Contax G2 Rangefinders

Contax G2 Rangefinders 

DESCRIPTION

The G2 raises the standard for rangefinder cameras with a four frame per second integrated motor drive, top shutter speeds of up to 1/6000 second, X sync at 1/200 second and adds an extended baseline autofocus system.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 141  
[Dec 22, 2018]
Trankilstef


Strength:

- The design - Ergonomics are the best I've found for such a modern 35mm camera - Lenses are incredible - A lot of features (double exposure, bracketing, back button AF, et.) - Good ration size/weight - Build quality is reassuring (Titanium body), feels substantial in hand - 1/6000 shutter speed in aperture priority and 1/4000 in manual. Possible to shoot wide open most of the time - Viewfinder compensates for the parallax and adapts the field of view according to the lens attached to the body

Weakness:

- Viewfinder is a little bit tiny - Can have some electronics reliability problem - Some wheels can rotate freely after some time - Hard to repair (found a guy en England that do it well and not for a big amount of cash)

Price Paid:
1200 €
Purchased:
Used  
OVERALL
RATING
5
[Aug 24, 2010]
azemkoleci
Expert

Strength:

Top quality, professional built.

Weakness:

None.

Contax G2, is probably the best 35mm rangefinder ever made.
What's makes it so special is that the only one AF real rangefinder camera(with G1) together with AF rangefinder inrechangeable lenses.
Also it has plenty features and controls, titanium body, famous Contax with more famous Zeiss lenses, and to put ice in a cake you can attach the intellegent GD-2 databack for complete perfection.
Simply the best (when use with 35-70mm zoom lens, which I prefer).
It is been built for pro, feel and perform like a pro, and the only sad but tru thing about it is that use fil which unfortunately is in decline.

Customer Service

Not needed.

Similar Products Used:

Bessa R2m, Canon P, Rollei QZ 35T, etc.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jul 19, 2010]
bobby novatron
Intermediate

Strength:

Did I mention the lenses? There's a reason why a strong aftermarket still exists for these lenses. The imaging quality of the Biogon series is really amazing. There is something about the "feel" of these lenses -- I can tell right away by looking at a photo that it was taken with a Zeiss Biogon. Extremely sharp, virtually no vignetting or distortion, and a subtle, pleasant background blur (bokeh).

The G2 body is a major improvement over the G1 (I have owned both). The AF system on the G2 is far superior to the G1. Autofocus is screamingly fast on the G2.

Parallax correction on the G2 is wonderful. No framelines like on the Leica M series.

Motor drive & film loading on the G2 make it a pleasure to use. Extremely fast film transport, plus auto rewind.

Body materials and construction on the G2 & Biogon lenses is 1st-rate. You're virtually getting Leica quality for pennies on the dollar, now that Contax has long closed its doors.

Despite rumours on the internet, you can still get these repaired. Parts and service is not an issue.

Weakness:

Yes, the viewfinder is a little dark, but in most situations it's not a problem.

Mounting the lenses on to the body is very fiddly. Like other reviewers have stated, it's not nearly as simple as the twist-click of using a Canon lens. It takes some concentration to ensure that your lens is mounting properly. Also, I have found that different lenses mount easier than others. I do no know why this should be so.

The AF and metering is not multi-matrix, like modern digital SLR's. You have to be aware that the Contax AF system is more of a simple center-weighted idea. It is still possible to miss a crucial shot because the AF thinks you're aiming somewhere else.

The motor drive is a little noisy, but only in the immediate vicinity of the camera body. A couple feet away, and the noise is not a problem. It only sounds loud to G2 users because they're holding it next to their heads! On a busy street, the sound of the motor would be imperceptible.

One more weakness: manual focus. This has been stated on numerous places on the web, but yes -- it's true. The engineers at Kyocera really blew it on the manual focus. They might as well have not even put this option on the G2 at all. You have no idea whether your manual focus is actually going to work or not. Using the G2 as a "scale focus" camera -- or using "hyperfocal" settings -- is really iffy because there are no scale markings on the lenses whatsoever. If they had managed to put #1 a coincident RF patch in manual mode and #2 hyperfocal values on the lenses, then this would not be a problem. But then it would have been a different camera, no?

And finally -- the AF selector. I use my thumb on the rear of the body to activate the AF on the very handy multi-function button. Unfortunately, this button has a ring-selector to choose between different AF modes (continuous, single, and manual) and I have found that my thumb has caused the ring to move and put me in an unwanted mode, usually "manual", which is especially useless. Another flaw, but a minor one.

