image curtesy of Ken Rockwell (because I don’t have a digicam to post a quick image here)
The Contax G system is – in my humble opinion – a totally underrated camera system. As a rangefinder camera, it is the only one with AF. Some rangefinder enthusiasts (I want to avoid the word ‘purist’ here) even say that this is a ‘point-&-shoot’ camera because of the AF.
Whatever anybody thinks about this system, it is one of the most complete and fantastic camera systems that had ever been built.
- Rock solid titanium body
- Distortion free ZEISS lenses
- Built-in film transport
- Viewfinder adjusts to parallax
- Separate viewfinders for ultra wide angle lenses
- Very fast and reliable AF (at least in the G2 models)
- Many very useful accessories
- Superior metering system
The G2 comes in a size of approximately the size of a Nikon FE2 or FA without motor drive. Pretty small size, but the G2 already features a built-in motor drive in this size. The bayonet – developed by ZEISS – is approximately the same size as the Nikon bayonet, but the lenses mount clockwise on these cameras.
The viewfinder does not feature a patch as you might have seen in Leica cameras. It is a very sleek zoom viewfinder, automatically adjusting to the lens angle and – for shorter distances – automatically adjusting the finder to the changing parallax. With the 90mm lens the viewfinder turns a bit small if focused to one meter (3 feet), but it is not disturbing at all. Speaking of the viewfinder: despite being small, it is very bright and features a built-in diopter correction.
The real big advantage of a rangefinder over a SLR is that the viewfinder never blacks out when you press the shutter. In addition just everything in the viewfinder is sharp – no blurry image like on a focussing screen.
image curtesy of Kyocera
Though some users complain about the missing rangefinder patch, I can assure you: the AF is 100% reliable. I’ve used my two G2 for two book productions, exposed more than 50 rolls of film and had only one single shot that was out of focus. Same applies for the exposure: the metering is breathtakingly simple, yet very accurate, fast and powerful. In flash mode with the TLA 200 or the Nikon SB-24 or higher the G2 features TTL off the film surface. Speaking of flash photography: most Metz flash guns can be used without a SCA adapter.
Back to the focusing: As I’ve already mentioned, the AF is very fast and precise. ‘On the spot’ if you to put it correctly. All you have to learn is how to use the AF brackets in the viewfinder and how to use your thumb to pre-focus (see more details here). Once you have inhaled the function, you’ll never again miss any shot.
The metering features the ‘A’ mode (automatic) with X, B and exposure times from 4 seconds to 1/4000 of a second in manual mode, in ‘A’ mode from 16 to 1/6000 seconds. The B mode comes in handy for night shots with the optional cable release, which can be locked for hours or even days without draining the batteries too much. In ‘A’ mode you can always push the Automatic Exposure Lock AEL button (actually it’s a small notch around the shutter, belonging to the on/off switch, placed extremely ergonomically and user friendly) to lock your measured exposure value. It is just a forward flick of the main switch. Pressing the shutter button half way down starts the AF and the metering. However, you can re-program the settings. Just assign the half way down status as AEL if you want. If I say at this point that the G2 is highly customizable, the digital clowns will laugh out loud. OK, compared to their 700 page manuals the Contax is pretty simple in the settings, but in many cases more powerful than any DSLR.
The problem is that you don’t get any manual if you purchase the G2 as a second hand camera. This is the reason why so many users complain about the camera and the ‘quirks’. There aren’t any if you do have a manual and **read** and **understand** it. In addition the original G2 (as well as the G1) models had tiny stickers with the programmable option settings. If they are gone, you’ll be stuck with your camera as it is and not be able to enjoy the extended modes. Another important part that is missing on second hand cameras: the sticker that is either at the bottom plate or the back with a chart of the customized settings.
The Leica clowns complain about the noise of the AF, stating you can’t do street photography (whatever this absurd term means) with the G2. None of them ever had a G2 in his hands or in the hands of a friend – one meter or 3 feet away you don’t hear the AF anymore. Not even the motor drive, which can be set to single, low (2 frames per second) and high speed (4 frames per second).
