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Contax G2

by Tom Shea, 1998


I will devote the first part of this review to considering the Contax G2 AF rangefinder system on its own merits. Then, I will take the more dangerous path and will compare it to Leica and SLR systems.

Dimensions

The G2 is a solid camera. It is 139 mm wide, 80 mm high and 45 mm deep. It weights 650 grams without batteries. It feels rather heavy and the controls are smooth and firm. It is a well built camera. The finish is excellent - unsurpassed in my experience. The lenses use a breech mount system and are a little fussy to mount.

Lens Options

Contax produces 16/8, 21/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.0, 45/2.0, and 90/2.8 lenses for the G2. With an adaptor, the camera can accept Contax/Yashica-mount SLR lenses.

Focus

The G2 uses an extended baselength autofocus rangefinder system. There are two modes. The first is an active focus system using an infrared light for close range focusing - particularly helpful in low light conditions. The second system, for subjects that are farther away, is a passive system, as found in most SLR's. With a close subject in adequate light, the active focus system acquired focus first and the passive system takes over to make the final precise focusing adjustment.

There are several focusing modes available - single auto focus, continuous autofocus and manual focus. Any of these AF modes can be combined with either continuous or single frame film advance. For those who wish specific control of AF, the camera can be set so that it will autofocus when a button on the back of the camera is pushed.

Exposure

The G2 has a vertical metal focal plane shutter with speeds from 4 seconds to 1/4000 (extended from 16 through 1/6,000 in aperture priority mode), plus B. Flash sync is 1/200th. The TTL metering system has a range of 1-19 EV. There is also a external meter for the 16 mm lens (since this lens extends so far into the body that it blocks the internal meter). The metering pattern is center-weighted, reading off of a grey area on the shutter.

Exposure can be set manually or by using aperture priority. Exposure compensation is set by a dial on the top of the camera, with a range of plus or minus two stops in 1/3 stop increments. An autobracketing control can be set for plus or minus half or whole stop bracketing. The camera uses a motor to advance the film with low and high speed options for the continuous advance rate. The fast rate is up to four frames per second. There is also a single frame mode, a self timer mode and multiple exposure mode.

The shutter release is smooth and has a very good feel. Surrounding the release is a lever which acts as an on/off switch and an A/E lock. The camera can also be set so that A/E lock is achieved by partially pressing the shutter release. There are five custom functions, including film leader out or in upon rewind, manual focusing operation, bracketing order and A/E lock operation.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder is a zoom telescope. The picture frame area changes automatically depending on focal length of the lens and focusing distance. The viewfinder has information regarding the shutter speed, focus, exposure compensation and flash mark. The TTL flash system is normally good. There is a wide range of (expensive) Contax flash units available, including two small units (TLA 140 and 200) made specifically for the G2 which are quite simple to operate, though not as versatile as the larger units.

In use

How does it work? It can take very good photographs. It is easy to use. It is flexible for a rangefinder. It is noisy. This is the worst thing about the G2 in my opinion. The AF is very noisy - substantially noisier than any cheap point and shoot I have heard recently. Moreover, the lens returns to its base position after every shutter release, so that the lens refocuses from the beginning. However, autofocus is very fast, even compared with top AF SLRS. It is possible to lock focus, cutting the shutter lag to a miminal amount.

Compared to ...

Now, let me compare thee to a Summer's Day - or an SLR - or a Leica. Here is where it really gets interesting. First let's look at the SLR / G2 issues. An SLR is much more versatile. The G2 cannot do macro work. It has no lenses longer than 90 mm. The advantage of a G2 over an SLR is its size and its status as a rangefinder. Not only is the body smaller than an SLR, the lenses are much smaller. The subjective difference is even more than the objective difference. A G2 is not that much smaller than a Pentax LX or a Contax S2. However, it seems much smaller and quicker. A G2 system with a body and a few lenses is also actually much smaller and lighter than an SLR system. Additionally, some people feel more connected to a subject when looking through a rangefinder than through an SLR viewfinder. The fact that the rangefinder does not black out for a moment does offer at least a psychological advantage. Another factor is that in a G2, the entire viewfinder image is in focus. Everything appears sharp. In an SLR the viewfinder image comes in and out of focus depending on the how the lens is focused. This is a big difference.

Now the waters get really choppy - comparing the G2 to a Leica M6. First the basic differences.... The G2 is autofocus; the M6 is not. The G2 has motorized advance; the M6 does not. The G2 has auto film loading; the M6 does not. The G2 has an electronic shutter; the M6 does not. Notice a trend here? The G2 has a lot of stuff that the M6 does not have. The G2 has a lot of modern features which the M6 lacks. Before you start feeling sorry for the poor ol' M6 user, however, consider that most M6 users relish this lack of features. The M6 is desirable to many photographers exactly because it does not have all of these features. Lets look at some specific issues.

First lets consider the feel of the cameras. The G2 is very solid. The M6 is an absolute rock. After using an M6, a G2 feels less solid in comparison. The controls of each are comparable in feel. The shutter release of the M6 feels slightly better than the G2. The shutter speed dial of the G2 feels better. They bodies weigh about the same, although the M6 lenses are heavier. Although the G2 is only slightly larger than the M6, the G2 feels significantly larger. Perhaps this is because of the simplicity of the M6 or maybe it is because the M6 feels so dense. However, some find the controls of the G2 to be better than those of the M6. There is much room for personal preference on this issue.

The viewfinder systems are very different. The G2 uses a zoom telescope as a viewfinder. This system varies the magnification of the subject, depending on the focal length of the lens mounted. This looks much more similar to the view from an SLR, since in both, the magnification of the subject varies with the focal length. For longer focal lengths, the subject is magnified more. In the Leica, the magnification remains constant (.72 for a standard M6). For comparison, with a 45 mm lens, the G2's magnification is .57.

For example, when a 90 mm lens is mounted on a Leica, the viewfinder magnification remains the same as when a 28 mm lens is mounted. The picture area of the 28 mm lens is virtually the entire viewfinder. The picture area of the 90 mm lens is a small rectangular frame in the middle of the viewfinder. The Leica shows the pictures area by projecting white lines in the viewfinder. These lines (called bright line frames ) form frames that show the picture areas for 28, 25, 50, 75, 90 and 135 mm lenses. The frames change depending on lens mounted.

For a normal (45 or 50 mm) lens, the Leica has an advantage. The viewfinder is brighter in the M6. Additionally, since the 50 mm frame does not fill the entire viewfinder, the photographer can also see the area beyond the picture area. This assists in composition. On the other hand, with a 90 mm lens mounted, the frame area on an M6 is pretty small, making it difficult to see what is there. With the G2, the picture area for the 90 mm lens is magnified, making it much easier to see the subject. This also makes critical focusing more difficult. For a 135 mm lens the problems is even more difficult. Of course a G2 does not even have a 135 lens.

Focusing is another issue of difference. There is a fundamental difference between the G2's autofocus system and the Leica's pure manual rangefinder system. The G2 is also a rangefinder, but there is not coincident image system as in the M6. The G2 can be focused manually, but this manual focusing is electronic manual focusing - not mechanical. There is no way for a G2 photographer to tell if something is in focus except to rely on the distance readout in the viewfinder on the top of the camera. The G2 lenses do not even have focus rings. The Leica coincident rangefinder sytem is a joy to use for normal and wide angle lenses. It is easy to see and is certain - provided it is properly aligned.

This brings us to focusing accuracy. No one complains about the focusing accuracy of normal or wide angle lenses with either the G2 or the M6. They both focus accurately - better than any SLR. But let us look at the focusing accuracy with a 90 mm lens. Both the M6 and the G2 have questions on their records here. There have been many questions regarding the focusing accuracy of the G cameras. Indeed, when the G2 was introduced, it was said to have overcome the sometimes poor 90 mm focusing ability of the G1. Contax has recognized a problem and addressed it. By all reports, the G2 does do better in this regard than the G1, and many photographers report that it is excellent in this regard. However, there have been some comments of focusing inaccuracy with the G2 and the 90 mm lens. After looking into this, there seem to be two reasons. The first, which may be the most common, is that some new G2 photographers are not used to using AF. Simply, they do no realize that the AF sensor area marked in the viewfinder is what the camera will focus on. The G2 does not use a wide area AF - it uses a very narrow AF area. The second reason is misalignment of the AF system in the camera. There seem to be two kinds of misalignment: 1) the AF sensor not being aligned with the AF sensor area indicated in the viewfinder, and; 2) misalignment of the distance adjustment for the AF sensor. I must say, however, that I have never experienced any focusing problems in any of my three G2's.

How about the M6 focusing accuracy? Like the G2, the M6 must be properly aligned. Here the alignment is in the very complex but generally very reliable mechanical rangefinder system and lens coupling system. When properly aligned, the M6's focusing accuracy is good enough to allow use of a 90 f2 lens and is good enough for use of a 135 lens at 5.6. Note, however, that even theoretically, the focusing ability of the rangefinder is actually not quite good enough for a 135 lens at f4. Moreover, the focusing ability of the M6 depends on the photographer having very good eyesight in order to see the small picture frame areas for the 90 mm an 135 mm lens. In my opinion, both the G2 and the M6 are fine for 90 mm lenses.

The issue of simplicity v. features is very personal. But there are some other issues to address. The first is shutter accuracy. The G2 beats the pants off the M6. The M6's cloth horizontal mechanical focal plane shutter is not nearly as accurate as the G2's vertical metal electronic focal plane shutter. The M6 shutter can often be off by 1/3 to 1/2 stop or more. A well aligned M6 shutter can be within 1/3 stop. One must also remember the M6's limit of 1/1000 shutter speed and flash synch speed of 1/50. These can both be significant limitations. However, it must also be remembered that the M6 shutter functions without a battery. The G2 depends on its two CR2 batteries for its life.

Lenses. There is probably not a hotter issue between the two cameras than this one. I must first say that I have not had as much time with the M6 system as the G2 system. So some of this information is based upon personal use and other sources. I'll start by giving you my three conclusions:

  1. There is no overall objective difference (family look) between the two lens families.
  2. While there are differences between comparable lenses, there is no overall quality difference.
  3. These are all very fine lenses and any differences in quality can only be determined by careful testing. The use of a tripod (or not) makes a much larger difference in sharpness than which lens is used.

There is no objective family look - at least I cannot see one. Some Leica users, and to a lesser degree some Contax users, talk about a certain family look to their lenses. Photos takes with very good lenses can be differentialed from photos taken with fair quality lenses. But this depends on the quality of the lens - not the manufacturer. Canon, Nikon, etc all make some very high quality lenses. Photos from these lenses will all look good. However, I have never read or heard anyone who has been able to define a family "look" into any objective or scientific terms. Instead, they use vague, descriptive terms like feel, ambiance, rounded, clarity, impact etc..... Moreover, if there is truly a "look", it should be verifiable by an objective blind (so to speak) comparison test. I have never heard of one being done by an objective, disinterested person.

For a start, it should be noted that there is a far larger selection of lenses for the M6 than the G2. There are only 6 G2 lenses. The G2 has no lens faster than 2.0. Leica has about 13 lenses with speeds up to f1.0. A few comparisons (my own opinion). The new Leica 21 2.8 aspherical and the G 21 2.8 are equal. The Leica 35 2.0 aspherical is much better than the G 35 lens. The G 45 2.0 is slightly better than the Leica 50 2.0. The G 90 2.8 is slightly better than the Leica 90 2.8. All the Leica lenses are better built than the G lenses. They are more solid. The finish quality of the G and M6 lenses are equal (as opposed to the bodies, where the G cameras are much better finished than the M6's).

Readers' Comments


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Louis Sohn , March 13, 1998; 09:46 P.M.

I have used the contax g-2 daily (I have two bodies, since the camera became available), and after 20 or so years of struggling to focus my Leicas on moving subjects, struggling to shoot enough film to get the moment, and guessing at flash exposures, the G-2 is a godsend, I worked with Leicas, I work with G-2's....there is no comparison....ps, you don't have any more guarantee that the Leica is in focus than the g-2, you just have to trust the little man to move the lens.

dr.peter m. winter , March 23, 1998; 03:27 P.M.

I am using a G2 and 28, 35, 45, and 90 mm lenses. I only can compare them to Nikon AF fixed focus lenses and they are clearly better. The 35 mm and the 90 are EXCELLENT ! The 45 mm is very good (much better than Nikon 1.8 AF or 1.4 MF) the 28 is very good, too, but the other lenses perform better. I am very happy with the ease of using the G2.

Garry Lee , May 28, 1998; 02:02 A.M.

I've had a lot of cameras down the years, and have many at the moment. I've a G2 with 28, 45, 90. The lenses are unquestionably as good as you get in 35mm. THe camera design has faults, however. THe little button on the left controlling self-timer is easily knocked accidentally with the control changed. I've done it more than once. It's too easy to change the exposure over-ride and the plus and minus symbols in the viewfinder should flash when you do. There should be a smart metering mode for ease of use. It slows one down to have to do it on a simple system. It is possible to accidentally knock off and drop the flimsy back-viewfinder cover. It's happened to me out the country when taking the camera out of a bag and it was sheer luck that I spotted it. Do I like the camera. Yes, I really do. It's really good for cycle-touring, which is my main passion allied to photography.

Wilfred von Dauster , June 23, 1998; 09:29 A.M.

Tom has done an excellent job reviewing the G2! As a user of both the M and G systems, I would add that in my opinion the 35mm Planar is the equal of the Leica 35mm ASPH Summicron from f4 on, but the Summicron is considerably better at f2 and f2.8. I would rate the 90mm Planar and 90mm Elamarit-M as equally outstanding. And the 28mm Biogon is the best 28mm I have ever used, period. It is at least the equal of the excellent current 28mm Elmarit-M. One should also mention that the G system costs considerably less than the M system.

Charles Dunlap , June 23, 1998; 05:38 P.M.

The general conclusion that the Contax G lenses are comparable in optical performance to their Leica M counterparts is reasonable at middle apertures. The most noticeable difference two to three stops down from wide open is the warmer color rendition Ive seen in the Contax lenses compared to the M lenses. Where Leica have generally bettered the Contax lens designs is in contrast and resolution (center to edge) at the first two f-stops. Three other differences are worth considering: 1) The Contax lenses have no depth of field engravings; 2) The Contax lenses have plastic parts inside them compared to the all-metal machined aluminum and brass of the Leica M lenses; 3) The Contax lenses require screw-on lens shades that must be bought separately while the Leica lenses have either built-in shades or clip-on shades that come with the lens. Yes, I have a bit of a Leica bias, but for the price the Contax G lenses

Robert Meier , June 23, 1998; 07:04 P.M.

