Contax G1 Rangefinders

Contax G1 Rangefinders 

DESCRIPTION

An interchangeable lens, AF rangefinder camera establishes a new product class and combines the flexibility of an SLR camera with the portability and ease of use of a compact camera. The lenses are from Carl Zeiss and their performance is naturally superb. A zooming viewfinder provides an appropriate view for the installed lens.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 62  
[Mar 04, 2017]
John Narsuitus
Professional

Strength:

Small size
Titanium body
Available in two versions: white label and green label (I have one of each)
Auto exposure, auto focus, auto film load, auto film advance, and auto rewind features
Built-in eyepiece diopter
High quality Zeiss lenses (I have 28/45/90)
28/45/90 lens kit is very useful
28/45/90 lenses all use the same 46mm filter size
28/45/90 lenses use the same 46mm filter as 14mm & 20mm Panasonic lenses used on my Olympus E-p1 digital
28/45/90 lenses have aperture ring with full click stops (my personal favorite)
Lenses focus closer than my Leica M6 lenses
Built-in corrective eyepiece for viewfinder
Relatively low price for high quality equipment
Accurate through-the-lens light metering
Aperture Priority Automatic Exposure Control
Manual Exposure Control
Automatic Bracket Exposure Control
Change bracket exposure order to over/standard/under from standard/over/under
Multiple exposure feature
Prefer the G1 hinged back to the M6 removable back
G1 hinged back can be removed if desired
Built-in film winder automatically cocks shutter and winds film (single shot mode)
Built-in motor drive shoots 1.6 shots per second (continuous shot mode)
Built-in auto rewind
Change rewind to leave leader out of cassette from rewind leader into cassette
Viewfinder automatically changes angle-of-view to match the lens mounted
Viewfinder automatically corrects parallax error
Flash syncs via hot shoe or PC port
Flash syncs at 1/100 second and longer (exceeds my 1/60th sec. and longer standard)
Small flash unit (TLA-140) needs only one battery (CR123)
Through-the-lens flash metering and auto flash exposure are available with TLA-140
Typical rangefinder advantages over SLR such as no mirror slap, quieter operations, and no subject blackout in viewfinder at time photo is taken
Equipment does not attract thieves and muggers
Complete 20-year kit packaged in beautiful wooden box
The titanium Contax G1 body with the Zeiss 3-lens kit cost less than one Leica M6 titanium body with no lens

Weakness:

Small body size and auto features make some people think it is a point & shoot
No black body G1
No manual focus ring on lens (my biggest con)
Difficult manual focus performed using rotating dial on top of camera
Slow auto focus
No depth-of-field scale on lenses
Limited choice of lenses for Contax lens mount (about 7)
Cannot use the 35-70mm f/3.5 to f/5.6 zoom on my G1 white label or green label
Cannot use the 35mm f/2 on my G1 white label
Cannot use the 21mm f/2.8 on my G1 white label
No Shutter Priority Automatic Exposure Control
No Program Automatic Exposure Control
Aperture ring rotates in opposite direction of my Nikon and Fuji lenses
Self-timer is 10-seconds only
No longer produced or supported by manufacturer
Battery dependent (uses two CR2 batteries)
Not as quiet as Leica M6 rangefinder (important con for me because I want to use it for stage work)
Viewfinder is not 100% accurate
Prefer a 21/35/85 lens kit
If Zeiss Contax G lenses are used on mirrorless cameras, an adapter that can provide a focusing feature must be used
Small flash unit (TLA-140) uses CR123 battery
Second shutter sync not available on TLA-140 flash unit
Typical rangefinder limitations such as not as good as SLR for macro, close-ups, extreme wide, or extreme telephoto

I really did not need this camera. However, the price of film cameras had dropped so dramatically that I could not resist buying this high quality system for such a low price. I was able to buy two G1 bodies with 28, 45, and 90mm Zeiss lenses, and a TLA-140 flash unit for less than one Leica M6 body with no lens.

The 28, 45, 90mm lenses that came with my G1 were very similar to the 28, 50, and 105mm Takumar lenses that I used with my Pentax Spotmatic SLR.

The angle-of-view of my 28, 45, and 90mm Zeiss lenses on my Contax G1 are almost identical to the angle-of-view of my 14, 20, and 45mm micro 4/3 lenses on my Olympus E-p1 digital.

My Contax G1 and my Leica M6 are high quality cameras with great lenses. However, I prefer the way the G1 view finder handles different focal length lenses. The angle-of-view through the G1 viewfinder changes each time the lens focal length changes. The angle-of-view though the M6 viewfinder does not change when the lens focal length changes. Instead, frame lines change.

When I need to shoot general subjects with a 90mm on a film rangefinder, the G1 is my first choice.