The G2 features a full blown bracketing setting (with different options by programming the basic camera setting) as well as a per image adjustable exposure correction. The bracketing switch can be set to ½ f-stop or to full f-stops, and the order of the images being taken for the bracketing can be adjusted as well: ’0′ ‘+’ ‘-’ or ‘+’ ’0′ ‘-’ — and all this without having to wade through different levels of a menu nobody can read in bright sunlight.
Double, triple or even quadruple exposure mode is built-in as well. Manual ISO override? Included. Select any ISO speed you want, i.e. for a permanent override of your exposure (some people prefer a slight over- or underexposure of their slide films). Or select leader in or leader out after a rewind. There are many options to ‘customize’ your G2.
Though the lens barrels don’t feature focusing rings, you can focus the G2 manually by switching the focus button to manual and turning the large wheel on the front right of the camera. I have to agree that this is not very convenient, but if you consider that it’s only necessary in some rare occasions, the solution is perfect. I’ve shot many architectural images with the G2 and used the manual focusing without any problems. However, the AF definitely is faster and much more precise. If you have a situation where you need manual focus, point the G2 to your object, press the rear focus button, hold it and read the distance on the top left display. Now switch to manual mode and turn the front wheel until the display shows the same distance.
I guess I’ve drained some 2 or 3 battery sets to prove the AF is correct. It definitely is, even with the 2.8/90mm Sonnar. Those people who complain about the freaking AF of a G2 just didn’t read the manual, didn’t search the web or just don’t know the trick with the AF brackets.
– photograph copyright © 1999-2010 by jens g.r. benthien –
Illustrator in Barcelona, shot with the Contax G2 and ZEISS Planar 2.0/45mm at f=4.0, hand held
A few words about the mechanical design of the knobs, wheels and buttons: they are all made of solid metal, ribbed around the rims and feature firm detents for each setting, but changing them with your index finger or thumb is a smooth snap. I’ve never owned or tested any other camera with this build quality, ergonomics and precision! AEL, exposure correction, a switch from S to CL or CH is smooth and fast and doesn’t force you to take your eye off the viewfinder. Once you’ve set up the G2 to your needs, you can fire off in confidence. The camera will deliver the result you expect from a precision tool.
Plaza del teatro, Barcelona · Contax G2 and ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
The batteries (CR 2) are a relatively common type. Some shooters complain that you need these specific batteries, but hey, did you ever try to purchase batteries for a DSLR in the heart of Sumatra or along the Yukon? Chances that you’ll get the CR 2 in a local supermarket or electronics shop are considerably higher! By the way, the CR 2 batteries also fit into the TLA 200 flash, so just purchase a package with 20 batteries and you should be able to fire off for several years.
As ZEISS/Contax mentioned somewhere, the batteries last for 20 – 25 rolls of film. Because the frame transport is so precise, the G2 squeezes 37 exposures out of a 36 image roll. That means you can expose 740 to 915 image per set. This is on par with most digital cams of today. If you want, you can invest into rechargeable batteries, but if you purchase them from a dealer on evil bay, you won’t pay more than 2-3 US$ per battery. Not worth the panic some of the G2 users spread in the forums.
Parador Ronda · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
Mounting and unmounting the lenses is a snap – easier and faster than changing Nikon lenses IMHO. Just match the red dots, twist the lens ring clockwise and as soon as you hear the ‘click’ the lens is secure and securely interlocked with the camera. Because of the compact lens design you can store the 21mm, 28mm, 45mm and 90mm plus the TLA 200 with one body in a tiny bag which is a third of the size of a comparable bag for a Nikon FE2 or F4s equipment with identical prime lenses.
If you should have trouble with the exposure, AF or shutter, just clean the contacts on the rear of the lenses and behind the bottom part of the bayonet with coffee filter paper. Just avoid by any means any contact with the shutter curtain – it is a very precise and delicate part. Same applies for film changes!