I have used the G1, not the G2. I had to go back to the M6 because the G1 simply took too long after I pushed the shutter release before it took the picture. All the focussing noise didn't help either.

I also like the range of lenses for the M6, in particular the 35mm f1.4 lenses. When you need f1.4, f2 just won't do.

David W. Almy , June 26, 1998; 08:39 A.M.

All available objective test data (see the Lens Test Archives, and others, on the Web) indicate that the G lenses are truly excellent, and that the Leica M lenses are a little better. Of course, optical performance is only one of more than a dozen factors in the picture making process (which can be obviated, for instance, by a half-baked enlarging lens, or trivial little things like focusing). I have two M6s and five M lenses, will soon buy a G and several lenses, but Tom's lens ratings are too reliant on (only) Popular Photography's testing, hence this note. Good shooting.

J. Law , August 17, 1998; 11:53 A.M.

If you're thinking of picking one of these up, make sure that you try it out first.

I went down to the local store to try out the G1/G2 series... and the biggest problem was the rangefinder. A teensy viewfinder, hard to see, blurry, it looked worse than the viewfinder on any random P&S. The zooming telescope part/parallax adjustment crops out a huge chunk of the viewfinder.

It's really noisy -- louder than the Canon P&S that I have, and slow to AF.

I was disappointed, to say the least.

-jon

Cing-Dao Kan , August 21, 1998; 03:40 P.M.

I have been using the G2 for few months now. I must say that the more I use it, the more I like the G2. It is true the viewfinder is dim compared with SLR's or Leica M. It did take me a while to get used to the G2 operation. But once you feel comfortable with it, G2 is very easy to use.

The three Zeiss G lenses I have, 28, 45, and 90 are all excellent. They are a bit better than my Nikkor prime lenses of similar focal length, particularly used wide open. The slides taken with Zeiss lenses are very crisp and cool in color, whereas Nikkor lenses are on the warm side.

Godfrey DiGiorgi , September 03, 1998; 03:10 A.M.

I've just acquired a Contax G2 camera with 45mm lens, and today I bought a 16mm Hologon lens. I've only taken a few exposures with the camera so far and not even developed the film yet. However, I must say that I'm very excited with it ... I find that it suits the way I want to work very well, better by far than my old Leica M4-P did. The controls are natural and logical to me, the camera's features are what I was looking for. I see this camera as a body for the Zeiss Biogon and Hologon lenses, primarily, as I have plenty of excellent Nikon SLR gear for longer lenses. I happen to really like the Zeiss lenses, they have a crispness that looks to my eye rather different from the Leica and the Nikon lens' look, particularly in B&W work.

I enjoyed Tom's fair review of the camera. The noise of the automation systems was my biggest reservation in buying one, but I must say that I don't find it particularly objectionable in use. I do wish they'd managed to figure out how to put DOF scales in as I often like to use manual focus and ride the DOF rather than worry about focus targeting, but that's a small gripe.

I can't wait to see what the camera can do on film now!

Charles Nguyen , September 18, 1998; 01:08 P.M.

I use both Contax and Leica and they both have different optical signatures. The Leicas are sharp and more contrasty while the Contaxes have less resolution but with more vivid colors. The images from the Contaxes are more liquid like slighly softer than the Leicas and they don't quite have the resolution power as the Leicas as far as enlargement. From a Stereophile point of view I can say the Leicas are "accurate" soundings and the Contaxes are "musical" soundings.Sometimes sharpness is everything in an image and somtimes it is not. For the money Contax wins hands down , for the ultimate image resolution it is the Leica.

Paul Forlenza , October 26, 1998; 04:59 P.M.

I sold all my Nikon stuff and bought 2 G-2's. I have enlarged images shot with the 28/2.8 to 16x20. Very sharp - lots of detail - great color! Question #1: Anyone have experience with the GA-1 Mount Adapter to use MM lens on G body?

Question #2: Why doesn't Contax offer a polarizing filter for the G-Lenses. Is there a technical limitation?

Question #3: Flash: Is the only difference between the TLA 280 and the 360 guide numbers? Why is the TLA 480 so expensive? Any anyone have experience with it? Thanks.

Paul Forlenza , October 27, 1998; 03:22 P.M.

Contax G using Polarizer: Here is an anwser from Contax to my question on using a polarizer on the G-lens:

There is no technical reason why polarizers can't be used. The problem is that Contax and Zeiss both approach photography from a very exact standpoint. Since you can't see the effect of the polarizer (in viewfinder) it becomes a guessing game as to exactly where to set the lens. It is for this reason that the polarizer is not recommended. In reality, by looking through the polarizer and determining the appropriate setting you can get "close - enough", but "close-enough" is not good enough for Contax and Zeiss.

T C Khoo , October 28, 1998; 01:37 A.M.

I bought a 167MT some years back to gain reentry into the CZ lens system (first camera was a 139). Due to failing eyesight, I had to shift to an AF system, and after much deliberation, went with Minolta, their 600 and 800SI bodies.

Much as I loved the Minolta system for its strengths and results, I missed the image quality of the CZs. In particular, the colours, tonality and transition between in/out focus areas. Sharpness of some of the Minolta G lenses were as good as CZs, adn contrast was also comparable, but overall, there was something missing in the character and cohesiveness of the final image which left me a little wanting.

I did not get an AX cos it was too big, and dawdled about the G system, cos I had used SLRs all my photo life and believed in them. Still, someone made me an offer I could not refuse for a G1 with a 45/2, 90/2.8 and a TLA 200. As I shot mostly candid portraiture, the outfit seemed ideal. Besides, I preferred the G1 over the G2 cos it is the original AF rangefinder, is smaller, IMO, easier to handle, and I did not need the higher specs. It was the CZs I was after.

After running some film thru the camera, I have been overwhelmingly pleased. Some main observations:

1. The viewfinder is small, but is easy to get used to. The lack of aperture display is a minus, but the parallax shift is useful and effective both for composition and a shortcut to focus confo. I also appreciated the built in dioptre correction.

2. The overall design, finish and construction is superb, and I love the handling. Everything falls to hand easily, and the mass and heft of the camera is just right for its size. It truly is compact and convenient to carry around. I sometimes attach the TLA200 fulltime while I am shooting cos its convenient for fill flash, and the weight gain is insignificant. Really makes a change from the SLRs and the paraphenalia u hv to lug around with them.

3. The AF is a little slow and clonky cf the Minolta. However, it is quite sure, very little hunting, and is accurate and effective. Contrary to popular belief,I have had no AF problems, even with the 90/2.8 wide open and close up at 1M. Then again, my subjects are normally faces and shouldn't prove that difficult to lock on. I shoot via the prefocus lock and fire pattern, which ensures no shutter lag. I do this anyway with my Minolta, as I take portraiture and need to catch the right expression.

4. The images are everything I remember them to be. Sharpness, colour, contrast, tonality, as an overall package, very difficult to beat. Others may claim to be sharper, but it's difficult to match the CZs for its colour rendition. I remember why I missed the system, now I am happy I don't have to miss it anymore.

For all of u who are not aware, Jim Williams has an excellent Contax G USers page which gives a lot of helpful hints on some of the issues raised on this site, amongst others. It is truly a useful resource and was instrumental during my decision making process to leap into the Gs. Now I'll have to decide whether to get a 35/2 or a 28/2.8; or maybe even a G2 is on the radar screen. Hv fun!

Markus Shaw , November 19, 1998; 04:46 A.M.

Sorry folks, for creative work nothing beats an SLR, hands down. However, recently used a G2 to cover my brother's wedding, all B&W, 35mm lens. It was a revelation. Noisy or not, the smaller size and less intimidating appearance of the G2 permitted intimacy of shot and far more spontaneity of subject than ANY SLR. Automation of the G2 for this kind of work beats M6. The whole episode was a highlight of my photographic life. Now I'm just waiting for Contax to add a zoom lens....

J. M .Elario , November 27, 1998; 11:04 P.M.

Almost daily , I shoot either with my Hasselblad, or EOS systems , depending on assignment , those are my tools . My G2 , which I at first purchased ( w/45/f2 ), just for personal use , has become much more . Simply wonderful to own & shoot with . I do much more avail light now , loaded with Kodaks 3200 TMZ, can't be beat !

Paul Forlenza , January 29, 1999; 10:15 P.M.

I love me G-2 systems - lens are very, very sharp. Only problem I have encountered is with the 21mm lens. About fifty percent of the time, with the 21mm, shutter will not depress and lens will not focus on auto or manual - lens does not move at all. Not the camera body since same problem on both G-2 bodies. Only happens with 21mm, not other lens. Any suggestions? thanks

Frank Sheeran , May 03, 1999; 07:50 A.M.

I wrote a full review of the G2 experience, but I will reproduce a part that isn't too redundant:

Wish List

  1. Silent focus, silent wind. I'd even be happy to manually wind. Contax has silent focus in their 645 SLR so obviously they have the know-how. Right now the G2 is so close of putting a Konica Hexar or a Leica M6 completely out of my mind. But it (whirr, buzz) doesn't.

  2. I'd really like the lenses to be internal-focus, so they don't suck in dust and moisture.

  3. I'd like the built-in zoom finder to go to 21mm. As it is, Yashica (yep, they make it) want us to put a separate viewfinder in the hotshoe, which has no parallax correction or other information. Even a screw-on adapter to put on the front of the current finder would be OK.

  4. I'd buy a 135mm f/2.8 or f/4. Just showing the central half of the current 90mm finder window would be a reasonable sacrifice, as it wouldn't make the current viewfinder any more complex or heavier or darker. Yes, you can already use a Contax SLR-mount 135/2.8 via the len-mount adapter, but have to focus manually without looking through the lens, while looking at the 90mm lens' field of view.

  5. I might buy a 35mm or 45mm f/1.4 were one offered. If a collapsible 45mm/2.8 were on offer I'd order it sight unseen. (Simple: the camera has the 2.8 when its hiding in your backpack or briefcase. The 1.4 when you are shooting "on purpose". The current f/2 makes the camera too big to fit my jeans pocket, yet I'd like to have more at night, which I shoot alot of.)

  6. I wish there was an equivalent of Canon's CF-4 to reverse the operation of the focus lock button. In other words, CAF would change focus only as long as I hold the button.

  7. I'd love the CAF/SAF/MF switch to have a hyperfocal mode too. Don't hold your breath though; the current G mount has no way for the lens to tell the camera its current aperture. (Hyperfocal focus is some point nearer than infinity, such that infinity itself is just barely in focus, as well as as much as possible nearer, given the current aperture.) This would bandaid the current AF's main falling down: focus farther than the active system can reach. There are lots of shots of town squares, forest scenes, etc., with backgrounds at infinity you'd like to capture, but simply setting infinity won't catch as much medium-ground as you'd like.

  8. built-in spot meter possible? What about a built-in incident dome? I fake it by metering medium-grey asphalt, then hitting AEL and shooting until the subject lighting (or my aperture, dammit) changes.

  9. The AEL (auto-exposure lock) could be twice as useful, even though its fantastically better than I ever dreamed of. I thought I'd constantly be dialing in manual shutter speeds to get the same effect.

    The problem: on my Canons, often I'll meter grey asphalt, find out what shutter speed it gives me, go over to manual mode and set that. With the G2, I just flip to AEL and the current shutter speed locks. Then I just shoot for a while. White objects will be white on film, black things will be black.

    But, since the G lens mount doesn't communicate aperture, the camera cannot, for instance, double this locked shutter speed when you go from f/8 to f/5.6. Therefore, its really not an auto exposure lock, its a auto shutter lock. Now, every time I adjust the aperture I turn the camera off, point it at my lucky grey asphalt, and turn it past "on" back to AEL. Preferences:

    1. an incident dome with lock, yeah
    2. a real auto exposure lock
    3. the current auto shutter lock
    4. the way my Canons work, yuck

  10. Probably the cheapest thing they could fix is the godawful manual. The translation is fine, but it shows each page five times in a row in five different languages. English is given along with the illustrations, then the other languages follow on the next few pages. For the kind of money Yashica asks for what is for most a jewelry-type camera, this is absurd. They should print 5 seperate much smaller manuals in single languages. Give the buyer all of them. Won't break the bank.

  11. They could also throw in lens hoods and hood caps with each lens. The well-off holiday shooters wouldn't know to buy them and won't get the highest contrast, and best results they deserve. And people who work with the cameras will have to order them seperately anyway.

    The hoods could be rectangular instead of round; the M6 hoods are nice.

    The hoods screw into the filter mount. This means that if you want to use a filter, 1) it had better be a normal, not a wide-angle filter, so that it has the same 46mm threads on the front, and 2) it will move the front of the hood that much farther forward, probably vignetting a bit. So far in practice I've shot hoodless when I've used a (80D, for daylight film in incandescent light) filter.

Lytton Martin , July 02, 1999; 06:27 A.M.

Overall, I must say that the review is on the money. I've had My "G" for over six months now and I shoot with it daily. I'm really a big fan of available light photography and thought someone should have mentioned the system's great advantages for such photography. First of all I should point out that the lack of a mirror box greatly enhances the hand-hold-ability of this camera. I constantly shoot wide open at shutter speeds of 1/8 of a second and slower. Some of my colleages have dubbed me the "Robot" for such a capability, but I attribute it all to my "G". Last week I picked up some transparencies from the lab and I was shocked to find a particular slide to have even been sharp, let alone recognizable. I shot this image at two seconds, hand held in available light with a promotional roll of Kodak's new E100vs a rep gave to me. Incredibly enough, I got the shot. For comparison's sake, I also own an extensive Canon EOS system, including the much revered EF 28-135 IS USM lens. The IS stands for Image Stabilization. I've been able to get very good results even down to 1/4th of a second, but nothing nearly as slow or as sharp as wih my Contax G2. It's solid feel and weight also help in it's stability. Finally, another good point of argument would be the advantage of autofocus for the low light situations. I would be very hesitant to try to focus an M series in the lighting I like to shoot in. Especially with a tele lens like the 90mm. I must say that the "G" is the fastest draw in the world for most any situation. I also like to do street photography, and find the "G" to be a very covert camera in crowded streets and such. At Four fps it will always get the shot in a pinch. Try that with an "M". Better yet, try and reload and remember to reset for a different ISO on an "M" in less than three seconds. Admittedly there are a few minor qualms to be had with the "G" series, but overall, it is my favorite camera to use and the images I make with it only reinforce my feelings for it.

