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Contax G system
Old 09-13-2017   #1
Nick De Marco
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Contax G system

I have only just (finally) got into this system - so far I'm still as excited as when I bought my first Leica.

I recently bought a nice condition G2 with 28, 45 and 90 lenses. And then the other day bought, but have not yet receive, the 21. I think this is the system I shall take (with 3 lenses) on a trip to India next year.

But I don't see half as much discussion about it as other cameras on here - is this the correct sub-forum? Is there anyone out there still in love with it?

Nick
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G2 system
Old 09-13-2017   #2
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G2 system

Hello
I have four G2 +21,28,35,45 and 90mm lenses. It is my go to system. Most of my photographic life I've lusted after a M 3 with 50mm. However after having that camera I have found believe it can never match the G system. I have also a G1 which I use in tandem with my M 3. Contax is a quick street shooter.
Japanese technology is far superior in my estimation.
People say the 35mm is the weakest of the bunch but that's sophistry, it's a great lens. It is possible to use a polarising filter by rotating it and watching the speed decline .
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Old 09-13-2017   #3
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Hey, guys. What are your thoughts on manual zone focusing with this system? In particular with the 35. Is it even possible?

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Manual focusing
Old 09-13-2017   #4
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Manual focusing

It can be done of course but why? When I first got into the system (1990s)l was disappointed with the manual focusing so I phoned up Contax. They told me it really comes into its own when used AF. From that day on I've always used it in auto focus mode.
It's a wonderful 35mm easily equal to the Leica 35mm.
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Old 09-13-2017   #5
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I have a G2 (and back up G1) with the 28, 35, 45, 90mm setup. I bought it to replace a Leica M3 I had sold and while technically superb, I don't enjoy shooting with it as much as I did the Leica. The lenses spend quite a bit of time on my Sony A7 they are all superb, as above the 35mm maybe technically the weakest but its still better than most glass out there. Its a superbly thought out system IMHO and I just don't know why I've never really gelled with mine, I want to like it more than I do. Problem now is, if I go back to Leica I need those lenses in L39 fitment,and that is a horribly expensive thought compared to the Contax lenses I have in hand now!
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Old 09-13-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rangefinderG View Post
It can be done of course but why? When I first got into the system (1990s)l was disappointed with the manual focusing so I phoned up Contax. They told me it really comes into its own when used AF. From that day on I've always used it in auto focus mode.
It's a wonderful 35mm easily equal to the Leica 35mm.
Old habits? Seriously though, zone and hyperfocal focusing with wide lenses are among the great pleasures of using an M. Just wondering if there's an equivalent on the G2 and how it works.

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Old 09-13-2017   #7
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A favorite camera system, very friendly to use with the AF, zoom finder, and powered film handling. I bought into it originally for the legendary 21 Biogon. I have two G2 with 21, 28, 35, 45, 90.
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Old 09-13-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick De Marco View Post
I recently bought a nice condition G2 with 28, 45 and 90 lenses. And then the other day bought, but have not yet receive, the 21. I think this is the system I shall take (with 3 lenses) on a trip to India next year.

But I don't see half as much discussion about it as other cameras on here - is this the correct sub-forum? Is there anyone out there still in love with it?
I am still in love with my two G1 bodies with 21, 28, 45, and 90mm lenses.

Will you use an accessory viewfinder with your 21mm?

Which of your four lenses will you leave at home when you take only three lenses to India next year?


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Old 09-13-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwolf View Post
Old habits? Seriously though, zone and hyperfocal focusing with wide lenses are among the great pleasures of using an M. Just wondering if there's an equivalent on the G2 and how it works.

John
You can set a manual focus distance with the little wheel on the front of the camera, there are no handy DoF scales on the lenses though.
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Old 09-13-2017   #10
Larry Cloetta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwolf View Post
Old habits? Seriously though, zone and hyperfocal focusing with wide lenses are among the great pleasures of using an M. Just wondering if there's an equivalent on the G2 and how it works.