A sectional view of the viewfinder (image courtesy of Contax)
And – please – always keep the tiny windows of the viewfinder and rangefinder clean. Use cleaner cloths for glasses (available in almost any drug store for a few cents). If the rangefinder windows are not clean, you’ll have trouble with precise focusing. By the way – the G2 is one of the very few cameras that can focus in absolute darkness. It doesn’t need an AF light. From 0 to 3 meters (around 9 feet) it uses a superior infrared system to trigger the triangulation mechanism. Even if you can’t see anything in the viewfinder, the G2 will precisely focus on the object in front of you. Try to do this with any other camera on the market, and you’ll value this feature.
The ergonomics are second to none. Everything falls intuitively into the right place for your fingers. The rubberized front and rear bulge on the right side of the camera give your fingers a strong grip. The lugs for the strap are rock solid and well balanced, even for the 90 mm lens.
a brochure / manual page of the Contax G2
The Contax G system features its own set of fine ZEISS lenses. No need to complain the missing adaptor for Leica M lenses here. On the contrary: the famous Hologon and several other lenses have been modified to fit the Leica M system:
image curtesy of visordirecto
Let’s start with the ultra wide angle, the ZEISS Hologon 8.0/16mm (PDF). It comes with a separate viewfinder for the hot shoe and a center filter. Sharp from 0.5 meter to infinity. Can’t be stopped down, but hell, there is no need to tamper with an aperture on this terrific lens. Just be careful that you get your fingers and knuckles away from the lens, or they will be in the image. The viewfinder features a built-in bubble level to level the camera to avoid distorted perspectives. The ZEISS Hologon is absolutely distortion free. As soon as the Hologon is mounted on the camera, the AF is disabled, and the metering turns to an external meter cell. Note that it’s almost essential to use a tripod if you mount the Hologon if the light isn’t superior: with the mounted center filter the effective f-stop is 16 ! Never forget to dial in the exposure compensation of +2 when you use this lens.
The Hologon with mounted center filter
The Hologon without center filter.
The ZEISS Hologon with the viewfinder
The next one is the ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21mm (PDF). It also comes with a separate viewfinder for the hot shoe, but it doesn’t need a center filter, and it can be stopped down like any other lens. The viewfinder features a crosshair in the center, which resembles the AF patch. Just point the crosshair where you want the focus and shoot. To improve the lens, you can purchase a very cheap black skylight filter, break the glass, remove the inner springs and glass residues, and screw it into the lens barrel – it will be the ultimate lens shade for this fine lens! Just a marginal distortion, hardly noticeable.
Another step up is the ZEISS Biogon 2.8/28mm (PDF). No external viewfinder. Just mount it, and the main viewfinder will switch to the focal length. Fantastic lens, distortion free. Like all ZEISS lenses for the G system, this is extremely flare resistant.
The ultimate lens for a 35 mm system camera is the ZEISS Planar 2.0/45mm (PDF). An incredible lens which sets standards for many years to come! Tell me if you find any lens for a DSLR that can match the performance of this lens.
Finally the G2 long lens, the ZEISS Sonnar 2.8/90mm (PDF). A fantastic lens for portraits, landscapes, cars, boats, you name it.
Last but not least there are two more lenses available: the ZEISS Planar 2.0/35mm (PDF) and the ZEISS Vario Sonnar 3.5/35-70mm (PDF). I really wish I could get these lenses somewhere to complete my system <sigh>.
Because the G2 lenses don’t have a DoF scale, photowhitmonkey created his own scales. I don’t remember the link to the PDF for the stickers, but in case you need these scales, you might contact him. Edit 2011-03-31: just found the link to the PDF file.
Anyway, that’s it. Almost. Because there is a 1, 3 and 10 meter electric cable release, a set of lens shades (metal of course!) plus a matching set of metal lens caps for mounted lens shades, leather bags for the lenses, a data back (very expensive but with some very interesting features).
Image courtesy of foto-huppert.de
The Contax DataBack GD2 for the G2 (Make sure you’ll get the manual for it, otherwise it’s worthless because you can’t set the first frames data exposure!)