The Zeiss 90mm f/2.8 Sonnar for my G1 is smaller, quite a bit lighter in weight, a lot less expensive, and harder to focus manually. For greater detail in subjects such as landscapes, this is the better lens.

The Leitz 90mm f/2 Summicron for my M6 is larger, quite a bit heavier in weight, much more expensive, nicer to handle, and produces excellent bokeh. For flattering portraits, this is the better lens.

When shooting with two film rangefinder bodies, I prefer to use the 90mm on the Contax G1 and the 35mm lens on the Leica M6 because the G1 handles the 90mm much better than the M6.

When I need to shoot film quietly, the M6 is my first choice because the G1 is too noisy.

When I need to shoot with a film rangefinder under good lighting conditions, I prefer to use the auto focus G1 with the 28mm f/2.8, 45mm f/2, and 90mm f/2.8 Zeiss lenses.

When I need to shoot with one film rangefinder under low light conditions, I prefer to use the M6 with 35mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2.

When I need to shoot with an auto focus film rangefinder, I prefer to use the G1 since the M6 is only manual focus.

Before 9/11, this would have been my vacation travel camera. Since 9/11, to avoid the harmful effects airport X-rays have on film, I avoid traveling with film and take digital instead.

Customer Service

none

Similar Products Used:

Argus C3 35mm rangefinder
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III 35mm rangefinder with fixed 40mm f/1.7 lens
Minolta Hi-Matic 9 35mm rangefinder with fixed 45mm f/1.8 lens
Leica M6 35mm rangefinder
Fuji medium format rangefinders
Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLR
Olympus E-p1 digital micro 4/3 mirrorless

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[May 05, 2010]
don farra
Expert

Strength:

Very small and lightweight, easy to use camera with great excellent optics. You can wear this on your neck all day without any trouble. It is a pure and simple camera which allows the photographer enough basic manual overrides to mitigate the common situations that we come across on a daily basis. The camera and lens does not say mug me on the streets for my camera or steal me in seven languages when you travel, like an Leica.

Weakness:

As with any film based rangefinder camera system the optical range is somewhat limited. It will not compare to a 30X mega zoom digital cameras. Nor will it offer a image stabilized sensor or optical stabilized system. It does not shoot at 10 fps or provide predictive autofocus to track fast moving objects. It does not produce HD 1060p movies. Worse part is it uses film, and is all analog, but if you like film that will not matter. Servicing and replacement parts could be hard since the camera is out of production and good camera service centers are getting harder to find. Resell value is no where as high as a Leica system, but then again it has bottomed out and is a steal on ebay these days, expect for the 21mm and 16mm lenses they are still holding their value.

I believe that it is not the camera alone that produces the images but the lenses, and in this particular case the lenses are truly wonderful and a joy to use. The 90mm is great for portraits as well as landscapes, the 45mm is a workhorse and the 28mm a natural for interiors and travel photography. While the G-1 is far from a perfect camera, for the money it represents a solid system and a high value. Try comparing it to a Leica M6 system and you will see what I mean, optically the Zeiss lenses perform just as well IMHO, and the Contax system is a mere fraction of the cost.

Bottom line is it is a real gem and in the hands of a photographer (who does not have money to burn) can capture the once in a life time expressions of a child, smile of young woman, temples in Japan, people on the streets of San Francisco, wind swept plans of the midwest, to perfect sunsets in Hawaii.

Customer Service

None needed

Similar Products Used:

Leica M6, Minolta rangefinder, Fujica GSW690, Fujica GW690 III, and various digital rangefinders.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Apr 05, 2009]
cameratos
Intermediate

Strength:

the lens,the lens the lens and ergonomics

Weakness:

none that I can think of

I got this camera 1 month ago.I heard so much about thru forums and so I decided to take a hand on it when I saw an add in the internet.I have the M2.M3 and the Leicaflex SL and a whole range of Nikons collected all these years plus medium format leike the Hasselblad and the Kiev.

Though most of my AF cameras were from Nikon series like the F4 and the aperture pririty were the F3 and the FA;all my gear were basically mechanica.

The first impression of the the G1 was it was small light but felt solid.I must admit that I tried to buy this same camera camera a month before I bought it and the first time I looked at it and held it and looked looked at the viewfinder I was sort of disappointed.Told the seller I was going to think about it..Then I started reading on it and saw the sharpness of the images made by others in the G1 websites.It had all sort of issues but the fact remains that these photos were taken from this camera. So luckily the guy hasnt sold it and I bought for $150 in mint condition.

I immidiately shot 3 rolls from it and I was to totally disappointed at first.I knew I had to adjust my mindset regarding shooting with this kind of camera.The contrast were extreme and it was not reading the situation with the meter well.The learning curve would have to be more rolls and it had definitely something to do with light compensation,and the kind of film to be used including the development of the negatives for various brands.So the forums helped shorten that curve.

