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Contax G2 or Nikon F100


I'm going to be on the market for a camera system in January. I have a Nikon F80 now, but, I've wanted a rangefinder since I sold my original owner Konica Auto S3 in the 1970's (no kidding, I've been waiting that long - what can I say, family responsibilites, etc.). I might buy a Nikon F100, but I'm very seriously considering the Contax G2 instead. It seems ideal for the kind of photography I do, and, truly, when I look at pictures taken with Zeiss lenses, they have a special quality that I can't put my finger on. My only concern is whether it's a system that might be orphaned by Contax anytime soon. I like the fact that it's autofocus - eyesight problems, which is why I have a Nikon F80 instead of an FM3a. Anybody know how the G system is doing in the marketplace these days?

P.S. I'm not interested in digital at all.


G2 nad Nikon F100 are VERY different, not only i size and weight, also in the capabilities. Depending of your main usage, one is better than the other. Can you describe us more in detail what you are planning to use it for?


I'm basically a snapshooter who just likes his pictures to have a pleasing composition and good technical qualities (sharp, good exposure). I like them to "pop", as they say. My interests are mainly city photography and scenic shots (both B&W and colour) - I wouldn't call it street photography exactly, as I'm not interested in the people that much, just photos of interesting city scenes, old buildings, old signs,etc. I love travel photography but I'm now limited in my ability to travel, so I'm photographing my own city. But I don't like to be conspicuous when I'm photographing (an F80 with a 28-105 zoom on it isn't exactly inconspicuous, in fact, it attracts a lot of attention, I've found), and I don't really need a wide range of lenses. I prefer the normal view of a 45 or 50mm lens, but I want to be able to do portraits (so 90 mm would be enough), and use a 28mm for tight spaces. I do like to have have the ability of setting exposure manually, while sometimes using aperture priority. In the past, I've used a series of all manual Pentax camera, almost exclusively with a 50mm lens. I've grown to like the limitations imposed by having to "zoom" with my feet. This is why I'm interested in the G2. I would be just as interested in a Leica M if I could afford one, but I would be hesitant to buy anything that doesn't have autofocus, at this point. It's hard to go back. During most of the 1990's, instead of my SLR, I used a Kodak compact 35mm, without zoom, but with autofocus and a rangefinder-like viewfinder. From what I understand of the G2, the focus system in that Kodak is similar, in that you put whatever you want to focus on inside the little focus area brackets in the centre, lock focus with the shutter button, and then recompose if necessary. I was never bothered by not having a visual focus confirmation, and I rarely got any out of focus pictures. So, I guess if I got the Contax, it would be like having a more advanced, much better-built version of that Kodak. On the other hand, I might miss having the spotmeter I now have in my Nikon F80. It's always a tough decision when buying a camera, isn't it? As I said before, I love the look of Zeiss lenses, and I've checked out galeries extensively. In some ways, I like having some limitations to work around. My F80 is almost too versatile, while being a little too large to comfortably carry around with me.


Well-Known Member
Hello Pierre,

The F100 is just a more robust (and heavier) version of the F80,
the F80 is easier to carry around town (IMHO).

And as Dirk said, the G2 is a different animal altogether.
The G2 could be a problem for you because it has a small viewerfinder,
you should have a good look at the G2 to see if your eyes will be accepting of this finder.

The G2 is more suitable for AF than manual use.
Nonetheless, this Contax is a lovely camera with superb lenses.


Does anybody know the answer to Pierre's original question ("how the G system is doing in the marketplace these days?")? Or does anybody know if there is any way of finding out?
I know, I know, if one wants an AUTOFOCUS rangefinder-STYLE camera with interchangeable lenses the G2 is the only one in production, but still I wonder how it ranks -in terms of market success- in the Kyocera lineup.


The G2 is a marvelous camera system; I love the quality of the lenses. It was never designed to replace an SLR, but I've used mine on a model shoot with great results. For travel, vacation, city-grab shots it a fantastic little machine.