So much has been written about the G1 / G2 from Contax over the past ten years. At the outset, it doesn't seem like there's very much that I can add. Maybe it would help if I clarified why I think this particular 35mm film camera is still relevant in 2010 and beyond.

The Contax G2 represents (arguably) the pinnacle of rangefinder camera technology. As a design piece, it's worth collecting just for that reason. The build quality, materials, fit & finish are all impeccable. It feels incredibly solid in your hand.

As a photographic tool, the G2 is really in a rarefied class that includes Leica and not much else. This is the kind of camera that makes offerings from Panasonic, Sony, and other Japanese brands seem plasticky and gimmicky.

At the same time -- one has to remember that the G2 is "stuck in the past". You're dealing with a film camera. FILM. It's a bit of an archaic idea in this hyper-fast, super-networked facebooked uploaded instantaneous-everything world we live in.

So why bother? Why get a G2, when you can get a Lumix? Or an Olympus EP-1? You can get cool lens adapters and use the bloody Contax Biogon lenses (yes, all of them) on your snazzy 2010 digital camera. Heck, the Carl Zeiss Biogon lenses are so cheap on eBay, you could stock up on lenses and not bother with the G2 body at all.

Well, the reason you might want to get a G2 system is this: the "aesthetic" of film. Film has "something" that digital doesn't have. Sure, digital wins on many fronts: convenience, color rendition, sophisticated metering, etc. ... but film sometimes can just look "better". But that's highly subjective, and only for you to decide.

The G2 represents one of the the final, grandiose products of the Contax name, as well as the fatal hubris of Kyocera and the decline and destruction of Kyocera's photographic division. While Canon and Nikon got their act together and successfully transitioned to digital while increasing market share, the engineers at Kyocera blew it -- big time. By the time they got around to making a digital camera (the Contax N & the Contax TVS) it was too little, too late.

If you're interested in photography, and especially keen to explore the world of 35mm film, I highly recommend getting one of these cameras. The body is a masterpiece of engineering, and the lenses are legendary and extraordinary.

Customer Service

None. Unless you invent a time machine and go back to 2002. However, there are service depots in Japan and USA that will still repair these cameras (as of 2010).

Similar Products Used:

Bessa R3A, Leica M6.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 10, 2010]
kingkong
Professional

Strength:

The metal camera body is very solid-built, but the lenses are quite small and handy. All the settings and switches can be adjusted fast and easy on the camera body. The AF operation is fast and the inter-changable of lenses of different focal length produces excellent pictures.

Weakness:

CR2 battery is a must for the operation of the camera. A not-quiet shutter noise will be heard in taking pictures at silent place, but not at the busy street in city.
An impossible dream of the coming of digital body for G lenses, indeed!

I still want to keep my Contax G2 with 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses although I have used DSLRs most in recent years. The only strong reason for me is the user-friendly AF operation of it and the superb optical quality of Zeiss G lenses, although I also have Leica M body and lenses. The big enlargement of photo in top quality is assured by means of this amazing range-finder camera.

Customer Service

None

Similar Products Used:

Leica M6TTL and M lenses.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jun 10, 2009]
Ray A nieves
Intermediate

Strength:

Smple in function, sophisticated in performance
Outstanding Zeiss optics
Titanium clad body
solid, reliable electronics
small, easy to carry system: great

Weakness:

Limited lens range: 16-90mm
Autofocus a bit dicey with the 90mm at times
Contax out of business/no support
No real manual focus
Non-focusing viewfinder

I still prefer film and haved and used many cameras in 30 years, including a Leica M system. I have put away or sold off most of what I had, but after many brands (Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Olympus, Leica) the one brand I have decided to keep using is Contax (G and SLR systems). When I look at prints and slides taken with all these cameras, I am always drawn to the results of Zeiss lenses; rich, sharp and lush is how I see them. I have a G1 and G2 and just love the simplicity and sophistication of the Porshe design. Many (cough*Leica*cough) have put down the G series as a richman's point 'n shoot, but once you understand the way the autofocus and simple metering works, you can get outstanding results. You can use program modes to set a particular function, or just leave it basic to take simple, good shots. So good, that my wife, who doesn't care for cameras, borrowed my G2 to tke prom shots of her daughter. The results so impressed her, we had many 8x10s made that were just as good if not better that the 8x10s done by the pro working the prom who used a $5,000 D-SLR. Now, she takes the G2 and leaves me the G1 when we go on a trip. Just love the G!!!

Customer Service

Never used, but no longer in existance

Similar Products Used:

Leica M6, Minolta CLE, Contax 137AD, RX

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 03, 2006]
Orio Menoni
Expert

Strength:

- the lenses are stellar performers

- the camera's body is sturdy and looks as elegant as a camera can get - you will look super with it in any occasion

- you can carry a whole system of camera and lenses within the space of a very small bag. Portability at it's very top.