Lytton Martin , July 02, 1999; 06:36 A.M.

"Leica is a commodity; Contax is a Camera."

Jon Wong , July 21, 1999; 12:20 A.M.

I love travelling in lightweight and after reading so many reviews about the G system, I decided to go for it. Initially I bought a G1 body with a 28mm and a 90mm lens and very soon I discovered that, unlike my Nikon F2 system, changing lenses for the G system during travelling is like hell. Therefore two bodies is a MUST! I bought another G2 body hooded with the 90mm lens and G1 accomodating the 28mm. I thought I should be settled with this combination for quite a while but that's not the case. One fine day I compared the two bodies' focusing accuracy by interchanging the 90mm lens between the G1 and G2 and I found that the reading of the distant of objects shown on the display varied vastly. For example, when G2 read an object at 1.94m G1 gave me a reading of 2.06m. The further away the object the greater the differences (except infinity). When the object is about 4m away the difference in reading is around 0.6m. This is totally unacceptable. I used a measuring rule to judge which one was giving me the correct reading and I realised that the problem is with the G1. Then I compared all the photos taken by the same 90mm lens but on different bodies and convinced that the focusing of G2 is clealy much more accurate. Much sharper picture were produced. Without hesistation I sold my G1 body to the 2nd hand dealer and bought another G2. Yes, two G2 gives exactly the same distant reading.

G2 surely offering much faster and accurate focusing than G1. Furthermore, the feel and the handling of G2 is much better and the extra features such as focus-lock are very useful. The operation is very smooth and the improved individual AE compensation button is very considerate. I took a lot of very sharp, perfectly exposed pictures with these two G2(s) and I really think it is the best camera meanwhile - the sport car of the camera world. I took mainly streeet photography and abstract and the combination of 28mm lens and the 90mm lens is perfect. Since I don't own a 45mm lens, therefore occassionally I took along my Leica Minilux with the two Gees for some serious shootings. Both my two G2(s) are installed with the TLA-200 flash permanently.

I really love the G2 system. Simply superb! Invincible!

Tom Applegate , October 04, 1999; 09:19 P.M.

I normally shoot with two EOS1n's with a verity of L, lenses, which like my older previous Nikon equipment are fantastic. I decided, after reading these reviews, to buy the G2 for mostly travel where I didn't want to pack around all of the weight of my SLR system. When I first started using it I absolutely hated it and was ready to trade it for a M6. But I decided to give it a try and I'm glad that I did. I found out that it's a completely different camera then my SLR and the M6. It's basically an newer updated electronic range finder type camera. And now that I got used to it, I love it. I now understand why Contax designed it the way they did. The biggest problem I had with it was the auto focus. But I've found that by pointing the camera at what I want in focus on, then lightly pushing on the shutter to lock it on with auto focus, then re- composing and then pushing the shutter all the way to take the picture is faster then turning the focusing ring on the M6. You literally can't compare the two cameras. They are to different. It would be like comparing apples to oranges. As for the three lenses I have for it. Fantastic!

Bill Schaffel , October 11, 1999; 03:08 P.M.

I currently own a Konica Hexar and a Minolta X-700 system with a half a dozen lenses, flash, etc. Since I am getting older, I am tired of lugging the SLR gear and began looking at the G2 with a 35mm and 90mm as a replacement. For the kind of shooting I do, this is all I need. I have researched everything I could find on the G2 and have played with it in the shop several times. These are my observations, which I hope will be of some value to other prospective buyers...

The G2 viewfinder is small but quite bright. I had no problem adapting to the viewfinder. This may be the result of my Hexar experience.The G2 viewfinder is like a mini SLR finder in that you can not see what is outside of the frame like you can on the Hexar, a Leica M, or most other rangefinders. My Hexar finder is larger and slightly brighter. I also compared the G2 to a Contax Aria (my backup plan). The Aria's viewfinder was of course much larger, but it was quite dim compared to the G2 and no offense to Contax, but the Aria's viewfinder is inferior to the viewfinder on my X-700.

I compared the G2 and Hexar for autofocus, shutter release, and film advance without using the silent mode on the Hexar. In all cases, the Hexar was faster and quieter than the G2. However the G2 was not as noisey as I was led to believe and no worse than some of the modern P&S zoom cameras or auto-everything SLRs.

UPDATE: I've had the Contax G2 with a 35mm and 90mm lens for about four months now and am very happy with the camera and its excellent Carl Zeiss lenses. With my aging eyes, I find that I get more out of focus shots with my X-700 than I do with the G2. One flaw in this system is the lack of DOF scales on the lenses. Even my Hexar has a partial DOF scale. It's one of those features you don't think about until it's gone.

Jeff Wilson , November 03, 1999; 09:26 A.M.

I was planning a trip to England & a cdouple of days in Paris. I didn't want to carry my heavier Canon (3 lenses - 1 telephoto zoom) stuff so did some looking for a smaller, lighter camera & chose the G2 with the 45 & 28 lenses. (I've had my canon for 10+ years & never had a problem) Shot a couple of rolls of transparency film & got excellent results. Off to Europe... After shooting 1 roll of film the camera failed on me, the shutter wouldn't fire. Upon depressing the shutter the lens(es) would rake in & out but the shutter would not fire. If I pressed the shutter button with no lens the shutter would work, but it's difficult to get a good photo with no lens. Dissapointed. I expect this stuff to happen to point & shoot cameras, not 2k plus dollars, German designed Contax equipment. Back in the U.S. the camera store where I bought the camera confirmed a problem & has sent it off to Yashika. By the way, no, I didn't drop, bump, or otherwise abuse the thing, it just stopped working. Hope this is just a rare fluke of nature & will let you know how things turn out.

Jeff

Peter Olsson , December 07, 1999; 04:37 A.M.

The first rangefinder zoom-lens is announced, a 35-70/3.5-5.6. It will only fit the G2. Check it out at the Contax website!

James Langan , December 22, 1999; 02:50 P.M.

The Contax G-2 has its shortcomings and compromises as does any design. The G-2 is definitely limiting if you need a close-focusing camera or long telephoto lenses.

The G-2 is intentionally different from modern SLRs and traditional rangefinders. Contax took many of the positive features from various cameras and gave the world the G-system. Many of the complaints about the G-2 (or G-1?) can be traced to the buyer's lack of research before the purchase, or possibly their lack of commitment to master their new equipment. Reading the instructions and keeping them handy until you no longer need them can make all the difference, as with any new tool.

I'm a big fan of shooting what I see. While the parallax of a 'typical' rangefinder can be compensated for with lots of practice, the fact that the G-2 adjusts for parallax in the viewfinder is terrific.

Two of the features I wish the G2s had are a multi-segmented and/or spot meter in addition to the center-weighted light meter, and an f-stop display somewhere in the viewfinder. There are other features and lens options that would be nice to have, but that would only be to expand a wonderful system. The G-2 was not intended to compete directly with modern SLR cameras. Remember, it is still a rangefinder camera, and it is decidedly different.

As has been noted by others, the noisy focusing system is much more noticeable to the operator of the G cameras than by most subjects. Focusing is far noisier with my G-2 than my Canon EOS. Overall the G-2 is much quieter when you start tripping the shutter. There is no mistaking the loud clunk-clunk of an SLR mirror. The G-2 shutter is virtually silent in comparison.

Three months a ago I bought a G-2 black kit from Samy's camera in L.A. This month I bought an additional sliver body. I guess I'm hooked.

More positives:

The many 'professional' features of the G-2. Small and light system. Excellent appearance, quality, and ergonomics. Excellent optical quality. These lenses are sharp! The stealth factor-This camera can pass for a point & shoot and can help relax the average person.

Long live the Contax G-system.

Winston Lau , January 01, 2000; 12:32 P.M.

I bought a G2 one week before my trip to Tokyo, shot 10 rolls of negative all come out very good. For a new owner it certainly didn't let me down. My friend bought a M6 almost the same time, we always shoot picture together and compare photos. I must say M6 resolution is little better than my G2, but I won't trade my G2 for anything due to follwing:- 1. ease of use 2. point to shoot with no mess 98% accuracy 3. pictures come out better than expected 4. resonable price when compare to M6 Please ask youself which lens you use 80% to shot your precious photos? You will probably say : 28mm, 45mm sometimes 90mm then why should you be tempted by the Leica lens family (Do you prefer to collect them all or buy a VW Golf, Honda Accord). In additon you can use money save on G2 to fly a trip or shot thousand rolls of film for practising. High Fidelity photos are highly concered but for a G2 you would enjoy the romatic touch of Zesis lens given whenever you watch your photos again. For others G2 owners, when you share your photos to your friends & relatives do they admire your G2? P.S - A Message to Kyocera Contax (Pleas don't bring out the G3 before next decade!)

Michael Cahill , April 09, 2000; 10:06 A.M.

Regarding polarizers with rangefinder cameras, Leica has produced a polarizing filter for it's M series cameras. It comes with a 39mm and 46mm adapters. By using a step up filter ring to get to about 52mm, this polarizer can be used with any rangefinder. You rotate the filter 90 degrees from its mounting on the lens, rotate the filer ring to the correct degree of polarization and then return the filter to it's original position. It's pricey, but works extremely well. I have used it with a Hassy XPan with a 49 to 52mm step up ring.

Charles Dunlap , May 10, 2000; 03:56 A.M.

I would like to follow up on my comments of almost two years ago concerning the relative differences between the Contax G and comparable Leica M lenses. Combining my personal experience with a recent study of the MTFs for the lenses at www.photodo.com, I feel I can provide a better comparison than before.

My earlier comments about the Leica lenses being better at the largest apertures are born out in part, but I also found some surprises. Comments on lens qualities not measured by MTF (flare, tonal reproduction, bokeh) follow the lens comparison summaries. The only comparable lenses for which data were available for both manufacturers were 28mm, 35mm, 45/50mm, and 90mm.

Comparison of contrast (10 and 20 line pairs per millimeter) and resolution (40 line pairs per millimeter). Numbers (i.e. 0.74) are the average for the given aperture as explained on the photodo site:

1. 28 f/2.8  At f/2.8 the Leica M (0.74) has better contrast than the Contax (0.71). At f/4 the lenses are equal (0.79), and at f/8 the Contax provides higher contrast (0.86 compared to 0.84 for the Leica). The Contax also provides higher resolution with a more even performance across the image than the Leica.

2. 35 f/2  It should be noted that the Leica lens tested is the version before the current one that has an aspherical lens element for improved performance at wide apertures. At f/2 the Leica (0.69) has slightly higher contrast than the Contax (0.68). The same slight difference holds at f/2.8 (0.78 for the Leica and 0.77 for the Contax). By f/4, however, the Contax overtakes the Leica with a weighted average MTF of 0.82 compared to the Leicas 0.80. At f/8 contrast is equal at 0.83. Overall the Contax G has a slightly higher resolution across the apertures.

3. 45,50 f/2  The true measured focal length of the Leica was 52mm and the Contax was 47mm. At f/2 the Leica has a good advantage in contrast with an avg. MTF of 0.78 compared to the Contax with 0.71 (not shabby, however). At f/2.8 the Contax pulls ahead with 0.83 compared to Leicas 0.81, and the lead is maintained at f/4 with 0.88 for the Contax and 0.85 for the Leica. At f/8 the two are equal at 0.88. The overall resolution across the apertures is slightly higher in the Contax.

4. 90 f/2.8  The two are evenly matched in contrast wide open at 0.81 for each with a significant difference being the higher center performance in the Leica that deteriorates by 6mm out from center compared to the more even performance (at slightly lower contrast) out to 15mm found in the Contax. If your subject is in the center then the performance of the Leica will be better. At f/4 the Leica is slightly better at 0.85 compared to 0.84 for the Contax. At f/8 the same slight difference is maintained with 0.86 for the Leica and 0.85 for the Contax. Overall, the Leica also has slightly more resolving power across the apertures.

To sum it up, the Leica lenses do have slight advantages at the widest apertures, but they quickly equalize one stop down, and the Contax pulls ahead from time to time in what appears to be a neck and neck race.

When considering color reproduction, the differences are more apparent. I have compared the 45 f/2 and 50 f/2 directly (same film, same subject, same time, same aperture, same processing). Examining the slides under a microscope (Leica research grade), I saw that the Contax lens was giving greater distinction between hues than the Leica. This was very apparent, for example, when looking at red or green tones appearing in plants painted on a mural in Palo Alto, Ca. Which tonal reproduction is better is a subjective choice, and I didnt have a chance to determine which was more accurate. This difference, however, could account for some peoples subjective-sounding comments about the "look" of these lens families.

When considering resistance to flare, the Contax 45 f/2 seemed to have an advantage in my comparison. The 50 f/2 Leica was subject to veiling flare in a scene in which the Contax 45 f/2 did not have trouble. Of course, each lens geometry will have its own particular angles to a light source at which it is susceptible, so this example cannot be extrapolated to a general conclusion.

With respect to bokeh, I found the 45 f/2 more pleasing than the Leica 50 f/2. The bokeh on the Leica is not bad at all, but the Contax provides a blur even more pleasing in roundness and softness to my eye. It is, of course, a subjective matter.

I own and shoot with four Leica M lenses, but I greatly admire the Contax G lens set as well. There are a number of trade-offs in price and availability of wide aperture lenses between the systems, but I would be happy to own the Contax lens set for their tonal reproduction and other qualities not measured by MTF. Happy shooting.

Richard George , May 18, 2000; 03:02 P.M.

I traded in a two-foot high stack of Nikon equipment (including two F3's) for a G2, a 28mm, a 45mm, and a 90mm, two TLA 200 flash units, and a number of Contax flash cords that allow me to use one or two TLA 200 units off-camera, synchronized, with TTL. I also obtaind a Contax T2.

Regarding the focusing "problem" - I suspect that the vast majority of people claiming problems with the G2 auto-focus DO NOT OWN THE CAMERA and have not shot at least a dozen rolls through one. Once I did that, and learned the process (quite different that an SLR), everthing was fine. I use slow-speed color negative film. Nearly every print is well-focused, and many prints are nearly "medium format" in their resolution. Color rendition is fabulous! Outdoor people pictures in open shade with fill-flash (off-camera) are stunning. Children prints are particularly satisfying. The auto-focus, auto-exposure, TTL fill-flash, motor drive, small size, light weight capabilities of the G2 make it a nearly perfect tool for capturing the wonderful nuances of childhood. I have taken "comparison" pictures outdoors, with and without fill flash. The results are dramatic. The G2 is also great for travels, and for hiking in the mountains. The TLA 200 unit and associated off-camera flash cord are so small and light weight that I would not dream of taking the G2 outside (even on long hikes) without taking the flash unit. BTW - I had a Leica M system before my Nikon system. Would not dream of going back. As rated in 1999, the G2 is truly one of the 25 best cameras in the world, counting all film formats!