Now I will first use the G1 with 28mm lens before I take my Leica M series from my bag.The pictures are outstanding, sharp and it had an element that only this camera can take which is vital to me.

I have since got another G1 with 90mm and am looking further for the 45mm lens and aim to get the G2 in not so distant future.

Ironically with this fully electronic camera it teaches you more photography than the manual mechanical.I dont know why but it kept me aware of all the variables.
lastly I like the spirit of the G1.It communicates with the holder.

Similar Products Used:

m2,.m3,hasselblad 500cm, leicaflexSL Nikon f3,fa,f4,nikkormat ftn

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 26, 2007]
Xpan
Intermediate

Strength:

Ergonomics – in particular AE lock, AE compensation and general body construction
Eye relief for glass wearers
Lens
Price level (now)
Standard threaded cable release
Feeling good factor using it
Do not need user manual to use it

Weakness:

AF system needs a probation officer around
Out of production – servicing locally may be difficult
Paint easily wears off (but nothing like on the Xpan)

I recently acquired this camera second hand from a shop with a one year warranty for 333€ including the 45mm lens. Alternatively a G2 + lens could was 467€. I chose the former due to its smaller size (mostly) and the price as well as the way to focus manually although the G2 was tempting too (it is still in the shop window…). Being an old hand with AF (my first SLR was the Minolta 7000 back in 1987) I did not expect any problems using it but the first film contained two out of focus shots. The trick is of course to thoroughly check the distance scale in the viewfinder before tripping the shutter. The AF system is not bad, it is fairly fast and usually precise with the above mentioned caveat. The metering system is surprisingly good and it is very easy to dial in any correction to exposure. The film loading is easy and fast and it uses a standard threaded cable release which can be had for next to nothing. The shutter button is very nice in use as is the on/of button. The AE lock mechanism takes a little getting used to but is actually quite smart since it frees the fingers fully after being engaged. All in all the ergonomics are very nice.

As a bespectacled guy I was positively surprised by the eye relief in the viewfinder. It is as least on par with most DSLRs these days. What is above par is of course the lens. I never thought I would shoot with anything better than my Xpan lenses but this surpasses anything I have ever tried. Due to the rangefinderish design incredible long shutter times can be used handheld. The G1s and to some extent G2s are available at various auctions for even less than I paid so if you feel to indulge yourself a little go ahead!

Customer Service

Not used - does not really exist any longer

Similar Products Used:

Hasselblad Xpan

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 29, 2006]
xinxol
Professional

Strength:

In genearal I like all. Great camera, while things work well

Weakness:

Viewfinder and manual focus.

After 11 years working as a pro photographer I decided to buy my first rangefinder camera. I have to say that I just have it for 1 day and I only shot 1 slide film roll to test it a bit in street photography, but I can see what I like best and what not that much.

I have to recognize that I wold have liked a Leica M, basically because it is more mechanical and as such, easier to repair and so.

The best thing I see from this camera is its titanium body, it feels strong in the hands, it is also has other better features compared to the Leica M series, like a higher shutter and syncro speed, something that wold be quite apriciated. The autofocus is not bad at all, I've heard many coments of slowliness of the focus or problems with focusing with the 90mm. lens, but I can't agree that much with neather both of these subjecs, at least not for the moment. But the focusing system of the G1 also has some conts. I don't like not having something that can indicate me in the viewfinder if the subject I am making photos of is realy in focus or not. On the other hand, though I understand that they decided to put the manual focusing ring in the comands of the camera for ease of use, I sincierly believe I wold prefere a focusing ring on the lenses (I hope the motor of the focus doesen't burn down some day, otherwise it is imposible to make a photo unless you can get to establish it at hiperfocal distance. )
With the viewfinder I also have some good and some bad things to say about it. I like that the viewfinder corrects the paralax problems and so, but it isn't near as clear as the Leica M ones, and as the same may happen with the focusing motor, what wold happen fi the motor of the viewfinder wold burn.

I see this camera as a highly modern car, it has many advantages while everything works fine thanks to electronics. But what happens when things start to work wrong? I wold have prefered a bit more manual camera, for automatic ones I already have enough with all my Nikon gear. (personal opinion)

Customer Service

haven't used

Similar Products Used:

none

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 15, 2005]
Johnhardy
Intermediate

Strength:

Optical performance, size ruggedness and reliability.

Weakness:

Poor manual focusing.