Do you really need the data back? If you want or need the additional features, maybe, if you just want to imprint your exposure data it’s not worth the 690 Euro as of today (2012-04-17). 690 Euro can buy around 100 rolls of great slide film…
Well, for the cold areas on this globe you can get an external battery case which you can store in your pocket close to the body. A cable and adapter connect this case with the G2. The case can be equipped with standard AA batteries. Oh yes, then there are the original camera straps with the tiny sliders that feature a pin to trigger the rewind mechanism. And – of course – there is an excellent service. In Europe it is Tritec, in the US it is TOCAD. An excellent resource for Contax is Foto Huppert in Germany. The web site programming is lousy, so I can’t give you direct access links to the new and used parts pages.
Did I miss anything? Nope, don’t think so. Maybe just a comparison to another great 35 mm system: the Nikon F4s with a range of prime lenses.
Except for the very long tele lenses (300 mm and up) I don’t miss anything when I use the Contax. My Nikon bag weighs around 16 kilograms, my Contax bag (a Crumpler) around 3 kilograms. The Nikon 3.5/15mm features a slight distortion which can’t be corrected with a software. The 300 mm and the 600 mm display some chromatic aberration, but only marginal and not comparable with the ZEISS lenses (seems they don’t know CA problems at all).
Just recently I’ve used the Nikon system for a part of a documentation about churches. After 90 minutes my right eye turned a bit tired, having problems to focus the screen and to check the focus on the screen. That was annoying. For the next part of this project I’ll use the Contax again, because the viewfinder is always clear and doesn’t show out of focus areas – what a relief for my eyes if the session exceeds 3 hours…
If you would ask me which system I would grab for a short notice assignment, I’d say: the Contax G2. Light weight, small, maximum resolution and resolving power in a small bag. This doesn’t mean I would say the Nikon is bad, but it definitely is too heavy, bulky and the lens performance is a tad less than that of the ZEISS lenses.
And what about a comparison to a DSLR? To be honest, you can’t compare the G2 with the outstanding lenses to any DSLR system on the market if you have a dedicated film scanner or have your slides scanned professionally. None of the modern lenses match the image quality of the ZEISS lenses. The unobtrusive G2 is a real performer, and it is more than what the digital clowns call ‘full frame’ because it delivers 48bit color depth (the current top notch CaNikon models deliver only 14bit per color, that means 42bit. What this means to the resulting images you can read here - just scroll down a bit for the English version ‘How much color do you purchase?‘).
One of the many images I’ve shot with the Contax G2 is posted here, showing the resolution power of the lenses.
Ooooops, I almost forgot the image in the header of my blog – I’ve shot it with the Contax G2 and the ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21mm.
Read more about the Contax G2 on photo.net here
A review from ephotozine here
Wikipedia about the Contax here
Camerapedia about the Contax G here
Get all technical data about the camera, lenses and the complete range of accessories here
Another interesting review here
A good review from Avneet Mangat is here
A short review from Laurence Kim is here
In-depth technical information here and here
Luc Delahaye shot his famous images for ‘Winterreise‘ with a Contax G2
Download the Contax G2 manual as a PDF here.
Zörkendörfer in Munich adapts the famous Voigtländer Heliar lenses – 12 mm and 15 mm – to the Contax G2, retaining the standard and AF. View the 12 mm Heliar here and the 15 mm Heliar here, check out Zörkendörfer here and scroll down to page 5 of the PDF.
Check out some images here – this site has thousands of excellent images taken with the Contax G system. Just browse through the images and then compare the images to what you will see on flickr. You will notice that the Contax images are totally different in terms of color rendition, mood, soul – you name it.
To review some images taken with the 8.0/16 mm Hologon, check the Hologon Group at flickr. Note that many of the images have a light fall off at the edges. It appears to me that the users didn’t have the necessary center filter. If you want to purchase the Hologon make sure the center filter is included. Without the center filter this lens is almost useless. Another effect you will notice at the flickr images: the metering is less than optimal. I still have to find a trick to override the meter cell, until then I’ll keep using one of my hand held meters, the Gossen Profisix or the Sekonic L-608. A correct light metering is vital and essential for superior images with this outstanding lens.
