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Contax G2 general questions



I'm considering investing in a G2 system for a big Europe/Asia trip I plan to do next spring. I've never used a rangefinder camera and will probably rent one before buying, but got a few questions:

1) I don't understand the focusing system. Is it true that the viewfinder does not show the image in or out of focus, and you have to rely on the distance scale on the LCD readout on top of the camera? Can someone explain briefly how the hell this works? Isn't not being able to confirm focus visually a rather large disadvantage?

2) One of the limitations of the system, to me, is that the longest lens is 90mm. There is an adapter that lets you use SLR lenses. Is this a reasonable solution?

3) Read that the viewfinder is small. Small enough to be a limiter?

I'm interested in the G2 because my priorities are as follows:
1) small and light and discrete for travelling, but still xlnt overall quality
2) image quality (lenses)
3) ease of use



Your have pointed out very nicely the limitations of the G2. You don't have any focus confirmation (the readout is both on top of the camera and on the bottom of the viewfinder, with the shutter speed. If the focus was off, you will only find out after you get the pictures back!
There are no lenses longer than 90. The adapter to use other Contax lenses does not sound practical, as you have to estimate the distance and focus manually-- without any focus confirmation!! (try that with a tele).
As there is nothing to see on the viewfinder (e.g., no rangefinder image to focus), I find it fine to compose the picture. I have never felt it is a limitation.

It is relatively small and light-- depending on what you compare it to.
The quality of the lenses is sensational.
It is extremely easy to use.

Try one. I think some people prefer rangefinder (or viewfinder, really, in the case of the Gs) and some people prefer SLRs. Each has different strengths and weaknesses. As rangefinders go, I think it is the best option quality/features/price at the moment (by far!!)



>Hello Doug:

as to your questions- 1) you are correct: you dont get to 'see' whats in focus. Thru a rangefinder,everything is. Your focus point is indicated on a readout in the viewfinder by means of a distance scale with a moving dot that indicates where the focus lies. A certain amount of faith is required.

2) as far as focal lengths, you are essentially confined to 90mm. If you are a telephoto shooter, a rangefinder probably isnt for you. Rangefinders are essentially wide angle cameras.

3) I've never had a problem w/ the viewfinder size. Granted, it's smaller than my M4's, but its not really an issue for me.

As for your priorities i.e. small size, good optics, IMHO, the Contax cant be beat, especially for travel photography. Optics that rival Leitz for a third of the price, and the camera has that same rocksolid feel. All my leicas stay in the closet when I travel; the g2 w/ 35-70 zoom goes w/ me everywhere. It really is a wonderful camera. I suggest you think about buying the zoom in addition to the prime lenses; its quality is phenomenal, and works for 95% of what you'll need when you travel.

Good luck w/ your decision. Best, Tim v


Its a very god idiea renting before buying.
The Contax G and Contax in genaral are at the moment supervalue(with discount around 30% on Contax listprice and for hardly never used 2 hand over 50%)

A G2 is very compact with 3-4Lenses in one smal bag.
The Lenses are superb.

I also did buy It to go traveling with, but after a few year using I am not satisfied with.
Problem with AF wich has been fixed but is again and no one wants to fix it in Australia.
Bleeding framecounter.
Malfunktion with Data Back.
Batteryconsumption is high and not cheap.
TLA 200 flash battery is much more expensive but also very smal an easy to take with.
Got some sign of corroded bolts and pins from sweat of my hands.
Tiny viewfinder.

I had lots of headache because of not beeing sure if the AF focus right or wrong wich did hapen too often.
And the viewfinder is smal and its difficult to handle in the dark you dont know how many pictures are left to take.

I think its a much better idea to get a SLR wich is a bit bulkier but with 3-4 Primelenses stil possible to go traveling with. Non AF SLR are not much bulkier than a G equipment but you will get paid out by 100% pictures in focus.
I will probably swap the G2 to a CONTAX SLR equipment, with microprism.


Well-Known Member
It's reason like this that I consider the G2 an ambient light street camera. Quiet enough to do the job. But forget about any distance shooting.


Well-Known Member
What good is manual focus on the G2 if you get no focus confirmation, or there is no focus indication what so ever in the viewfinder? That, at least for me, would make the manual focus feature useless...



Yes, the manual focus is generally useless (I will not say "completely useless" just in case someone actually uses it..)



Active Member
> Austin,

there is focus confirmation in the viewfinder in manual focus mode. There is a series of bars that light up, and you turn the focus knob until there is only one of them lit. Then the image will be focussed on the central focus indicator. I haven't found any problem with it - if it says something is in focus, then it is. Using the G2 in this mode is the closest thing to using a regular rangefinder camera: the entire VF image looks in focus, and there is a supplementary focus indicator.

Re VF size: It is a little small, but it has the advantage that it zooms, unlike the Leica VF. So if you are using a 90, your VF image will actually be larger than when you use a 90 on a Leica. Because the VF zooms, you can mount zoom lenses as well as primes. No other RF camera lets you do this, as far as I know.

The G2 is an extremely fast camera to use.


Well-Known Member
90% of what I shoot when travelling (at least!) is shot at infinity. With a 28 or 35 lens, you can basically focus at infinity and forget it unless the aperture is fairly wide open (happens). I am switching to my four year old G2 as my prime travel camera for my next trip, despite the lack of a decent range zoom or tele. I lugged a 70-300 tele zoom last month to Germany, France and Italy and never needed it. Everything was shot between 24mm and 40mm. Of course, some types of travel might be different such as a safari or bird/animal photography. For that I have plenty of slr's but no plans in immediate future.


New Member
I have used the bars at the bottom of the screen to anually focus. I have also used the LED indicating focal distance for hyperfocal focusing. It's not the way a Leica does it, but it seems to work-----and we chose to buy Contax instead of Leicas.



Neil and Alan:
Thank you so much for describing the manual focus indicator! I had completely forgotten it existed, and I have been spreading misinformation...I take back what I said.

I guess I have never missed the manual focus ability, but I am happy to be reminded the potential is there. In which situations do you use it? I guess it would be helpful to avoid the noise of the lenses focusing (the 90 in particular).



Well-Known Member
Once you get used to which way to turn the wheel to focus long or short, it is real easy to focus one notch short. A valuable procedure when depending on depth of field as there is much more leeway behind the subject than in front. It makes sense to focus slightly short in many circumstances. Not hard to do with G2 "rangefinder" focusing.


Active Member
Surprisingly, you won't avoid the noise of the lens focusing. Even in manual focus mode, the G2 doesn't move the lens until you press the shutter button halfway down. I have no idea why, and it seems strange at first, but I soon got used to it.

I use manual focus when I want to focus at infinity, for ex&le. You would also use it to set the camera at the hyperfocal distance, so you would know in advance what would be in focus. In manual focus mode, you know the camera will fire, regardless of whether it thinks it is in focus. In general, I don't find I need to use MF very much, because the autofocus does a fine job. I've been shooting only the 35mm/2. Tomorrow I expect to receive my 90 from B&H, and I'll see whether anything changes with that lens, though I expect it will focus just as well as the 35 does.



New Member
I was also a bit annoyed with the lens returning to its original position and then refocusing before every shot, but my way around that is to push the focus button on the back of the camera with my thumb and hold it, then shoot as many pictures as I want before letting go. This helps if I want to grab some quick shots in succession with fixed focus.



Juan and Austin, manual focus is very useful in dim light,evening or = night photos. Easy to get infinity for instance, which is beyond 14-15 = meters.Cheers,Esko