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Contax G2 or Nikon F100


Very like our cars in fact. Nobody can work on them except highly-trained, expensive technicians, and you have to replace entire assemblies when they break, rather than fixing them, and these assemblies are very expensive. My first camera was a Pentax Spotmatic in 1975. Very simple, very mechanical, easily repairable. My first car in the late 1960's was very mechanical too. Most things, I could fix myself. No computers, no electronics except the AM radio. Today, it's very much the same with cars as it is with the electronic cameras, let alone digital (what a nightmare those must be if something goes wrong).


I am very sure you will just love a Contax G2, but if you do not want to have 2 camera systems, I believe you may want to stick with Nikon.

I did not sell my SLR. There is a Tamron 180mm f/2.5 lens I have to keep for low light stage pictures. If one day I get into macro, I would need an SLR too. I wish to put those lenses on my G2, but I can't.

But, for what the G2 is capable of doing, it is always my preferred camera.

Nikkor optics are nice, with vivid color, but Zeiss optics are great all-round performers. Let me say Nikkors have a Nikon taste, but Zeiss is analytically neutral. I am sure you will like Zeiss optics better.

The G2 handles much better than any AF SLR I have tried (a very long list !). Judging from the specs it isn't particularly light, many SLRs could match its weight, but the G2 holds much better. It is also true for manual focus SLR's such as the Nikon FE2, they are lighter than their specs indicate. I don't know why. I got far sharper pictures hand-held with the G2, although I am pretty sure with the best Nikkor optics on tripods there would be no difference in measured optical quality.

My biggest gripe of the G2 is that there is no displayed aperture in the viewfinder. This is a very very serious issue, impeding me in a big way. In the SLR world, even the cheapest and lowest-end model shows the aperture value in the viewfinder. The Contax G mount doesn't even communicate the aperture from the lens to the body and the only way for the body to know the aperture is to guess it by comparing the external light meter and the TTL light meter. The guessed aperture is imprinted by the GD2 data back this way.


I started this thread, and I'm still undecided (though I have until about January '04 to decide). I've been looking at a lot of photos taken with the G1 or G2 on the web and comparing with those taken with other makes. I'm also well aware of how many experts say there isn't much real difference between one make's lenses and the others'. However, maybe it's my imagination, but I find so many Contax G photos look especially sharp, almost like medium format photos - both colour and B&W. Either all you G users are better photographers, or better film scanners, or the Zeiss lenses just have a special hard-to-define quality. So far, since my last posting, I've experimented quite a bit with three Nikkors: a very expensive 45mm 2.8P (Tessar), a 50mm 1.8D, and my 28-105D zoom. Even with tripod-mounted shots and a cable release, I can't get that same sharpness. I'm beginning to think the reflex mirror may be the culprit, as my F80 doesn't have mirror lock-up ( the mirror action is supposed to be well-d&ened). Or maybe it's the rangefinder's better use of the lenses, compared to an SLR.


Active Member
For what it is worth, as a humble amateur I have reached the same conclusion - the contrast for the G lenses appears to be simply unmatched. While any rangefinder has its well-known liimitations, what it does ,it does extremely well.With no mirror, the film plain is so much closer to the lens, that different lens designs are possible(including biogon).Nearly all of Cartier Bresson's images were with just 3 focal lengths(50/35/90), and Salgado I believe is similar.And the non-real time way to go digital is just to get a really good scanner.Hopefully it is possible to make duotone prints in PS with this approach ?


Hi Pierre

It is not helpful, to compare pictures in the web. Only a direct compare of good paperprints or slides with the lenssystems of both cameras will help you. I can promise you, you will find a difference. I own both systems, a g2 with 21, 28, 45 and 90 lens and a nikon f4 where i prefer the MF AIS lenses. The advantages in quality of the G-lenses guided me to the decision, to use prime lenses only for the nikon. But since I own the G-system, I use this when ever I can. The Nikon System is for Close up and tele only, whereby this occurs seldom in the last 3 years. Originaly I bought the G as a good Camera to take with all the time, but soon it became my favortite photo-tool.

I hope I can help you to hit a good decision. However you decide, photography is fine thing anyway.


Hans Villars, Switzerland


Well-Known Member
On the subjest of sharpness.............I myself have noticed that the subject sometimes makes a difference in how sharp your pictures are. For instance, I shot a car show with both the F100 and the G2. I used the same exact film in both camera's. In my opinion, the Nikkor lenses produced superior results over the G lenses. I just was not satisfied with how the shots came out with the G.

Yet, the best people pictures I've taken have always been with my G2. Alongwith the G2 and the F100, I own a Fuji S2 along with a Mamiya RZ67. I believe that each camera has its pro's and cons to deal with. Yet all four server their purposes. I would never take the RZ to an area where a flashy camera could get me into trouble. Yet Iwould never ever take the RZ to shoot a sporting event in an arena.


Well-Known Member
Hi David,
That's the conclusion I've come to as well for the moment anyway i.e. to be a hybrid and have the best of both worlds in being able to use my favourite traditional equipment but buy a film scanner - possibly the new Minolta. You miss the convenience and economy of digital but get to keep using the cameras and lenses you love and know.


pierre said "I can't get that same sharpness. I'm beginning to think the reflex mirror may be the culprit" try using the timer it is should raise the mirror earlier.


Thanks very much to all of you who responded to my original enquiry. I came very close to getting the G2, but in the end, I decided to stick with my existing Nikon F80 and get more Nikkor lenses, a better tripod and a good flash, not to mention a few filters I've been wanting. If I had more disposable income at present, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Contax G2 as my second, more portable system though. Thanks again.