John
It is possible to manual focus a G2, but as someone else said, "why would you want to?" If you haven't used it, that answer might seem like a non-answer, but if you have used one, the 'why would you want to' becomes pretty obvious.

Because there are no DOF markings on the lenses, zone focus, done the way one would do it with an M3, becomes more of a guessing game, and the camera is not ideal for that, I would say.

However, with a G2, you could get exactly the same photographic result by setting aperture at f8, f11, then just aiming the camera at the subject, pressing the button in the middle of the AF/MF selector with your thumb as you frame it, whether you are framing it with the camera against your eye, or surreptitiously down by your side, immediately before pressing the shutter. Harder to describe than to do. It works.

It is a brilliant camera, but it's not designed to work exactly the way an M3 works, which is really the reason it is brilliant. But, different. If you haven't used one it might sound like you'd be missing some aspect of what you are used to in terms of zone focusing, but after a while one gets used to a camera that doesn't 'guesstimate' and just set a smaller aperture, use AF, and get the same shot you'd get with zone focus; in my experience, just as quickly.
Some like it, some prefer doing it the way they have always done it. Which to me seems like continuing to wear a cast on a broken arm even after it has healed because you got comfortable with it.
You'd really have to try it and see for yourself if you liked it.
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G cameras
Old 09-13-2017   #11
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G cameras

Well said Larry! I couldn't agree more. If the end product is a great photo use the camera as really intended.
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Old 09-13-2017   #12
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here's a must read. There's a hyperfocal distance chart also.

http://www.botzilla.com/blog/archives/000378.html
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Old 09-13-2017   #13
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The AF while not blisteringly quick due to the motor drive is still quite nippy and very decisive and accurate in my experience. It is a very effective system for what it set out to achieve i think.
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Old 09-13-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
here's a must read. There's a hyperfocal distance chart also.

http://www.botzilla.com/blog/archives/000378.html
Yes, a must read. The other must read I've come across is: http://www.photowithmonkey.com/drupal/node/83

However, I fess up that I never prined the stickers. While the thought of DOF scale initially seemed appealing, I decided that I was fighting against the way the system was designed to work, so now I just use AF and occasionally use zone focusing with the 28. Unfortunately, I find that teh MF wheel is very easy to move, so I need to double check the zone focusing is still where I had set it to be...therefore defeating the speed and convenience of the technique.
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Old 09-13-2017   #15
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I have a G1 - in fact I have four of them, after buying my first new and paying a kidney for it I bought up big in Japan after 2008 when film cameras crashed and they were going for about A$125.00 each. Why four? Well, two to use, the other two as 'insurance' for when the first two inevitably break down.

The G1s are still available quite cheaply even if prices have gone up. G2s are better, but too expensive for my retirement budget, so I make do with the simpler (and almost as good) G1.

My go to lens is the 28. I also have the 21 (used now and then), the 35 (almost never), the 45 (sadly, ditto) and the 90 (in pristine condition, used maybe 5 times in 19 years).

The AF lever moved wildly on all my cameras and I found I had to stick it down with a very small bit of gaffer tape, which works well. Contax once had a quick repair for this 'flaw' but the cameras had to be sent either to Japan, the USA or Germany so I decided no.

The Zeiss (in fact I believe they are actually made by Cosina) give exquisite definition and colors unlike anything I can get with my Nikons or my Rollei TLRs, which in the latter case is really saying something.

I agree with one of the posters who said the experience is "as good as" shooting with a Leica M. I would add "almost" - I had an M2 and then an M3 in the 1980s and still kick myself for having sold them, one of the (many) terrible decisions I made in the course of my life. Of course I needed the money at the time - isn't that always the way when we part with our otherwise priceless possessions?

Take the time to read the camera manual, it contains much valuable information.

Buy UV filters and lens hoods for your lenses. That will be all you need to make truly outstanding images.

Last edited by ozmoose : 09-13-2017 at 16:11. Reason: My usual minor typing errors (typed before coffee)
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Old 09-13-2017   #16
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I am an avid G2 user, and have owned a G2 system for about 5+ years now.