- did I mention already that the lenses are stellar performers?

- the autofocus is accurate to total perfection

- you can shoot with this camera perfect hand-held photos at very slow times, where your SLR will fail. In practical terms, it means that you can use a 100ASA film in situations where your SLR would use a 200ASA film or even more

- before I leave this section, I would like to point out that the lenses are stellar performers (ok, I stop it now)

Weakness:

- Noisy, way too noisy to be useable in sensible situations (churches, theaters, or other closed places where people can notice you are taking photographs). If show photography or "stolen" snapshots are your interest, you should look for a different camera

- I really could use a larger viewfinder

- automatic light metering tends to overexpose a bit

- we need a digital "G" that is compatible with the G1/G2 lenses!

This camera is my happiest mistake. I didn't even know it existed. I saw sample photos obtained with the Sonnar 2.8/90, I found a like-new exemplar on Ebay and bought the lens. I thought it was a SLR lens. When I found out I couldn't use it with SLR, my first thought was of selling it. But then the lens felt so great and looked so great, that I thought "why don't I buy the camera instead".
So I did. I found a new one (must have been one of the very last new ones remained) and I got it for an excellent price. Also I got a Planar 2/45 and a Biogon 2.8/28, and then I got back to film photography after 6 years of digital photography only.

The first film roll I loaded was a B/W. I was somehow in the fashion-state of mind that rangefinders are really for B/W. What a big mistake!! It's with color that Zeiss lenses really shine. The B/W roll went OK, but nothing I couldn't have really done with my Nikon FM2. it was only with the second film roll that my attitude and opinion changed. I loaded an Agfa Optima II Professional color film. When I got the prints frmo the laboratory, my jaw dropped on the floor. I never saw such gorgeous colors and razor sharp details in any of the color film I made in over 20 years.The amount of detail was so astounding, that by looking at the 12x18 cm prints you really have the strong feel that there is too much detail packed in, that it really cries to get out and expand somehow. So I made a few 50x75 cm prints. They are hanged on my walls and friend photographers who come to visit always think that I shoot them with a medium format camera. One of them just didn't want to accept that I shoot those with a 35mm rangefinder.

What to say about the tool itself. It feels and is incredibly sturdy. Somebody wrote it feels like a Rolls Royce - it's true, people like me, used to 35mm SLR, can't believe the feel of a full metal body camera such as this one.
The autofocus works perfectly for me. I only missed one picture so far, a very difficult subject shoot with the 2.8/90, but I'm 100% sure it was my fault not controlling the distance prior to shooting.
Focus-locking works perfectly. So does manual focus, although you have to get used to it (it's not the most intuitive I have ever used, so to say).
One bad thing I have to report it's the autofocus noise: very disturbing.
I thought rangefinders were supposed to be quieter than SLRs. Well G2 isn't - my Canon's USM motors are way more silent - almost inaudible. On the contrary, there is no way I could use my G2 in a church or to take unnoticed snapshots: the autofocus noise will always drag the subject's attention to your camera.

The viewfinder isn't the best in the world, and not even the second-best, but it's useable. Always have a silk cloth handy though: due to position and to small size of camera, the viewfinder's front window always gets finger-soiled within minutes of use (at least for me).

The film loading is a breeze and the transport excellent, you can feel the professional quality there.

Exposure metering... hm, so far I can't say I'm 100% happy with it. Sure, I never missed a shoot because of it. Still, I wish it would not overexpose. But it does. I have not made comparative tests yet, but my rough evaluation is that G2's meter does overexpose of about half stop in most shooting situations. While this is perfectly acceptable (and sometimes desireable) with negative film, it isn't really good for slides. In fact, when I do slides, I always use manual exposure and meter with my external Gossen MultiPro meter, which never missed a photo for me so far.

I have not used the bracketing, multiple exposures, continuous shooting functions yet, but I'm glad they're here. Neither I did test the flash, because I don't have it yet (will get one sooner or later).

The lenses, overall:
I have 3 lenses and all of them exhibit the same qualities: astounding, amazing colors, second to none and I repeat NONE (sorry, Leicas!). Virtual absence of geometric distortion, even in the 28mm. Very good definition even when used at full aperture (but very best is obtained from f/4 to f/5.6).