Marc Mouries , July 03, 2000; 05:00 P.M.

I first was attracted by the G2 but i read some reviews dealing with
focus trouble with the G1 and even with the G2.
But i read others reviews with this one and i did the jump.

I used for the first time without really being prepared to.
I just bought it some days before the "Music Day" in Paris. A day where
there is a lot of concerts in France.
My girl and i came to the Louvre Museum listening to the Madredeus Band.
I brought my G2, the 28, 45 & 90 lenses and ... 100 ISO slides rolls.
I took pictures with the fear to have all the slides blur.
I developed the roll and i discovered that some of the slides was very good.
I took pictures at 1/4 of second and slower, we see the hands of the guitarist
moving on the guitar.
It's great i had some good shots.
I give my plus and minus list on the G2 for hesitant buyers and for the Contax team :-)

Plus

  • The controls are logical and natural.
  • The noise of the automation was my biggest reservation in buying one
    but it is not so noisy
  • Colors are deep.
  • The range finder is not so hard to see through.
Minus -  wish list for a G3
  • I'd buy a 90/1.4 (with hood and cap)
  • I'd buy a good zoom not like the 35-70/3.5-5.6.
  • Lack of aperture display
  • a little heavy
  • more silent
  • Clearer manual (separate the languages)

Chris Walker , July 04, 2000; 12:23 P.M.

I have owned a Nikon FE for years and have always been quite happy with the crispness and color saturation of Nikkor lenses. In fact, I have volumes of photo albums and a series of personally prized 8x10 enlargements of landscapes and precious family moments that attest to the quality of this camera. Within the last year or so, however, my eye had been caught by the G2. Could it be that I could continue to maintain the highest standard of the Nikon in a compact, light weight, high quality instrument like the G2? Recently, I went for the opportunity to buy a G2 with a 45/f2 Planar. I can tell you that I'm head over heels for this camera, hook, line, and sinker.

In my transition from my beloved SLR to the G2 I have noticed a few nits: No evidence of f-stop in viewfinder, the audibly-evident auto-focus, the distorted image of my lens hood in the lower-right corner of the viewfinder, becoming familiar with the nuances of single and continuous auto focus, and the high price of accessories like lens hoods, caps, and filters. But once you've become accustomed to these issues (and are able to rationalize cost), the camera is a dream. Images from my first roll of film were palpably real, with tremendous color saturation. Beyond this, the camera is a beatifully constructed jewel, lightweight, and more easily and conveniently transported during traval or even a jaunt to the zoo with the family than that heavy Nikon. Based on my early experience with this camera, I'm off to buy a 28, 90, and TLA 200 flash. Highly recommended!

Dave Reichley , July 15, 2000; 12:47 P.M.

After "thinking about it" ever since the Contax G2 first came out, I finally bit the bullet in June and shelled out the $1500 price of admission (including remote release, UV filter, and leather case) to the happy camp of G users. To say that I am absolutely thrilled with this camera would be an understatement! Part of my reaction, I'm sure, is due to my profound relief in discovering that most of the "issues" raised about this camera are in my opinion without foundation.

First of all, it is NOT noisy! For gosh sakes, I wonder how many people have been disuaded from buying a G2 because of these idle rumors? What a shame! The very brief sound made during focusing and shutter release is no louder than normal for a 35mm camera and, if anything, nicely muted. What you hear, basically, when you press the shutter release is a solid, precise, soul-satisfying "clik-whir" of very brief duration (after all, this camera is capable of four focus-release cycles per second, so you know the mechanics of it have to be fast!). The thing I like most about the sound this camera makes is that it speaks volumes about the quality in design and manufacture. Someone has noted that to some users the "noise" is noticeable because the camera is right up against your face. If you're sensitive to it, you're going to hear it, naturally ... but I find it, for one thing, very nice to no longer have to endure the clunk-clunk of the mirror slapping around inside that clunky old SLR mirror box. The G2, obviously, does not have one.

When I got the camera, I took the advice of another reviewer and read through the instruction manual before even attempting to familiarize myself with the G2, and that's very good advice, because this camera has a system of operation unique unto itself. I won't go into the details here, but it's a brilliant system that works very, very well. And by the way, you don't NEED a depth of field guide on the lens, nor a focusing ring. And even though some converts from the SLR camp will miss not having an f stop readout in the viewfinder, it's also not necessary. Once you get used to the operation of the G2 these little things become relics of the ancient past! ;o)

This is an aperture priority camera, and with your left fingers under the lens and on the f stop ring, you quickly get a feel for where you are with the lens opening and which way you need to turn it to affect the shutter speed and/or depth of field. If a depth of field guide were to be added to future G's, it would be a whole lot more useful in the viewfinder (as part of the focusing distance scale) than on the lens, which you almost never look at. The viewfinder focusing scale is approximate, but the focus readout available in the little window atop the camera is very precise. By the way, if you're like me and have been stoically resisting the metric system, this camera measures in meters only, so it demands that you at least aquire some feel for what 15 meters is, for example. However, none of this is rocket science, by any means!

And, oh boy, does the "little man" inside the G2 know what he's doing! I've shot two rolls so far -- Kodacolor Gold 200 and Kodachrome 64 -- and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. Focus is absolutely spot on at any distance. Exposure is faultless. I investigated a variety of challenging focus and exposure situations, challenging the little man, but every single shot came out absolutely perfect! The color prints were "adjusted" by the local lab, of course, but the slides are the true test, and they are the best I've ever taken. The Zeiss lens is truly a magnificent performer. I have never before seen such uniform sharpness and freedom from any kind of distortion in any 35mm photos that I've ever seen. (I'm talking about the 45mm lens here)

As an example of the abilities of the automation inside the G2, I took a picture inside a train station, looking out through an open archway to a bright sunlit street. I'd tried this shot with other cameras without success, but the G2 (with a little help from me and the exposure lock lever) exposed both the dark interior and the bright exterior in a satisfying manner so that the overall picture is pleasant to look at. And this with reversal film!

My only complaint is that the exposure bracketing control, with its little lever, is inconvenient to grasp and turn. I solve the problem by putting a fingernail into the notches on its edge, and turning it that way. This is a very small problem that I really don't mind. I guess nothing is ever perfect.

Little extras: The delicious aroma of the genuine leather case when you bring the camera up to your face. The great look, feel, and durability of the titanium surfaces. The nice balance and overall feel of the camera, with or without the case. The precision finish and fit of ... well, everything! The attractive shape and style of the G2. The fact that it's made of METAL, not plastic. The good feeling you get from owning something that is the creme de la creme! And on, and on...

To sum up, I would very highly recommend the G2 to anyone! Anyone, that is, who does not need to do closeup work, the one use where you do need to view through the lens. I am very, very, VERY happy with my G2, and expect to own it, use it, and cherish it for the rest of my life.

Next purchases, after my bank account recovers, will be the 200 flash and the 90mm lens. Ahhh, I'm in shutterbug heaven!

Tom Just Olsen , July 29, 2000; 04:11 P.M.


seagull

I have read this test column of the Contax G2, - which are now very cheap in the shops for prices half that of Leica, to which it is often compared. Check then this site, where lens tests made by the Hasselblad lab in Gothenberg have to say about the Contax lenses, - compared to Leicas: the Contax lenses is definately sharper, - and at half the price. Actually, the 45mm/2,0 is the next sharpest lense this lab has ever tested, - next to the formiddable 200mm/1,8 of Canon, that costs about ten times as much. Check it up at;

http://www.photodo.se/nav/prodindex.html

The Hasselblad lab has made a 'grade scale' from 1 to 5, an average of all the tests made, and finds the Contax 45mm/2,0 to be 4,7 (The Canon lense reaching 4,8). So if you want to take really sharp pictures, Contax G2 with this extraordinary 45mm/2,0 is the thing. Check then the Contax Biogon 28/2,8: grade 4,2 (Leica M 4,1),Contax 35/2,0: grade 4,1 (Leica 4,1), and the Sonnar 90/2,8: grade 4,4 (Leica 4,3). Contax seem to understand that they are on the wrong side of the playground, now in these digital times, and are making us an offer we can't refuse; some 3000+ dollars for full package of three lenses camera body and a flash. All in a nice metal suitecase. The Leica equaliant would cost the double.

Uwe Schneider , August 09, 2000; 10:55 A.M.

I would like to add two points which were not yet very much discussed:

1. As I am driving motorcycle the G2 is the optimal camera for me. Unfortunately I had during my last vacation an accident. I carried my G2 (including the lenses 28/45/90mm and the TLA200 flash) in a bag on the tank. Due to the accident the bag was torn away from the motor cycle and crashed on the road. Fortunately the G2 was not injured (besides me). This is a very robust camera. Although the lenses look not very solid to me, after this accident I know: they are solid!

2. I was looking around for a conevenient bag for my Contax G2 set for ages, but now I found the optimum. The TENBA company produces a small camera bag for the Leica M6. This small bag can capture the G2 body with three lenses and the TLA 200 flash. It is extremly small and handy. The optimum for the G2.

juan mateos hernandez , August 11, 2000; 07:11 P.M.

I bought a second hand G2 three months ago with obvious enthusiasm because of all references heard about it before. I had never owned a Contax before.(I am a professional photographer and been usin Nikon for years but never a rangefinder camera).After shooting three or four rolls of film, i found it to be defective-the autofocus did not work properly,the camera seemed to get focused but the most of the pictures were all blurred.I sent it for repair to the technical service hera in Madrid,Spain.It took one and a half month to get it right.They told the replacement -the autofucus assist module-had not arrived on time from Contax in Germany.They even offered a new G2 body if the module was not here in two days time.As if a miracle, the module arrived then just in time.At last i had my camera repaired but surprisingly i found a strand of hair inside the viewfinder.i had to take the camera back to the technical service to have it removed. In the meanwhile i had posted three e-mail to Contax customer service asking the reason of such a dalay.I was only replied for the first one; they would look into the matter and answer as soon as possible,they stated.I am still waiting for. Well, my camera seemed to be working at last.I took my TLA200 flash to shoot a first roll after the repairment.It did not work either-then i realised that it had fell onto the ground carrying my camera on my shoulder-a little bit fragile flash i thought and sent it to the technical service too and fortunately, i had it repaire in two days time. After all this and in an attempt of trusting Contax products, i decided to buy another lens-a 28mm Biogon- and thought of enjoying the camera at last.And then... had i not shot more than 20 shots in a roll when the camera suddenly stopped working.You can imagine i went mad.it had not been a fortnight yet when i had the camera repaired!But again i had to send my G2 to be repaired.A part of the autofocus system again must be substituted but they do not know how long it will take. I am sure this is an isolated case but i am not glad with treatment i have been dispensed from Contax and the technical service.And what is more important:i have not had even a G2 body on substitution. Regards.

James H , November 19, 2000; 02:26 A.M.

While not a G-2 (I do own two), I just bought a G-1 Kit from B&H. $800.00 for a G-1 body, 35mm lens, and a TLA 200 flash was just too good to pass-up.

I wanted the 35mm f2 lens and a second TLA 200 flash. The B&H price for the 35mm lens ($500.00) and TLA 200 ($250.00) is $750.00, so the G-1 body cost me an additional $50.00. B&H is the only company I have seen selling the G-1 kit with the TLA 200, everyone else is only offering the TLA 140 flash. This is a great deal!

Although I have very little experience with the G1, and am quite certain I prefer the G2, the G1 may be a good platform for the 21mm lens and its separate viewfinder should I chose to buy that gem of a lens.

Andy Piper , December 20, 2000; 02:19 A.M.

Excellent review and excellent camera. But I will take issue with the review comment that there are no quantifiable and objective differences between the Leica and Zeiss lens families, since I've done comparisons.

1. Zeiss-G lenses are slightly redder than Leica-M lenses (or Leica-M lenses are more green/cyan; take your pick) Shooting portraits (by example) in sunset light, the Zeiss lenses added a faintly red glow to skin, while with the Leica the skin tones was yellower ( - minus magenta). Not better or worse. But noticeably and predictably different - it was apparent with both 21 and 90mm focal lengths.

2. Leica lenses (at least pre-ASPHeric) tend to be very sharp in the center with a pronounced fall-off in MTF contrast/sharpness toward the outer areas of the picture (source of the term "roundness"??). By comparison, similar Zeiss-G focal lengths tend to be slightly softer than the Leicas dead center but hold their maximum sharpness further towards the corners, sometimes being substantially sharper at the 15-21 mm point on the charts (and on the film). Again, this holds true for several focal lengths.

There is one exception to no. 2 - the Zeiss Planar-G 35mm follows the "Leica pattern" - sharp in the middle but falling off far more quickly at the edges (where by comparison the Zeiss Planar-G 45mm has much more smooth and even MTF curves, but slightly lower peak sharpness dead center). The MTF charts for the Planar-G and the pre-ASPHeric Leica 35 Summicron on Photodo.com are so similar that I really wonder whether Zeiss deliberately copied the older "Summi" just to make any Leica users switching over to Contax feel right at home. The 35 coloring is also a little closer to the Leica look, while the Zeiss 21,28,45 and 90 are all a little warmer.

Howard B , January 24, 2001; 11:56 A.M.

The price is the best selling point.

The lack of manual focus, and the complete lack of feedback in the viewfinder, is dismaying.

The camera is new, but the need for a new Contax G3 is real and present.

I'd wait. Maybe buy a used Leica instead.

Meryl Arbing , January 25, 2001; 12:02 A.M.

I have just got my G2 two weeks ago with the 45 and the 90mm lenses. I wanted to put a few rolls of film through it to test the system and, in particular, the autofocus. I am pleased to say that the AF system performed flawlessly with both lenses at all fstops and distances. I have had an advantage that I have been very used to using an AF camera since I have been using digital cameras and have the Yashica T4 P&S. In the digitals, the T4 and the G2, the secret always was to make sure the focus point is locked on what you want to be in focus before you recompose the shot. The manual focus worked quite well too. I was easily able to shoot through glass windows and see exactly whether I was focusing in front or behind the object. It isn't the same as my SLR but I never expected it to be! I think most problems that people have are due to a lack of familiarity with this simple approach and a failure to account for the narrow DOF in close situations. Let me add my voice to the number of actual G2 users who know there is no focus problem with this camera.