Just found an excellent description of the Contax rangefinder system:
The true Rangefinder camera brought into the late Twentieth Century with the most advanced modern optical designs and advanced electronics. It long has been recognized that wide angle (where most serious amateur photographic activity is concentrated) optical design is highly compromised by mirror clearance considerations. The “G” series high performance very compact auto focus designs is intended as a latter day answer to challenges of 1930′s design parameters.
The G-1 and G2 both incorporate wide base, high precision passive (pattern recognition and optimization) auto focus schemes while the G2 added an advanced (for that day) active infrared focusing system. Both are housed in Titanium cases. Both have full AE Exposure, Aperture priority Exposure, Full Manual Exposure, and TTL Flash Exposure. Shutter speeds range from 16 seconds to 1/2000 with the G-1 and to 1/6000 with the G2. Both have integrated motor/winder film advance, up to 2FPS for the G-1 and to 4FPS for the G2.
The crowning achievements of the system, however is the lens system and its overall compactness. Unlike SLRs (or the moronically conceived and executed Leica M5 with its idiotic physically encumbering swinging arm photocell), the Gs are not encumbered by considerations mirror box size/clearance. Lenses, and this is especially relevant for wide angle lenses, are system designed only to optimize optical characteristics.
I really would appreciate if you would support me for this and future projects:
My own experience with the Contax G2 system
I’m using the G2 for more than 5 years now. After the first acquisition of a G2 with the 2.0/45 I’ve added a second body, the 8.0/16, 2.8/21, 2.8/28, 2.8/90 plus a range of accessories. I pack one body, all the lenses and the TLA 200 into a small ‘Crumpler Pretty Boy L’ bag, which doesn’t look like a camera bag at all because I don’t want to attract robbers and muggers.
Gabriel · Contax G2 with ZEISS Planar 2.0/45 mm, hand held
The system never let me down. As I’ve already mentioned before, I’ve used the Contax to shoot the images for two of my books. Usually I keep the 21 mm lens mounted on the first body, which I carry in my hand. The other one is in the bag with the 45 mm mounted. Where ever I walk, I can lift the camera to my eye and push the trigger. Option 1: focus, shoot. Option 2: focus, lock AF, recompose, shoot. Option 3: focus, AEL, lock AF, recompose, shoot.
Fountain in Álora, Málaga · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
The nice thing about this fool proof system is that you can even shoot from your hips with the 21 mm attached. The AF is absolutely reliable and always spot on. Changing lenses is a snap. OK, it is slower than using a super zoom with a DSLR, but I know I have prime lenses and don’t need a software to correct the images during post processing. Shooting some portraits with the 45 mm or the 90 mm is fun. Low light conditions are no problem, because you don’t have the mirror slap or any other element which might shake the camera. Though I usually use my sturdy Gitzo or Berlebach tripod, I am used to expose ⅛ second hand held as well. The images are still sharp to the edges.
Terminal One, Shopping area, Airport Barcelona · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21mm, hand held
All images turn out to be perfectly exposed and deliver rich and saturated colors. The ZEISS multi coating appears to be one of the best you can get. Compared to my Nikon lenses, especially the 3.5/15 mm, the lenses for the G2 are a dream when it comes to flare resistance. One reason for this is that the lenses have less optical elements than modern SLR lenses because they don’t need the retro focus design like SLR wide angle lenses.
Japanese Party, Islas Baleares · Contax G2 with ZEISS Planar 2.0/45 mm, hand held
There has never been a situation I couldn’t master with the G2 system. OK, long telephoto shots for sports or events are not the domain of the G2 system, sure. And macro photography is another domain which can’t be mastered with this system.
Albaicin, Granada · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
No drawbacks? Yes, one: Using the 8.0/16 mm Hologon is very tricky on the light metering. Better have your external light meter ready. And never forget to dial in a +2 exposure compensation when using the center filter, or your images will be badly under exposed.
