like to inform you that the Contax - CO2128GB USA - 21mm f/2.8 Lens for G-Series
you previously registered for notification has been discontinued and will no longer be
available from B&H.
I wonder why they have discontinued that. I thought that the black system was more sought after than the silver although I have seen some second hand black bodies offered for less than silver ones, which surprised me.
I have a black outfit and had thought one day of adding the 21.
This doesn't look good for any future G series. I was hoping for a digital G down the road but if they aren't even going to continue making the lenses this may be it.

Maybe it is only that the black lenses weren't selling for some reason in that focal length although I know that someone on this forum was looking for a black 35mm a while ago. I don't think they have ever made the 35 in black, at least I couldn't find one when I wanted one some years ago and I haven't seen one since. So maybe they didn't think that was commercially viable in black either; surprising though.
A digital G would be lovely. If Leica can do it, you never know, maybe Kyocera can (and will?) but they seem to keep new developments under their corporate hat until they release them.
If we assume that the lens is worldwide fading out, not only in the US, which differs often, then it seems that the demand is not very high for the black edition.

Every lens and every body is produced in a production cycle. I.e. this black 21mm lens was produced maybe 2 years ago in a certain number i.e. 20.000 pieces. Once they are sold, the decision has to be made whether to make a new production for i.e. another 20.000 or not. This obviously depends on the demand in the market for that lens.

I do not know whether the G21 is usable for digital bodies. Since everything non-digital is dropping in sales, it would make more sense to design a new G21 that could be used in a G-digital - if a digital G is at all in the pipeline, which is pure speculation...
Thanks Dirk - interesting. I hadn't realized that's how production works. I had hoped like I think probably everyone else, that if there is by any chance a digital G sometime, we would be able to use our existing lenses as with the proposed Leica M digital.


Hi John,

I am not a technical expert, so I can not judge whether the current G21 is "good enough" for a digital body. My guess would be more thet because of the design, I might be too close to the sensor. But that is more speculation than knowledge. I will ask Dr. Nasse from Zeiss about it next time...
Hi John,

here the answer from Dr. Nasse from Zeiss:

True Biogon lens types have a very short distance between the last lens and the film plane. This is partly the reason for their extraordinary image quality with respect to sharpness and with respect to low distortion. Every mm increase of that distance makes it much more difficult for the optical designer to achieve the same quality level without increasing the optical efforts in terms of number of elements or aspherical lenses.

Because of that design principle the Biogon types have as well a very short distance between the exit pupil and the film plane. Therefore light beams going to the corner of the frame are inclined by about 45 degrees. Some present digital sensors will respond to such oblique ray incidence with some loss of sensitivity or a certain amount of cross-talk between the pixels.

Thus the combination of these lens types with some kinds of sensors, at least as long as the full format 24x36mm is used, could causee some trouble. But since the technology of sensors is developing very fast, it might be possible, that the restriction of digital application of the Biogon is not forever...


This sounds very good I think and gives room for speculations for a digital G-body. Let's assume that sensor technology is develping as fast as in the past, we might even be able to use full-size chips on G or C/Y bodies...

If we look for ex&le at the new Kodak bodies, it seems to be possible to sue full-size chips with a smaller lens mount than the current N-system.

Let's see what happens at Photokina in September...
Hi Dirk,
Thanks for that- very interesting, and thanks for contacting Dr.Nasse so quickly and thanks to him also. Although quite non-committal, it is encouraging and put in terms that even I can understand. A full frame G or C/Y would be wonderful. I don't want to wish our lives away but I am looking forward to September.
Best wishes,