Jong-Ern KIM , February 22, 2001; 10:00 P.M.

Contax G2 is my first serious camera I bought with my own money. I owned only point&click cameras. As a plain novice to photography, I very much appreciate G2's automatic functions. With G2 I still take photos as I did with point&click cameras but I get much nicer photos. If I had bought a Nikon FM2 or Leica M, I would have been frustrated in learning photography and couldn't have enjoyed it.

Curtis Steele , February 25, 2001; 12:09 A.M.

I have been using Contax G-1/G2 since 1998 (I fell in the water with my G1, hence the move to the G-2; water and electronics don't mix well). The G-2 is a vast improvement over the G-1 in every aspect. I had also been using a Canon F1 with various lenses. The Zeiss optics are so superior that I could no longer stand to look at the slides made with the Canon and sold it. I now have 28, 45 and 90 mm lenses. The autofocus and autoexposure work flawlessly, with easy compensation and overide control. I carry the body and all 3 lenses in LowePro S&F 60 AW Pouch, very compact, convenient and inconspicuous. A friend who regularly views my slides says they are like medium format in a 35 mm size. I'm pleased as punch with this equipment; I have high quality at a fraction of the cost of Leica gear.

Allan Tan , May 30, 2001; 12:41 A.M.

I currently own a Canon Elan IIe and a range of EOS lenses. It was not until recently that I took a keen interest in rangefinders. During the short span of time, I had the chance to try out 3 different make of rangefinders - Voigtlander Bessa-R, Leica M6 and Contax G2. After using them my observations are as follows :-

The Bessa-R is an affordable entry level rangefinder for those who want to try them out without burning a hole in their pockets. The controls are fully manual similar to the Leica M6 but after trying out the G2 and the M6, the Bessa-R feels plastic and light even though it was made from aluminium alloy. The range of lenses though are extremely affordable and extensive and I find them to be only slightly more expensive than the G lenses.

As for the M6, the name speaks for itself. The camera is like what the reviewer said rock solid. The lenses cost a fortune although Leica diehards who testify that they are worth the money. The shutter is legendary quiet and the controls like the Bessa-R fully manual. Although I find the loading of the film a hassle, I do like the feel of the camera, something akin to owning a vintage car. Alas, like the Bessa-R, I do miss some vital shots due to the manual focusing of the lenses.

Now to the G2. The viewfinder is not as big or bright as the Bessa-R or the M6. However, the viewfinder is easier to use with longer lenses like the 90/2.0 compared to the Bessa-R ands the M6 where you have to squint to see the image. I like the titanium feel of the camera although it does not feel as solid as the M6. I noted that the shutter is kind of loud but nothing which I cannot bear with. The lenses are very affordable but limited. I find the auto-focus to be reliable and simply cannot understand the complaints of some users about out of focus pictures. Overall it is a joy to use as I can capture moments which I would have missed with the M6 or the Bessa-R. The only weakness about the camera is the flash as it seems to overexpose the pictures.

After fiddling with all the cameras and taking some pictures with them, i decided to buy a second hand G2 and the Bessa-R and a few lenses (all for the price of a M6 and lens). I was so happy with my G2 that I brought it along for my business trip. The camera and the lenses are so much lighter than my Canon SLR setup. As for the pictures taken with te G2, they are very sharp and contrasty and even my wife remarked that my photography skills have improved, not knowing that I had used the Zeiss lens instead of my Canon EOS lenses. I now own the 28, 35, 45 & 90 as well as a TLA 280 flash but cannot afford the 16 and the 21. I am now completely sold on the G2 although once in a while, I would still hanker for the manual controls of the Bessa-R. Now I am looking to an improved G3 that allows manual focusing much like the traditional rangefinders like M6 and Bessa-R and yet is able to auto-foucs if the user chooses to.

Robert Goldstein , June 23, 2001; 08:20 A.M.

Having used a G2 system extensively for more than 18 months, I think it's time for me to add my views to this forum.

The short version: I truly love this camera.

The long version: The G2 has helped me produce many of the best photos that I have ever taken. It is very simple to use and much faster than any manual rangefinder, regardless of the claims of Leica M users. The lenses are superb, including the wrongfully maligned 35/2. If the rangefinder is properly calibrated, focusing is extremely accurate, as well as quick. The noise factor is vastly overated, IMO, mainly by Leica users who are looking for something to criticize. Sure, the M is quieter, but this is rarely a major factor in getting good images onto film. Believe me, the G2 is quieter than any SLR that I have ever tried.

My only gripes are that the viewfinder is a bit dim and that some of the controls are easily disturbed inadvertently.

On the silly rivalry between Leica M and Contax G users, I can only say "different strokes for different folks." I can understand some individuals preferring a manual camera to an automated one, but this does not justify bashing the latter simply because it is automated. If you don't like automation, then the G2 is definitely not for you. Still, the fact remains that the G2 is as fine a photographic tool as there is in the world of 35mm photography. It may not be the right camera for everyone, but it is for some of us. Recognize this fact, and get on with your life.

John Clark , July 24, 2001; 05:29 A.M.

Initial Impressions on the Contax G2

Hi folks, I bought myself a G2 and took delivery yesterday. I wanted to say a couple of things about the camera with the caveat that I haven't taken many photos with it so far but will as soon as possible.

I bought what they call the 'Millennium Kit', i.e. aluminium case, G2, TLA200, 28, 45, 90, hoods and so on. The first thing I noticed was that the package itself seems to be 'quality' - everything feels well put together, the finish is good and everything has a reassuring weight (given its size). I was especially impressed with the lenses - complete with leather pouches! If only Canon would pay attention - my 28-70/2.8L didn't come with anything so fancy. In fact, the G2 package seems to be quality all round.

I read the manual - what were they thinking with that layout, eh? - and started to play with the camera- very tactile - each switch or dial has a nice action and feels well machines. Everything is very precise, although mounting and dismounting lenses is a little more difficult than on (say) an EOS.

Having shot only 10 shots since receiving it yesterday (been busy) I'd add that my first impressions have been mixed - it's a great feeling camera, but quite noisy. Not terrible by any means, but a lot louder than my Mamiya 7, and the focusing is louder but as precise as my L lens on my EOS 5. I'm still not sure about the AF - it is a bit unsettling not having any 'visual' confirmation of focus, other than a fairly odd scale in the viewfinder. Why couldn't they have put the distance (as is shown on the top LCD) in the viewfinder as well? Also, I find that the camera does have difficulty focusing through glass or focusing on horizontal patterns - I've needed to rotate the camera vertically to get it to lock on.

No results back yet, but I am sure they will be superb. People are rarely so enthusiastic about a product if it produces 'average' or merely 'competent' images. I know there is something special awaiting me!

I wear glasses, and don't find the viewfinder that bad. It's much much smaller than that of the Mamiya, but seems clear enough and I'm satisfied with it. I haven't yet figured out the ins-and-outs of the camera - this weekend will be my first main opportunity - but I suspect it is a camera to learn than one to pick up and start using optimally. Can't wait to see the results - will post back in a month or so and let you know how I'm getting on with it.

John

Michael Blackwell , July 28, 2001; 06:42 P.M.


Ft. Henry Lighthouse w/28mm

I worked hard and saved my money for a Leica. I bought a 35, a 50 and a 90mm lens - what else could a photojournalist want? Then one day around my 50th birthday I made some very out of focus photos with the 90mm lens. Squinting into the tiny bright line area I couldn't see well enough to focus the camera. With a heavy heart I sold my beautifully made Leica and accessories and bought the Contax G2 kit with the 28, 45 and 90mm lens (love the aluminum case they came in too). Now I make wonderfully sharp photos with autofocus, and I make photos with the camera held at my side - the autofocus works better than I ever did - faster and cleaner. Just what I need to capture 'slice of life" pix at that critical moment. I don't like the shutter speed knob - turns too easy, and the viewfinder takes a little getting used to. But overall the G2 makes my work look much better than those out-of-focus Leica photos did.

John Clark , August 03, 2001; 10:11 A.M.

Early days still, but the first slides have come back and by-and-large I am deeply impressed with the results. The sharpness is at the very worst equal to that of the 28-70/2.8L I was using before, probably much sharper in all honesty (need a better loupe!)

The colour is incredible; I thought the L-series colour was good, but the Zeiss glass is noticably better. ALso, the bokeh is lovely and soft, delicate even.

My only problems so far have been with close focus - e.g. macro-ish shots (no DOF preview or visual confirmation -> occasional focusing on the wrong spot) and framing (the parallax correction is good but not infallible).

Sharpness wide-open is fantastic, it seems to be consistently sharp all the way down to f16 (haven't tried beyond that yet), and a great many hand-held shots came out surprisingly sharp, given the shutter speeds I recalled. The metering is pretty good too.

All in all, I'm very glad I sold the L-glass to part fund the G2 kit. I think it was a wise choice, as the 18, 50 and 85 lenses that remain with my EOS more-or-less cover most of what I would shoot with the L anyway. I may not bother adding a 28mm lens to that outfit after all, having seen the incredible Zeiss results...

John

Wee Keng_Hor , August 11, 2001; 10:39 P.M.


I have recently acquired the G1, 35mm and 90mm lenses and the TLA 200 flash. The 90mm lens is super sharp! The insert of the above image is scanned with HP PhotoSmart at full 2400dpi full resoultion and yet couldn't show the full details of what I can see from a 10X lupe. With the lupe, I could see the numbers on the plate clearly!
However focusing with the 90mm is like a guessing game. I have to be extremely careful with focusing. This slows me down and I won't be able to shoot at subjects moving towards me.
As for the flash, it is very primative as compared to what the Canon flash can do. I get several overexposed shots when I experimented with fill flash.
But the setup is really small and light. A small, compact and light tripod is sufficient for support. This is especially useful when travelling.
I would always prefer my SLR. But when I need to travel light and result is not critical, G is the answer.

Meryl Arbing , August 18, 2001; 05:12 P.M.

I just got back from the Canadian National Exhibition which is a major yearly event here in Toronto. While I was walking around with my G2, I spotted another rangefinder user coming towards me. He had a Leica M6. Quickly I raised my G2 and squeezed off 3 quick shots of him before he even noticed me. He attempted to return the favour but I left him trying to focus as we passed.

There is a lot of talk about the G2 being slow and loud and the Leica being silent and quick but, in the real world, give me the G2!!

James Symington , August 31, 2001; 05:29 A.M.

I have just come back from a two week holiday where for the first time I have been able to use extensively my recently acquired G2 with the 28mm and 45mm lenses. I must say that I am taken aback by the crispness of the photographs that I got back from the lab. Pictures taken of friends go into merciless detail on every single wrinkle or blemish. For the first time in my photography even the out-of-focus areas are beautiful in their own right! Other revelations were the lack of distortion on the 28mm when photographing buidings, travel photography accounts for 90% of the pictures I take, and the ability to take handheld pictures at ultra-low shutter speeds (inside churches where no flashes are allowed for example) beating even my only I.S. lens for the EOS3.

I moved over to the G2 from an EOS3 system primarily because I tired of walking around with such an enormous camera and equipment and partly because I wanted to investigate the whole Zeiss thing. As others have said before, a rangefinder is not the multi-purpose tool an SLR is and so you have to have a fairly clear idea before you buy of what you want to use it for. Fot travel/outdoors photography it is fantastic and suffers only from one irritation generic to all rangefinders; using a polarising filter is at best hit and miss.

This leads me onto the whole issue of the G2 vs M6 debate. I cannot see any clear advantage in the use of one over the other unless the circumstances in which you take your pictures are extremely particular. If you are like the pro photographer who reviewed the M6 elsewhere on this site and you need to sneak about a hospital taking pictures of the terminally ill, then you would have to say that the M6 has an advantage (even then it is not on the shutter sound, which I have found to be the same, but more on the G2's focussing sound and auto rewind). Where the M6 would annoy me with the kind of photography I indulge in is the film loading; in the M6 it is nothing short of diabolical. I even read someone's review saying that they liked the film loading procedure for the M6! If there was ever a good example of defending the indefensible it must be that. Surely at best you get used to it, and it may become second nature, but it will always be clumsy.

I would say that for 95% of the time you could consider these cameras interchangeable for the results you get. That remaining 5% of the time one or the other of those cameras will fall short of what you need or like versus what the other offers. If it is taking pictures in near darkness you have the advantage of faster lenses with the Leica but if you are in a situation where you need to take several pictures in quick succession then the G2 has a great advantage with its quick autofocus and autowind. Incidentally, occasionally one reads complaints by people saying that they don't know where the G2 is focussing. My conclusion after having run a dozen films through the camera on a variety of subjects like babies, mountains, kittens, castles etc is that you have to be mentally impaired to get it wrong. I could go on but I think the message is clear.

When it comes to the lenses themselves I think it is pointless to debate it further. Leitz gives you a bigger selection and some of the lenses are faster but in terms of image quality there is surely little, if any, difference between the two.

I have been so captivated by my experience with the G2 that I heartily recommend it to anyone who is tiring of bulky SLRs. As for the M6 I must admit to being very curious; sometime I might even indulge in one to see what the fuss is all about. However, I won't do it out of any feeling of jealousy over what the G2 provides me.

Clive Rowley , September 27, 2001; 06:58 P.M.

No-one has to defend such quality systems as the Contax G2, or Leica M6. Like quite a few people, I have both systems: G2 with 21, 28, 35, 45 and 90, and M6 with 21, 24, 35, 50, 90, 135 and 3-in-1 28-35-50. The 2 systems have 2 things in common: small size (no mirror) and exceptional quality lenses. Otherwise they are as different as chalk and cheese. I use my Leicas for slow, considered photography, where I enjoy the whole back-to-basics experience of total manual control of a camera and lenses with incredible feel-good factor (yes, even the loading which I can do in the dark in order to use Kodak Infra Red B&W film); the G2 is used for its auto-everything capability with useful motordrive - a completely different, but no lesser, experience. Unfortunately it cannot be used for Infra Red photography, but neither system is perfect. The two systems do not, in my book, rival each other - comparisons are meaningless - they complement each other.

James Symington , October 25, 2001; 06:39 A.M.

I indulged! Bought myself an M6TTL with 35mm f2 Summicron. It is a great piece of kit which is clearly very well made. My conclusions so far, having only run half a dozen rolls of film through it, are in line with my previous review. Namely, the results from the G2 and the M6 seem to me to be indistinguishably excellent and as the previous reviewer rightly said, they are complementary.