The lenses, specifically:

28mm: I still have to test it, I just bought it. I am very curious about it, as I read it's a totally different desing than the Distagon 2.8/28 I have for SLR

45mm: this is a STELLAR performer. Really, i can't think that a 35mm lens could exist, that could do better than this. I just don't think it's possible. It's my favorite lens of all (including SLR lenses)

90mm: using it as an extemporary macro lens (holding it in front of my digital SRL while shooting), it gave me stellar results. Mounted on the G2, it gets back to a normal lens status. Where normal, for a Zeiss lens, still means 'outstanding'

As I wrote at the beginning of this review, I got this camera by mistake. But I won't make the mistake of selling it: I will keep it and use it until I die. The combo of G2+Zeiss lenses provides me with the best photographic output i ever got in over 20 years of photography.

Customer Service

Never needed servicing so far (knocking wood)

Similar Products Used:

none

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 07, 2006]
pastor1045
Expert

Strength:

Lenses Build Feel

Weakness:

Viewfinder Flash Auto focus noise

I was excited about this camera. I wanted a light system that I could take anywere and I had read many good things about the lenses and build quality. I sold by Nikon N90s and most of my lenses to buy the G2 with 45mm and flash. I also purchased the 28mm and the 90mm and got a $700 rebate from Contax. Great deal! I wanted to love this camera— I really did. And there was much to love— superb lenses. fantistic build, great feel. But after using it for about two years, there were two things I could not get used to. The viewfinder was terrible— small and dark. I expected more for a camera the size of the G2— perhaps the view similar to a Leica M. It was more like the view that a point and shoot would have. The second problem was the flash. I was used to the wonerful fill flash Nikon produces, so the limits of the TLA 200 were a disappointment, I endied up selling everything for a good price on ebay. I bought a Nikon F100 a 20-35mm f2.8 and a 180mm f2,8 and an SB-28 flash to go with the 35-70mm f2.8 and 300mm f4 lenses that I, thankfullly, did not sell. You know what, I cannot tell much difference in the quality I get from these lenses when I compare them to photos I took with the G2. For me, the view through the F100 makes a big difference in my ability to capture the shot when I am photographing people. Also, I missed the long telephoto shots. I considering just keeping the G2 and 45mm lens for a walking around camera, but it really isn't small enough for that. I bought a used Leica CM on ebay. It has a super lens, fantastic build, the fill flash is perfect. The viewfinder isn't any better than the G2 (What are camera designers thinking?), but I can handle that in a camera this small. I'm giving the G2 four stars because there is much to commend it, and I would have kept it if not for the drawbacks I mentioned. I see that this camera has been discotinued, which is too bad. I saw that coming and that was another reason I decided to sell it.

Customer Service

Probably not very good not that the G2 has been discontinued

Similar Products Used:

Rollei 35s Rollei AFM 35 (Great camera, buy one if you find it. I will always keep this one!) Canon G17 III Minolta Hi Matic 7s Leica CM

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
[Apr 14, 2005]
alanadad
Intermediate

Strength:

LENSES, autowind, compact size, value.

Weakness:

I wish it had a true rangefinder manual focus.

I have been using the G2 for over 7 years with incredible results. I have a Mamiya 6MF which I bought in 1994 that produced great results, but now use it very little due to the quality and functionality of the G2. I primarily work in black and white producing landscape photos. I bought the 21mm lens 3 years ago and the clarity and accuracy of this lens is outstanding! All of the lenses are incredible. The autofocus is always spot on and the auto-wind feature makes it extremely convenient. This camera is the best value for the money for the quality it packs. I thought that I would not be able to tell the difference between my Nikon or it would be lower quality than the Mamiya. It supasses both when I print on the enlarger! I can accurately print upto 11" x 14" prints with negligible distortion. I always am truly astounded with the results this small camera can give me.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 12, 2005]
ginedward
Casual

Strength:

provide sharp & detail photo

Weakness:

focusing speed

A good camera while on trip, light & compact But I found around 10% of photo have a line of overexpoure in the pictures, do you guys meet similar problem??

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
[Dec 28, 2004]
Charles Hess
Expert

Strength:

Superb build quality, most features found in top SLRs, lenses that are second to none, slower but accurate focus, and accurate metering.

Weakness:

Small viewfinder, though not a big issue, manual focusing not usable.

After reading Nick's review below, I felt the need to add another review, as I'm sure I've done one previously. I've owned the G2 since its inception, and after going through lots of gear, from film(35mm & MF)to digital and back to film, I've always had the G2 by my side. I've used it extensively on professional shots, knowing the focusing will bwe reliable and quality second to none. The camera has never failed me in focus or in operation and will be with me to the end.

Customer Service

Never needed.

Similar Products Used:

Contax G1, Leica M6

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 141  

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