I have found that the images the camera produces are consistently superb. The camera itself was probably the pinnacle of Japanese camera technology during its heyday -- titanium construction, AF, motor drive, multiple shooting modes, etc.

And the lenses IMHO are equal to most rangefinder lenses that you'd get in the Leica ecosystem. Some might call that heresy but the Contax G 45mm F2 is one of the best lenses I've ever used.

Just for fun, here's my kit:

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Old 09-13-2017   #17
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I have and have been using G system for 13 years now. It's my go-to camera when I'm backpacking. When doing that I limit myself to 2 bodies ( G2 , G1), 21mm (a must in confined spaces, like the forest, the mountains), 35mm, which I like more and more, and 90mm, used only sporadically. I also include flash T-140, electric cable release, couple Polarizers, and a set of spare CR-2 s. The batteries are hard to find in the field if you run out of juice. I love the clarity of imags I get with Carl Zeiss lenses, and even though the cameras can be finicky at times,I put up with it...
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Old 09-13-2017   #18
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The only thing I really don't like about the G series is the eye position required of the viewfinder. I wish it were a larger exit pupil.

It's time to pick up a G1 body and a 35. Again.
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Old 09-14-2017   #19
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Reading through this post has rekindled my interest in using my 45mm Planar. and I plan to take it bush walking with me this weekend.

The 45 is considered to be THE best Contax G lens ever and IIRC was also rated as one of the finest standard lenses ever made. Kudos to it.

The 21mm is nothing short of sensational. It has almost no linear distortion (unlike the clip-on viewfinder but that can be safely ignored when shooting). By comparison with the G 21 my Nikon 20mm D is much more of a 'line bender,' especially with horizontals.

Images from the Contax G Zeiss lenses show a unique phenomenon I can only describe as 'wrapping' - the light and colors seem to flow around the subjects. Tones are excellent with B&W and color rendition is nothing short of superb. The G lenses are also somewhat more contrasty than their Leitz counterparts, which suits me.

There were many posts about the G1 and G2 until about two years ago. Of late there is more interest in these cameras, which is good, as they are unique and very durable products, most likely one of the finest cameras ever to come out of Japan. I read somewhere that, unfortunately, the two G lines were introduced at a time when digital photography was poised to take off in a big way, so buyer interest in new film camera lines was minimal and the cameras were discontinued due to poor sales. Sad but as we know, the same happened with many other fine camera brands from 2000 on.
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Contax G
Old 09-14-2017   #20
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Contax G

Had a G2 and all of its lenses except for the zoom. The camera was outstanding and the lenses superb. Got to the point that on a fixed income
I could not afford the film and processing. Prayed that Contax would make
a digital version.Alas it was not to be.
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Old 09-14-2017   #21
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What do you all think of the weight of the G2? I had a chance to handle one with the 28mm f/2.8 and it seemed noticeably heavier than the Fuji X-series gear that I'm used to. I was thinking of getting the G1 instead because it's a little lighter (and a lot less expensive).

Thank you,
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Old 09-14-2017   #22
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I find it heavy and larger, that's why i prefer the G1. But if there was only a G2, I wouldn't complain.
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Old 09-14-2017   #23
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Robert, lots of old threads on RFF on G1 vs G2, if you care to dig. The G2 has the better specs, but I use the G1 all the time because of the lighter weight. Never had an issue with focusing even the 90 with the G1. Since, for me, the G1 (and a more capable Nikon) is my camera for flash, I'd rather have the higher synch speed of the G2, but neither is exceptional at flash anyway... they are just better than film Ms, which tend to be available light cameras for me.
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Old 09-14-2017   #24
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I got one and googled "rangefinder cameras" to learn a little more about it which brought me to this site. I found the camera to be the sexiest thing I had ever held in my hand. Well second to you know..... Anyway the camera is gone, I didn't have the patience for film anymore, but RFF remains.
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Old 09-14-2017   #25
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It's a beautiful camera, capable of absolutely stunning results. I think it is a thing of beauty - if Apple ever made a camera, it would look something like this. Forget using manual focusing, you can do it, but it is clunky and the system was not designed for it as a main feature. The other camera that comes close is the Konica Hexar, which is of course manual focusing. Think of the G series as an elaborate point and shoot.
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Old 09-14-2017   #26
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I've dug -- extensively. Read a lot about G2s and G1s. People comment on the lighter weight of the G1,but few comment on the heaviness of the G2 in relation to modern cameras.