Patrik Skolling Möller , May 27, 2002; 08:47 A.M.

I tested this camera over a weekend. It is a well built that is easy to work with. The most common complain about this camara is when using the 90mm Sonnar. It sometimes misses focus,users say. I tried the 28mm, 45mm and the 90mm. My conclusion is that won´t get the pictures in focus as easily as you do with an SLR,especially the 90mm is a little disapointing. I took four fullsize, whole body portraits after each other and none of them was in focus ?! I pointed at the faces and then gently moved the camera. That´s bad and perhaps you get used.

ABOUT THE PRINTS...

-I was using a Fuji REALA and developed at a Pro-lab and the pictures turned out very sharp and contrasty with no vignetting at all. Very good,VERY GOOD ! So no complains about the Zeiss glass. (Best ever tried).

But I prefere SLR´s when talking about security in AF especially when shooting weddings. I´d say that the CONTAX G2 is a perfect travel camera for PRO´s,or serious amatuers. Otherwise,I liked the camera very much! I´d buy one if I had the money.

Wee Keng_Hor , May 29, 2002; 02:53 A.M.

Vignetting - 21mm
All the G lenses focus accurately on a flat surface. They also focus accurately on a person's face most of the time except the 90mm.
Using the 90mm is like a guessing game for protraits. However, scenic is fine because u are likely to foucs to infinity.
Vignetting is really a problem with the 21mm lens. It won't go away even if u stop down the lens.

ronald gorthuis , June 13, 2002; 05:00 A.M.

I bought a G2 system, based in large part on the reviews here. The camera and lenses are excellent (I have Nikon F4, and Nikkor lenses as well, for those to whom this is important).

Any camera needs "getting used to". The only critical element to photography is the lens: the camera itself only adds or lessens your convenience. If used to its design limits, a good photographer can do anything with almost any camera - and the G2 would not pose too many limitations for the 35mm format (perhaps only macro, long telephoto, and studio, but it's not designed for this anyway). Does the G2 need depth of field guides? - not really, most serious photographers know what to expect at f2.8, 8, 16 and simply anticipate.

After only a few rolls, clearly the G2 is a performer. Photos are beautiful. Also, the lightweight of the camera + 3 lenses + flash is a very welcome change from the many pounds of the Nikon system. A wonderful camera system for travel, family outings, events, basic studio, just about anywhere.

The only part I found missing in G2 is the aperture-setting display in the viewfinder (strange to find this missing in an aperture priority camera).

Curiously, the viewfinder displays distance to subject. The only time I have ever used this was when I had to use manual flash systems (re GN). I'm curious to know why Contax would see this as important for a TTL camera. With flash confirmation in the viewfinder, I always rely on this for workable distance.

Forget the small G2 flashes. I bought the Contax TLA 280. Vastly superior, only slightly more $, uses rechargeable NiCad's, and works very well with the camera.

Criticisms for the noise of the autofocus are unfounded. The a/f works extremely well and fast. In fact, I get fewer out-of-focus shots with the G2 than with the F4.

For me, improvements would be as follows: - a larger viewfinder (say 25% overall); - locks for, or greatly increased resistance to, the various controls (exposure, focus, on/off, etc); - slightly better ergonomics for better grip; - a regular type of cable release (instead of the dedicated Contax one) - depth of field indicators in the Viewfinder!

Hope this rounds off some of the discussions.

prologue....

One year later, and I love the G2 even more. No change to comments. I have since learned the reason why depth of field markings are not given: the camera measures exposure and focus electronically, so DOF must be a computer calculated number. This could be done by the cpu/lense coupling and displayed in the viewfinder as a "|" to the left and right of the focus distance indicator. I suppose this would require some nifty re-enigineering, and a larger viewfinder.

John Christian , August 12, 2002; 12:08 A.M.

I've been using the G2 with 16,28,45 and 90mm lenses for a few years now and find it to be a pleasure with the occasional focus glitch as the only exception. In contrast to one comment made, I have used the G2 with infrared quite successfully. The small opening in the back should be covered with black electrical tape. You will get a very small bit of IR exposure along the film edge from the IR source inside the camera, but this is NOT a problem.

Clive Dummigan , October 26, 2002; 02:57 P.M.

I recently had the urge to trade in my Nikon gear for a Contax G1 after my friend got one and raved about it. Before I took the plunge I borrowed his to see how well it performed. At first I found it to be very well made and have a beautiful finish, very classy. As the old saying goes 'don't judge a book by it cover', came to mind, because although it looks very nice it's performance was terrible. It's veiwfinder is too small and kept zooming in and out to the point were I didn't know if the framing was true or not. It's focusing was even worse, I got more out of focus pictures than in focus and I couldn't tell what was in focus because the finder is like a compacts. Manual focus was simply impossible. Also the lenses popping in and out and making lots of noise got on my nerves. Give me my nikon's back anytime, I hope the G2 is better than it's brother because I wasn't impressed. The camera is just a fancy compact with bad focusing and interchangeable lenses. As another friend said, 'it's just a richboys compact'.

Ron L , February 20, 2003; 09:20 A.M.

I was very keen to buy the G2 after playing with a friend's. Outside of it's utterly ridiculous viewfinder, it is a beautifully built camera and very ergonomic. I did some research and was a bit concerned by the negative criticism regarding its focussing abilities and noise level. I do a fair amount of candid street shooting and I wanted to see for myself, so I rented one (from Lens & Repro) with the 45mm lens for 4 days. The camera does make an audible whir when focussing and advancing the film but it is minimal. Nothing that hinders street photography in any way. In an indoor, quiet setting it might be another story but outside it is fine.

The focussing however, is another story. After getting back the first two rolls of film I found that roughly 35% of the shots were anywhere from slightly off to blurred. Very few were "tack sharp". So I decided that instead of using the camera for candid street shooting I would just concentrate on slow, careful focussing and shooting to see if I could master the quirky AF. Well after about eight more rolls of film and many different techniques that I got from various sources, I still had an unacceptably high ratio of out of focus shots (anywhere from 25% to 40% per roll). Now I don't think your average joe would have said 40% of the pictures were out of focus but I would think that the average photo.netter would not have been happy with the quality of the images.

I decided that maybe I had just been unlucky and rented a camera with a misaligned rf (although one of the drawbacks of an AF rf is there is no way of knowing that until you start getting out of focus images on your prints). So I went to a diffent pro shop (Alkit) and rented another one. This time with both the 45mm and 90mm lens. I rented it for a full week and ran countless rolls through it. The result...more of the same. I had better results with the 45mm than the 90mm but neither had an acceptable hit ratio. It is a shame because the camera is a complete joy to use. The meter was excellent. (All of my unsharp pics were perfectly exposed!) To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I wanted to prove all those naysayers wrong. I loved using this beauty and would have layed down my cash the minute I got back a set of sharp proofs. But unfortunately that was not to be. Who knows, I may have just gotten unlucky and had two misaligned rangefinders in a row but you know what...I am not going to take that chance. There is obviously SOMETHING wrong with the AF system in this camera. I don't agree with all of those who say that it is user error causing those unsharp images. There are just too many competent people who have tried this camera (yes I include myself in this group) who have had less than acceptable results.

Gary Leong , February 21, 2003; 12:47 P.M.

You don't need to be a competent photographer to handle this camera, you just have to be competent with a point and shoot as focusing with the G2 is not any different. Aim the focusing frame at the subject you wish to focus on, press the shutter release halfway to lock the focus, recompose while still holding onto the shutter release, and finally depress the shutter release fully to take the picture. It just can't get any simpler.

Knowing where to focus with the focusing frame, and understanding the limitations of the G2's focusing system will help tremendously.

After running 10 rolls of film through a G2, I had only three out of focus pictures. Two from the incorrect use of the focus lock, and the other probably from a stray finger that covered the AF window.

Problem with the AF? No way.

Ron L , February 24, 2003; 12:33 P.M.

Gary - I am glad you had success with your G2. That doesn't change the fact that I had problems with both of the G2s I rented. And sorry...but regardless of your attempt to discredit my competence with a point and shoot camera, I was not using the camera incorrectly. I did plenty of research BEFORE renting the camera and tried many different techniques to try to achieve consistent, accurate focus. There may not be a problem with the AF in your G2 but there is in others.

David I , February 28, 2003; 03:48 P.M.

After a trip to Paris in June, I finally learned my lesson and acquired a G2 w/ 3 lenses leaving my Nikon equipment behind. I returned to Paris in December much lighter and more mobile. Inobtrusive and quiet, the G2 was indeed a superb system to shoot. I carried a G2, G1 plus three lenses all less than my N90s, plus a short zoom and telephoto in weight and bulk. The Contax stuff travelled well and compact.

More importantly, I was amazed at the sharpness and contrast of my images... something I have long associated with German optics (I've owned Leica.) I've read alot of the posts here regarding the G2's ability to focus and take both side with a grain of salt. The G2 has its own quirkiness, but is easily adapted.

I will submit that I had less than 3 or 4 (out of 250 or so)images that were soft, but attribute it to my own haste in shooting and not making any aesthetic judgement. In the past, I had a more difficult time adjusting to the Leica viewfinder lens framing and focusing than the G2.

I will say that it was worthwhile for me to figure out how to use the G2 system for my own interests than to face another trip schlepping Nikon equipment in a heavy camera bag. Once you figure it out, it's pretty amazing.

(BTW, Nikon has been my camera of choice since the 60's, used Leicas in the Military, and Nikon, Hasselblad, and Fuji in my work.)

trevor yerbury , March 18, 2003; 08:18 A.M.

As a professional photographer of some 30 years + and using formats from 10x8 plate through, 5x4, Hassleblad and now 35mm I must take issue with any comments re the G2's ability to focus.

I have had my G2 kit and am awaiting a second, for over 2 years and compared with a Nikon100 or F5, well there is non. The G2 wins hands down each time and while you tend to miss the Zoom ability at first you soon learn to use the camera as you would a medium format ie. move closer!

I use my G2 each and every day and can say that the only reason for a non-sharp image is a user problem and not a camera problem.

Image Attachment: Victoria House 04.tif

Ray Cheng , April 01, 2003; 01:13 A.M.

I have been using G2 for a few years, every time when I travel for vacation I'll take all my lesnes with me, they are: 21mm, 28mm, 45mm and 90mm; and a nice looking small flash as well. There is no more words from me about the quality but I did have my 90mm repaired because of focusing problem. This is absolutely unquestionable because the dealer sent the lense back to Japan for checking and repairing. When I got it back and tested it I found that it made louder noise than before, probably the manufacturer had replaced some parts or even the motor inside the lense. And now the image quality of this lense is better than before - sharper.

Enjoy your G2.

P.S. I keep wondering to buy a M7, not for anything but just to satisfy my own dream.

PT NG , April 04, 2003; 11:58 A.M.

IMO, the focusing problem of G2 is due to the AF system, the G2 body have a good focusing sensor the body will tell the lens where to focus and then drive the lens from infinity to where it suspose to be focused, but the problem is the lens cannot tell the body where it focused. UNlike the SLR the image go thru the lens to a sensor to make sure it is in focus.

Kevin Qu , April 19, 2003; 10:28 P.M.

Today the small black metal contact piece fall off the hotshoe of my G1. I can see glue on the hotshoe and back of the metal piece. I owned the G1 for less than one year, with limited use of flash and 21mm viewfinder.

Did anybody experience this problem before?

Shaun O'Boyle , May 13, 2003; 11:03 A.M.

I've been using the G system for several years, I have both the G1 and G2 bodies, as well as the 21, 28, 35, 45, 90 lenses and I have to say it is the best camera system I have used hands down. I like to travel light and fast, and the G fits the bill, I can fit the whole system into a comfortable waist bag, its great for travel photography, as well as my Modern Ruins photo essays, for which I have used the G system almost exclusively. I only wish they would make a digital body to fit the wonderful G lenses, that would really round off the system nicely.

Tom Palmer , August 07, 2003; 05:08 A.M.

I’ve been using the G1 for a year and would like to add some comments. In a nutshell: the G1’s a very well-built camera with great lenses that nevertheless needs quite a lot of care to get the best out of it.

I recently went to an outdoor jazz performance and it proved a good way to showing up in a night everything (I think) that is good and bad about the G1.

First the negatives: 1) The viewfinder really is tiny. If you’re used to an SLR, this will take some getting used to. 2) Somehow I managed to knock the AF off the locked position, turning it to manual focus. 3) The exposure compensation knob, having no lock, was also easily knocked off 0; fortunately it shows in the viewfinder as a + or -. 4) The aperture isn’t shown in the viewfinder. If you don’t have a dedicated flash (as I didn’t) it was a case of checking every few minutes by sight that the correct f-stop was set. 5) Changing lenses definitely is a fiddly process.

Now for the positives: 1) The stewards weren’t letting anyone in with cameras that looked like SLRs in case they were taking pictures for profit. The G1 avoided the problem, looking just like a point-and-shoot. So I suppose you could argue that there might not even have been any photos that night save for the G1. 2) No problems at all with the autofocus in the dim lighting. As a bonus, it came in handy when I was hanging from a tree and using it one-handed – you can’t easily do that with a manual-focus! 3) No problem with the exposure. 4) As has been mentioned elsewhere, the lenses are first-rate. I use the 28mm and 45mm, and both are fine, although I find the 45 has a slight edge in sheer punchiness. They’re certainly better than my Nikon prime lenses (28 & 85). 5) Build quality is fantastic – at least you know you’ve got a tool that can be heavily used and will not have to worry too much about it. (Short aside: I used to have a Nikon F2 and FE and made the mistake of selling them to move on to new metering and autofocus. I bought of all things a Nikon F/N80, which is terribly delicate and had a loose battery flap to boot! That’s now gone, replaced by the trusty G1).

Some general points (sorry if I’m repeating what others have already said):

1)The G1’s an inconspicuous camera. If you like photographing people and scenes discreetly, this is the ideal camera. It’s fairly quiet, and looks no different to a point-and-shoot: only it’s a top-rate camera!

2)It’s also a small and light camera. If you sometimes hesitate taking your camera gear, the G1’s lightness means it’s an easy choice. I carry the body, 2 lenses, a fair-sized flash with bounce, spare batteries and a 6 inch tripod, all in a very small and light hip bag. The days of carrying big heavy SLR lenses are happily over for me.