Well-Known Member
I just returned from a photo shoot in the Southwest. Shot 150 rolls. I used my Contax G-2 and my Nikon and shot the same subjects. B&W in the Contax and color in the Nikon. Tripod on both. There is no comparison. My wife was using a hand held Olympus APS and it also out performed the Nikon. I would dump the Nikon but I want it for SLR close-ups and for long fl lenses.


Posted by Pierre Lachaine on Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 6:25 pm: > > Thanks very much to all of you who responded to my original enquiry. I > came very close to getting the G2, but in the end, I decided to stick > with my existing Nikon F80 and get more Nikkor lenses, a better tripod > and a good flash, not to mention a few filters I've been wanting. If I > had more disposable income at present, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a > Contax G2 as my second, more portable system though. Thanks again.


Good decision, Pierre! I just read through this thread for the first time and wondered why you didn't like your F80. I have used the F80, F90, F100, G1, G2, Nx and N1 cameras. If you were to make a change at all, consider the NX with the lightweight 28-80 and 70-200 zooms. That way you will have the weight of the F80 with zeiss glass. By the way, we all struggle with trying to cover all 'real and imagined' photo opportunities and my current setup is the F100 with 70-200 VR (absolutely dynamite combo), F80 with 24-85 AFS, and Contax N1 with 24-85 for the 'zeiss' look. If only Contax would fix the flawed AF system, though. All the best, Phil



You are a great resource for me, since you are a combination Nikon and Contax user. I have a G2 (*love* the lens) and a Nikon F100. I wonder if I might ask you about the comparison of the Nikon zoom with the Zeiss zoom. Since this is off-topic, please someone let me know if we should move this to a different part of the forum.



Well-Known Member
One more thing.........the F100 beats the G2 for flash and action photography. Ambient light and street stuff is more for a G2 shooter. A friend still has his flash brand new in the box from God know's when. He's nebver ever used his TLA200 at all. IT's not his style.


Well-Known Member
I'm not sure why you say that the G2 wins in ambient light since its fastest lens is an f2 while you can get an f1.2 and f1.4 in Nikon. (I own an FM2 and the G2).


> Without mirror vibration the shutter speed of the G2 can be a bit lower than > an SLR before you will see blurring in the picture.


I've got the G2 & the F100. Both very different and unique cameras. I've used the G2 for studio flash with good results, but G2 on-camera flash forced me to select the Nikon F100. I now carry both cameras. For travel and scenics .. hard to beat a G2 with Zeiss glass.. I just love that camera. The F100 is used for serious portrait work, outdoor fill flash, etc. Nikon flash is definitely a superior system -- and with portraits, do you really want Zeiss sharpness and contrast?? Sometimes I do, but mostly I don't.

The F80 is a great camera, but my choice was to go with the F100 because I can use 1/3 stops for slide work. Keep your F80 - it is damn near a perfect camera.

I stressed a little bit over getting the F100 when the G2 seemed to be just so perfect in almost all shooting situations. So much so that I almost bought another G2 over the Nikon.

As for "orphaned systems" -- here's my take: All modern cameras have built in obsolescene. The more modern and computerized the camera, the greater the risk. Remember, those LCD's - well they have a limited lifespan and when they go, that modern marvel will be dead, and 10 years plus will mean parts are hard to find. If I was a camera "seller" I'd push you into every new technology available.. yes every two years I'd be telling you to upgrade, change cameras, promising you ever better results .. what nonsense!

Remember, why you want a G2 .. small, light weight, superior optics, relatively ease of use. It is just a damn fine camera. I consider it a camera for a discriminating photographer because while it limits shooting scenarios .. when used for what it is designed .. it is absolutely superior.

Keep your F80 .. but get the G2 - enjoy it for 10 years (that's really less than $100 a year to own it) and shoot lots of film -- this camera is a hands-down winner that is better than the photographer in many situations. I drool over my night shots of outdoor urban scenics all decorated with Christmas lights (downtown St. Louis)... taken with the G2 on a tripod .. during the coldest day of the year .. at 2AM .. no people ... just wonderful buildings and Christmas lights .. with the G2, I felt I had achieved the best photography I've ever done .. better than many of the postcards I'd seen taken of similar scenes. I've owned this G2 for a little over a year .. and I'm learning to appreciate this tool for what is was designed. If I broke it or lost it, I'd get another ... obsolescene be damned.

Marketplace?? I don't care about that, a camera is just a tool. I don't care what everybody else shoots .. hell, I hope they all go digital .. for me, I intend to take pictures, not buy/sell cameras, not spend hours tweeking photos on the computer .. (if that's your thing.. enjoy it).

But, that's me.. I still use my old Canon F1's, all three of them .. drive an older model Chevy Impala SS ... cause I like that Corvette engine .. and chase women over 35 .. becuase I like an experienced girl -- new models don't impress me much. (What was the question again??)


Well-Known Member
Flash.........G2 just does not cut it. Nikon's flash is superior. The G2 is an ambient light camera in that sense. The Nikon is nothing to sneeze about in ambient either. But sometimes I don't feel like carrying around the load at all. The whole G2 system fits into my winter coat with no problem at all.

Mike, I like the way you think. I like women over 35 as well. Especially since 35 for me was back in the early '90's. Secondly, I own a 1970 Cadillac. The street machine is a '96 Mercury. Idon't want the Caddy to suffer the effects of street life anymore. So it's in the garage and is used for about 3G a year.


Active Member
Unless one has a need for long telephoto or macro lenses, it is hard to imagine choosing the Nikon over the G2. There is, IMHO, a substantial difference in image quality, and the G2 is much easier to carry and use. My N90s has not been out of the closet in nearly 3 years. I rarely use a flash, but when I do, I find that the TLA 140 or 360 do quite adequately, as long as I set exposure compensation at negative 1-1 2/3.