Patio somewhere in Palma · Contax G2 with ZEISS Hologon 8.0/16 mm and center filter, tripod
If you do architecture, interiors, etc., you need to level the camera. The viewfinder doesn’t offer grid lines, and with the external viewfinders it’s almost impossible to level the camera. So get a bubble level for this job. If the hot shoe is occupied with the external viewfinder, place the level at the left side of the viewfinder onto the top plate of the camera – only that area is leveled. If your tripod or tripod head features bubble levels, you can calibrate your system for a faster workflow on location.
sculpture in the port of Barcelona · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
Though the 16 mm Hologon does have a built-in bubble level for the vertical adjustment, you need an external level for the horizontal adjustment of the camera.
Sierra Nevada in spring · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/28 mm, hand held
Are you scared by rain, high humidity, wet sea spray, extremely dry climate, sand storms, bumpy roads, rough handling? You don’t need to. The Contax is a very robust and reliable system. I’d say it can bear more than I ever will. Sure, you should not drown the camera or change a lens in a sandstorm, but compared to modern digital cameras – especially top notch DSLRs – the G2 wins hands down in any situation: You won’t have any dust spots on a sensor, no quirks with the electronic parts, no back or front focus problems.
wind park near Bremen, Germany · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, tripod
Changing film is fast and simple. After the last image, the G2 automatically rewinds the film and either sucks the leader in to the cartridge or leaves it out (this is a custom setting). Throw a new cartridge into the compartment, pull the leader to the orange marker on the right side, close the back and in a second the G2 advances the film to frame one, ready to continue shooting. Compared to the Nikon F4s this is child’s play, really.
Caja Granada · Contax G2 with ZEISS Hologon 8.0/16 mm with center filter, tripod
Living in Andalucía I have experienced extremely low temperatures in the Sierra Nevada (altitude 3.500 meters) and extremely dry and hot conditions between Málaga and Cordoba, the hottest region in Europe with temperatures around 50° C. For the cold area assignments I just pack a set of 8 or ten batteries, and for the hot area assignments I just put the camera back into the bag to prevent the film from being liquified by the high temperatures in Andalucía.
casco antiguo Granada · Contax G2 with ZEISS Planar 2.0/45 mm, hand held
The metering system is incredible. It is simple, yet powerful, so powerful that ZEISS ported it to the new ZM camera system. It is like a grey card you carry with you. Comparied to the superior and sophisticated metering system of the Nikon F4s in ‘multi mode’, it delivers the same perfection with considerably less electronics, algorithms and wizardry. The integrated grey card principle still can’t be beat, no matter how many metering points and cross points a modern DSLR will feature. No need for ‘center weighted’, ‘multi mode’ or ‘spot’ – the exposure of the G2 system is always right on spot, unless you purposely do some weird things with the camera. Exception: the metering when you’ve mounted the Hologon (see the first part of this article).
Ronda, Andalucía · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
If you unmount the lens and look into the body, you’ll notice that the shutter curtain features 2 lamellas with different shades of grey in the center. This resembles the perfect ‘built-in’ grey card principle. The lower one is a tad darker than the upper one, compensating for the usually brighter sky in a scene. The meter cell in the bottom of the body reads these ‘cards’ and calculates the correct exposure. Being used to the Nikon 60/40 metering system, it took me a while to understand that I didn’t have to worry about bright skies anymore. No more need to point the camera to the ground a bit, lock the exposure and recompose to compensate a bright sky. Somehow the simplicity of the Contax G metering is mind boggling.
pipers, Islas Baleares · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
Oh, just another drawback that pops into my mind: the G system doesn’t feature a screw in port for a standard cable release, so you must purchase the relatively expensive remote trigger (around 50 Euro for the 3 meter version). However, when I check todays prices for DSLR camera accessories, I know that the price range for the Contax parts is quite acceptable.
accordion player in Calle Olmers, Palma · Contax G2 with ZEISS Planar 2.0/45 mm, hand held
What I didn’t mention here is the superior data back for the G2. However, I can’t comment on it because I don’t have it. It seems to be a very rare item, and currently it costs around 600 Euro. Too much for recording the exposure data on the film leader.