The Nikon F100 is my second choice for an autofocus camera; fits a photographer's hand like a glove and with the right lens, every bit as useful as the G2, and in some shots it will be more efficient than the G2. The Nikon F100/F5 are fantastic camera and for everything you might want to shoot, but it is not as compact as the G2 for street photography -- what do I know, I sometime carry an RB67 or Bronica ETRSi for the same things in the city.. although, in medium format, I'm much more slow and methodical. If you want to shoot fast and move around lot the G2 is a super camera and the slides I get from it are the best of any camera system I've tried. You've really got to consider that the G2 is a different animal from the Nikon. I think the Zeiss glass is the best... sometimes too good for close up's of faces. But I have to say the G2 is hands down the best small camera system I've used -- my first choice for travel.


The G2 is a classic in terms of a quality AF rangefinder. It doesn't really compete with SLR's where SLR's excel, but it does a fabulous job as a travel, grab-shot or 'defining moment' camera.

As regards it's placing in the overall rank of things, I would say that the Leica M7 is arguably the leading RF camera but it is manual focus only (plus a LOT more expensive).

IMHO the G2 isn't going to be refined further - I haven't seen anything new for the platform for a very, very long time. Given the range of lenses and accessories, I'm not sure that there's much missing other than potentially a longer lens such as 135mm. I don't expect that we'll see one though as I'm sure that Kyocera/Contax recognise that the market is small and shrinking.

It's a great time to buy pre-owned mint equipment as there's a lot on the market. The fact that people are selling their cameras is more of a reflection of the move to digital than on the quality of the G2 system. (The same thing is happening with medium format).

Piere: If your F80 s too big, the F100 will be worse and will bring questionable upgrades anyway for the cash. The G2 is a surperbly made camera with extremely sharp optics.


Having used both, I found them to be different animals and were filling different needs. I actually got rid of my entire F100 system to buy a G2. I found because of the size, I was limited in what Nikon gear I would carry or take with me. With the G2, I can easily have everything at my finger tips. I also seem to thing that the Zeiss lenses have a quality that makes the images seem to "pop." They are the sharpest and most color saturated I hae seen since using Alpa Apochromatic lenses years ago. To me - the lenses are the focal point, no pun intended, and the size and flexibility of features of the body is a great partner.


New Member
I use a Canon SLR w/L lens for "people events," but carry a Contax T3 or G1 for all travel and local walking about. It all boils down to size and weight tolerance. You can get very bad or very good photos with all and it depends mostly on film, technique, tripod and weather. Forget about the "market" issue. Check out the used dept. at B&H for ideas about retail prices on used and demo G1 and G2 (I prefer G1 for size, weight and cost considerations and go demo). Then just enjoy!


Thanks to all of you for taking the time to respond. I guess I will ultimately have to make a decision. I know an SLR is probably more versatile overall, but I'm still very interested in some of the G system's qualities, namely compactness. For ex&le, just drove downtown for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, and stopped to get a coffee. There was a beautiful old church there that I could have photographed, if I had brought the camera. But bringing along even a compact SLR seems like a lot of gear to lug around in case I might need it. Just the medium zoom lens alone is as big or bigger than the camera. Ideally, of course, I would just have both, but realistically, for me, it has to be one system or the other. I can't afford to have 2 separate camera systems. Oh, how I wish I still had my little Konica Auto S3!


>Pierre, I can relate to your dilemma -- I've lived it. Yes, the SLR is more versatile, and if you are a pro and need one for income, it's = indispensable. However, the G is ultimately much, more more satisfying -- in the hand = and on the light table. It is an artist's tool. - Dave


> Agreed that the SLR is more versatile- if you do a lot of slides however, there is little that an SLR will offer compared to the G2. I own a manual focus Contax besides the G2 so my experience is strictly related to manual SLR lenses. For portrait work I would go for the SLR but for travelling and "on the fly" shots, the G2 is my choice. The only real thing I find annoying with it is the lack of depth of field information- when time allows it, I use a printed card with the information- otherwise, just trust my hunch setting the diaphragm. The G1, especially the type modified to accept newer lenses is a much overlooked option- lighter and more compact than the G2, also less expensive, it could prove a more viable alternative for travelling "light"- the only downside is that if you like zooms, the G1 will not take the 35-70 Vario Sonnar.




I would think G2 and F100 are built for different purpose. I don't own them but I have G1 and Nikon F4, which probably the two extremes in terms of camera weight. I use those cameras for different purposes.