3)Whatever you do, take time to get to know the camera very well, especially the autofocus and what’s almost a shutter lag. Re the first point, spend time getting comfortable with how the AF performs – remember you can’t see a shot will be out of focus in a rangefinder. Once you’ve got the knack, it works perfectly well. On the shutter lag, there really isn’t one – providing you get the hang of pressing the shutter half way down, so pushing the lens out into it’s correct focus position for the picture. If you do this first, the shutter trip is instant and sure. The down-side to this near-shutter lag though, is that you can never ask anyone not used to the trip to take an action picture for you – I asked my son to take a picture of me flipping a pancake, but this was safely back in the pan and growing cold before the lens focussed and the flash popped!

4)The lens travels backwards and forwards a short distance to focus. This may be a bit disconcerting at first, and it may be visible from the viewfinder if, like me, you use the lens hood. But you soon get used to it, and it isn’t anything like the terrible whirling and moving that goes on in AF compacts.

To conclude, the G1’s a very enjoyable camera to use actually. It’s easy to carry around, takes high quality photos, and is well built enough so it won’t let you down.

Kevin Bjorke , August 27, 2003; 02:47 A.M.


Ginza line, Tokyo, G2/Neopan Presto

I've had my G2 since early 2002, purchased secondhand, and it quickly absorbed nearly all of my shooting; taking over from my Canon SLRs and my digital. Pretty much everything from 2002 forward on my website was made with the G. After ~1000 rolls, all the metal levers and knobs getting nicely broken-in, I'm pretty happy with it.

I use the 28-45-90 combo (the 90 gets used very little) and will add a 21 one of these days (used a borrowed one for a while, but I still have my Canon 20mm -- not as nice and much much larger than the Zeiss!).

I've dropped it, and dropped lenses (though not the borrowed one, heh). It's been all 'round the world. Solid stuff, not a thing gone wrong.

If I were to change anything about the G, it would be:

  • faster glass -- a 35mm f/1.4 would be terrific.
  • the MF-lock should have a press-on/press-off mode like the EOS etc, rather than just the press-and-hold it has now (BTW, riding the lock button is THE WAY to use this camera -- the manual doesn't make this clear enough)
  • There should be a little lever on the focus-mode knob, similar to that on the AE lock knob, so that it's easy to flip from SAF to MF without taking your thumb or eye away from the camera (so that the current AF setting becomes the point of departure for MF) (now that it's broken-in, I'm fairly adept at doing this anyway -- but it was almost impossible when the camera was brand new)
  • Okay, a little quieter. But my G was borrowed a couple of weeks back and I ended up being in front of the same lens in a small space -- and was surprised to discover how quiet it actually was, when not in direct contact w/my skull
  • spotmeter!

...but all of these points are only minor design notes after a fair amount of time with the camera. Once you're comfortable with its non-M flavor, it's a top performer.

James Symington , November 04, 2003; 10:45 A.M.

Further to my comments of August and October 2001 I would like to add a few words about the last 2+ years of Contax G2/Leica M6 TTL use.

I first owned a G2, bought an M6 TTL which I owned alongside the G2 and then sold the G2 to help finance the extortionate Leica lenses.

These are the observations I would make:

1. I NEVER noticed any difference in image quality between the two - even using Provia/Velvia and tripod mounted. The lens choice IS wider with the Leica of course and there are faster lenses available too. That said I never found the G range limiting. If you REALLY need a Noctilux then your choice is clear; but I will bet you anything that you don't! I will say it again though, final image quality is EQUALLY high with both systems.

2. Focussing - sometimes the G hunts a bit with its AF. Sometimes bright light will flare out the focussing blob in the M6 and sometimes it is tough to focus the M6 in the dark. On both cameras you can sometimes have annoying experiences focussing - one is not better than the other.

The G 90mm focussing 'problem' is an urban legend as far as I am concerned.

3. Noise - the G2 is noisier. If you like taking pictures of funeral services you are better off with a Leica; for everyday street shooting this is a non-problem. The G2 is still much more subtle than most new SLRs (some old SLRs like the Pentax MX were fantastic in this regard). Don't believe the silent Leica shutter hype - it is pretty good but hardly spectacular. IMHO the G2 shutter isn't much louder - where the G2 is noisier is the focussing and the film advance. This noise issue is inapplicable to 95% of people using these cameras - me included.

4. Build quality - both fantastic. The Leica's simplicity allows bombproof construction as does the film loading arrangement. It really does exude quality. The G2 is a jewel of a camera with its titanium finish and its tactile controls. If you are a closet camera fondler (I tend to this strange disease) I find the G2 more satisfying. Both are great though.

5. Film loading - doesn't get easier on the G2 and doesn't get harder on the Leica. I don't care what anyone says, loading a Leica is a bit more of a chore than you really need - at best. When it goes badly - it does occasionally - you will start cursing the day you bought the thing. Of course once you are practised at loading the Leica it almost becomes a sub-conscious routine; until it goes wrong.

6. DOF scale - this is the one thing I really miss from the G lenses.

These are the principal points that have struck me with these two systems. I don't buy into the theory that they have two separate markets - they are squarely at each other's throats. However, it is perfectly reasonable to prefer one system over the other and not have to justify yourself with bogus claims of one being better than the other.

As I said above I was originally a G2 user, then both a G2 and an M6 user and then just an M6 user. As lovely as the Leica is and as good as the pictures it took are, I missed my G2 so much that in the end I sold the M6 and went back to my first love. I got the G2 with the 21, 28, 35, 45 and 90mm lenses and I am a very happy man again. Why did I miss the G2? I don't know - but not for any concrete reason. The quality of the pictures I take is just as good as with the Leica; I expected no improvement either. I just enjoy using the G2 more.

I bought into the Leica world thinking that I was missing out on something with the G2. I was quite simply wrong - my Leica experience was a disappointment. Not that the camera was bad - very far from it - but just that it was NO better.

The moral of this story?

It is far better to travel in hope than to actually arrive.

JON GUSS , July 28, 2004; 04:20 P.M.

I would like to add my two cents. Now that digital cameras have taken such a hold the price of some the higher end rangefinders have dropped considerably. Case in point even though it is not a rangefinder, is the Bessa L. They were a few hundred bucks a couple of years ago. I just bought one for $65.00 brand new. I do not plan on selling any of my cameras. A-1, M-6 etc. It's like having .Moral of the story is. Life is short. Live alittle, Its ok to have more than one.

Jeff Sumner , August 09, 2004; 02:35 P.M.

I'm another Leica owner with G2 seller's remorse.

The lenses are fabulous for the small 135 format (I originally bought the G2 to supplant my Mamiya Universal and RB kits) and the pictures I got from it were wonderful.

I had a "greater than expected" problem with auto-focusing- and though I got better at checking the indicated range of what the camera was focusing to, I never completely resolved the bizarre "everthing ELSE was fine on the roll, why are these two out of focus?" problem. Nothing was in focus when I used the self timer- and I'll chalk that up to an incomplete reading of the manual. Of the greater than 90% of photos that were in focus, the pictures all looked great.

Exposure was always correct.

Why do I miss it? The Leica has it's place, particularly with its quiet shutter. There are times when I want to push the button and GO, and for that, the G2 was excellent. People pictures were very fast, and if I was in company that would only scowl after a quick portrait grab, the camera excels (read parties or other events where people expect to have their picture taken). Street photography? No, more confrontation with the G2. That's not to say it can't be done, as there are plenty that do, but it isn't my style. The Leica, on the other hand, takes a little bit to focus accurately, and it's delay in that regard for off-the-cuff photos limits me. It is good for street work.

Different cameras, different uses.

And of course if I want Really Nice pictures, it's medium or large format.

I will eventually have a G2 again.

Interesting that the G2 has caused such a stir. Almost like art.

JD

Additionally: I'm going to trade a Leica body and lens for a black G2. I'm finally going to have a G2 back, and still have an M3 to soothe the Leica Itch! 9 AUG 2004

Aamer Khan , April 20, 2005; 10:58 A.M.

I was wondering how good the manual focus is on this camera...is it worth using? Also, when in autofous mode, can you manually set your aperture and shutter speed, but have the camera focus for you? Do you know about the availability of the black version of the camera and the black lenses?

Denis Dolgachev , June 21, 2005; 01:00 A.M.

Using depth of field is really essential for street photography and the G2 sorely needs a depth of field scale. For in all other respects it is actualy a perfect camera for shooting using DOF. You can set in the distance very precisely in manual mode, it will stay on that setting no matter what if you have the right custom function enabled, and the camera will remember the focus setting when switched off and when switched to autofocus and back. So to make up for the missing DOF scale I came up with the following Range Strips idea which goes a step further and for, at least, my purposes is even better.

Joel Lawson , August 17, 2005; 08:26 P.M.

I've owned many cameras and lenses over the years, and yet felt compelled by curiosity to purchase a Contax G1 earlier this year. I had admired the camera years ago, but was always too busy to consider exploring a new non-SLR system. And besides, I had SLRs and lenses to keep me occupied.

Buying the G1 has reinvigorated my photography, and I encourage anyone considering this camera--or the subsequent G2--to give it a go. The lenses are superior, in my opinion, to any other. The ergonomics of this camera represent a work of art. And unlike digital, your photographs will glow with personality and sublime beauty.

Every camera, format and system has its uses. But the Contax rangefinders are sure to become classics, let alone companions in the pursuit of richer images.

Panayotis Constantatos , February 09, 2007; 03:02 P.M.

I bought a G2 with 28, 45 and 90mm lenses, so as to have a lightweight system to carry on a hiking trip around the Mount Athos monasteries in northern Greece. As I have inherited the family's Leica system back in 1973 and started building up my Nikon and Hasselblad systems in 1976, I was persuaded that nothing, especially upstart Kyocera, could impress me, even if it boasted optics bearing the proud name of Zeiss. I was wrong and I became hooked. With the obvious exception of Macro work, of which I do a lot, the G2 became my standard camera. It fits in the smallest of gadget bags, its lenses are superb, its metering exceptional, and its autofocus saves the day now that I have to carry three sets of glasses. What a pity a digital version is not foreseeable. Let's hope film will still be produced in the future. All I miss now is the 21. Anyone having one for sale?

david casteel , February 13, 2007; 06:02 P.M.

I have pondered reentry into the 35mm rf foray of late. Since having shot extensively with G1 (see www.davidcasteel.com/brazil ) I considered picking up a new rf system. Hmmm Leica m or g2? well, what is the future of these companies? Contax's fate is already sealed and I hate to think of G2 repairs in a few years. On the other hand Leica is high on the mountain with the m8 and a hit PnS digi. But what will happen in a year or two as the big boys really take down the niche market camera companies? $10000 in junk? or a classic.... hmmmm

Michael Gast , March 28, 2007; 03:37 P.M.

I own a Black Finish G-2 and would like to buy the 35mm f/2 Planar with black finish if possible. There are plenty of silver 35's for sale on eBay and elsewhere but none in black. Does anyone know if Contax even built the 35 in black?

Cai Yan , April 18, 2007; 11:07 A.M.

CONTAX do produce G35 lens in black. I think you can find it finally.

Roger E. Oppenheimer , June 27, 2007; 12:26 P.M.

I hope this thread is not dead. What would it take to get someone (perhaps Contax) to make the digital version of the G2? It is a real shame that this fabulous camera has beeb abandoned, it has such a following... Roger

Rene Hageman , August 21, 2007; 07:50 A.M.

I had a Mamiya645pro system and a ContaxG2 system. I sold the Mamiya, but kept the ContaxG2. It is a small camera, so much easier to take with me than the Mamiya. I take pictures of people with Portra Vivid colour and things, like cars, I like to take with Fuji reala. I was amazed to see the strong full colours of the Reala film. I wonder what is the best film for nature, but I can try out, of course.

Nevertheless I also would like it very much if there would come a digital version of the G2. So, we would be able to keep our superb lenses. Besides the G2 is a jewel of a camera. There should be a manufacturer who would bring this project as a special version or collectors item. I am sure a lot of these camera's would be sold to real camera lovers.

Gerber van der Graaf , August 27, 2007; 05:10 A.M.

I do not own a Contax G2, yet, but would like to use a set of two Contax G2 cameras for my stereo photography. Before deciding to buy two of these bodies and 35 / 45 mm lenses, I would like to know some technical details, first.

Concerning the 'slave' camera: I understood the G2 can be connected to an electronic remote shutter release, which is probably just a simple electric cable and a switch. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Concerning the 'master' camera: can anybody tell me whether the X-flash synchronization will only work when the shutter dial is in X position, or does X-synchro work at all shutter speeds? For this set-up it is not necessary that the shutter of the 'master' camera will have completely opened before synchronizing. So allowing synchronizarion at higher speeds is advantageous.

Tom Kat , October 13, 2007; 03:33 P.M.

I bought a contax g2 and love it but when I put it on auto exposure the shutter speed number blinks, I put the dial on auto, its in sunlight, I don't know what I could have done wrong.

Gerber van der Graaf , November 06, 2007; 05:21 A.M.

Just for the reecord I will answer my own question as I could try out two G2 cameras for the use of a stereoscopic set-up. Indeed, the camera has an electronic remote shutter control that can be managed by an (expensive) electric cable. The cable has a special male plug that is connected at the right side of the camera and a release button. I substituted the release button on the cable by a PC plug. The PC plug is connected to the X contact of the 'master' (right) camera and the male plug to the 'slave' (left) camera. It turns out that when the slave camera is active, its shutter will release at all shutter speeds of the master camera. So, even at 1/4000 s exposure time the signal from the X-contact seems to be strong enough. Due to the autofocussing of the slave camera, there is quite some delay (approx 0.5 s) between the moments of exposure of master and slave cameras. By half pressing the shutter release button on the slave camera, which will activate the autofocus, the delay between both cameras has considerably reduced, but not completely disapeared.

When after some time the slave camera will turn into 'sleep' or 'standby' mode, its shutter will only be released when the shutter speed of the master camera is 1/8 s or longer, as the slave camera will need more time to get re-activated, setting the focus and releasing its shutter. So, activating the slave camera after it has gone into standby mode, by half-pressing its shutter release button, is necessary.

Quico Álvarez , December 04, 2007; 02:24 P.M.

Roger E. Oppenheimer, June 27, 2007; 12:26 P.M. Wrote:

"I hope this thread is not dead. What would it take to get someone (perhaps Contax) to make the digital version of the G2? It is a real shame that this fabulous camera has beeb abandoned, it has such a following... Roger"

I am, like Roger, interested in a digital full frame G-2, but I'm afraid we won't see such element. It could be easily done from a manufacturer: only an interchangeable digital back (Leica Digital-R Modul style)taking advantage from the contacts made for the data back to make possible the communication between modul and camera body. I am sure that my Biogon 28, Planar 35 and Sonnar 90 will render superb images on a CCD or CMOS sensor, as they do on any film.