I'm an old film shooter so I recall how heavy film SLRs had become. Nowadays, I'm shooting with an XT-2, so my starting reference point is a 15 oz camera.


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Originally Posted by froyd View Post
Robert, lots of old threads on RFF on G1 vs G2, if you care to dig. The G2 has the better specs, but I use the G1 all the time because of the lighter weight. Never had an issue with focusing even the 90 with the G1. Since, for me, the G1 (and a more capable Nikon) is my camera for flash, I'd rather have the higher synch speed of the G2, but neither is exceptional at flash anyway... they are just better than film Ms, which tend to be available light cameras for me.
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Old 09-14-2017   #27
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Contax G2
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Old 09-14-2017   #28
Nick De Marco
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Wow thanks for all the great replies - so glad there is some shared enthusiasm

Naursutis - I shall have the accessory viewfinder with the 21mm, which is good as I have a thing for accessory finders.

As to the lens I leave behind when I go to India it will probably be the 90. I definitely will take the 45 and 28 as I expect these to be the two I shall use for 90% of shots, and for the odd something different I expect it will be the 21. I'm not really a telephoto guy, even a short tele guy. I'm glad I have the 90 in the kit, but I'm pretty sure it will end up the least used in the collection.

Soon I shall review the first negatives taken using the 28, 45 and 90 which might inform my decision more....
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Old 09-14-2017   #29
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About the accessory finder.... It can feel a bit loose when mounted on the camera. There may be a thread on the subject somewhere here on RFF; as I recall some folks have experienced it slipping out of the shoe and dropping it to the floor. I shimmed mine tighter with a small square of film stock, and just leave it on the camera regardless of what lens I'm using.
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Old 09-14-2017   #30
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Take your 90 with you to India - it's a good lens for slightly long shots in markets and other such public places, and you can park yourself in the welcome shade and photograph not too distant street scenes with it on hot hot Indian days. Even if you use it only once or twice, it will have repaid you for the small effort involved, as it weighs very little.

My Contax G1 kit (one camera, five lenses, hoods and filters, a small tripod, film) fits into a quite small camera travel bag (its brand name is 'Space' which I can carry quite easily at the bottom of my backpack Doesn't weigh much. If I take a second G1, I usually wrap it in a hand towel and put that in a plastic bag in the backpack. Often as not one of the two G1s will be round my neck anyway. So it's no bother to travel even with two G1s.

In all, a minimalist outfit. I have Contax G UVs on all my lenses, Contax also made a yellow filter (and possibly other colors) for B&W but to date I haven't found one for sale in Australia or Asia.

I use a cheap adapter for my Nikon 52mms to the Contax 46mm (I think - someone please advise if I'm wrong) thread, carrying a bunch of Nikon filters does add to the overall kit weight but not by much. My B&W shooting style relies mostly on a light yellow filter anyway so that always suffices for my needs in the field. Another useful filter would be the orange. I don't use a polariser, if you do some mental readjustment will come into play.

Some photographers I know are fanatical about their Gs. As others have written, learning to use it involves a somewhat different learning curve and the very detailed instruction manual is a great help. I also recall several good videos on YouTube which you may still be able to find if you search.

It's good to see a revived thread on the wonderful Contax Gs, it is a camera system well worth reviving. I hope others will join in.

(Added later) Apologies for the long unparagraphed rant - this is my third attempt to put in paragraph breaks (lines) but so far, no good. One more try before I give up...

Last edited by ozmoose : 09-14-2017 at 15:28. Reason: Minor corrections to spelling and wording
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Old 09-14-2017   #31
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These Contax cameras are some of the nicest I've held and the image quality is top notch. All of my lenses performed wonderfully, the 21, 28, 45, and 90. My main build quality complaint was the strange way the lenses mounted. A few of my lenses liked to get stuck on the mount.