I bought this camera after much consultation with this site, based upon other readers comments over the years, and advice from Classic Camera Exchange, who were most helpful. I had considered buying a 35mm lens for my Nikon, but had read that the AFD version though optically good was frought with mechanical problems. As my Nikon F50 24-120 combination had been stolen, and not having the space to always carry my F5 and prime lenses, I elected to buy a second hand G1 to access Contax lenses. In the last two years, I have taken the camera with me in my webbing to many places including operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The camera has delivered very very good results with both B&W and colour reversal film relying solely on the cameras built in meter. The camera is unobtusive in most situations, the user being more conscious of the noise of operation than the subject. Though battery dependent, the camera does not appear to run through batteries quickly, nor does it seem vulnerable to extremes of temperature or dusty/sandy conditions. To my mind the price makes this camera very attractive, were I to have been buying new, I would probably erred towards an X-pan (which is a superlative piece of engineering and handles butifully) or an M7 or New Zeiss Ikon If a reader has one of these please post a review), as my one bug-bear with the G1 is the lack of sensible manual focusing.

Customer Service

Contax customer service is, thankfully, untested, however customer support from Classic Camera Exchange was very good with an enthusiastic and helful owner.

Similar Products Used:

Whilst I have played with various rangefinders in shops, my only real experience with rangefinder ownership was in the 1970's with a Russian Fed 3, my first camera and a wonderful introduction to the joy os photogrphy.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
[Nov 06, 2004]
richardc
Expert

Strength:

Light compact, motor wind (if you need it) I thought autofocus - focus lock recompose was quick although other people criticize it. well made (for its price but not a scratch on my leica M ... but then price)

Weakness:

viewfinder is awful - improved for G2 but not as good as xpan Mam 7 or Leica M If it broke on assignment you would be stooffed ..

When brought out this camera revolutionised the rangefinder market again and introduced people photographers back to what is arguably the best way to shoot. I loved this camera but since moved on to Xpan (panoramics more marketable for picture library) then on to Mamiya 7 (bigger negs also picture library work) then realised I missed a lot what this camera offered. This camera with 45mm (a fantastic lens) used to be my favourite shooting zone. I thought there were weaknesses but SH this would be fantastic bridge for someone going from auto route back to rangefinders.

Customer Service

never used

Similar Products Used:

squillions of SLRs rangefinders - XPAN, Mamiya 7 now Leica M6

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 30, 2003]
Chris
Intermediate

Strength:

Versatility. The G1 can do just about anything. The Zeiss T* lens is great for the money.

Weakness:

Limited lens options. It's also too nice to be taken out in the field and beat up.

I bought a Contax T2 in 1994 and absolutely fell in love with it--taking it with me on trips all over the world. I love its look, feel, and overall functionality. With the G series the experience is repeated once again. Here is a camera that is simply a pleasure to use and own. With the plethora of digital cameras available, there is less of a market for a high-end point and shoot 35mm cameras, even if in the G1's case they are highly versatile rangefinders. They are now available on the used market for a fraction of what they cost new.

Customer Service

Contax has the best CS anywhere. Those guys are awesome.

Similar Products Used:

Nikon F3, FM2, FE2, F801s, Contax T2, Sony DSCV1 digital

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
[Dec 05, 2003]
JCdeR
Intermediate

Strength:

Touch, feel, quality, Lenses, Weight/format, easyness of use

Weakness:

Max. 90mm but I can live with that

Picking up my Mamiya C33 for the first time gave me a terrific thrill, the weight, the sturdyness, the touch and feel of the thing. With the G1 I have the same sensation, it all feel so good, so well designed a really marvelous piece of engineering. I love to fondle my G1... much to my wife disatisfaction ! Well appart from that it really makes tremendous pictures, I find it very easy to use, the rangefinder and me get along very well, the autofocus works great for me, I like the handling, the setup... in short there is nothing I would like changed on this camera I simply love it (and it doesn;t get fatter, It doesn;t talk back .... cost quite a bit too though but worth every penny I would say) I can write reviews about the pic's I've taken, how I've blown them up, how the G1 technically handles..... but it's enough to say that if ever I get another child I will definately call it G1 :-) I have the 45mm and the 90mm...

Customer Service

Haven' had to make use of it yet

Similar Products Used:

Nikon F-801s, Mamiya C33, Nikon F-3

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Oct 29, 2003]
Kurt Monsen
Casual

Strength:

Three things; Quality, quality and quality.

Weakness:

Only a few dedicated lenses to choose from.

It should go 9 years before I finally got my G1. I collected brochures of it and looked at it in the photostore many times, but had to let it go. Now, I have this beauty in my hands, and it is a work of art if I might say so. All the handles are easy to work with, though it should have been a bit more resistance when turning the knobs as they sometimes seem to get turned by them selves when using the camera (Clumsy fingers?) Anyway, it workes smoothly in every weather condition, and it is very, very discrete. People that does not know about cameras, think you'll just an average tourist (Because of the size) and behave according to this. It is easy to pack away and easy to be put into quickly use. The pictures are razorsharp with a quality as expected from Carl Zeiss. I can reccomend the G1 to everyone who want to spend some extra dollars to get the best.

Similar Products Used:

Nikon EM, FM, FM2, F3, F4, Contax 167 mt

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 62  

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