arriving at the destination port · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
The image quality in terms of resolution, resolving power, tonal range, contrast, flare, etc. is second to none. Many photographers cite the 16×20 inch print as a reference. Well, that’s almost my standard size: 13×19 inch. I print most of my images at sizes of 60 x 90 cm = 2 x 3 feet or even 120 x 180 cm = 4 x 6 feet without any problems, even if you will stick your nose as close as 10 inches to the print.
hall with golden ceiling, Sevilla · Contax G2 with ZEISS Hologon 8.0/16 mm with center filter, tripod
To get clean and crystal clear prints is just a matter of how precise you work, and how well the hi res scanner is operated. The scanner is the weakest link in the process chain. Or the photographer. Or both <grin>. The professional lab rarely messes with the film material. I’ve only had one single occurrence during the last 7 years when a slide film showed some bubbles which dried into the coating during the E6 development.
patio with a scene of Maria, Joseph and Jesus, Palma · Contax G2 with ZEISS Hologon 8.0/16 mm and center filter, tripod, cropped to an aspect ratio of 2:1
fountain in Vejer de la Frontera · Contax G2 with ZEISS 2.8/21 mm, hand held
Just a few words regarding my comparisons with the Nikon system. As nice as my Nikon system is, it’s more like a ‘normal’ camera for me. It does what it needs to do. The advantages are obvious: long telephoto lenses, macro shots, angled viewfinders, interchangeable focussing screens, interchangeable viewfinders. It is a great system, but it’s not ‘built into my hands’ like the Contax if you know what I mean.
Playamar, Málaga · Contax G2 with ZEISS Sonnar 2.8/90 mm, tripod
I don’t need to run around with an impressive looking camera (F4s and a 600 mm telephoto lens or the huge 15 mm ultra wide angle). And I don’t like the weight of the camera bag to drag it over long distances. At least for my commercial and private work the Contax system is far better suited, as long as I want to stick with 35 mm film. For most commercial assignments I use my 6×9 and LF. However, the Contax with the excellent range of lenses comes very close to the quality of 6×9 or medium format.
Palau March, Palma · Contax G2 with ZEISS Hologon 8.0/16 mm and center filter, tripod
That said, I think it is time for a surprise. I have shot several images on commercial assignments with my Rollei 35s and a few of them even with my Minox 35GT. Nobody ever noticed that I threw some slides from these cameras into the pile of the project. It’s just a matter of knowing the capabilities, advantages and limits of each system.
scene in a bar in Palma · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
OK, now to the final ‘work of art’. You might ask: If the camera is as good as you described, how large do you print your images? Simple answer: minimum size 13×19″ or 330 x 450 mm, in many cases 150 x 100 cm or 5 x 3 ½ feet. Even a 6 x 4 feet print is no problem, if I’ve used a tripod for the shooting. The details in the final print are the critical elements in professional photography, and this is the point where the ZEISS lenses really shine and win hands down over any other lens (ok, almost, I hear you Solms fans) on the market.
sunset at Conil de la Frontera · Contax G2 with ZEISS Biogon 2.8/21 mm, hand held
I am pretty sure that you have noticed the wonderful three dimensional effect the lenses deliver. Some people might discuss the ‘Bokeh’ of the lenses, but please don’t try to discuss this issue with me: I just like the Bokeh of my lenses.
Now that I’ve watered your mouth – what about a large format rangefinder? Ready to go? Click here!
– all photographs copyright © 1999-2010 by jens g.r. benthien –
– all images shot with Fuji Provia 100F and scanned with a Nikon Coolscan LS 5000 ED, using VueScan @ 4.000 ppi/spi @48 bit color depth. Scanned image size 5.550 x 3.700 pixels = 21 MegaPixels, file size 117 MB per image –
photograph © 1999-2010 by Bettina W.
I think she is the better photographer because she has a lot more emotional approach (which is an advantage) and less technical sense (which often can be a real obstacle)