In another way: Does anybody know something about the 12mm. and 15mm. Heliar by Voigtl䮤er adapted for Contax-G mount by Z�rk?. I requested for more information to the manufacturer, about prices, but I?d like to know if they really work so well as it's said.

John Clark , December 28, 2007; 04:20 A.M.

I bought a G2 kit (with 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses plus flash) back in the summer of 2001 and posted back then (much further up this topic as it happens).

I am pleased to see others still using their G2s - I wasn't sure whether they'd be sitting on shelves gathering dust in favour of digital SLRs or similar. I thought I'd update with my ongoing experience of the G2.

Simply put, I keep surprising myself with just how good the results from the G2 are - it's been around the world, it's suffered a few knocks and extremes of temperature, dust and yet it keeps on going. Having moved mainly to digital in 2003, I enjoy the immediacy of the digital approach, but from time to time my Canon 10D (which is getting a bit long in the tooth admittedly) feels a bit bulky and the G2 is pressed into action. You know what? It hardly ever lets me down - it is superb at pinning down the exposure and getting shots that the 10D, even with its fancy technology and higher ISOs, fails to get. By this I mean hand-holdability - the G2 is perfectly usable at low shutter speeds providing one has fairly steady hands.

I too would love a digital G, but realistically I can't see that ever happening now. From time to time I toy with the idea of selling the G2 as I keep thinking 'film is dead' and then I re-acquaint myself with the trusty G2 and (say) the 28 or 35/2 lens* and realise that my 10D system, with a brace of decent Canon lenses, just isn't *quite* as good - by a fair margin. Maybe I need a 5D or something, but my gut feeling is that the difference isn't a film-versus-digital thing but a Contax G lens-versus-Canon-lens thing. Or maybe rangefinder-versus-SLR. Who knows?

So, having shot perhaps 100 rolls of film in six years of ownership (which doesn't sound like much when I type this, but the 10D did reduce my use of the the G2 quite a bit) I reckon that I've never had the camera let me down - *I* have let me down on a couple of occasions, but it was *MY* fault and not that of the G2.

Long live the G2 - in fact, should a nice second body fall my way I'd be a fool not to get the backup :-)

john

* which, for the record, is a VERY good lens despite some old reviews claiming otherwise - as far as I can tell, using loupe and lightbox, it's as sharp as the legendary 45/2 though admittedly its 'bokeh' isn't as good)

Monte Neu , February 10, 2008; 06:41 P.M.

To answer Tom Kat's question, there is nothing wrong with blinking of shutter speed display. There is a custom setting to set that when shutter release is pressed, then AE value is locked. Blinking is just telling you that AE is locked. You may disable this setting and set the option of only AE being locked when AEL position is switched at.

Frank Neumann , March 31, 2008; 06:00 P.M.

Hallo to all Contax-photographers,

it is very inspiring an enlarging the information about Contax-camers with Zeiss-lenses to read about the experiences and opinions of the members of the "Conatx G"-community.

Two years ago, when the digital mainstream finally took over, the owner of my camerashop offered me a great deal: two G2-bodies (silver& black) and a selection of Zeiss/Contax lenses - 21mm,28mm,35-70mm zoom and the phantastic 90mm-telelens. This equipment was completed by the Contax TLA 200 flash-unit. The price was really low, ten years before I would not have been able to afford this nice equipment, I suppose.

Michael Blackwell presents "Ft. Henry Lighthouse" as an impressive picture, revealing the possibilities of the 28mm - angle at its best. As well as the street-scene with its ultra sharp detail by Wee K_H. Congratulations to You photographs.

I enjoy it as a pleasure to put a film in a Contax rangefinder camera, carrying two bodies with four lenses in my photo-bag and go looking for motives, beeing able to choose betweem "M"or"AF" mode, depending on the situation, and decide when the composition seems worth it to press the shutter. You cannot delete the photo, so I think twice before I take a picture. The quality has priority, not the quantity of pictures on a display on which you choose between e.g. 20 "shots", select one or two and delete the rest.

Your Contax on a tripod is always a good option, whenever it is possible. I spend more time concentrating on the subject and also an increase of sharpness is ensured.

I would never dare to write "analogue versus digital" photography: we have two different media and technologies with their rules and dis-/ advantages and it is up to everybody to choose between them or use both.

But as long as You can use a Contax with a Zeiss-lens You are able to take pictures with much concentration on the motives, based on a system with proofed solid quality.

Greetings with respect to all ContaxG2-photographers,

Frank

Gianluca Pirro , August 10, 2008; 04:13 P.M.

Hello every body..

I'm coming to buy G2 with 28-45-90 e TLA 200 flash for light travel shooting instead of my Mamiya 7 which I use when I can travel with more kilos.

I have Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED for film scanning.

Is meaningless to buy G2 today? Should I buy a digital reflex?

Frank Li , January 22, 2009; 08:16 A.M.

I've just got a set of G2 (21+35+45+90+TLA200). Hv run a few rolls and find some of the prints not in focus. However if you got them sharp, they are simply breathtakingly beautiful ... contrast, colors, I don't think I'll get a dslr anytime soon ... even in 2009.

Paul Tomlins , May 18, 2009; 03:07 A.M.

This is a great camera, but desperate times and all that I'm having to sell my complete kit its on EBay http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Love-Roll-Company_W0QQfrsrcZ1QQfsubZ1031208015QQtZkm it is all in mint condition and I am very sorry to see it go but thats the way it is. Keep shooting Paul T

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Johan K Persson , June 15, 2009; 05:12 P.M.

I have a G2 and a G1, with 28, 45, 90 ad 200 flash. It's complete, for my style of photograping, delivers everytime. For micro, macro I use SLRs. But getting out of that black moment and extra sound is fine. User friendly, fast and accurate. Can't complain on lenses. Finders could be bigger and brighter (They always can....). Correction diopters work fine with my eay. I have used almost everything in over 50 years and this is on top. Fore those who haven't tryed yet, you are in for a thrill and good results either you just shoot or work and bend.

Andre Sainderichin , August 18, 2009; 11:20 A.M.

I'm a Leica fan. I have an M6, an M2, a IIIf, a IIc. And assorted lenses. This is not reasonable, but there you go ... I also have three grandchildren, ranging from 2 to 4 years old. Making great photographs of the kids with the manuel-everything Leica's is of course possible, and I have made some pretty good ones.But getting the focus right on fast moving children, in sometimes difficult light, with a 90mm lens is tough. Presetting focus only goes so far. The hit rate is about 5 to 7 good photos an a 36 exposure roll. So I got a Contax G2 on eBay, with 28mm,35mm and 90mm lenses, and the dedicated flash. Fabulous! Easy, discrete, accurate exposures, good focus (BTW: I don't understand the gripes about difficulties with focusing the 90mm). I think the viewfinder is OK. Not great, but OK. Fit and finish of the camera is A1+, the lenses are fantastic. I still use the Leicas (but the M6 is going), but for static subjects, and when the slow, deliberate process of making a full manual picture actually helps rather than distracts.

Don Durham , October 29, 2009; 01:41 P.M.

Have been wanting a G2 for a while and finally bought a complete set (G2 body, 28, 45 and 90 and a TLA140 and 200 flash) and I'm having more fun than I think I'm supposed to! Great, solid camera. You feel like you are really taking pictures. And the results are terrific. Sharp, clean images with outstanding color rendition. I really like the feel and look of the Leicas but cost is really prohibitive. I bought all of the above for less than $1,000USD in A+ condition, with original boxes. Comparable Leica gear would have been several thousand.

Roger E. Oppenheimer , November 25, 2009; 12:30 P.M.

I guess great cameras never die! I still hope that a company such as Phase One, or Kyocera would build a digital back for the G2. Then, we would truly have the best of both worlds.

Siu Hay Yip , December 24, 2009; 07:29 P.M.

Hi everyone! I'm surprised that no one mentions about the data back version of G2. I own an M6, but everytime when I take pictures on a bloody cold day in Glasgow, I just wish my Leica had a data back, so that I don't have to get my note pad and try to write down the exposure information.

I think the G2 and M6 are both gorgeous cameras. Hopefully I could own a G2 some day. I'm sure it would a great experience.

Ray Price , April 30, 2010; 10:31 A.M.

Is there anything else to add to all the existing comments? Well yes, I think there is even this late into the digital age. I started using G1's some 10 years ago and found them exceptional for travel - and I don't mean day trips to the shops and village fairs. I travel regularly to far off places, often up mountains and in some of the most difficult trekking regions in the world. I need cameras that are easy to use, light and reliable. Oh, and able to produce excellent results. The G1's proved to be these and have paid me dividends in outstanding quality photographs. However, my main lens has always been the 90 and there were times when the auto focus let me down. Eventually I thought it was time to move on and sold the G1's. I brought two new Leica M7's and 28/35/75/90 lenses. I travelled them to similar places as the G1's. They never let me down but I noticed the weight and the fact that my manual focusing sometimes let me down. I also struggled many times to change the film with mittens on. In the end I couldn't take looking through the view finder at a little square that represented the best image I could get with a 90mm lens and all the other lines in the finder. I sold the Leicas after a year and brought two G2's and, once again, 35/45/90mm lenses. I have never looked back. Yes, there are some very rare occasions when the 90+G2 don't get it quite right but I can live with these. I now scan my film and work from a lightroom. I cannot see the difference between G2 and Leica outputs - all the tests and lines per inch mean nothing to compared prints - but there is a big difference between the two systems and I know which one I prefer. If you travel and want to go light but have excellent results forget the DSLR, Leica and every other 35mm camera and load up with these little gems.

jerry harwood , June 19, 2010; 05:59 A.M.

I have been using leicas for the last 50 or so years; I did try the digital versions, but was not impressed, either with the reliability, or the quality control aspects.

Then I picked up a mint Contax G1 with a 21mm lens and finder. To say i was amazed is an understatement; Having never used a G1 before, I was a bit concerned that i may have bought a pup ! But, in a word- fantastic. The images were out of this world, the camera was superb to use, simple to load, and I could go on. Needless to say, I have a G2 as well now, plus a 28mm and a 45 !

Ted Thayer , June 24, 2010; 10:07 A.M.

I bought two sets of the G2's when they first came out.  I started with the black set (G2, TLA-200 and 28, 45 and 90) and when it was difficult to get additional lenses and bodies in black, I bought the chrome ones.    Ended up with 3 - G2s, 2 - TLA-200s and 16, 21, 28, 35, 45 and 90mm lenses.  The best cameras I ever used!  Small, spectacular lenses, dependable autofocus and autoexposure.  Then film got too expensive and my income crashed with the economy.

 

Now, I'm on to DSLR (D90) and am selling the G2s.  Rangefinder forum classifieds.

mark barnes , December 10, 2010; 02:06 P.M.

For the price of a used M6 body I can buy a G2, the 45mm lens, the 28 mm lens, and about 100 rolls of film. Hmmm.

Damon Fernandes , January 12, 2011; 12:13 P.M.

It's not loud at all. It's actually quite quiet!

Emily Cheung , January 27, 2011; 07:45 P.M.

Does anyone have a vendor that they'd recommend for purchasing a Contax G2?

Victor Prieto , August 04, 2011; 02:31 P.M.

I have used this camera for the past 3 years and it's a beast! It has made most of my body of work and even if I plan to get a leica, I will keep this one because you can't do certain things with a leica as with this one. 

Im actually really sad now because I dropped it in water and I don't know what to do. Does anybody have some advice? it wasn't submerged completely but water did get in from the bottom of the camera. 

Victor Prieto , August 04, 2011; 02:56 P.M.

  I have used this camera for the last 3 years and i works perfectly fine, I recently became sad because I dropped it in the water and i don't know what to do. Any advice?

Don Bright , September 22, 2011; 01:22 A.M.

I have the Contax G2 camera in black. The 28, 45, 90mm lenses. I love this camera. You can wear this camera. It is intuitive. The ergonomics of the dials and buttons are very well thought out. Build quality is very sophisticated. Missing the dof scales on the lens barrel can be overcome by being mindful of foreground, and using the focus reticle in the viewfinder, and focus lock on the back found by your thumb. Adopting hyper-focal distance focusing, is achievable with the G2. Street work, even a Wedding or two, is when I discovered that a camera can make one look good as a Photographer. I recently tried a roll of Provia 400X in subdued light, and continue to be blown away by the images. Got to agree on the focus noise issue. I don't like it, but its not a deal breaker for me, and its not that the subject can hear it. They can't. Its just that our ears are right next to the camera. Great camera. I'm still amazed that this camera has been discontinued. Its just crazy that this formula hasn't been re-embraced, or improvised on. Or am I missing something here? Hello?

I don't know why the 90mm lens takes so much flack? I have results from this lens that are spot on. Its everything it was intended to be. As are the 28, and 45mm. These Carl Zeiss lenses are just beautiful. Light, razor sharp, good contrast. With color, I place a B+W 81a multicoated filter over the lens. A few dollars more, but the multicoated is the way. The 81a tweaks Velvia right in line. Bottom line is, the G2 frees one up to be expressive in the art. Who needs obstacles? The panel of people that came up with the G2 are obviously Photographers. 

Giacomo Ardesi , December 20, 2012; 05:12 P.M.

Just came home with my well worn and battered used Contax G2 + 45/2 in black, bought for 300 euros from a well known dealer in central Milan...Got a Tri-X roll in it and started snapping around. The touch and feel are AMAZING by now, looking forward to see the results!

John Perry , March 12, 2013; 09:17 A.M.

I would like some help or reassurance. I cannot say if my g2 is my favorite camera but it is certainly the one I enjoy using the most. Today I did something stupid I used an air brush through the back of the camera. Something clicked and it tried to grab the brush. Now every time i try to press  the shutter there is a horrible grinding sound?

 

John

Don Bright , April 26, 2014; 05:32 P.M.

Well here we are in April 2014, and after 16 years of use with my G2 I'm sending it off to, 'ToCad America' to get it fixed. The viewfinder somehow is not responding to lenses attached, and they will look it over, test it, and bring it back to condition. In my opinion regardless of the copy cat camera's that we see along the way, the G2 is an icon camera that at the time, and today can produce images that rival the camera twice it's cost. I think the $173.60 for repair will do justice to my photographic endeavors with the G2.


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