The G1's manual focusing wheel supposedly can be shimmed to have more resistance. It would make a nice hip shooter if it wasn't so easily bumped

I sold my kit after getting too many missed focused shots. I tried to stick with it and figure out the learning curve, but my miss rate remained consistent throughout my rolls. When the focus was on, the images were sharp and metering, accurate.
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Old 09-14-2017   #32
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back to the future,
the G...

Taipei, Taiwan 2003

photo by
t a i p e i metro

Fujifilm Tiara Z, Super EBC Fujinon 28-56mm
Fujifilm Xtra400
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Old 09-14-2017   #33
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I've been thinking of a G2 and 28/45/90 kit for travel.

I already have a Fujifilm GA645i which is from the same era but, of course, fixed lens and larger format.

Can anyone help me by comparing the size, weight and handling of the two cameras?

Thanks.


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Old 09-15-2017   #34
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Quote:
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Can anyone help me by comparing the size, weight and handling of the two cameras?
I have a Fuji GA645Wi, the 45mm wide angle model, which weighs in at 820g
The G2 is 561g, its 45mm is 190g, for a total of 751g

I don't have size dimensions...
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Old 09-15-2017   #35
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The Contax g system is really great. Quite a different feel to the Ms but that's OK. The results are top notch from the lenses.

I Have the G1 (green label version -inside the film gate - which lets you use the 35mm and 21mm) and the G2 with 21, 28, 35, 90.


I really like the size of the G1, and the G2 has a couple of extra tricks like the second focus button.

One of the best bang for buck RF systems if you are comfortable with a degree of automation.
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Old 09-16-2017   #36
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I suppose my niggle with buying a G2 now is the persistent worry about how long it can last now, these things don't last forever.

I suppose the counter-argument would then be to give up film photography, as no-one is going to produce such a good film camera again. The issue is that you have to invest in lenses which have no other use - only dedicated lenses for the G system.

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Old 09-16-2017   #37
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If it fails, you just buy another body. Your lenses aren't affected.

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I suppose my niggle with buying a G2 now is the persistent worry about how long it can last now, these things don't last forever.

I suppose the counter-argument would then be to give up film photography, as no-one is going to produce such a good film camera again. The issue is that you have to invest in lenses which have no other use - only dedicated lenses for the G system.

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Old 09-16-2017   #38
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Can you share some thoughts about shooting with the G1 compared to G2? Differences in weight? AF and shutter responsiveness? Viewfinder?

Thank you,
Robert

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The Contax g system is really great. Quite a different feel to the Ms but that's OK. The results are top notch from the lenses.

I Have the G1 (green label version -inside the film gate - which lets you use the 35mm and 21mm) and the G2 with 21, 28, 35, 90.


I really like the size of the G1, and the G2 has a couple of extra tricks like the second focus button.

One of the best bang for buck RF systems if you are comfortable with a degree of automation.
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Old 09-16-2017   #39
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G1 dimensions 133mm W x 77mm H x 42mm D; 460g w/out CR2 batteries.... 101g lighter than the G2!
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Old 09-16-2017   #40
Bob Michaels
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Apopka FL (USA)
Age: 73
Posts: 3,465
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Ades View Post
Can you share some thoughts about shooting with the G1 compared to G2? Differences in weight? AF and shutter responsiveness? Viewfinder?
My choice was the G1 almost all the time having both a G1 and a G2 as my 35mm kit. The advantage of the G1 was its lighter weight. The only functional difference to me between the two was the G2 1/4000 shutter speed. Focusing and responsiveness always seemed the same to me. The finders are the same.

Internet lore says the G2 must be better because it costs more and is a later model, plus 2 is simply a higher number than 1. But using them as cameras rather than analyzing them, my choice was the G1.

I always thought the much more expensive black body cameras were only useful when used as a photo prop while you were the model wearing a white or cream colored suit. Behind the camera instead of in front of it, they were identical.
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