I can only say: buy the G2, its the best thing on the market. I had a lot of Leica equipment and sold it all. The only thing I miss, is a good SLR an a sharp macro 100mm lense for table top and close-ups. These I do with a digital camera nowadays. has quite a good price, I am thinking of buying a second G2 body from them. Does anybody a know of a place with better sales-prices?


> It depends what sort of pictures you take now, and may want to take in > the future. I use Nikon F cameras, FM2n and F100, and a G1 > professionally. I find the SLRs invaluable for macro, nature > photography, portraiture and for anything where precise framing, > control of depth of field and use of filters (e.g. polariser or grads > for landscape photography) is needed. For such activities, a range > finder camera offers less control and is less versatile or convenient, > as others have stated. Macro is impossible with a G. I use the F100 > to shoot events, particularly when flash is needed. It's superbly > efficient, especially with the grip, but big and heavy. It offers > little over your F80.

> I travel with the FM2n and the G1. With a 60mm macro on the SLR and > 21mm and 35mm lenses on the G. For general photography they make a > very fine combination. If weight/size is important to you, look at the > G1 over the G2 - a very fine camera. To be honest, I could do > everything I need to do with the SLRs + maybe a compact like the T3. > But those Zeiss lenses are simply incomparable IMHO, and I just like > the G cameras, they're beautifully made and nice to use, except the > viewfinder! So, if you want the relatively small size and the amongst > the BEST quality 35mm can offer, go with the G, if you want > versatility and convenience, with still very good quality, you can't > beat your SLR.

> Hope this helps, Malcolm


Pierre said "I can't afford to have 2 separate camera systems"

you probably cant afford to have two complete camera systems but I have found that if you spread out your lenses and accessories between systems according to the way you use them

you can come very close to breaking even and end up with a very versatile setup especially if you are already invested in one system


Active Member

If you have not yet had an opportunity to handle a G2, by all means do so post haste. To hold one is to love one. The focusing speed and accuracy of the G2 are substantially better than that of the G1, and for that reason alone, the G2 is to be preferred, in my opinion. The larger size and weight of the G2 are inconsequential. A complete G2 kit with 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses and TLA 200 flash should not be very expensive these days. (BTW, I prefer the TLA 140 flash, because it does not produce red-eye, as the TLA 200 does.)

If you are like many members of this forum, once you start using a G camera, your SLR will get very little use. However, by all means hang onto it for special needs, e.g. macro, long telephoto, zoom lens etc.


Whichever one has he better photographer holding it?

Unless you can reasonably compare lens to lens at a given focal length, there's no right or wrong answer to "which is better?" The bodies don't define image quality, it's the lenses.

Photos taken with Zeiss lenses are said to have a certain look, which I think I can see myself, especially in chromes. IF you decide that you like the Zeiss look, then you might like the G system. (Remembering that shooting with a G is far different than shooting an SLR.) What Nikon cannot offer is an equivalent to the G's Biogons and Hologon, which are unique to rangefinder-type cameras.



Well-Known Member
I actually have both F100 and G2 systems. Talk about comparing apples to oranges. As far as the first post from Pierre, I'd say for what you say you take pictures of as well as what your concerns are with weight and being inconspicous, I think the G2 is the better system for you. especially since you don't mind foot zooming
With your descriptions - you've obviously done your research and know the differences between the 2 systems. But I will go through a few of them below,

As far as picture quality goes - The G2 lenses can't be beat. Nikon has great lenses as well, but to get the POP you want out of them would require a big budget. ie. 85 mm f/1.4 20mm f/2.8 28mm f/1.4. etc.. BTW - love the new 70-200 AF-S VR I just got but try being inconspicuous with that!!

What you lose with G2 is spot metering, macro shots and some close focusing (G2 lenses are .5m to 1m closest focus distance), and telephoto lenses beyond 90mm.

What you gain is light weight small package - wonderful images. Also note if you do a lot of flash photography the G2 isn't the best pacakge for it. I personally shoot Fuji slides with my G2 and also use the GD2 data back the shooting information (although approximated) is useful and printed on the film instead of having to purchase separate cables and software per Nikon F100.

Please feel free to contact me for other questions.